Aspen Medical Center Blog

Low Back Pain

Most people will not make it through life without suffering from back pain at some point in time. Back pain can occur in different areas of the back, but low back pain is particularly common. More than 30% of U.S. adults report having had low back pain within the previous three months. Most episodes of back pain will improve within 6 weeks or less, but some people develop chronic low back pain (low back pain lasting more than three months).

There are many different potential causes of low back pain but it can generally be prevented by learning how to improve your posture as well as proper techniques for lifting and exercising.

Sometimes back pain can be serious. Contact your doctor immediately or come to Aspen Medical Center to be evaluated if:

  • Pain goes down your leg below your knee
  • Your leg, foot, groin or rectal area feels numb
  • You have fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness or sweating
  • You lose control over your ability go to the bathroom (to urinate or defecate)
  • Your pain was caused by an injury
  • Your pain is so intense you can’t move around

What causes low back pain? A muscle strain or spasm, sprains of ligaments (which attach bone to bone), joint problems or a “slipped disk” can all cause low back pain. A common cause of low back pain is using your back muscles in activities you’re not used to, such as lifting heavy furniture or doing yard work. Unexpected events such as falling or a being involved in a car accident can also cause low back pain.

A slipped (also called a herniated) disk happens when a disk between the vertebrae (or bones of the spine) bulges and presses on a nerve coming out of the spinal cord. Sometimes people who have a slipped disk don’t know what caused it or sometimes it comes from an activity such as lifting while twisting. Most of the time, slipped disks and other low back pain can be relieved by following a few simple methods.

Back pain can generally be treated with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Gentle stretches or exercises such as yoga can be helpful as well. Using a heating pad for 20 or 30 minutes can help with painful muscle spasms. Ice packs and massage can also be helpful. Weight loss is another way to help improve low back pain over time.

For chronic low back pain, acupuncture has been shown to be a helpful treatment. Multiple studies have shown acupuncture provides significant pain relief in people with chronic low back pain. The Joint Commission, an independent non-profit organization that accredits and certifies 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, recommends acupuncture as an treatment option for pain management. We offer low-cost acupuncture at Aspen Wellness (https://aspenwellness.care, phone: 505-466-5887). Often multiple or ongoing treatments are necessary to improve and maintain some level of pain relief. Acupunctureis a safe and healthy alternative to other treatments like narcotic painkillers which have multiple risks but are sometimes used for chronic low back pain. 

Journey to Nepal

I recently had the pleasure and privilege of working again with Himalayan HealthCare (HHC), www.himalayanhealthcare.org. HHC is a non-profit organization that has been working in Nepal for 25 years now. Their mission as stated on their website is “to create sustainable development programs in the remote areas of Nepal that will improve the quality of life for its people. Himalayan HealthCare achieves its mission by providing primary healthcare, community education, and income generation programs that enable people to be self-supporting in the long-term.” Founder, Anil Parajuli, and his wife Soni, and their wonderful family, are inspirational and a joy to work with.

 

My wife, Rachel, an acupuncturist, and our son and I were part of a team of seven international volunteers on the recent Spring 2017 Medical Service Trek. There was also a Nepali doctor, Dr. Trishna Chand Thakur, on the trek. The trek lasted for twelve days and we trekked to two villages, Shertung, and Lapa, and set up clinics there for a total of 5 days, treating hundreds of patients.

Nepal is still recovering from the devastating earthquake that occurred at 11:56 am local time on April 25, 2015 with a magnitude of 7.8 to 8.1 on the Richter scale. The earthquake killed 9000 people and injured another 22,000. The death toll likely would have been much higher except that it occurred in the middle of the day when many people were out of their homes. It triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest killing 21 people there making it the deadliest day on the mountain in history. About three and a half million people were made homeless. In the villages we visited, 80% of the homes were destroyed
or made uninhabitable by the earthquake.
After the earthquake, there were multiple aftershocks as well, one of which killed at least another 200 people. There was an estimated $10 billion in damage done by the earthquake which is about 50% of Nepal’s nominal GDP. Needless to say, this has had an enormousimpact on the people of Nepal and two years later, recovery is still underway.

