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Question #1

Dr. John,

I'm generally a healthy 43 yr old female so I'm wondering why my body & joints are aching& so sore. I also have reddish- purple toes that feel like they're burning sometimes and numb other times w/the skin looking blister-like. Mainly this affects the big toe and the one next to it. Could you please tell me what you think might be going on &what should I do?

Answer

Although there are a lot of things that could cause both joint/body pain and toe discoloration, there are a few things that do cause both. The joint and body type pains can come from conditions like lupus, scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis. But in addition to causing these pains they can also cause a condition called Reynaud's syndrome. Although we aren't sure what exactly causes this condition, when it happens the blood vessels to the toes or fingers become very sensitive to cold temperatures and stress. When exposed to either, the blood supply to the fingers and toes slows down, and that can lead to those areas turning pale or discolored. It can also cause pain and numbness. Getting the hands or fingers warmed can get them back to normal but won't treat the underlying cause. And depending whether its lupus, scleroderma or conditions like rheumatoid arthritis treatment will vary so it's extremely important to get the main, underlying cause diagnosed and controlled too. ​

Question #2

I have had my flu & shingles shot. However, is there a level of the shingles that does NOT show up on the surface of the skin? Rather can it be below the skin surface and still have a burning and itching sensation? I had this condition for about 1 month on the calves of my legs. It is now gone (thankful) and because I could tolerate it. I was wondering why the shot didn't work?

Answer

We are getting a few months away from flu shot time again so it's something to certainly start thinking about again. But the shingles shot can be gotten anytime and for those over the age of 60 it can help reduce the chances of getting shingles. Like all vaccines though, it doesn't stop shingles 100 percent of the time, but even if someone who's had the shot does get shingles it will most likely be less intense than if they hadn't gotten the vaccine in the first place. When someone gets shingles they usually first notice a burning or tingling sensation along the skin on one part of their body. If the shingles progresses then a blister filled rash can break out. This rash is what most of us call shingles and is fairly easy to diagnosis since it's usually very visible. If the rash doesn't break out and only the burning or tingling appears than it is tougher to diagnosis and is often initially thought to be a muscle strain or pull. But if shingles is diagnosed, especially early on, then there are some medications that can help control both the rash and pain.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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