• What is the value in a second opinion before surgery?

    Patient-focused healthcare providers will always support the right of patients to get a second opinion, especially after a serious diagnosis or before a complex surgery. Seeking a second opinion doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re worried the original doctor made a mistake, but rather that you feel you need to be better informed before making a treatment decision. When you watch this featured video, you’ll hear an interview with a neurosurgeon at Riverside Community Hospital. He explains why he strongly supports patients who self-advocate for their right to be informed.

    Becoming an informed patient
    Being an informed patient means that you:

    • Fully understand your diagnosis
    • Know which treatment options are available to you
    • Understand why your doctors recommend a certain treatment
    • Understand the potential risks of the treatments
    • Have asked all of your questions

    Even if you go forward with the original doctor’s surgery recommendations, getting a second opinion can be invaluable because it allows you to become better informed about your health.

    Understanding your diagnosis
    Another doctor’s opinion is particularly valuable for patients when the diagnosis is confusing, serious or rare. A specialist may want to run an additional medical test or imaging scan, just to be sure that the original diagnosis is correct.

    Even if the original diagnosis is confirmed by another doctor, getting a second opinion can help because it gives you the opportunity to discuss it further. Some questions you may want to ask include:

    • Why do I have this condition?
    • How serious is my health condition?
    • How can I manage my risk factors moving forward?
    • Is there a possibility of a recurrence after the surgery?
    • Is it possible for my condition to worsen without the surgery?
    • How exactly will my diagnosis affect my life?

    Exploring all possible treatment options
    Hypothetically, if you consult two board-certified orthopedists about surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, one of them may suggest a carpal tunnel release surgery, while the other might refer you to a physical therapist first. A difference in medical opinion doesn’t necessarily mean that one of those orthopedists is wrong. It’s not unusual for similarly trained and credentialed doctors to take different approaches to patient care.

    By seeking a second opinion, you’ll learn about these different approaches, and how each of them might benefit your health. When you do receive treatment, you can feel confident knowing that you made an informed decision.

    World-class surgical services are available at Riverside Community Hospital , including organ transplant, spinal surgery and open heart surgery. Our surgery teams always put our patients first, and encourage them to seek a second opinion before choosing a course of treatment. Patients near Riverside can call (951) 788-3463 to speak with a registered nurse.

  • How will your doctor determine if you have depression?

    It isn’t known exactly what causes depression, although it’s thought to be linked to brain chemistry. When your doctor evaluates you for possible depressive disorders, he or she will ask you questions about your symptoms, lifestyle and the challenges you’ve been experiencing. Since there is no laboratory test available to confirm a diagnosis, the doctors at Riverside Community Hospital rely on in-depth discussions with patients to find out how to help them.

    Personal and family medical histories
    A person’s risk of depression can be elevated if one or more family members have also been treated for depression. In addition to evaluating your family history, your doctor will ask you if you’ve ever previously been treated for depressive disorders or other mental health disorders. People who have already had one depressive episode are more likely to experience another.

    Symptom review
    It’s possible to experience many different symptoms of depression, and some of them might not appear to be associated with your mental health. Before you go to the hospital, write down all of the problems you’ve been experiencing. In particular, try to remember how long you’ve had these symptoms, how frequently you experience them and how severe they are.

    Not everyone will experience the same symptoms of depression, but the following are common:

    • Persistent feelings of emptiness and sadness
    • Feeling worthless, helpless or hopeless
    • Feeling guilty
    • Irritability or anger
    • Social withdrawal
    • Loss of interest in usual activities
    • Impaired concentration, memory and decision making
    • Thoughts of suicide or death
    • Attempted suicide

    Physical changes often go hand-in-hand with the less visible signs of depression.

    • Weight loss or gain
    • Changes in appetite
    • Sleeping too much or not enough
    • Loss of libido
    • Fatigue
    • Unexplained aches and pains

    Mental health questionnaire
    If your doctor suspects you may have depression, you’ll likely be asked to complete a mental health questionnaire. There are no right or wrong answers—just respond in accordance with how you truly feel.

    The questionnaire will ask you whether you’ve experienced certain symptoms and how often you’ve had them. You’ll also be asked about the extent to which your symptoms interfere with your daily activities. Your doctor will use this information to assess your mental health and recommend treatment options.

