DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 83 years old. I was lifting a heavy end table back in November, and I heard a crack. I knew I was in trouble, as that had happened on the golf course many years ago. I went to the hospital and was there for six days. They took an X-ray, which showed moderate facet arthropathy, mild degenerative disc disease and a mild compression fracture at T12. I was prescribed a back brace, and have been wearing it for three months. However, both feet have begun tingling in the toes, and my foot is numb all the time. I have had periodic ankle swelling, but now the swelling is up to the knees in both legs. Does the back brace have something to do with it? — L.B. ANSWER: Facet arthropathy is a term used by radiologists to describe arthritis in the back. Degenerative disc disease is very common, if not universal, in 83-year-olds. Both can cause back pain. However, the “crack” you heard and the finding of a compression fracture are more troubling. A compression fracture of a vertebra is like what happens to a cardboard box if you put too much weight on top of it. The combination of a compression fracture, tingling and numbness is concerning. It’s time to go back and get re-examined. Compression fractures can lead to nerve compression. Kidney, liver and heart problems can all cause
swelling of the feet, but I think the most likely cause may be that you aren’t elevating your feet as much as before because of the back brace. The booklet on back problems gives an outline of the causes of and treatments for the more-common back maladies. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 303W, 628 Virginia Drive Orlando, FL 32803. Enclose a check or money order for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address.
. DEAR DR. ROACH: Can you explain the condition known as “stone shoulder”? I am a man, 67 years old, and I believe I have it. I spent 45 years as a TV news photographer, handling heavy cameras, tripods, etc. — B.J. ANSWER: “Stone shoulder” is a new one for me. Maybe you mean frozen shoulder, a condition also called “adhesive capsulitis.” It’s not a strictly accurate term, since the loss of movement the name implies is gradual. It starts with shoulder pain, often worse at night, lasting for months.