Specific Health Concern >> Arthritis
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In this video, Dr. Huntoon discusses what your symptoms indicate and what you should be aware of when making a choice with your health.
Having any symptom is NOT NORMAL. Understanding what the symptom means and supporting balance within the body is prudent for health.
Arthritis is something we will all end up dealing with to some degree or another. This is simply because stress without proper stress reduction will always lead to wear and tear on your joints, muscles and tendons.
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Arthritis Click Here
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is very common but is not well understood from a Traditional Allopathic Medicine perspective.
Actually, “arthritis” is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. "Arthr" meaning joint and "itis" meaning inflammation, hence Athritis means inflammation of a joint.
Unfortunately, hit your thumb with a hammer and your thumb joint becomes swollen and painful, by definition, you would have arthritis of your thumb.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.
Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.
There are different types of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones – wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic. Risk factors include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury (an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear, for example).
When the joint symptoms of osteoarthritis are mild or moderate, they can be managed by:
If joint symptoms are severe, causing limited mobility and affecting quality of life, some of the above management strategies may be helpful, but joint replacement may be necessary.
Osteoarthritis can prevented by staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding injury and repetitive movements.
2. Inflammatory Arthritis
A healthy Immune System is protective. It generates internal inflammation to get rid of infection and prevent disease. But the Immune System can go awry, mistakenly attacking the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, potentially causing joint erosion and may damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis. Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors can trigger autoimmunity. Smoking is an example of an environmental risk factor that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis in people with certain genes.
With autoimmune and inflammatory types of arthritis, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is critical. Slowing disease activity can help minimize or even prevent permanent joint damage. Remission is the goal and may be achieved through the use of one or more medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further joint damage.
3. Infectious Arthritis
A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation. Examples of organisms that can infect joints are salmonella and shigella (food poisoning or contamination), chlamydia and gonorrhea (sexually transmitted diseases) and hepatitis C (a blood-to-blood infection, often through shared needles or transfusions). In many cases, timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.
4. Metabolic Arthritis
Uric acid is formed as the body breaks down purines, a substance found in human cells and in many foods. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than is needed or the body can’t get rid of the uric acid quickly enough. In some people the uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Gout can come and go in episodes or, if uric acid levels aren’t reduced, it can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and disability.
Arthritis diagnosis often begins with a primary care physician, who performs a physical exam and may do blood tests and imaging scans to help determine the type of arthritis.
An arthritis specialist, or rheumatologist, should be involved if the diagnosis is uncertain or if the arthritis may be inflammatory. Rheumatologists typically manage ongoing treatment for inflammatory arthritis, gout and other complicated cases.
Orthopedic surgeons do joint surgery, including joint replacements. When the arthritis affects other body systems or parts, other specialists, such as ophthalmologists, dermatologists or dentists, may also be included in the health care team.
What Can Be Done About Arthritis?
There are many things that can be done to preserve joint function, mobility and quality of life. Learning about the disease and treatment options, making time for physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight are essential. Arthritis is a commonly misunderstood disease. The Arthritis Foundation is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to serving all people with arthritis. Its website, arthritis.org, has many resources for learning about arthritis, practical tips for daily living and more.
Common Arthritis Joint Symptoms Include:
Symptoms may come and go.
They can be mild, moderate or severe.
They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time.
Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs.
Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray.
Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.
Know Your Symptoms
Other signs and symptoms in addition to the inflammation and stiffness will help your doctor figure out what kind of arthritis you have.
In RA, the Immune System attacks the lining of the joint which becomes inflamed, leading to the stiffness, pain, warmth, redness, and swelling around the joint. Then the disease leads to rapid division and growth of cells, which causes the synovium to thicken. Later the inflamed cells release enzymes that may digest bone and cartilage, causing joint erosion. The swelling, warmth and stiffness that accompany RA can last for hours. It can affect any joint, but usually starts in small joints (like those in the hands or feet) and occurs on both sides of the body. Joint stiffness is usually worst in the morning. Other symptoms such as pain or fatigue tend to develop and worsen over several weeks or months.
OA usually occurs due to wear and tear, injury or both. The most commonly affected joints are the lower back, hips, knees and feet. Although inflammation is not a main symptom of osteoarthritis, it can occur in the joint lining in response to the cartilage breakdown. Morning stiffness may be severe but is usually brief – less than 30 minutes, that occurs after waking up in the morning or a period of rest. Joint redness, warmth and swelling are usually minimal.
