Symptoms such as sore legs, weakness and pain could signal conditions other than orthopedic disorders, Cathay General Hospital physician Wang Wen-hung (王文弘) has said, citing the case of a 63-year-old woman who had the symptoms due to hyperparathyroidism, a condition caused by overactive parathyroid glands.
The woman had over the past five years suffered from sore legs and weakness, so she got foot massages and received qigong treatment, and visited hot springs, but to no avail, Wang said.
She also sought help from orthopedists, who prescribed medication and intra-articular hyaluronan injections at the knees for osteoporosis, but the symptoms were hardly relieved, he added.
Photo: Lo Chi, Taipei Times
She used a cane to walk, had a poor appetite and was fatigued, Wang said, adding that her weight dropped from 62kg to 46kg over the period.
She eventually sought medical help at Cathay General Hospital, where Wang said he diagnosed her with hyperparathyroidism, which causes hypercalcemia — a condition in which the calcium level in the blood is above normal and can weaken the bones.
She underwent surgery for primary hyperparathyroidism 10 years ago, when surgeons removed a benign tumor in the parathyroid gland, he said.
Her latest symptoms were caused by an increased calcium level in the blood, as her hyperparathyroidism had relapsed, Wang added.
The incidence rate of primary hyperparathyroidism is about 25 to 30 people per 100,000 people, and is highest in the 50-to-60 age group, he said.
It is a common disorder more often diagnosed in postmenopausal women, he added.
Hyperparathyroidism not only affects the bones by overproducing the parathyroid hormone in an attempt to increase the amount of calcium in the blood, it can also increase the risk of kidney disease, including kidney stones and kidney failure in serious cases, Wang said.
Primary hyperparathyroidism can be controlled by medication if the symptoms are mild, but if the condition gets worse or develops into other complications, then surgery is the only option for treatment, which can cure 95 percent of all cases, he said.
People with hyperparathyroidism should undergo checkups regularly to monitor their health condition, he added.
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