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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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With therapy, she may bear pain

Peter Gott United Media

Dear Dr. Gott: I’m a 55-year-old female with spondylolisthesis of the spine. I have a displacement of the vertebra between four and five. My doctor indicates I should be careful lifting objects. Is it 100-percent given that I will need surgery in the future? If not, how can I avoid it? I want to remain active, yet will give up any physical activity necessary to protect my spine.

Dear Reader: The tongue-twisting term “spondylolisthesis” means that one or more of your vertebral bones is displaced. The cause is unknown. The affliction is diagnosed by X-rays. In your case, the problem appears to be centered on the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae.

In its mild form, spondylolisthesis is not a hazard to health but can cause recurring back pain from spasm as the muscles try to compensate for slippage. Therefore, early treatment includes special exercises and physical therapy.

More severe forms can cause nerve compression, leading to sciatica (pain in the buttocks and legs).

In such instances, corrective surgery may be necessary.

Your doctor has properly cautioned you against lifting, because your back is “unstable” and this activity could initiate painful muscle spasms.

The degree of restriction is up to you. I advise you to be sensible about your activities but limit them only if your back hurts. In other words, your back will tell you what not to do.

If you learn to “live with” your back problem and undergo physical therapy, you probably won’t need surgery. However, in the event that your problem progresses to cause nerve injury, you’ll have to reconsider your options.

Should you ultimately decide to undergo surgery, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “An Informed Approach to Surgery.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Dear Dr. Gott: My granddaughter went to dermatologist because of skin that felt like sandpaper. The doctor said her pores were closed. Do we accept this or should we get a second opinion and, if so, what is the condition called?

Dear Reader: There are several skin conditions that can disrupt or plug the skin’s pores. Some, such as keratosis (dry skin) are treatable with moisturizing creams; others, such as ichthyosis (“fish skin”) are inherited and untreatable.

I suggest that you hold off on a second opinion until your granddaughter’s dermatologist has had a chance to prescribe topical therapy (to relieve the roughness and soften the skin). If the treatment is ineffective, you can always obtain additional suggestions from another dermatologist.

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