16 April 2019
Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care serves patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.
The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being.
In this post I am discussing a common condition that I see at my clinic: knee cap pain. Knee cap pain can present itself multiple ways that may not always be muscular in nature, so you should always check with your doctor before starting any treatment. However, a common reason for knee pain is patello femoral pain syndrome (PFS), where the knee cap begins to increasingly track to the outermost part of the leg bone (femur) with movements such as walking, going up/down stairs, and squatting (pretty much any movement when someone bends their leg). Improper tracking of the knee cap can mechanically be due to a number of problems, and can be years in the making or due to a single traumatic event.
Your quadriceps muscles are key to many movements and activities that you do. The group is made up of four muscles (a “quad”) – rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis obliquus (the VMO). All four then run down to your knee and they join together, becoming a single tendon that surrounds your knee cap (patella). This tendon then continues down to connect to the knee bone (tibia) of your lower leg.
The VMO contributes to running, jumping and nearly every other basic movement, because together with your other quad muscles, it’s a powerful knee extensor along with pulling the knee cap to the inside. Anytime you push off the ground, your VMO is involved. It’s also an important knee stabilizer—a critical function that’s often overlooked. The other three quad muscles are either neutral or pull the knee cap to the outside. If you don’t have a developed VMO that can hold its own compared to the other quad muscles, you may experience tracking issues which leads to the vicious cycles of knee pain.
Minimizing pain and swelling can be done via an interdisciplinary approach with ice-packs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Consider using ice-packs over the affected area, fifteen minutes at a time, two to three times a day. No heat, as this only will exacerbate the pain/inflammation cycle. Next, consider NSAIDs as these have anti-inflammatory properties and are used widely for musculoskeletal disorders. Select NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are available over-the-counter.
In a relaxed, seated position with your legs out in front, place a rolled-towel under your knee. Next, feel your VMO by placing your fingers just above your knee cap on the inside aspect of your leg. Extend your leg by bringing your knee cap down into the towel. The extension of your leg should occurring slowly (like 5 seconds), over just a small range. When you do this you should feel the VMO contracting under your fingers. This should be your first exercise.
The first step in improving your situation is going be be determining if you have tight muscles as lack of flexibility can disrupt both the timing and contraction of muscles that will ultimately lead to more pain. From a balance standpoint, a tight muscle may limit the range of motion through which an opposite muscle can move (example of opposite muscles include rectus femoris/glute). Learn what you can about stretching, then find specific flexibility builders such as hip and ankle muscles.
Taping the knee is very easy and has been validated by research to help improve the nervous system firing of the weakened VMO muscle. Purchase some athletic or kinesio tape. To apply the tape, place the tape on the outside of the affected knee and pull it across the knee cap inward making sure you have enough pressure that you see a little skin fold crease as you do this.
Once your swelling has subsided and pain is improving, you need to start with simple non-weighted stability exercises to regain integrity of the joint. Consider one-legged standing exercises. As you progress, start with non weighted strengthening exercises such as lunges, step-ups, and squats. Lastly, if at any point treating your knee becomes too complicated, talk to your doctor about a prescription for physical therapy.
8 March 2019
Hi, thanks for reading! My name is Dr. Jeff O’Boyle, and I am a board-certified family medicine doctor who owns his own clinic, Beyond Primary Care located in Ann Arbor Michigan. Like most family medicine doctors, our goal is to keep our patients healthy and out of emergency rooms if at all possible. My best friend is an emergency room doctor and I have the utmost respect for the care ER doctors provide and the role they serve in medicine. I have seen people in emergency rooms with life-or-death conditions such as chest pain and shortness of breath, and am grateful we have skilled providers in this area of medicine.
Yet, I meet a good number of people who utilize an emergency room like it’s a one-stop-shop for all their medical health. People going to emergency rooms for dental pain, refills on blood pressure medications, common colds, and various other complaints that have been manifesting themselves over the past 3 months. As a Direct Primary Care (DPC) family medicine clinic, I promote and encourage that longitudinal care with my patients to ask me for medical advise or treatment that can’t be achieved in emergency rooms. Here is some free advice why NOT to go the emergency room.
