ASK THE DOC­TOR

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents - with PRO­FES­SOR KER­RYN PHELPS

QCould you please give me some ad­vice on a heel spur – are there ex­er­cises or a shoe that might help? A.W., Vic. A heel spur is a bony cal­cium de­posit on the un­der­side of your heel. It is a sign of in­flam­ma­tion and of­ten as­so­ci­ated with plan­tar fasci­itis. A po­di­a­trist may as­sess the biome­chan­ics of your foot. Strap­ping your foot or or­thotics may help. The pain can be re­duced by wear­ing sup­port­ive footwear, and do­ing stretch­ing ex­er­cises for your foot and calf mus­cles.

QThe Heart Foun­da­tion now says that fish oil is not as good as they thought for heart health. Is it still worth tak­ing fish oil for arthri­tis? L.D., NSW. The rec­om­men­da­tions about fish oil have ebbed and flowed for years. It is clear that we need omega 3 fatty acids for good health. Good sources in­clude fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, wal­nuts, pump­kin seeds, and canola oil. Fish oil sup­ple­ments do seem to help re­duce in­flam­ma­tory arthri­tis.

QI play a lot of net­ball and now find my knees painful. Any ad­vice? J.K., SA. Net­ball can be hard on your knees be­cause it in­volves jar­ring jumps and twist­ing move­ments, and knee in­juries are the most com­mon in­jury. Your GP can re­fer you to a sports phys­io­ther­a­pist

QI have brit­tle, split­ting nails and am un­sure what is caus­ing them. Could they be caused by some­thing like wash­ing up liq­uids or is there an im­por­tant vi­ta­min or min­eral miss­ing from my diet? I would re­ally like to fix them. A.D., Qld. This is a com­mon prob­lem. Re­peated hand wet­ting and dry­ing is the most com­mon cause. Chem­i­cals, de­ter­gents and al­ka­lis can also cause brit­tle nails. Sup­ple­ments which may help your nail health in­clude bi­otin, sil­i­con, vi­ta­min E and fish oil.

QMy mother has be­come very ab­sent­minded. Is there any way I can tell whether it is just old age or some­thing like de­men­tia? What symp­toms should ring alarm bells? Z.M., NSW. You will need to take her to her GP for a full med­i­cal as­sess­ment as there are many con­di­tions that can mimic de­men­tia, such as med­i­ca­tion, de­pres­sion or uri­nary tract in­fec­tion. Warn­ing signs in­clude hav­ing trou­ble with ev­ery­day tasks, loss of in­ter­est, per­son­al­ity or be­havioural changes and trou­ble re­mem­ber­ing re­cent events.

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