There was much evidence of infrastructure development and there are actually plans to build roads into the villages we visited which will make trekking there obsolete. Himalayan HealthCare has done over 65 Medical-Dental treks since 1992. HHC is involved in the rebuilding effort and over the years has built schools and libraries, served over 180,000 patients so far, improved sanitation, and contributed to education with literacy classes and scholarships for college students from these impoverished communities. There is a documentary on their work titled Hearts in the Himalayas, viewable on Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahAH9uyzq9g

On our trek, we treated patients with a range of medical problems, everything from hypertension and back pain to congestive heart failure and seizures. People were very appreciative and kind. I was struck by the resiliency, joy, and strength of these people who live in very remote mountainous areas. If you are looking for a charity to contribute to, I strongly encourage you donate to Himalayan HealthCare. Or if you are in the medical or dental fields, please consider joining a trek while they are still happening. HHC qualifies as a 501(c)(3) organization so donations are tax deductible. I can guarantee you that your money will be put to good use, as I have witnessed their work myself.

Get out and exercise

Get out and Exercise!

Regular exercise is one of the keys to living a healthy life. Living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we are blessed with 300 sunny days per year. Although it can get cold at times in the winter, there are opportunities to stay physically active, whether indoors or outdoors, year-round.

There are multiple benefits to exercise. I have often joked that if I could put all the benefits of exercise into a pill and sell that pill, I would become an instant multi-millionaire! Unfortunately, at this time, no such pill has been developed so you actually need to get up off the couch and move your body to get the benefits.

What are these benefits? According to the CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

physical activity can help:
Control Your Weight.
Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.
Reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
Reduce Your Risk of Some Cancers.
Strengthen Your Bones and Muscles.
Improve Your Mental Health and Mood.
Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
Increase your chances of living longer
See this link for more details: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/

What kind of exercise is right for you? That is a complicated question. If you have any concerns about possible heart disease or a heart problem, you should consult your doctor or health care provider before starting any rigorous exercise program. If you like, call Aspen Medical Center Urgent Care & Primary Care for an appointment or just walk in.

I suggest finding some type of exercise you enjoy. Walking, for many people, is an easy and accessible form of exercise. I walk to work everyday. One common recommendation is to try to get 10,000 steps a day. There are many apps and devices to help achieve this goal or the goal can be individualized. You can join the Aspen Wellness Walkers, sponsored by Aspen Wellness, our acupuncture clinic and wellness center. We usually sponsor a walk somewhere in Santa Fe every weekend. For more information, go to https://www.meetup.com/Aspen-Wellness-Walkers/

Other types of exercise include rock climbing, hiking, swimming, biking, skiing, and jogging. Some people like to dance. Others play sports such as basketball, soccer, pickle ball, volleyball, softball, or tennis. Others like yoga, Tai Chi, or Zumba. I believe there is an appropriate exercise for everyone. All you have to do is start. Ideally try to work up to an average of at least 30 active minutes (e.g brisk walking) 5 days a week. This can do wonders for your mood and your overall health. Good luck!

Seven ways to stay healthy during cold and flu season

During the colder months of the year (which in Santa Fe, New Mexico is generally from October to April or even May), there are many upper respiratory viruses circulating that can cause colds and flu-like illnesses. This leads to missed work, doctor’s visits, and generally not feeling well—it is no fun to be sick. In the worst case scenario, influenza, or the flu, can lead to hospitalization and every year some people even die of influenza. These viruses are very contagious so when you get sick, you can expose others and make them sick as well. Although there are possible treatments for influenza (the flu), there is no cure for the common cold. Therefore, prevention is key. Here are 7 ways to improve your chances of staying healthy during cold and flu season:

1. Wash your hands. It is very important to wash your hands frequently. Wet your hands, use soap to create a lather, and then rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds; then rinse and dry. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. This is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and decrease your chances of getting sick.

