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Ask Dr. Gott 1/18
A year after break, leg still hurts
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: On Dec. 23, 2006, I slipped on ice and broke my left leg (femur). I was in the hospital for 10 days followed by a transitional-care center for 11 days for physical therapy. I also did physical therapy at home until April 2007.
    It's been a year, and I'm still having discomfort in my leg and hip. I've been trying to get back to line dancing, but it just hurts too much.
    I'm a very active 71-year-old great-grandmother. Is this ever going to be the way it was before I broke it? Or am I going to have to use a cane forever?
    I read your column about castor oil easing pain. However, I missed the first column that gives the instructions. Please help. I'll try anything at this point.
    DEAR READER: The consequences of a broken leg can include chronic pain (despite rehab and physical therapy) for months after the injury. I'd question your surgeon about how long you are going to be handicapped.
    In the meantime, try using castor oil rubbed into the skin over the pain. Or you may wish to try Castiva, which has a castor oil base and comes in a warming or cooling form applied twice a day. This therapy doesn't work for everyone, but when it is effective, it can have a significant impact. Let me know how this works out.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I awaken two or three times a night because my hands have gone "to sleep." It is very annoying. Is it significant in any way?
    DEAR READER: Your symptom is commonly due to a condition called carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes pressure on the nerves in your wrists with resulting tingling. You should see a neurologist and have a nerve-conduction study. This test will show where the nerves are being pinched and how well they are working.
    If there is, indeed, nerve pressure, you may need surgery. However, before getting to that stage, the doctor will probably try wrist splints or other nonsurgical methods to release your nightly discomfort.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "An Informed Approach to Surgery."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Why is it not possible to replace lowering estrogen levels to counteract testosterone levels in women? I do not like the fact that I have become more aggressive, have a smaller bust and have unwanted hair on my face.
    It seems to me that medical research gets very little funding in this area to find a solution. Please explain what you know about why women can't replace estrogen with a supplement.
    DEAR READER: They can, and many do. However, estrogen compounds taken during menopause increase the risk of breast cancer. Women with unpleasant consequences of menopause should discuss the situation with their gynecologists.
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