The Telegraph
Monday , December 24 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary
Down on the knee

Q: I was walking and suddenly my knee buckled. I was not able to straighten it after that. I am considering massage therapy for it.

A: This kind of painful “locked knee” occurs when there is damage to the meniscus (cartilage) inside the knee. It is either torn or a piece has broken off. This prevents full range of motion in the knee joint and also produces excruciating pain on attempted movement.

It needs to be evaluated by an orthopaedic surgeon. Usually the torn meniscus can be removed. After that physiotherapy or massage will help.

Loo break

Q: I get up frequently in the night to pass urine. I feel that all the urine does not come out. Straining does not help. I did an ultrasound and it shows an enlarged prostate. Is there any medication for this?

A: An enlarged prostate is commonly due to benign (non cancerous) enlargement which occurs with increasing age. It can also be due to cancer. An urologist can evaluate the prostate, make a diagnosis and decide if you will do well with medications or if you require surgery.

Itchy skin

Q: I have itchy red lesions in my armpits and along the areas where my innerwear touches my skin.

A: It may be contact dermatitis, a reaction between your skin, sweat and the detergent used. In the armpit it may be a reaction to your body spray, deodorant or talcum that you use. It may also be a superficial fungal infection. It is better to consult a dermatologist, obtain a diagnosis and take specific treatment.

Tall story

Q: I am 23 years old and I feel I am very short. Is there anyway I can grow taller?

A: Children grow rapidly during their teenage years and eventually tend to reach the average height of both parents. Alternatively, their adult height is double the height as measured on the second birthday. Growth stops around 18-21 years. Till then with good nutrition and exercise you may be able to add 2-4cm to your projected height. Once you are 23 years old, your bones have fused and further increase in height is difficult.

All that gas

Q: I have bloating of the stomach and gas after breakfast every morning. I even have to loosen my pants. By evening it has decreased, only to reappear the next morning. I don’t eat breakfast and drink only a glass of milk before going to work

A: The bloating may be due to the fact that your stomach cannot tolerate milk. Many people have trouble digesting milk. Sometimes this intolerance to milk sets in as they grow older, even though they had no problems as children. Eat a rice-based breakfast and avoid milk for a day or two. If that helps, you know the diagnosis.

Also, try walking, jogging or running for 40 minutes a day. This will help to normalise intestinal motility.

Blood scare

Q: I passed blood in my semen and am frightened that I may have cancer.

A: Make sure that the blood is not in the urine. If your urine is clear and this occurs again, it may be due to an infection in the prostate gland (which makes semen) or testes. There may be small stones in the same glands. You may have suffered an injury, which you do not remember.

Very rarely, clotting disorders can be the cause of the problem. You need to consult an urologist if it occurs again.

Lymph nodes

Q: I am 71 years old and one day while bathing I found some lumps in my armpit. They were not painful. I consulted a local physician who told me not to worry as they were lymph nodes and there was no pain.

A: Enlarged lymph nodes need to be evaluated. If they are painful then there is likely to be a infection in the drainage area (in this case the arm or breast). If they are painless then a physical examination of the whole body, blood tests and scans need to be done. This may have to be followed up by FNAC (fine needle aspiration cytology) or excision biopsy to establish a diagnosis. Do not ignore the lumps.

No easy way

Q: We have been married for seven years and have no children. We tried allopathy, naturopathy and ayurveda but to no avail.

A: First, both of you need to be medically evaluated to see if either of you has any correctable reason for sterility. After a diagnosis, you can treat the specific cause of the sterility scientifically. You have to wait for the next menstrual cycle (28 days) to see if the treatment was successful. You need to be patient and consult a doctor you have confidence in and follow the treatment. Success may take many months. Switching doctors and types of treatment will not work.

Dr Gita Mathai is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore. Questions on health issues may be emailed to her at