Dr. Paul Gilbert, medical director of orthopedic surgical services at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, is not a fan of the “no pain, no gain” style of exercise, but he also doesn’t believe people should just give up.
The La Cañada Flintridge resident spoke at a free men’s health seminar on Tuesday night at USC-VHH in Glendale about “Health of Your Joints” to a crowd of about 85 people, including a number of women. Attendees were able to listen to seven presentations on different aspects of men’s health that included a question-and-answer period afterward.
The theme that united the topics was prevention — the notion that although a sophisticated institution such as USC-VHH can restore patients’ health, it’s a lot wiser to take simple steps so that a stay at the hospital is unnecessary at all.
“Commonly, what I’ll hear is ‘I started exercise, Doc, but it hurt so I quit,’ Gilbert told the audience. “Obviously, it’s the wrong answer. The answer should be ‘I started exercise; I hurt, so I did something different. And I found out what worked for me.’ My dad is 96. He swims three days a week. It’s the only thing that doesn’t hurt. My mom, who likes to go work out with my dad but doesn’t like redoing her hair three days a week, gets in the lane next to him and walks in the water.”
Gilbert also spoke about the benefits of stretching five days a week — with two days off —to keep flexible and keep joints healthy as men and women age.
“Old people, we get stiff,” Gilbert said. “And stiffness puts pressure on joints. You should stretch from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes. Keep those joints mobile. It gets rid of inflammation, it increases blood flow, it helps the health of the cartilage.”
Dr. Rene Sotelo, a professor of clinical urology at Keck School of Medicine of USC who has lived in LCF for three years, said he usually selects the topics for the men’s health seminar and tries to rotate the surgeons who speak.
“We try to incorporate new topics,” Sotelo said in a phone interview before the seminar. “We’ve talked about knee replacement, now we’ll talk about joint pain. … We have been covering different topics.”
Among the topics for men’s health were cardiovascular issues and prostate cancer.
Sotelo is considered one of the most experienced laparoscopic/robotics surgeons internationally, according to his biography on the school’s website.
He spoke about the types of screenings and treatments for prostate cancer as he addressed the topic “Robotic Radical Prostatectomy,” a minimally invasive technique.
One of his patients, Nissin Cohen of Caracas, Venezuela, said after the seminar that he underwent surgery — involving the use of robotic instruments — to remove his prostate, a procedure that lasted 4½ hours.
“It really was not painful at all,” Cohen said. “They made about six incisions and they removed the prostate. In my case, there was a biopsy of the glands around the prostate.”
Sotelo was Cohen’s doctor in Venezuela, and the patient decided to follow the doctor from that country — where Cohen still lives — to USC-VHH to have the procedure.
“He always knows what to do,” Cohen said. “The same day I had the surgery, he had another two surgeries. He’s the best.”
Cohen, 66, said he has a family history of cancer, and in November it was discovered he had a “spot.” Cohen said he was given a choice to continue with a biopsy every six months or have the prostate removed.
“I decided to remove it and that’s it,” Cohen said.
Other topics at the seminar included “Waking Up to Void … Why It Happens and Your Options for Treatment,” with Dr. Mike Nguyen, an associate professor of clinical urology at the USC Institute of Urology of Keck Medicine of USC, as the speaker.
Nguyen said that waking up once during the night to void, or urinate, is considered normal, but when someone awakens twice or more, “it becomes more bothersome and that’s when we say someone has nocturia.”
Nocturia means frequent urination at night. The condition varies with age, gender, mood and body weight, but 44% of men in their 70s and 34% of women the same age have the condition, Nguyen said.
Some basic reasons are drinking too much fluid at dinner, taking diuretic medication at night, drinking caffeine or alcohol and having lower extremity edema or leg swelling, he said.
Other causes even include sleep apnea, he said. During the summary of the presentation, Nguyen said there were several effective treatment options available, including injecting Botox into the bladder, but said a tailored approach to treatment was necessary.
Dr. Laura Shin’s presentation “Footnotes: Taking Care of Your Feet” began by telling audience members about the importance of checking their feet — which can hold clues about whether they are in danger of getting diabetes. Shin, who specializes in podiatry at USC-VHH, said that by 2040 more than 700 million people are expected to have diabetes.
She said 90% of people with the illness develop Type II diabetes that is insulin resistant. With the resulting high blood pressure, she said, there are problems with stroke, blindness, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure, and the illness can lead to amputation.
“Oftentimes we can injure our feet without realizing it,” said Shin, adding it can start with a burning sensation on the bottom of the feet or having a pebble in a shoe and not feeling it. “What happens is that small little sore, that callus, that blister, might turn into an infection and ultimately result in amputation. So this is something we take very seriously.”
Myron and Norma Wiles, who live in La Crescenta, said afterward they enjoyed the presentation.
“It was all interesting and I thought it would be a great help. It helps the layman more to understand,” Myron Wiles said.
USC Verdugo Hills Hospital CEO Keith Hobbs said the seminars focusing on both men’s health and women’s health are rotated every other month.
“Providing free, preventive-care seminars for the community is a priority at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital,” Hobbs said in an email before the event.