• What causes pain from arthritis?

    Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 different diseases and related conditions. It’s quite common, and the chronic pain can be debilitating for some patients. Although conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis aren’t curable, they can be effectively managed with help from the orthopedic specialists at West Hills Hospital—a renowned spine hospital.

    How osteoarthritis causes pain
    Your joints have a protective cushion of cartilage that prevents the ends of the two bones from rubbing together when you move. But if you have osteoarthritis, often called wear and tear arthritis, this cartilage starts to break down. Eventually, the cartilage may be so damaged and worn away that the bones do start to rub together.

    The loss of the protective cartilage can cause considerable pain. People with osteoarthritis feel more pain during activity and less while at rest. Osteoarthritis most often affects these joints :

    • Knees
    • Hips
    • Hands

    How rheumatoid arthritis causes pain
    Rheumatoid arthritis is quite different from osteoarthritis. It’s an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s own immune system is tricked into attacking healthy tissue. The joint pain of RA occurs when the immune system attacks the synovial membrane, which is the lining of the joints.

    The attack of the synovial membrane causes painful swelling. Over time, RA can result in joint deformity and bone erosion.

    In many cases, RA can also cause the immune system to attack other areas of the body, including the lungs, heart, salivary glands and eyes. When this occurs, the symptoms aren’t strictly localized to the affected joints.

    How gout causes pain
    Gout causes acute episodes of intense pain. Usually, it affects the base of the big toe. The pain and inflammation of gout occur when urate crystals build up in the affected joint.

    Urate crystals are formed from uric acid, which in turn is produced by the metabolism of purines. Purines are a substance found naturally in the body. They’re also present in many foods, like seafood and steak.

    If the body has trouble getting rid of excessive amounts of purines, uric acid levels can increase, potentially causing urate crystals to accumulate. These crystals are sharp, and can cause inflammation, swelling and pain when they settle into tissues.

    The Total Joint Team at West Hills Hospital is on a mission to help each of our patients live life well despite their arthritis. Our highly trained team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons, who can guide you in making an informed decision for your healthcare. Residents in the West Hills area can get in touch with a registered nurse by calling (818) 676-4321.

  • What you need to know about cholesterol and stroke

    Hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer from a stroke each year. Many of them don’t survive or develop long-term disabilities, and strokes are often preventable. Consider talking to a physician at West Hills Hospital about your risk of stroke. Your doctor may recommend having a cholesterol test. Remember that if you do experience any possible symptoms of stroke, you should call 911 immediately to request emergency care.

    How stroke occurs
    There are two primary categories of stroke: Ischemic and hemorrhagic. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks and bleeds on the brain. Ischemic strokes occur when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain becomes obstructed, depriving part of the brain of its crucial supply.

    Most strokes are ischemic strokes. Many medical problems can contribute to clot formation and, consequently, a stroke. One of them is having high cholesterol levels.

    How cholesterol causes atherosclerosis
    Cholesterol is a waxy type of fat that’s found throughout your body. If you have too much cholesterol in your body, you’re at an increased risk of atherosclerosis.

    Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the blood vessels get clogged up with fatty deposits called plaque. Plaques can harden and cause the arteries to narrow. If this happens to the carotid arteries, atherosclerosis raises the risk of stroke.

    How atherosclerosis can cause stroke
    Eventually, a plaque in the carotid arteries can rupture. Platelets group together at the site and form a blood clot. This blood clot can prevent blood from getting through the artery to the brain, causing a stroke.

    It’s also possible for part of a plaque to break off from the arterial wall. The bloodstream will then carry it toward the brain until it reaches a blood vessel that’s too small to allow it to pass through. This is another way that a blocked artery can develop, causing stroke.

    Here at West Hills Hospital , we’re firmly committed to doing everything possible to save lives. Our neurologists and neurosurgeons coordinate with our emergency care team and the EMS team to provide rapid responses to stroke patients arriving at our hospital in West Hills. Call 911 if you have a medical emergency, or you can direct your non-emergent questions to a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321.

  • What are the causes of painful menstrual cramping?