The trust that develops over time between a doctor and a patient (or family) is absent. It is also extremely helpful to have seen a sick individual or child when they were healthy, to know how far from their baseline they are.
Sick people are not happy people, and it’s hard to do a physical exam on someone stressing out. A familiar face causes less distress, and allows the doctor to do a better evaluation.
The ER team takes care of the sickest patients first. If you have a minor illness and a severely ill or injured person rolls in, you’ll be waiting a while.
This means needle sticks, radiation exposure, and increased cost. Often, a DPC doctor could do a thorough physical exam and schedule a follow-up the next day, all at no additional cost to you. But the ER gets one shot, and they can’t afford to miss something, so they tend to over-order imaging and labs.
They are not tasked with figuring out exactly what is going on and solving every problem; the focus is on ruling out life-threatening conditions and deciding which patients need to be in the hospital. This often frustrates patient’s who come in wanting answers.
In the summer it may be vomiting or diarrhea. In the winter, it’s the flu. Emergency rooms do their best to keep things from spreading, but viruses haven’t survived this long by being bad at what they do. If you weren’t sick when you went in, you may be soon.
This is more altruistic, like vaccinating yourself so nobody else gets the flu–but it’s real. Every ER has a limited number of beds, and when they’re full, they’re full. If they’re full of relatively healthy people, the really sick ones sit in the waiting room until a bed opens up.
This is the most important step, and it’s one that you should take when you are healthy. A good physician can identify diseases early, track a child’s growth and development, provide reassurance when that’s all you need, and handle the vast majority of acute illnesses. If–or rather, when–you get sick, your doctor has access to her records and history, avoiding expensive and unnecessary repeat testing. That doctor will understand your personality and perspectives, and you will be less scared of a familiar face. Look for a Direct Primary Care doctor, who routinely offers same-day sick visits, weekend hours, and phone availability even when the office if closed–a lot of ER visits can be avoided by talking through symptoms over the phone.
22 February 2019
One of the most common medical conditions I treat as a family medicine doctor is anxiety. You most likely know what anxiety is, or personally know someone who suffers from anxiety. At my family medicine clinic, Beyond Primary Care, located in Ann Arbor Michigan, all appointments are a minimum 30 minutes, with opportunities to increase the appointment time. This length of time is an important for the treatment of any mental health concern.
Anxiety has many faces. Among others, it is that feeling of stress, apprehension, relentless worrying, tightness in your stomach or chest, racing thoughts, restlessness, rapid breathing, diarrhea, lack of concentration, and insomnia.
Does a person have to experience all those symptoms to have anxiety?
Does having even just one symptom mean you need medical treatment?
The best answer is that it depends on you and what the severity is.
Dr. Jeff O’Boyle (who is writing this posts) experiences anxiety, you (who is reading this post) have experienced anxiety. Everyone has experienced anxiety. I feel a bit like Oprah when I just wrote that. Regardless, the truth is we all experience anxiety from the moment we are born.
Think about your own children, or other children you knew as newborns. The frequent cycles of crying and calmness. The newborn doesn’t know why they are wet, why they are hungry, why they feel cold, why they can’t sleep. So they cry. This is in part- anxiety. Eventually, after a few weeks (or months for some parents), the newborn stops crying. Overtime when there is a dirty diaper, or it learns that it will be feed every 3 hours, or the baby starts connecting it’s sleep cycles and starts doing it’s nights- much to the relief of the parents- the crying and fits decrease. The point is, we all have anxiety as newborns. We develop coping mechanisms though, inherent within our own emotional control centers to deal with this anxiety.
Just as no two people are affected the exact same way by anxiety, there is no “one size fits all” treatment that cures this condition. What works for one person might not work for another. The best way to treat yourself is to become as informed as possible about the treatment options, and then tailor them to meet your needs.
In my professional opinion, becoming informed about anxiety does mean you have to be honest to yourself with how you feel. Extending that honesty to your family and friends you trust, and honest to your healthcare provider is crucial is knowing that your mental health is not something to deal with alone.
