Trigger finger – aka Stenosis tenosynovitis



I often have patients who come into the clinic with complaints of a finger that gets stuck in the flexed position and when they try to straighten it, they have pain and the finger “pops” back into a straightened position instead of moving smoothly like usual.  Trigger finger is a form of tenosynovitis which is inflammation of a tendon and it’s protective layers.

Tenosynovitis :  A condition when the tendon  (strong band of tissue that connect the muscle of your hand to your finger bones) and the covering around it get inflamed.  It is most common in the hand and wrist but can occur in the ankle as well.


1)     Repeated use of the hand or wrist – same movement over and over again

2)     Infections – bacteria can spread to the tissues usually underneath the skin where the infection started.

Symptoms:  Pain and/or stiffness in the finger that is usually worse in the morning.  It can also cause a popping, catching or clicking sensation of the finger as it is brought into extension. Sometimes the finger can get locked into a flexed position without being able to straighten it.  Often a small bump at the base of the palmar side of the affected finger is able to be felt.   Sometimes there is swelling of the fingers or hand and trouble grabbing or gripping objects.  It’s most common in the thumb and middle fingers.

Testing:  Usually your doctor can diagnose tenosynovitis by clinical exam but they may decide to do some further testing such as an x-ray, ultrasound, MRI or blood tests especially if there is a history of trauma/injury or infection.

Treatment:  Treatment will depend on the cause however it is often treated with a steroid injection into the area of the affected tendon.  This may reduce the swelling and allow the tendon to move more smoothly.  It may also be treated with surgery or antibiotics if there is an infection.  Often rest is the best treatment along with ice to reduce the swelling to the area.  Putting a cold pack, or bag of frozen vegetables on the swollen area every 4-6 hours for 15 minutes at a time can be helpful.

Ibuprofen or naproxen can also help with the pain and inflammation but are usually not curative.  Finger stretches after the symptoms improve may be helpful to get your fingers back to moving normally.

This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient.  If you have questions please contact your medical provider.


I hope that you have found this information useful.  Wishing you the best of health,

Scott Rennie, DO


Diverticular Disease – Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis


When a patient comes in with abdominal pain or blood in their stool, one of the conditions that we consider is diverticulitis.  You may not have heard about diverticulitis so this will attempt to answer some questions about diverticular disease.

A diverticulum is a small pouch-like structure that sometimes forms in the muscular wall of the colon.  These little pouches often cause no pain and we become aware of them only after having a procedure such as a colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, a barium enema or a CT scan.

What is diverticulosis?  Diverticulosis simply means that there are diverticula present.  Most people don’t have any symptoms and will remain free of symptoms throughout their life (about 15-25% of people develop diverticulitis which is more severe.  I usually think about diverticulum as small areas where the colon balloons out. These are potentially weak areas that might become inflamed or may rupture under pressure.

What is diverticulitis?  Diverticulitis is inflammation of a diverticulum that occurs when there is a thinning or breakdown of the wall of the colon.   Diverticulitis is more severe than diverticulosis because now these pouches in the colon have become irritated/inflamed/stretched because of pressure within the colon or due to hard particles of stool that become lodged inside them.  The diverticulum now becomes painful and may rupture (meaning the wall of the colon may break down and cause stool and bacteria to enter the abdomen).   Diverticulitis may also cause bleeding within the colon because there are often blood vessels in the area where diverticulum occur and they can start bleeding when the area gets inflamed.

Symptoms of diverticulitis:  The symptoms really depend on how bad the inflammation inside the colon is.  The most common symptom is pain in the left lower abdominal area.  Sometimes patients may have blood in their stool, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea.

Classification of diverticulitis:  Simple diverticulitis is more common and usually responds well to medical treatment without needing surgery.  Complicated diverticulitis (about 25% of the cases) usually require surgery to remove the area of the colon that has become inflamed or ruptured.