2. Get regular exercise. It is important to get regular exercise to help your body stay healthy and to maintain a strong immune system. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends aerobic exercise. Most healthy adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, or a combination of the two. Exercise helps the body function more efficiently and helps the immune system fight off potential illnesses.

3. Drink water. Our bodies are more than 50% water. In order to stay healthy, it is important to keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water everyday. One common recommendation, the “8×8 rule,” is to drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day.

4. Get adequate sleep. If you want to stay healthy, it is important to get adequate sleep every night. When you don’t get enough rest and get “run down,” it can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. Adults vary in how much sleep they need, but most of us need 7 to 9 hours a night. Children and adolescents need more sleep.

5. Get your flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot every year, ideally before the end of October. However, getting the flu shot later in the season is okay too. In New Mexico, the flu season can last until May. The flu shot helps decrease your risk of getting the flu. It will also protect your loved ones from exposure to the flu. At Aspen Medical Center, we offer flu shots every year.

6. Eat healthy. In order to maintain an optimally functioning immune system, it is also important to eat a healthy diet. There are many different dietary recommendations out there, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid junk food (sodas, chips, candy, pre-packaged food and fast food), and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, in addition to whole grains, and healthy fats (e.g olive oil) and protein (eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, and lean meats).

7. Minimize your stress level. The immune system can be affected by stress. Some stress is inevitable, but intense prolonged stress can lead to sickness. It is important to find healthy means of coping with stress such as relaxation or calming exercises. Prayer, meditation, journaling, or talking with friends, family, or a counselor are all ways to help deal with stress. Acupuncture and massage also help alleviate the negative affects of stress. If you have anxiety, depression, or other condition that interferes with your normal functioning, then seek out a mental health practitioner or medical provider.

The 100 Mile Challenge Has Begun!

April 4th – July 12th

Week 4 – Next Group Walk – Fort Marcy Park

Next Group Walk – Fort Marcy Park – Sunday, April 25th 8:30am (Click here for info)

Don’t worry, it is not too late to register! Whether you consider yourself a couch potato or a fitness expert…

…Imagine yourself doing something BIG this year to improve your body, brain, mood, and overall health. Imagine a bunch of other people in your community joining you in this endeavor and how the group motivation will help propel all of you to your goals. Imagine a big party to celebrate your achievement! Aspen Wellness invites you to join the 100 Mile Challenge – a challenge to walk, jog, or run 100 miles within a hundred days. People of all ages and levels of fitness are welcome to join.

Your Registration Includes

As a member of the 100 Mile Challenge you will receive a chart to log your miles, a list of great walking paths, a totebag, a t-shirt, a pedometer, and a 50% off coupon for an acupuncture treatment at Aspen Wellness. You will be invited to weekly walks in a variety of places around Santa Fe. You will have the option of receiving motivational emails with health and fitness tips. And finally, when our 100 days are up, we’ll have a party to celebrate our efforts and achievements. Join now and please forward this link to anyone you want to join you in the first annual 100 Mile Challenge!

*How can I reach the 100 Mile goal?

Customizing Your Challenge

You can join our weekend group walks, or just walk in your own neighborhood, on your own schedule.  You can customize the 100 Mile Challenge to suit your own needs and goals. You may not be able to walk one mile per day but would rather walk several miles during the week or on the weekend. You may want to swim, bike, or Zumba your way to the hundred miles. You may want to double the challenge or even triple the challenge. It’s all about getting active, setting a goal, and enjoying the camaraderie of others. Let’s challenge ourselves and let’s have fun!

Build a healthy habit
Get in better shape or lose some weight
Learn about the many great places to walk or run in Santa Fe
Make friends!
Registration Fees:

The 100 Mile Challenge began April 4th. Late registrations will be accepted anytime during the challenge. However, t-shirts are only guaranteed to those who register by May 1st.