In Psoriatic Arthritis, joint pain is usually associated with swelling and redness in the knees, ankles, fingers, and toes. Some people with psoriatic arthritis also have neck and/or back pain, along with stiffness that can limit movement. The disease can also include swelling of fingers and/or toes that gives them a “sausage-like” appearance. Silver or gray dry, scaly spots on the scalp, elbows, knees and/or the lower end of the backbone with flaking skin can be associated with PA, as can small depressions in the fingernails and/or toenails, and/or detachment of nails.
In an arthritis-related disease called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, or commonly called lupus), the Immune System attacks itself causing swelling and pain. Most individuals with lupus have rashes, swollen joints, fever and feel fatigued. Sometimes weight loss and hair loss in spots or around the hairline occurs.
Inflammation and Stiffness: The Hallmarks of Arthritis
Learning about these symptoms can help you get the right diagnosis.
As a disease, arthritis is more complicated and varied than most people imagine. It can come in different forms and affect people in different ways. But the common thread through most forms of arthritis? Inflammation and stiffness of the joints.
Swelling may occur for two key reasons. Either the lining of the joint, known as the synovium, swells (synovitis) or the synovial fluid increases in volume (an effusion). It is an active process: inflammatory cells (mainly white cells) and more blood enter the joint, while many inflammatory molecules, such as small proteins (peptides) are released into the soft tissues around the joint. The increased blood flow makes the joint swell and feel warm. The inflammatory materials cause joint fluid to collect in and around the joint, which adds to the swelling. The type of joint swelling can vary depending on the type of arthritis you have.
Inflamed joints can feel especially stiff first thing in the morning. How long it lasts is important: an hour or more is suggestive of inflammatory arthritis. Defining morning stiffness is hard, although people with arthritis describe it as an ache combined with difficulty moving. Stiffness following exercise is usually a feature of osteoarthritis; it is a sign that the joints are starting to fail. People also feel stiff when they rest, such as sitting down after a walk or relaxing in the evening. The joints are sometimes said to “gel,” a term reminiscent of how gelatin sets – a gradual process of firming up. Joint stiffness may occur with or without joint pain. Stiffness can affect any joint– the fingers and hands, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, feet, shoulders, hips, and even the jaw.
When to Make an Appointment With Your Doctor
Joint symptoms may signal a serious type of arthritis that can cause permanent joint damage if treatment is delayed. Know what to watch for so you can take action.
If you are having joint symptoms that cause concern, there are good reasons to see a doctor for an evaluation and diagnosis.
Here’s a quick guide to help you decide when getting to the doctor for a diagnosis should be a priority.
When to See a Doctor If You Are Having Joint Symptoms
Watch for these potential signs and symptoms of arthritis:
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of the following:
It happens every day, all over the country. People with joint problems make appointments with their doctors, wanting a quick answer. They want to know what’s wrong and how it can be fixed. The signs and symptoms that lead people to the exam room are typically joint pain, swelling or stiffness. Sometimes unexplained fatigue and a lingering sense of illness are problems, too.
Primary care providers are usually the first stop for joint problems. Someone who’s been searching for answers for a while may see to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating arthritis and rheumatic conditions, or an orthopedic specialist, or joint surgeon. All of them are going to approach joint problems in a similar fashion, but with differences in depth and breadth of examination and testing. A generalist will likely do a top-level exam and some basic tests looking for some of the more common types of arthritis. A rheumatologist will do a comprehensive and thorough assessment; an orthopedist will evaluate the physical, or mechanical, cause of joint pain and determine the potential for a surgical solution.
When Prompt Diagnosis Matters
People are often surprised to learn that “arthritis” isn’t a diagnosis. It’s a general term that covers more than 100 diseases and related conditions. If you do have arthritis, knowing which type of arthritis is the first step in getting the right treatment and management plan for your situation.
Some types of arthritis require prompt action. If you have a type of arthritis that can cause permanent joint damage, getting treatment quickly can help preserve joint function and prevent other serious health problems.
On the other hand, infrequent or mild joint pains may not require a special or urgent doctor visit. While it’s good idea to talk with your doctor about your joint health and risks for arthritis, in general, you might be able to save the conversation for your next check-up.
Which Type of Health Care Provider to See
If you’re having joint symptoms that cause concern, an appointment with a primary care practitioner is a good place to start. But sometimes arthritis is difficult to diagnose. You might need to see a specialist. Rheumatologists are specialists in arthritis and diseases that involve bones, muscles and joints. They are trained to make difficult diagnoses and to treat all types of arthritis, especially those requiring complex treatment.