Treatment:  There is usually no treatment needed with diverticulosis (diverticulum that are not inflamed are generally not painful and don’t usually cause problems).  Many medical providers however recommend increasing dietary to decrease the chances of becoming constipated.  Constipation can increase the pressure within the colon that can in tern lead to diverticulitis.    Increasing fruits, vegetables, hydration and fiber have not been proven to prevent diverticulitis however.    We used to think that patient with diverticulosis should avoid seeds and nuts because we thought they may increase the risks for patients developing diverticulitis, however research has no proven that to be false.

Diverticulitis is usually treated.  The treatment that you receive for diverticulitis depends on the severity of the symptoms.  Mild abdominal pain caused from diverticulitis can usually be treated at home with a clear liquid diet and oral antibiotics.  If the patient develops a fever greater than 100.1 degrees F, worsening or severe abdominal pain or inability to tolerate fluids then hospital treatment is usually recommended.

Hospitalization:  If you need to be in the hospital for diverticulitis you will usually not be allowed to eat or drink until you start feeling better,  and antibiotics and IV fluids are given.  If you develop an abscess inside the colon then a surgeon may need to help drain the abscess by putting a tube through the abdominal wall.

Complications:  Peritonitis is a generalized infection within the abdomen that occurs if the colon ruptures (the wall of your intestines breaks).  An emergency operation is often required in these cases to remove the area of diseased colon and reconnect the un-affected colon back together.  Sometimes these two procedures are done at separate times (the removal is done first) so that the colon is allowed to heal before reattaching the two pieces together.

Surgical treatment:  Patients who don’t respond well after medical treatment or who have repeat attacks of diverticulitis may benefit from surgery to remove the diseased area of their colon.

Bleeding from diverticulitis:  Most of the time the bleeding stops without needing any procedures but sometimes a colonoscopy or other procedures may be necessary to get the bleeding under control.

This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient.  If you have questions please contact your medical provider.


I hope that you have found this information useful.  Wishing you the best of health,

Scott Rennie, DO


Epidermal Inclusion Cysts


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Patients will often come into the urgent care with a small skin lump that has become red and/or painful.  Often if they think back, they might recall feeling a small nodule under the skin in that same area perhaps months or years before it became swollen and red.  The epidermal inclusion cyst is one of the most common skin cysts and can occur anywhere on the body but they are more common on the face or upper body. Most of the time, these cysts do not cause any problems, but can sometimes be cosmetically unpleasing.

Other names for epidermal cysts:

1)   Epidermoid cyst

2)   Sebaceous cyst

3)   Keratin cyst

4)   Epidermal inclusion cyst

5)   Infundibular cyst

Appearance:  Epidermal cysts have a cyst wall that is make of skin cells of the outside layer of the skin called the epidermis.  The cyst wall is like a balloon that goes down into the second layer of skin called the dermis.  The cyst wall/balloon makes a protein found in the skin/nails called keratin that is usually white, cheesy or firm in consistency.   It is often foul smelling as well.

Cyst Rupture:  If the cyst wall ruptures underneath the skin (usually due to trauma or bumping the area unintentionally), the keratin (cheesy white material) comes out and is exposed to the surrounding tissues and is very irritating.  It can make the skin become red, swollen and painful.  It’s best to see your doctor instead of trying to “pop” or drain the cyst yourself.  Sometimes your doctor may recommend treating you with an oral antibiotic before opening the cyst if he/she thinks that the cyst has become infected.

How epidermal cysts are removed:  If the cyst needs to be removed, your doctor will try to remove the entire cyst including the cyst wall.  Remember, the cyst wall is what makes the keratin (that cheesy white material inside the cyst).   If the cyst wall is allowed to remain underneath the surface of your skin, it may start making more keratin which can cause the cyst to come back.

Usually we make an incision over the cyst and separate the underlying skin from the cyst wall and try to remove it in one piece.  If the cyst has ruptured (which is most likely brought the patient in), the cyst is removed in a piecemeal fashion with an attempt to get all of the keratin, and cyst wall out.  The doctor may irrigate the  wound with sterile solution after the procedure.  The skin is usually left open and not stitched.  The doctor may place a small piece of packing gauze under the skin where the cyst was and then put a bandage over it.  This will allow the wound to drain while it’s healing.  The wound is usually examined by a medical provider every 2-3 days to check on the healing process and part or all of the packing gauze will usually be removed.