It also takes time to find the right treatment. It might take some trial and error to find the treatment and support that works best for you. Understand how these treatments work and that they don’t work immediately. Anxiety cannot be treated like a case of bronchitis, where you get a course of antibiotics and poof- you are better in 10 days. In today’s society, I feel we are so focused on instant gratification and grossly appreciable results that we lose focus on the long-term control and relief.
Your emotional system only knows where it is at right now based upon where it just was. This is why in this work we are constantly reassessing our intervention afterwards. Where are you now? Now we do something. Where are you now? So we know if we are being effective or not. Do you want to waste your time doing stuff if you don’t know it’s working? I don’t. I want to do more of the stuff that is working and less of it that isn’t. As a doctor I’m constantly measuring.
But measuring anxiety, or any other component of mental health is not done over minutes to days, but weeks to months. Again, patience is key to treatment.
18 January 2019
At my family medicine clinic, Beyond Primary Care, located in Ann Arbor Michigan, I see a fair number of individuals who experience urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is when urine leaks, from a number of causes, that becomes frequent or severe enough to be a problem. Incontinence happens in men and women. Unless I specifically ask some individuals, some may think that incontinence is an unavoidable part of getting older or a known consequence of child birth. I wanted to tell everyone that urinary incontinence can be addressed with both non-medication and medication intervention. In this guide, I talk about non-medication treatments.
The bladder is a hollow sac (like a balloon) with muscular walls. It sits behind the pelvic bone. The bladder is part of the urinary system, which includes two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The kidneys take waste and water out of your blood to make urine. The urine travels down your ureters to the bladder. When you’re ready to urinate, the urine empties through the urethra.
It sounds like kind of a lot, but, depending on how much liquid you drink, peeing roughly 8 times during the day is average. Even though it’s annoying, getting up once to twice during the night is also considered normal. Most bladders hold about 2 cups of fluid (473 mL). A classic excuse among the frequent pee-ers: “I just have a small bladder!” Turns out, there’s some truth to that seemingly odd refrain. Anatomically, everybody can be different, just like some people are tall and some people are short.
If you’re irked by how much time you spend atop the throne, consider keeping a diary to chart your bathroom breaks. When you actually tally up your trips, what feels like a lot might be totally normal. Again, most bladders hold about 2 cups of fluid. If you’re going to the bathroom frequently and producing less than that, that may not be normal. And yes, you should actually measure. Grab a container and see if you’re hitting 1.5 to 2 cups.
Keep Drinking Fluids. Understandably, if you spend a lot of time thinking you have to pee, you might be inclined to dehydrate yourself just a touch. If you don’t drink as much, you won’t have to go as often, right? Turns out this way of thinking is bladder sabotage. When you drink less, the urine becomes more concentrated, and the more concentrated it is the more irritating it can be to the bladder, which can trigger the sensation that you have to go more often.”
Timed voids. The good news for the small bladdered is that you can train your bladder to hold more fluid. If you give into the urges too often, you are training the bladder not to hold as much (Just don’t hold it so long that it starts to hurt). You could be inadvertently doing this if you’ve preemptively started emptying your bladder more frequently in just-in-case scenarios, like in hopes of warding off leakage, say, before a workout.To train your small bladder to bulk up, implement “timed voiding”:
Hitting the (pelvic floor) gym. The stronger those down-there muscles, the easier it is to hold urine in. It’s better to learn how to use your muscles to tighten the pelvic-floor area. Yes, we’re talking about Kegel exercises. If you don’t already know, the exercises are performed by tightening and releasing the muscles you’d use to stop the flow of urine without moving anything else in your body. Find your pelvic muscles by tightening the rectum as if trying not to pass gas or pinching off a stool. Done best after emptying the bladder. Tighten and hold for up to 3-5 seconds, then release and relax 5 seconds. As muscles get stronger, progress to 10 seconds. Do these exercises 10-20 times a session, 3 times a day. Remember to breath normally. It may take 4-6 weeks to notice results.
11 December 2018
In researching your diabetes care, you may have heard people say they have “a touch of diabetes” or that their “sugar is a little high.” These words suggest that diabetes is not a serious disease. That is not correct. Diabetes is serious, but you can learn to manage it. Most of the steps needed to take care of diabetes are things you do yourself. I will help outline some of these steps in this blog post.