    Through all of life’s ups and downs, our compassionate doctors and nurses are here to help. Riverside Community Hospital is a modern medical facility in Riverside that embraces a “patients first” approach. You can speak with a registered nurse any time by calling (951) 788-3463.

  • A look at the impact of breast cancer on Hispanic women

    During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the providers at Cancer Center in Riverside encourage all women to learn about the importance of breast self-exams and screening mammograms. Hispanic women in particular can benefit from accessible health screenings, as they tend to be disproportionately affected by breast cancer.

    The prevalence of breast cancer in Hispanic women

    Thousands of Hispanic women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and not all of them survive. In the U.S., breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in Hispanic women, according to the National Cancer Institute. It’s also the most common cause of cancer-related death.

    A comparison of Hispanic patients to non-Hispanic, Caucasian patients who were diagnosed at the same stage and age reveals that Hispanic women are more likely to die from breast cancer.

    The diagnosis of breast cancer in Hispanic women

    One major problem contributing to these troubling statistics is the insufficient breast cancer screenings of Hispanic women. This particular patient population is more likely to be diagnosed later, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the breast, and beyond.

    A delayed diagnosis means that these patients may need mastectomies, rather than lumpectomies, and a more aggressive treatment plan overall. A late-stage diagnosis also means that medical intervention is less likely to lead to a favorable long-term survival rate.

    The steps women can take to protect their health

    One of the most effective steps a woman can take to protect herself from breast cancer is simply to talk to her doctor about it. With the help of their primary care physicians, women can learn about their risk factors, and determine whether they need to start having screening mammograms.

    Although there is no foolproof way to definitively prevent cancer, women who take the following steps may reduce their risk:

    • Limit or avoid alcohol
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Exercise on most days of the week

    Women who notice any unusual changes in the look or feel of their breasts and the surrounding areas are encouraged to talk to their doctors right away.

    With its comprehensive patient support services and compassionate care, Cancer Center at Riverside Community Hospital is a sanctuary for patients and their families. We’re committed to giving our patients world-class cancer care for the best possible outcome. Call a registered nurse in Riverside at (951) 788-3463 to request a referral.

  • Could physical therapy treat your tennis elbow?

    Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is a repetitive strain injury that affects the arm. If you’ve been diagnosed with it you may have experienced impaired grip strength, elbow stiffness and pain. Patients with tennis elbow who come to Riverside Community Hospital can work toward recovery with the help of our talented physical therapy and orthopedics team, one of whom is featured in the accompanying video. He explains the basics of a nonsurgical treatment plan.

    Pain management for tennis elbow
    Before you begin rehabilitative exercises to treat tennis elbow, your physical therapist may start you on pain management modalities. You may use cold packs during the first 24 to 48 hours in order to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain. After the first couple of days, a heating pad may be more beneficial.

    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also improve the pain and reduce swelling. In severe cases, an orthopedist may administer anti-inflammatory drugs directly to the injury via injection.

    Bracing and support for tennis elbow
    Various styles of tennis elbow bracing and support devices are available to take pressure off the injured area. These include tennis elbow sleeves, straps and epicondylitis clasps. Your physical therapist will recommend a type that is most likely to benefit you.

    Physical rehabilitation for tennis elbow
    Initially, your physical therapist may perform passive exercises. This means he or she will move your arm in specific ways, without you doing any of the work.

    As your pain diminishes and you’re able to move the arm yourself, you’ll be shown how to do stretches and exercises designed to rehabilitate and strengthen your arm. Your physical therapist will also help you retrain your muscles to avoid future injuries.

    Physical therapy for tennis elbow surgery
    If conservative treatments aren’t enough, an orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgical intervention to correct tennis elbow. Your physical therapist will play an important role in your post-surgery recovery. As the area heals, you’ll work with your physical therapist to regain strength, flexibility and range of motion in your arm.

    In the event you do need surgery, you’re in good hands at Riverside Community Hospital. Riverside Orthopedic Institute and its highly trained surgical team provide unique amenities, including a modern, multifaceted approach to pain management. A registered nurse in Riverside is available to speak with you when you call (951) 788-3463.