Adults – $20 Children under 17 – $10

Click here for online Registration Form (You can also register in person at Aspen Medical Center or Aspen Wellness)

Take the 100 MILE CHALLENGE! April 4th – July 12th, 2015

Presented by Aspen Wellness

KICKOFF – Saturday, April 4th 9:00am

Click here for more information

Whether you consider yourself a couch potato or a fitness expert…

…Imagine yourself doing something BIG this year to improve your body, brain, mood, and overall health. Imagine a bunch of other people in your community joining you in this endeavor and how the group motivation will help propel all of you to your goals. Imagine a big party to celebrate your achievement! Aspen Wellness invites you to join the 100 Mile Challenge – a challenge to walk, jog, or run 100 miles within a hundred days. People of all ages and levels of fitness are welcome to join.

Your Registration Includes

As a member of the 100 Mile Challenge you will receive a chart to log your miles, a list of great walking paths, a totebag, a t-shirt, and a 50% off coupon for an acupuncture treatment at Aspen Wellness. You will be invited to weekly walks in a variety of places around Santa Fe. You will have the option of receiving motivational emails with health and fitness tips. And finally, when our 100 days are up, we’ll have a party to celebrate our efforts and achievements. Join now and please forward this link to anyone you want to join you in the first annual 100 Mile Challenge!

Customizing Your Challenge

You can customize the 100 Mile Challenge to suit your own needs and goals. You may not be able to walk one mile per day but would rather walk several miles during the week or on the weekend. You may want to swim, bike, or Zumba your way to the hundred miles.  You may want to double the challenge or even triple it if you are ambitious. It’s all about getting active, setting a goal, and enjoying the camaraderie of others. Let’s challenge ourselves and let’s have fun!

  • Build a healthy habit
  • Get in better shape or lose some weight
  • Learn about the many great places to walk or run in Santa Fe
  • Make friends!

Registration Fees:

The 100 mile Challenge will officially begin April 4th. Late registrations will be accepted anytime during the challenge. However, t-shirts are only guaranteed to those who register by May 15th.

Adults – $20   Children under 17 – $10

Click here for online Registration Form (You can also register in person at Aspen Medical Center or Aspen Wellness)

Introducing Aspen Wellness!

ASPEN-WellnessLOGFinal9-14 (3)

At the end of 2014, Aspen Medical Center expanded its mission of offering top quality urgent care and primary care by opening a complementary and alternative healthcare center. Aspen Wellness is located right beside Aspen Medical Center.  Acupuncture treatments are just $25 per session and both appointments and walk-ins are welcome.  Chinese herbs, bodywork, and a wide range of energywork and alternative healing modalities are also available. Aspen’s focus is on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health and wellbeing. With that in mind, Aspen Wellness offers a weekly Qi Gong class (Wednesdays from 4:00-5:00) and a walking club.  Classes on nutritious cooking, stretches for back pain, and the Aspen Wellness 100 Mile Club are currently being developed. 

What can acupuncture treat?

Try acupuncture for pain of any kind, stress, depression, anxiety, allergies, digestive issues, weight loss and more. For a more comprehensive list of conditions and information about other healthcare services and programs, visit the Aspen Wellness website at http://www.aspenwellness.care .

Call Aspen Wellness for an appointment or just walk in. The hours are 10am-2pm Monday through Thursday. Additional hours are available by appointment. Call 505-466-5887 to schedule.

Aspen Medical Center & Aspen Wellness…we’ve got you covered!

Skin Cancer Prevention

urgent-care-santa-fe-skin-cancer-preventionSkin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million cases being diagnosed annually.

According to the Skin Care Foundation, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their lives.

The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma, followed by squamous cell carcinoma. Malignant melanoma is less common but more deadly.

The incidence of melanoma appears to be increasing with an estimated 76,690 new cases in 2013. There are other less common types of skin cancer as well.

The most important risk factor for the three types of skin cancer mentioned above is sunlight which is a source of ultraviolet radiation.

There is ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Both types of UV radiation can damage the skin and lead to wrinkles, skin cancer, and other skin problems.

Other risk factors for skin cancer include severe blistering sunburns, lifetime sun exposure, and tanning. Being in the sun too often and for too long can lead to skin cancer even if you don’t burn.