Keeping your blood sugar (glucose) in your target range can delay the health problems caused by the progression of diabetes. Yes, you read that correctly, diabetes is a progressive condition. Pancreatic Beta Cells (These cells produce, store, and release insulin) function will typically decrease over time. All the strategies listed here and discussed by your health care provider can help delay/prolong this progression.
The doctor’s axiom of ‘eat less and move more’ is quite possibly the worst advice any doctor can give, especially if done in a rushed/ inconsiderate manner. Yet, regular movement and diet modification has been shown to improve insulin resistance–the main issue in those with type II diabetes. Moving your body and diet modification can improve A1C levels alone by as much as 4 points! This is far better than any single diabetic medication.
Diabetics have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s why doctors treat cholesterol levels more aggressively in those with diabetes
The blood pressure goal of the diabetic person is below 140/80, just like the general non-diabetic population. A side-effect of elevated blood pressure and diabetes is the risk for kidney disease. Damaged filters don’t do a good job.
Diabetics also have a higher risk of infection. That is likely because bacteria love to live in high sugar environments. For that reason, doctors recommend diabetics get an annual flu shot, in addition to the pneumonia shot once before age 65 and once after age 65 (with at least 5 years in between).
Every diabetic should also get a yearly eye check that includes being examined by an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) who takes a look at the retina, or the back of the eye, for changes produced by diabetes.
2 November 2018
Cold and Sinus Infections invariably go hand-in-hand with winter. Snow isn’t bad for a month or so, and living in Michigan I do tolerate brief stretches of freezing temperatures. But for complete honesty, my favorite part of winter is that it always ends. Yet, for those days and months with freezing weather, everyone tends to huddle inside together and germs and viruses are increasingly spread. This can lead to the common cold or sinus infection.
Fortunately, the possible solutions for people with an infection have never been better. Now, before you rush to get antibiotics, consider some important points from this well-written piece:
Remember that coughs ad other URI symptoms can take between 7-21 days to resolve. The average duration of a cough is 18 days. You may just have to be patient. But do NOT get discouraged! The goal during this time is symptomatic care.
What can you do for symptomatic care? Ahem, FREE ADVICE!
25 October 2018
The picture is a plastic suction bulb, or ‘booger sucker’ as newborn parents like to say. You can find these in most stores, typically in the newborn section for $1-2. Why am I posting about this you ask? Suction bulbs allow us to do nasal rinses. The traditional method has been the net pot, but I prefer the suction bulb. Nasal rinses are an ancient practice that has been shown to have benefit relieving both allergy and cold symptoms.
Essentially, it involves sending a stream of saline (salt-water) solution up one side of your nose and back out. No, I do not believe it has to go in one nostril and out the other. Gag! The act of bathing the turbinates and sinuses in saline water is all this is required, along with a thorough blowing of the nose afterwards.
You can buy individual packets to mix with water, but because my readers are thrifty- I suspect they want to make their own. To make your own:
Yes, what comes out is disgusting and you may get a salty taste in your mouth, but you will feel better. I typically advise people to rinse x4-8 per day. The bottom line is the more you do this, the better you will feel- quicker.
23 October 2018
At Beyond Primary Care, we have a narrow focus- you and your family. Dr. O’Boyle is a dually board certified Family Medicine Doctor, and sees children of all ages, whether that is for the urgent needs, school physicals, check-ups, or that mysterious illness that you have questions about.
One of Dr. O’Boyle’s biggest annoyances of traditional physician offices are their limited hours and seemingly robotic answers from the on-call services. Does your child only get sick between 9 AM and 5 PM, Monday through Friday? If they do get sick during this time period, you have endless ability to take off time from your work (usually a half-day or more) to be seen at the office? Experience the on-call doctor reading the hospital script that if your child is sick you should take them to an urgent care or emergency room? Then the wait time at these locations!
