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.
13 March 2019
Hello and thank you reading my blog at Beyond Primary Care and trying the BPC Good Eats recipes. This featured recipe is a Spinach Tuscan Chicken. These recipes are my attempt, in a way, to bridge that Doctor’s adage of “Eat Better & Exercise More.” In this post, I will showcase a healthy meal made on a budget, my pictures are pretty decent, and that is how I got into this food endeavor.
Spinach Tuscan Chicken
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Adapted from: Alvin Zhou at Tasty
4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 onion, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
4 cups spinach
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1) In a medium bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper.
2) Place a skillet over medium-low heat, add the olive oil.
3) Place the chicken thighs skin side down and cook for approximately 12-15 minutes. Move the chicken around to ensure even cooking. Flip the chicken, cooking for another 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove from pan and cover with foil.
4) To same skillet, add the onion and garlic, stirring until onions are translucent. Stir in tomatoes and spinach until spinach is wilted.
5) Add the heavy cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
6) Remove 1 cup cream mixture into a small bowl, add the cornstarch and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved, add mixture back into skillet.
7) Add the Parmesan cheese and parsley, stirring until thickened
8) Place the chicken back in the pain, spooning the sauce on top of the chicken.
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.
6 January 2019
Hello and thank you reading my blog at Beyond Primary Care and trying the BPC Good Eats recipes. This featured recipe is a Meatloaf. These recipes are my attempt, in a way, to bridge that Doctor’s adage of “Eat Better & Exercise More.” In this post, I will showcase a healthy meal made on a budget, my pictures are pretty decent, and that is how I got into this food endeavor.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hr 15 minutes
Adapted from: Original
1.5 pounds ground beef
1.5 pounds ground pork
1 yellow onion, minced
½ cup apple sauce
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup roasted red peppers, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
½ cup chili sauce
½ cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Mix together all of the ingredients for the loaf. Add additional bread crumbs if too wet, but mixture should be moist.
3) Divide mixture into 4 separate loaves and place onto a foil-lined cookie sheet.
4) Bake loaves for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix sauce ingredients together.
5) After 30 minutes of baking, add sauce on top of the loaves. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.
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.
29 November 2018
Dr. Jeff O’Boyle will host a Meet and Greet at Beyond Primary Care Thursday, December 6th from 5:30 pm until 8 pm.
Meet Dr. Jeff O’Boyle, check out the personal and all-in-one clinic, and learn what Direct Primary Care offers.
26 November 2018
It is fairly easy in exceeding office expectations for the area of customer service, as people have an increasingly low expectation for the service they get at the doctor’s office. It’s normal in fee-for-service office systems to have to wait an hour or more to be seen, and then get only a few minutes of the doctor’s time (if a doctor is seen at all). Many patients often find they half-day off or work or activities, just to be seen. This has left people seeking alternative facilities, such as urgent-care type setting for their ailments.
You likely scheduled a 15-minute time slot. When the doctor’s medical assistant calls you back, you are on the clock. 15 minutes includes everything: time to walk back from the waiting room to the exam room, time for the medical assistant to take vitals (eg- blood pressure, temperature), time for the medical assistant to do the office intake questions. All this, even with the best and fastest medical assistant takes 7 minutes at a minimum. That leaves 8 minutes. 8 minutes for the doctor to do any courtesy conversation (eg- how have things been, what have you been up to since we last spoke), time for the history of illness questions, time for the physical exam, time for discussing what the possible diagnosis is, and time to wrap up the visit by either dispensing medications, ordering laboratory studies, or helping to coordinate your care. By the way, the doctor is going to want to document that visit in your electronic health record. 8 minutes is NOT enough to discuss acute or chronic illness, let alone anything. This results in, at best, frustration. At worst, people avoid care they should be getting.
With Beyond Primary Care, a premium is placed on exceeding office expectations, and again this is done because it’s in the best interest of our clinic, but returning health care to what it once was- focused on patient care.
9 November 2018
Hello and thank you reading my blog at Beyond Primary Care and trying the BPC Good Eats recipes. This featured recipe is a Chicken Noodle Soup. These recipes are my attempt, in a way, to bridge that Doctor’s adage of “Eat Better & Exercise More.” In this post, I will showcase a healthy meal made on a budget, my pictures are pretty decent, and that is how I got into this food endeavor.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from: Original
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes + slow cooking time
6-8 chicken thighs (Or Drumsticks)
6 cups chicken stock
1 yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
6 stalks celery, diced
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp whole peppercorn
2 tsp sea salt
1 cup parsley, divided
1 (12 oz) bag egg noodles
1) Add all ingredients (except for noodles and ½ cup parsley) to slow cooker, cook on low for 8-10 hours.
2) 20 minutes before serving, cook egg noodles separately per package instructions.
3) Meanwhile, shred chicken from bones with fork, discarding bones. Add chicken back in.
4) Place noodles in bowl, add the chicken soup, top with remaining parsley.