Questions to Ask Your Specialist About UFE

You’ve talked to your OB-GYN about your uterine fibroid diagnosis and possible treatment options. So…what’s the next step?

If you and your OB-GYN have determined that a treatment option such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) might be right for you, it’s time to see a specialist, particularly an interventional radiologist, who can evaluate whether or not you are indeed a good candidate for the procedure.

Once referred to a specialist, you should take a copy of your medical records and any imaging that has confirmed your fibroid tumors to your consultation. A copy of your most recent gynecologic evaluation is also helpful, as an OB-GYN exam is recommended to rule out non-fibroid causes of symptoms.

To help you understand UFE as a procedure, and also to help you understand how the physician will manage your case, it is important to ask lots of questions. Below is a list of questions you may want to ask your specialist so that you can be prepared to make the best decision about your fibroid treatment.

  • How would you coordinate my care with my OB-GYN?
  • Which OB-GYNs refer patients to you for UFE?
  • How often is the procedure successful in treating uterine fibroids?
  • Are your patients happy with the procedure?
  • What are typical complications, and how often do complications occur?
  • How will I feel during and after the UFE procedure?
  • How long should I expect to be away from work?
  • What is the length of the procedure? What is the normal recovery time?
  • How long should I expect to stay in the hospital?
  • What kind of follow-up care is typical, and who manages it?
  • What typically happens to the fibroids after the blood supply is cut off? Should I expect them to be expelled vaginally, or will the procedure simply result in my fibroids shrinking?
  • Will my fibroids, or the symptoms of my fibroids, come back?
  • Will I still get my periods after having UFE, and what will they be like?
  • Will my insurance cover Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
  • Can you help me determine if I am a candidate for UFE, and when can we schedule the procedure?

Avoid Back Pain by Strengthening Your Core

Approximately 25 percent of Americans are affected by back pain in any given year, spending more time at the doctor’s office for back pain than for any other medical condition except high blood pressure and diabetes.

Back pain sufferers can potentially avoid those doctor visits, as well as costly prescriptions and surgery, by doing simple exercises at home.

A weak core is one of the most common causes of low back pain. Building strength and stamina in your core—the muscles between your chest and butt—can go a long way in preventing back pain.

Strong core abdominal muscles help stabilize your spine. When these muscles are weak, the long, strap-like muscles in the back—whose function is to help us rotate, twist, and bend—instead begin to take over the stabilizing function. The back muscles tighten and contract, which can lead to painful spasms and potential injury.

One simple way to strengthen your core is by slowly pulling your belly button in to engage the abdominal muscles. Becoming conscious of engaging those muscles while you perform everyday activities will go a long way to improve your core. Engage the muscles, while still breathing normally, as you go about your day—while rising to a standing position, lifting your child or a heavy object, or bending down to pick something up off the floor.

Two other easy exercises to strengthen your core are the plank and the “Superman.” To do a plank, lie down on the floor on your stomach and raise yourself up on your forearms and toes. Squeeze your butt and suck in your gut, while holding your head in a neutral position. For the “Superman,” lie on your stomach, while raising your legs and arms a couple of inches off the floor, again, holding your head neutral.

Hold each position for as long as you can. It’s perfectly fine if you can only hold for five seconds at first. Repeat several times a day until you can work up to a minute or longer.

Other exercises to strengthen the core include partial crunches, wall sits, and pelvic tilts. Some movements in exercise programs such as Pilates, Tai Chi, and some forms of yoga can also focus on building strong abdominal muscles.

Without specific back and abdominal exercises to target these muscles, they will naturally weaken over time, increasing the chance of developing or worsening back pain. Conversely, developing combined strength in stomach and back muscles can reduce the likelihood and severity of back pain and injury, improve posture, facilitate healing from back injury, and help avoid back surgery in some cases.

Exercising your core should be included as a part of your daily routine of good health and should only take a few minutes out of your day to complete.

Athletes and Varicose Veins

Most people associate varicose veins with pregnant or overweight, sedentary individuals, but did you know that even active, healthy adults can be plagued with this condition? Athletes who spend much of their time on their feet can place a lot of strain on the veins of the lower legs, which can lead to the development of varicose veins in the lower thighs and calves.

Certain sports, such as weightlifting, skiing, and backpacking, force the legs to support heavier weight over longer periods of time. Repetitive-motion activities—including tennis, cycling, and running—also increase the strain on the veins in the legs. The greater the intensity and regularity of the sport, the higher the likelihood of occurrence, but even occasional participation can result in varicose veins.

Our veins bring blood back to the heart, but when we walk or stand, the veins in our legs must battle gravity. If the valves in our leg veins aren’t working properly, some of the blood pools in the veins and puts pressure on the lower legs, resulting in unsightly varicose veins. During exercise, the muscles require more oxygen, so more blood comes down the legs through the arteries. This extra blood needs to be brought back up through the veins, but if the veins are not functioning properly, a lot of the blood stays down in the lower legs.

Symptoms of varicose veins may include tired or heavy legs after exercising, throbbing or heaviness in the legs, and localized pain and/or swelling. Only in extreme cases will these vein problems hinder athletic performance, and some varicose veins may even be asymptomatic, but even so, it is still a good idea to get any varicosities checked out, whether they are hindering athletic performance or not.

Although excess weight and inactivity are common factors contributing to varicose veins that don’t necessarily affect healthy athletes, other factors can play a role. If one of your parents has a vein disease, you are 33 percent more likely to have one as well. Your risk factor jumps to 90 percent if both parents have a vein condition. Women are more likely to develop varicose veins, as are people over age 50. Other risk factors include pregnancy and hormonal fluctuations. Although there is little you can do to avoid these risk factors, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of varicose veins.

If you’re already physically active, you can still add other preventive measures—including elevating your feet in the evenings and after exercising, as well as wearing compression stockings, to aid in healthy blood flow. Maintaining a diet low in sodium and high in fiber will help prevent water retention and constipation, factors that can increase your risk for varicose veins.

If you are still plagued by varicose veins, despite being physically active and taking preventive measures, it may be time to seek treatment. At Vein Center of Indiana, we offer many nonsurgical, noninvasive treatment options, including Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT), ambulatory phlebectomy, and sclerotherapy. Patients report little to no pain and are back to their usual activities with little downtime.