From abdomen pains to sciatica – Dr Jeff answers your health questions

DR JEFF FOSTER is The Sun on Sunday’s new resident doctor and is here to help YOU.

Dr Jeff, 43, splits his time between working as a GP in Leamington Spa, Warks, and running his clinic, H3 Health, which is the first of its kind in the UK to look at hormonal issues for both men and women.

Dr Jeff Foster is The Sun on Sunday’s new resident doctor and is here to help you

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Q) I AM 38 and have two kids. I’ve been having pains in my lower abdomen for some time so I went for an ultrasound.

I haven’t had a follow-up with my GP yet but does that sound right to you?

Cara Clayton, Tonbridge

A) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is actually extremely common, it is estimated that one  in 10 women may have it but not everyone has symptoms.

Most women who have symptomatic PCOS first notice problems in their late teens or early 20s.

Symptoms include irregular or absence of periods, infertility, increased body hair, acne, weight gain, and sometimes depression.

Women with PCOS may get all, some, or none of these symptoms.

To diagnose PCOS formally, it requires a combination of a blood test to look at hormone levels as well as an ultrasound scan.

You can never really be “cured” of PCOS, but we look to reduce and manage symptoms, or treat any complications of the condition.

This might mean treating acne  or excess hair growth, reducing weight gain, or seeing a specialist if you are trying to conceive.

In your case, it is possible that the ovarian cysts could be large enough to cause discomfort or press on the bladder, and this requires further investigations and treatment from a gynaecologist.

Q) IS there anything permanent that can be done to treat sciatica?

I’ve had it for two years and it makes working out and even walking painful.

I have started to put on weight because  I simply can’t stand to do anything due to the pain.

Jeff Cooper, Clydebank

A) The main difference between lower back pain and sciatica is the involvement of the sciatic nerve, which exits the lower back and travels down the legs to provide our lower limbs with their nerve supply.

When the sciatic nerve gets compressed, or injured, it can cause pain anywhere down the path of the nerve, and this is sciatica, which is of course different to back pain.

For most people with back pain and sciatica,   ­providing the back with as much support as possible is central to reducing flare-ups.

In general, for an acute episode of sciatica, we advise staying active, taking pain relief and considering referral to physical treatments such as physiotherapy.

If pain is persistent or the nerve symptoms become severe, it may be the case that referral to a neurosurgeon is required, but this is rare. 

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