The evaluation should start with questions and answers.
A joint evaluation is hands-on work. Doctors look to see which joints have visible signs of joint swelling, stiffness or redness. The exam is detailed. Knowing the fingers are affected is a little helpful, but seeing which finger joints -- the knuckles, middle joints or tip joints – is very helpful. If more than one joint is involved, there will be a joint count, and check for whether the pattern is symmetrical, that is, whether the same joint is affected on both sides of the body (for example, both wrists). The doctor will feel the joint for warmth, swelling and fluid. The doctor will move the joints back and forth to see range of motion, and will and gently prod to see if there are tender areas near or far from the joint. Then there are the usual exam steps -- a temperature reading, a check for swollen glands, a look into the eyes and down the throat, as well as a reflex check, too.
Depending on the findings so far, your doctor may order lab and/or imaging tests.
Making an arthritis diagnosis can sometimes be relatively straightforward -- but not always. The diagnostic process includes eliminating problems other than arthritis. But if the problem seems to be arthritis, then which type of arthritis is it? There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. Osteoarthritis is by far the most common type, and is often the first consideration, but many other types are relatively rare. Symptoms may come and go over time. And some types of arthritis don’t reveal their full range of effects at once. Sometimes a key feature that would confirm a diagnosis doesn’t show up for years. Oddly enough, one type of arthritis can be mistaken for another, and people may have more than one type.
Even if the specific diagnosis isn’t clear, but signs point to an inflammatory type of arthritis, doctors may go ahead and start treatment to bring down high levels of inflammation. Taking corticosteroids or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs can help avoid the permanent joint damage that can occur in active, uncontrolled disease. Waiting to treat inflammatory arthritis is highly risky. That’s why rheumatologists say early diagnosis and aggressive treatment are the keys to preventing visible joint changes, chronic pain, loss of mobility and decreased function.
Whether or not treatment has begun, your doctor will likely advise at-home measures, such as heat and cold to soothe pain, resting the joint regularly and protecting it from strain and overuse.
After an Arthritis Diagnosis
After diagnosis, a nurse educator or a health care provider who understands arthritis can educate you on your medication plan, if appropriate, and how to manage your arthritis on a day-to-day basis. She can also direct you to helpful resources, such as those provided by the Arthritis Foundation, including information on arthritis and daily living as well as community contacts.
Find a Rheumatologist
You can find a rheumatologist, an expert in arthritis and related conditions from the American College of Rheumatology Directory.
Here is an overview of the ways in which health care providers, on their own or as part of a team, evaluate joint problems and diagnose or eliminate arthritis.
Arthritis Treatment: Early Is Best
Receiving rheumatoid arthritis treatment sooner rather than later may be your key to remission.
A hot topic among rheumatologists lately is whether when you treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) matters as much as how you treat it. Some believe strongly in early arthritis treatment, prescribing an aggressive regimen of RA drugs during what is called "the window of opportunity." Doing so, they maintain, just may stop the disease in its tracks.
"I am a strong believer in the window of opportunity, which probably spans two years after symptom onset," says Salahuddin Kazi, MD, associate professor of internal medicine and chief of rheumatology at the Dallas VA Medical Center. "If RA goes untreated for two years, the majority of people with RA will develop joint erosion, indicating disease progression."
"The debate over whether a window of opportunity exists is semantics to some extent," says Arthur Kavanaugh, MD, rheumatologist and director of the Center for Innovative Therapy at the University of California, San Diego. "Some people don't like the term because people with active disease can – and should – always be treated, even beyond the two-year mark."
Treating RA as early as possible is not a new concept. In 1989, a study published in The Lancet emphasized the importance of starting a regimen of antirheumatic drugs early. The drugs commonly used then were hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine); methotrexate wasn't yet an option, and biologics were not yet developed. The main difference between discussions of early arthritis treatment 15 to 20 years ago and today are the drugs available for aggressive treatment, says Dr. Kavanaugh.
Early, aggressive treatment is particularly important for those who will develop a more serious disease. Figuring out who those patients are is quite a challenge, but guiding principles exist. "I think it's pretty clear right now that if a patient has antibodies to rheumatoid factor (RF) or cyclic citrullinated proteins (anti-CCP) at any time during the course of disease -- from day one to 12 weeks or 12 years – then he has a greater risk for persistent disease that is worse and more destructive," says Stephen Paget, MD, rheumatologist and physician-in-chief of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "Those patients need aggressive therapy that's constantly monitored."