The reason that your medical provider may put some sterile gauze inside the wound and ask you to come back to be reexamined instead of just putting some stitches over the wound is because sometimes these areas can be infected with bacteria and if the skin is closed right away with sutures, the bacteria will have a small pocket under the skin to grow and form an abscess.  If the wound is allowed to heal from the inside out, there is less chance of an abscess forming and wound healing can happen more quickly.

When to have a cyst removed:  If it’s small and doesn’t hurt and isn’t painful/red/swollen, it probably doesn’t need to be removed.  I might recommend removing a cyst if:

1)   It keeps getting red and irritated or infected

2)   It’s getting larger quickly

3)   It’s in a place that rubs against your clothes or jewelry and gets irritated

4)   If it becomes red, inflamed or painful

This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient.  If you have questions please contact your medical provider.


I hope that you have found this information useful.  Wishing you the best of health,

Scott Rennie, DO


Google Glass – Is it Ready for Prime Time?

Yes, I admit it – I’m a technophile aka “nerd”, “geek” or perhaps a “neek”. I picked up the “Explorer Edition” of Google Glass when it became available to the public. I thought it might have some interesting applications in the medical field. I liked the idea of using it for navigation and I was curious to see what you could do with it. It’s a great concept and in many ways, it’s a great device.  Here are some of my observations.


1)   If you wear Google Glass in public, people notice the device and get worried that you’re recording them. There are perhaps hundreds of devices out now that can record or take photos that people carry with them including smartphones, watches pens, glasses, clip on cameras and various others. I think people feel uncomfortable around Google Glass because it’s so visibly recognizable by people not wearing it (it’s the opposite of covert).


2)   People will stop and ask you about the device. You might get a group of people around you who are interested in knowing more about it so if you’re late for work, you might not want to wear Google Glass on your walk or you could find yourself a little running a bit more behind schedule.


3)   You need to pair it with your smartphone – not only with Bluetooth but also Wifi. I found it challenging to pair with my iPhone’s personal Wifi network. It seems to lose the connection and then have trouble re-establishing connection to the network. What’s worse, you don’t even know that it’s not connected to your phone (or another Wifi network) until you try to use it. I’m not sure if that’s a problem inherent with Glass or perhaps the iPhone personal hotspot feature. It may work better with Android devices but I’m not sure.

 If you’d like to connect with another Wifi network it’s not easy – you need to enter settings into glass and then create a QR Code in the Google Glass Application on your phone and then Glass takes a photo of the QR Code to get the information about your network stored.



4)   It seems to lock up or not respond at times. One of the seemingly great things about wearable tech is that it’s ready to go whenever you want without having to pull it out of your pocket. If Google Glass would wake up whenever I wanted it to, that would be a good start! Sometimes it also decides to update itself without asking and during that time it is completely unusable.


5)   Google advertises it as being a device that you can use all day long but I find that the battery dies quickly. If I use it regularly, it lasts about 3 hours. The battery also gets very warm with regular use.


6)   At least at this point, you’re limited to only using Google’s Calendar – no other options. If you’d like to add all of your phone contacts to Google Glass it’s not easy or intuitive.


7)   Scanning through the Google Glass timeline to find your photos, tweets (if you use twitter), missed calls, text messages or other data can be time consuming and difficult.


8)   The audio quality is very poor. Google has tried to remedy this by giving you a little ear bud that you can plug in and put into one of your ears but this is not a great solution in my opinion.


9)   The screen (glass that projects in front of your eye) has very low resolution and can be difficult to see in bright sunlight.


10)  There are a very limited number of applications available (right now) to use on Glass. Applications that interact with Facebook or Twitter only allow you to post a tweet or record an update to your Facebook page. Be careful when taking a photo because it’s very easy to “accidentally” share it to your Facebook timeline or send it out as a Tweet.