At Beyond Primary Care, we will work with you to make time for convenient appointments, whether you need to be seen traditional working times or after-hours. Additionally, we because we know you so well, we offer our patients ‘virtual home visits,’ or ‘tele-medicine.’ Many illnesses can be diagnosed and treated with a simple conversation by phone or webcam. There is no corporate legalese with Dr. O’Boyle. When you enroll and call, you speak directly to Dr. O’Boyle and will get unabridged advice and care.
What are the benefits of having your family enroll in a direct primary care practice? According to this newspaper, DPC patients are 52 percent less likely to require hospitalization than patients under a traditional model. By providing the vast majority of care needed at the primary care level, a DPC doctor can allow a person to purchase the bare minimum insurance policy that is right for their family. The savings with this alone can be thousands of dollars each year.
16 October 2018
Did I mention that at Beyond Primary Care in Ann Arbor Michigan, we aim to bring affordable blood work to you by being 100% transparent about our pricing? I have mentioned this before about individual medications, but after all, there is more than just medications to be transparent about.
Can you remember an instance where a doctor advised you to get blood work done, but they didn’t know if your insurance would cover it or even how much it would cost? There are examples of this occurring all the time in the news. Such as a $17,000 bill for a urine drug screen or owing $478 dollars for a complete blood count and comprehensive metabolic panel (Our shameless self-promoting plug, Beyond Primary Care’s total price for these tests is $17.28). As a personal example, my wife recently got blood work for what the doctors described as a nominal cost. Yet, the explanation of benefits we received stated the insurance would not cover the tests, which are priced at 4-figures! Upon discovering this and discussing with both the insurance and the doctor’s office, no one has yet to give us reassurances or answers. No transparency there.
The jury is still out on my personal experience, but you can avoid the headaches and uncertainty of this type of disjointed healthcare. At Beyond Primary Care, if lab work is needed, Dr. O’Boyle will discuss with you the reason for the blood work and discuss the total costs of the blood work before beginning. Dr. O’Boyle performs his own blood draws (naturally at no additional cost to you), and then finally sends them out to be interpreted at those agreed upon reduced costs.
What about those affordable blood work results? Dr. O’Boyle will communicate with you what the laboratory study means, perhaps in office, through a phone call, or a text- just to give you peace of mind. That is comprehensive family medicine.
5 October 2018
At Beyond Primary Care, we have Flu shots in stock! A lot of our practice encompasses preventative medicine, i.e- being proactive about your health! We encourage adherence to the CDC immunization guidelines that are endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. We understand the hesitancy that some patients have regarding vaccines and are happy to discuss these concerns together.
If you’re on the fence about a flu shot, here are five arguments to see if I can change your mind.
1) It’s still a common misperception: the idea that you can get the flu from the flu shot
This is, of course, in-correct. The influenza vaccine is made from an inactivated virus. If you got sick in the past around the same time, you likely had a viral cold and attributed those symptoms to this. The most common side effects are a sore arm, and perhaps a little swelling. A very small proportion of people, 1 to 2 percent, get a degree of fever. That’s not the flu, that’s the body reacting to the vaccine.
2) You are vulnerable
People 65 and older are at higher risk of flu-related complications, but the flu can knock young, healthy people off their feet, too. It does every year. Here is a downer about the flu, a 172 American children (under the age of 18) died from the flu last winter. The flu can, on occasion, take a young, healthy person and put them in the intensive care unit. Ask me the story of this.
3) Getting the Flu shot is your civic duty
Nobody wants to be the dreaded spreader, yet everybody gets the flu from somebody else. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have caught the flu virus are contagious one day before they start to feel sick and for up to seven days after. Check out this great NPR video if you really need convinced.
4) You can still get the Flu, but you won’t be as sick
The flu virus constantly evolves, forcing new vaccines to be brewed each your to match the strains. Per the CDC, people who get the flu shot have a 40-60% lower chance of getting seriously ill than the unvaccinated. Yes, you can still get the flu despite vaccination, but generally those cases will have milder illnesses than if they skip the vaccine.
5) Pregnant women who get the Flu shot protect their babies from the flu
Women who are pregnant should be vaccinated to protect themselves. Still, the vaccine also offers protection after babies are born as mother can pass the protection on, across the placenta. This will protect their baby during the first six months of life, until the baby is old enough to be vaccinated