    It’s normal for ladies to experience some mildly uncomfortable cramping during their periods. However, you may wish to consult an Ob/Gyn at West Hills Hospital if you experience severe cramps or persistent pain. You can meet one of our friendly Ob/Gyn specialists when you watch the accompanying video. She reassures viewers that painful menstruation isn’t necessarily a sign of infertility, but might possibly be caused by any of the following conditions.

    Endometriosis is an abnormality that involves the endometrium, which is the tissue that lines the uterus . When a woman develops endometriosis, her body grows endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Usually, the condition affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic tissue, but other areas may also have endometrial tissue growths.

    During each monthly cycle, a woman’s endometrium naturally breaks down, bleeds and is expelled. The displaced tissue outside the uterus goes through the same process, except that it’s unable to exit the body. This can trigger thick scar tissue to develop, and cause the following symptoms:

    • Severe pelvic pain during menstruation

    • Pain during sex

    • Excessively heavy periods

    • Pain with urination or bowel movements, especially during menstruation

    It’s possible for endometriosis to cause infertility.

    Uterine fibroids
    These fibroids are growths of tissue that develop in the uterus. They can be tiny or so large that they distort the uterus. Uterine fibroids are not cancerous, and aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer.

    Uterine fibroids are common in women of childbearing age, and many women don’t realize they have them because symptoms are absent. When they do become symptomatic, women may experience the following:

    • Heavy menstrual bleeding

    • Pelvic pain and pressure

    • Excessively long periods

    • Backache or leg pain

    It’s uncommon, but possible for a fibroid to spontaneously die and trigger acute, severe pain.

    Stenosis of the uterine cervix
    This type of cervical stenosis is not to be confused with stenosis of the cervical spine. Instead, it refers to the narrowing of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus.

    When this condition occurs, it can obstruct the flow of menstrual blood through the cervix, causing pain and possibly a palpable bulge in the pelvic area. Women with cervical stenosis typically experience menstrual cramping, but only have very light bleeding or spotting.

    West Hills Hospital provides a complete line of patient-focused women’s services, including maternity, pelvic health, gynecologic urology and gynecologic oncology. Our Ob/Gyn specialists are genuinely compassionate providers who encourage women to be proactive in making informed healthcare decisions. You can request a referral to a physician at our hospital in West Hills by calling (818) 676-4321.

  • Make your home food allergy friendly

    Every family has different routines and lifestyles. And so, although everyone with food allergies must avoid their allergen, exactly how this is accomplished can vary from home to home. It can be tricky to make the transition to living with food allergies , but the team at West Hills Hospital is always here to help you. Our physicians and nurses can help your family figure out how to manage allergens in a way that fits your lifestyle, and we’re here with emergency care when accidental exposure happens.

    Deciding whether to eliminate unsafe foods
    For some families, it makes sense to ban allergens from the home altogether. This can be a good option when the child with food allergies is too young to understand the importance of avoiding unsafe foods. However, it’s possible that making the home an allergen-free zone will make it more difficult for the child to cope with the allergy outside the home.

    When making this decision, you may wish to consider these factors:

    • Whether a food ban would place hardship on the rest of the family
    • Whether the child is capable of learning how to manage the allergy
    • The ease with which an allergen(s) could be completely substituted

    Purchasing and storing food
    Regardless of whether the home is an allergen-free zone or not, it’s always necessary to read food labels before purchasing them. Do this every time, even if you’ve purchased the product before. Manufacturers have been known to change their ingredients from time to time.

    If your home isn’t completely allergen-free, your family must follow a strict system of separating safe and unsafe foods. Use color-coded stickers to indicate the safe (or the unsafe) foods. Keep all foods in sealed containers, and store safe foods on separate shelves, away from unsafe foods.

    Preventing cross-contamination
    Cross-contamination is a serious threat for people with food allergies. To prevent unsafe foods from contaminating safe foods, your family should follow these steps:

    • Scrub hands before and after preparing food
    • Scrub kitchen surfaces before and after preparing food
    • Scrub the table before and after eating meals
    • Prepare safe foods on a counter away from unsafe foods
    • Use separate utensils, cutting boards, knives and measuring cups

    Emergency care is available 24/7 at West Hills Hospital for patients who develop serious or life-threatening allergic reactions. Call 911 for all true medical emergencies. General healthcare questions about our patient-focused and compassionate medical services can be directed to a registered nurse in West Hills at (818) 676-4321.