• Tara Albright DPT

Men's Health

June is the month that we get to celebrate our Fathers, and in that light we are doing a Men’s health blog this month. It is a common misconception that the male and female bodies are the same. Recent research has shown that genetics affects far more than just our sexual differences, but also may affect our drug metabolism, disease processes, and even our behaviors. A study that looked at gene activity in male and female participants showed that some genes are active in females and inactive in males or vice versa. These genes were not just located on the sex genes (X or Y chromosomes), but were actually present in both genders, but behaved differently in both genders. I am not going to make this blog scientific, it is just important to recognize our differences so that each person can be treated appropriately.

On that note, let’s talk about the health issues that affect Men more commonly, and how we may be able to help.

  • Heart Disease – Alright, I know if some of you read our May post you say, “hey, heart disease was on the women’s health list”, which is completely correct. The reason it is on both is because it affects each gender differently and in Men the heart disease manifests itself about 10 years earlier than it does in women. Another contributing factor is the fact that High blood pressure, which is a contributing factor to developing heart disease, is at a higher risk for men, possibly due to the amount of stress placed on Men in their occupations or family roles (sometimes being the only income), but may also be influenced by those genes we discussed earlier. One of the noted differences in men is a gene that makes them more susceptible to high blood pressure. Physical therapy can help to prevent heart disease by encouraging physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices. If you are currently suffering from pain that is keeping you from being active, or are unsure where to start, we can help get you on the right track and get you to your health goals quickly.

  • Suicide/Depression – I know that depression was on the list for women as well, but again it is different and I will explain why. In women stress and depression are more widely discussed and talked about, therefore making it more acceptable for women to struggle with depression and therefore providing more access to treatment because it is “normal”. In men however, it is different because it is not widely accepted and actually looked at as being weak if a man is struggling with his feelings. This has caused a big epidemic of suicide rates increasing in men due to the lack of acceptance and support that the male gender gets for their stress and depression struggles. Likewise, men often are in high stress roles as their occupations and are also wired to have a little higher aggression and anger, making a dangerous combination when combined with depression. Physical activity can again help the mood because it provides much needed endorphins to be released in the body, which improve mood and often combat stress. Both high intensity interval training and sustained low intensity exercise has been shown to be beneficial in altering the brain patterns and improving mood. Any form of exercise is beneficial, the key is just to get moving!

  • Achilles tendonitis/ruptures – These injuries have been shown to be much more common in men, and up until a few years ago, was not greatly understood why, until now. It seems that a hormonal connection and a biological muscle make-up may both play a big role in the reason that 84% of Achilles tendon ruptures occur in men. Science has shown that the hormone estrogen, provides more flexibility in the calf muscle, therefore decreasing the tension on the tendon, which means less strain overall. Also, the male Achilles tendon, although larger, was not as strong as the female tendon, but the calf muscle was shown to be quite a bit stronger than the female calf muscles (which was expected), therefore demonstrating higher stress on a somewhat more vulnerable tendon. More research needs to be done in this manner to mainly look at the molecular structure of the tendon and what sex differences may exist in this area. The final thought on this is that men are less likely to seek medical attention when they have pain, therefore leading to untreated Achilles tendonitis, which will result in a weaker tendon and eventual rupture. If you are currently suffering from ankle pain or Achilles tendonitis we can help. We offer dry needling, personal designed exercise program with stretching, massage techniques, and modalities that can all be helpful in assisting in the recovery from an Achilles issue.

  • Prostate Cancer – as with women, there is a specific sex oriented cancer that causes trouble in men more commonly. Just like breast cancer is more common in women, prostate cancer is the big one for men. There are some risk factors that we can alter to lower the risk of prostate. Mainly eating more fruits and vegetables and decreasing the amount of high fat dairy products and red meat in the diet. These can help lower the risk of prostate cancer. It is also important to get routine prostate checks. Early detection is always the key to improved survival rate.

  • Unintentional injury/accidents – there is a difference between the rate of Men and Women and unintentional injuries. One of the reasons for these injuries is possibly the environment in which many of the male professions are in provide more opportunity for injuries, but science has also pointed to the fact that men tend to be involved in more risky behavior than women. There is a high rate of smoking in men as well as a high rate of drinking and driving. The best way to avoid unintentional injury is to avoid these risky behaviors and be aware of your surrounding when working in a more challenging and risky setting. If you do sustain an injury, whether on the job or not, it is important to seek treatment quickly. The longer an injury goes on untreated, the longer it takes to recover from it. Call us today if you need help recovering from an injury.

  • Diabetes – Recent research has shown that men are more susceptible to develop type 2 diabetes and need to gain far less weight than women to do so. Diabetes is placed in a category known as a metabolic disorder. Recent research has shown that diet changes are the best way to reverse type 2 diabetes, but most people don’t really understand what that means. The diet with the most research and noted benefit for reversal of metabolic syndromes is the Mediterranean diet. The main characteristics of this diet are lean protein, which are high in omega-3s, beans/legumes 2-3 x/wk, low glycemic starch veggies (sweet potatoes, yams, beets, carrots, etc), 5-9 servings of non-starchy veggies, low glycemic fruits (berries, grapes, green apples, etc), 2 servings of high quality whole grain carbohydrates with intact outer coat (oats and barley), Dairy products or alternatives (fermented dairy products highly recommended and lower fat content recommended as well), and extra virgin olive oil is a must (2-6 Tbsp per day). These diet changes alone have been shown to reverse Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. There are recent changes in physical therapy, which are now allowing nutrition training pertaining to various diagnoses. This training as like an extra certification that some PTs may choose to go do and then can counsel their clients on how to use food and supplements to heal your body from pain and injury as well as eliminating disease processes (we actually have 2 PTs in our practice who are certified in functional nutrition for chronic pain management). Exercise has also been shown to be beneficial and is another area that PTs can be helpful in. If you are unsure of where to start with an exercise program we can get you on the right path and it is covered by most insurances. Finally, there is new research in the use of essential oils in treatment of various diagnoses including neuropathy and pain. Further research is needed in this area, but there are some promising small studies that show it may be helpful. We are planning a more in-depth look at type 2 diabetes in a future post because there is so much we can say, but hopefully this gives you a little taste as well as some ideas to reverse Type 2 diabetes and even pre-diabetes.

I hope you enjoyed this whirlwind trip through the land of Men’s most common health issues. Maybe you even learned something you didn’t know. If you came across some information that made you realize that you may require our services please give us a call today. We are eager to assist you toward reaching your healthy goals. Happy June to everyone and don’t forget to celebrate the men in your life on Father’s Day!

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