11)  Perhaps the best feature is the navigation. Having the Glass come up right in front of you is great but you need to have the Google Glass application open on your iPhone before you use navigation otherwise it won’t work. I can’t tell you how many times I asked Glass for directions only to be told to “Open the Glass Application on Your Phone.” So much for hands free.


12)  There’s a “beta” feature right now on glass that allows you to take a picture if you wink. This is totally cool, if not a bit creepy but it doesn’t work all the time.   This feature is in “beta” along with the rest of the device.


13)  $1,500 for Google Glass more than what most people will want to pay. If the device worked 90% of the time, AND there were more things you could do with Glass AND more application support – ie. Facebook, Twitter, Medical applications (such as ePocrates), better audio, applications for music, etc. I would pay $500 for the device.


Is Google Glass ready for prime time? I think it’s a great device that has some real potential. You be the judge! What do you think about Google Glass – Post some comments and share your opinions.


Scott Rennie, DO

Seborrheic Dermatitis – Dandruff, Cradle Cap and Adult Seborrhea










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Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that occurs in infants and adults and can cause redness, greasy scales, skin flaking along the eyebrows and itching.  It is one of the most common skin conditions that I see as an urgent care physician.

Seborrheic dermatitis (also called seborrhea) is an inflammation of the skin that usually occurs in areas that have an abundance of oil glands such as on the scalp, face, around the eyes, ears, neck, and even the diaper area.  In men, it’s more common in areas where there is hair on the face.  Infants often have seborrhea on their scalp that is known as cradle cap.  A mild form of seborrhea is known as dandruff and that is when it is confined to the scalp in children or adults.  Some symptoms may be:

1)   Skin scales – white or yellow and usually oily/greasy

2)   Itching

3)   Mild redness

4)   Skin lesions or plaques

The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown but there is some evidence that it seems to flair up in times of stress, hormonal changes or during particular seasons (ie. During extreme cold or warm weather).  It is more common in those people with weakened immune systems, in people who have oily skin, or certain neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.

Diagnosis:  Your healthcare provider is usually able to diagnose seborrheic dermatitis by examining you and taking a history.  A biopsy (sample of skin that is surgically removed and sent to a doctor to examine under a microscope) is rarely needed.

Treatment:  Usually tailored toward the individual patient and what part of the body is affected.  Some possible treatments include:

1)   Medicated shampoos such as Neutrogena T-Gel or T-Sal, Head and Shoulders or Nizoral are commonly prescribed.   These shampoos usually contain Salicylic acid, Coal Tar, Zinc, Selenium Sulfide, Ketoconazole, or Resorcin.  Even if you do not have dandruff, these shampoos may be used on the face and/or other body areas and usually work best if they are left in place for 5-10 minutes before rinsing.

2)   Topical Steroid creams, lotions, foams or shampoos:  Low, medium or even high potency steroid creams are sometimes prescribed to help decrease the inflammation depending on the severity and where the rash is. Usually the lower potency creams are used on the face (such as Desonide 0.05% lotion).

3)   Antibacterial creams:  Sometimes topical antibacterials such as Sodium Sulfacetamide with sulfur are prescribed.

4)   Antifungal creams:  Ketoconazle 2% cream, and Ciclopirox 1% creams are commonly used.

5)   Other anti-inflammatory medications such as pimecrolimus cream or tacrolimus ointment are sometimes prescribed for use on facial seborrhea.

6)   Dermatologists sometimes recommend a compound or mixture of a combination of a steroid cream along with an anti-fungal or antibacterial agent.

Cure:  Unfortunately there is no cure for seborrheic dermatitis. It is a chronic life-long condition. It may go away for months or years and then return (relapse).  We usually focus on controlling seborrhea often by using a combination of the strategies for treatment listed above along with decreasing known triggers such as emotional stress, extreme cold temperatures and decreasing body weight.

This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient.  If you have questions please contact your medical provider.


I hope that you have found this information useful.  Wishing you the best of health,

Scott Rennie, DO