A recent study of adalimumab (Humira) plus methotrexate showed one in two people with early RA – diagnosed less than three years earlier – achieved a clinical remission at two years. More than 60 percent of the patients showed at least a 50-percent improvement in symptoms. The effect with combination therapy was observed as early as two weeks, and these differences were sustained throughout the two-year study.
Another study, the Definitive Intervention in New-Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis (DINORA) trial, is reviewing the use of infliximab (Remicade) in people with very early inflammatory RA (those who had it fewer than 14 weeks) to see if it can prevent the development of destructive disease.
While it's ideal to initiate treatment as early as possible, aggressive treatment throughout the course of the disease is essential, say the experts.
"If you're past that two-year mark with no treatment or treatment that wasn't aggressive enough, all is not lost," says Dr. Kavanaugh.
Dr. Huntoon has a completely different perspective based on understanding the CAUSE of arthritis, not simply "treating" the effects of having arthritis.
Over the past 27 years, while applying the understandings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Dr. Huntoon has learned that ALL arthritis is caused by too many toxins in the Liver. And he has been able to eliminate the excess stress and toxins that affect the Liver using the Doctor Supervised Detoxification Program. He has also helped people eliminate the excess inflammation associated with Arthritis by using Whole Food Supplements and Homeopathic Remedies.
Why Do We Get Arthritis?
Knowing that ALL Arthritis is from too many toxins in the Liver, we need to address why these toxins get in and address that concern BEFORE arthritis will truly go away. Knowing the health of your Digestive System and being exposed to the Digestive System Disruptors leads to Leaky Gut Syndrome, which causes stress on the Liver and leads to arthritis. Therefore, this needs to be addressed to resolve the condition at its Source.
Along with that, understanding the different emotions that affect the Liver and its ability to manage its stress is a part of the solution too. Using NeuroEmotional Technique (NET) to eliminate the emotions of Anger, Resentment, Galled, Stubborn, Emotionally Repressed, Depressed, Indecisive, Irrationality, Frustration and Aggression, we can finally cause the Liver to drain all of the negative effects of storing those emotions over time. And by restoring the proper functioning of the Liver, this has always resulted in the resolution of joint pain and inflammation.
How Does Medication Make My Arthritis Worse?
Appreciate the fact that any medical intervention will require taking medication. And by taking medication to combat your inflammation, this will create more stress on the Liver, since all medications must be processed and metabolized by the Liver. The extra work and the chemicals associated with the medication will create more stress on the Liver which will create more arthritis over time. This is why they will ask you to come in for routine blood tests to make sure the medicine isn't making your condition worse. Does following that line of thinking make any sense to you?
Medicines solution to that is to do joint replacement surgery. And you can certainly do that if that is your choice. We would rather treat the underlying CAUSE and help you avoid the lifetime medicines and life-altering surgery.
Arthritis Treatment: Early Is Best
Receiving arthritis treatment sooner rather than later may be your key to remission.
Medicines Two Choices for You
Do You Have Arthritis?
Dr. Huntoon has a completely different perspective based on understanding the CAUSE of arthritis, not simply "treating" the effects of having arthritis.
Over the past 28 years while applying the understandings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Dr. Huntoon has learned that arthritis is caused by too many toxins in the Liver. And he has been able to eliminate the excess stress and toxins that affect the Liver using the Doctor Supervised Detoxification Program. He has also helped people eliminate the excess inflammation associated with Arthritis by using Whole Food Supplements and Homeopathic Remedies.
Appreciate the fact that any medical intervention will require taking medication. And by taking medication to combat your inflammation, this will create more stress on the Liver, since all medications must be processed and metabolized by the Liver. The extra work and the chemicals associated with the medication will create more arthritis over time. Medicines solution to that is to do joint replacement surgery. And you can certainly do that, if that is your choice. We would rather treat the underlying CAUSE and help you avoid the life-time medicines and life-altering surgery.
Why Do We Get Arthritis?
Knowing that ALL Arthritis is from too many toxins in the Liver, we need to address why these toxins get in and address that concern BEFORE arthritis will truly go away. Knowing the health of your Digestive System and being exposed to the Digestive System Disruptors leads to Leaky Gut Syndrome, which causes the stress on the Liver that leads to Arthritis. Therefore, this needs to be addressed to resolve the condition at its Source.
Along with that, understanding the different emotions that affect the Liver and its ability to manage its stress is a part of the solution too. Using NeuroEmotional Technique (NET) to eliminate the emotions of Anger, Resentment, Galled, Stubborn, Emotionally Repressed, Depressed, Indecisive, Irrationality, Frustration and Aggression, we can finally cause the Liver to drain all of the negative effects of storing those emotions over time. And by restoring proper functioning of the Liver, this has always resulted in the resolution of joint pain and inflammation.