So, how do we prevent skin cancer? The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun. Try to avoid outdoor activities between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If you have to be outside, seek shade.

And remember that clouds and water don’t protect you. Sixty to 80% of the sun’s rays go through clouds and can reach swimmers at least one foot below the surface of the water.

The sun’s radiation can also reflect off water, snow, and white sand. Snow reflects 85% of UV radiation. Continue reading

GRAND OPENING EVENT!

Hey Wonderful Santa Fe!

Come join us THIS SATURDAY (4/6) for our Grand Opening Event!

We’re going to have some delicious food, awesome gift certificates, and excellent music provided by Mr. Limn. (check him out online! https://soundcloud.com/mrlimn)

Aspen Medical Center is dedicated to serving the Santa Fe community with top-notch Urgent Care and Primary Care as well as ensuring a great time at this Grand Opening Event!

Be sure to get you and your friends here early to get your name in the hat for the gift certificate drawing!

See you this weekend!

Dr Ropp Working with Himalayan Healthcare

gearing-up-medical-service-trip-himalayas

In March and April of 2012, I had the pleasure of working with Himalayan Healthcare.  They are an amazing non-profit organization helping poor villagers in the mountains of Nepal since 1992.  Co-founded by Anil Parajuli, they provide  medical care, education, and income generating opportunities to the rural people of Nepal.

Twice a year, they lead volunteer medical treks into the beautiful mountains of the Ganesh Himal.  Our trek lasted ten days and we trekked through snow, rain, mud, fog, and over two mountain passes, the highest of which was 13,000 feet above sea level.  We visited two remote villages along the way where we planted trees, met with villagers, and set up medical clinics where we treated hundreds of people with otherwise little or no regular access to healthcare.  It was an awesome experience.  The people were incredibly hospitable and appreciative, the scenery was incredible, and I made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime.

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Join Dr Ropp at Hearts in the Himalayas: A Documentary

Date: 3/12/2013    Event Location: Santa Fe REI     Event Fee: Free     Time: 6:00 – 7:30 PM MDT

 

Description: Join Himalayan Healthcare for a special screening of Hearts in the Himalayas. This award-winning documentary showcases their volunteer work over a two year period providing medical care to rural villagers in the mountainous regions of Nepal.

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 8.53.06 PM
 
Caring For The World Films announced today its film Hearts In The Himalayas has won a prestigious Award of Merit in the Women Filmmaker category from the Best Shorts Competition. The award was given for director Debi Lang’s compelling humanitarian documentary Hearts In The Himalayas which profiles the extraordinary work of Nepalese NGO Himalayan HealthCare, a driven and dedicated volunteer organization that provides medical care, education, and income generation opportunities to the people of rural Nepal.

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Seasonal Allergies

Overview and Allergy Symptoms

Chamisa, Mulberry, Pig Weed, Cedar and Juniper Allergies

allergies

An allergy is the body’s overreaction to substances that do not cause a reaction in someone who is not allergic.  These substances are called allergens.  There are many different types of allergens including mold, animal dander, dust, pollen from trees, grass, and weeds like chamisa, mulberry, pig weed, cedar and juniper.

An allergic reaction to pollen is a seasonal allergy and can be called hay fever or allergic rhinitis.  Allergy symptoms include runny nose, itching, and nasal congestion.  Seasonal allergies will affect people at the time of year when certain pollens are at their highest levels.

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Seasonal Flu or Influenza Symptoms and Treatment

Influenza or “the flu” is a contagious viral respiratory infection.  It is spread from person to person and can cause mild to severe symptoms.  Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and often include:  fever over 102°F, stuffy nose, nausea, chills and sweats, fatigue, muscle aches, cough, headache, and loss of appetite.  Flu symptoms usually last for one to two weeks.

Coughs are one of the most common symptoms of childhood illness and should not be confused with the flu. Although a cough can sound awful, it’s not usually a sign of a serious condition as long as they do not “whoop” after prolonged episodes of coughing or having fits of coughing that are so severe that they can’t stop to catch their breath. Continue reading