How Does Medication Make My Arthritis Worse?
Appreciate the fact that any medical intervention will require taking medication.
And by taking medication to combat your inflammation, this will create more stress on the Liver.
All medications must be processed and metabolized by the Liver. The extra work and the chemicals associated with the medication will create more stress on the Liver which will create more arthritis over time. This is why they will ask you to come in for routine blood tests to make sure the medicine isn't making your condition worse. Does following that line of thinking make any sense to you?
Medicines solution to that is to do joint replacement surgery. And you can certainly do that, if that is your choice. We would rather treat the underlying CAUSE and help you avoid the life-time medicines and life-altering surgery.
No Medicine Required
Applying cold to affected joints is one of the easiest ways to relieve arthritis pain and stiffness on a short-term basis.
Cold reduces swelling and numbs the nerves that detect pain. Some examples of cold are ice packs or cold packs such as frozen vegetables.
You can decide if cold works best for you by trying it. Do what is most comfortable because your comfort plays an important role in keeping your pain at a low level.
Cold should be applied for more than 20 minutes, and skin should be allowed to return to its normal temperature between applications. It’s also always a good idea to cover the object you’re using with a wet towel to help protect your skin.
Acetaminophen is an aspirin-free pain reliever. It helps reduce pain but has little effect on inflammation. Many healthcare providers consider aspirin-free pain relievers the preferred first choice in treating mild to moderate arthritis.
Another type of oral medication is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS),. These help reduce both pain and joint swelling. NSAIDS may cause stomach problems and other complications. Some are available only by prescription. Some examples are:
Arthritis Self Management: What You Need to Know
If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, you’ll probably have several healthcare professionals involved in your care. But the most important part of your healthcare team is you. Simply put, self-management of arthritis is what you do to manage your disease.
Self-management is about making positive and healthy lifestyle choices, and acknowledging and addressing the physical and emotional effects of arthritis. Having arthritis affects everyone differently, so it’s up to you to learn and practice what helps you to live well and thrive.
Through self-management, you can make a big difference in how much arthritis affects your quality of life so you can continue to say Yes to the things that are important to you.
Being diagnosed can be a lot to handle but rest assured, you can do it. Learn all you can about your disease. Make your doctor your partner in care and maintain an open line of communication. Pay attention to your emotions and develop a support network of family, friends and colleagues. Determine what you may need to change (whether its activities, diet, exercise or stress level). Make a plan (with your doctor), write it down and ask your support network to help you keep on track.
Here are six important self-management habits that can help you successfully manage your disease:
Take charge of your treatment plan by keeping track of symptoms, pain levels, medications, and possible side effects so together with your doctor, you can determine what works best for you.
It’s important not to allow pain and fatigue to become overwhelming. You can combine your medication regimen with non-medical pain management techniques. Similarly, fatigue is a common problem that can be caused by the underlying disease process or the stress of living day to day with the pain and limitations of a chronic disease. Learning and using natural therapies to manage fatigue is key to living well with arthritis.
Even though it might seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain, exercise is beneficial for managing arthritis and your overall health. It can strengthen muscles that support your painful joints, preserve and increase joint range of motion, improve sleep quality, boost your mood and sense of well-being and help you lose excess pounds that add stress to painful joints.
Rest is important when your disease is active and your joints feel painful, swollen or stiff. Lighten your schedule and obligations and ask for help when you need to. Pace yourself throughout your day and take breaks to conserve energy.
A healthy diet, when combined with exercise, can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Also, adding foods with anti-inflammatory properties and that are rich in antioxidants can help control inflammation.
Poor sleep habits can worsen arthritis pain and fatigue, but there are things you can do to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Make your bedroom dark, cool and quiet, avoid caffeine or strenuous exercise in the evening, and wind down with a warm bath or practice relaxation techniques before bedtime. Still have trouble sleeping? Talk to your doctor about a change in or timing of your medication or other ways that may improve your sleep.
If you invest in yourself and recognize your responsibility – and ability – to take good care of yourself, you can live well with arthritis. You’ll need to make adjustments, but make sure your goals are realistic, even if they involve only small steps right now.
No one can take care of you better than you can. The Arthritis Foundation wants to be your self-management partner as you manage your disease and provides information and resources for living with arthritis.
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Dr. Richard A. Huntoon