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Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pain Pills - part 1

Post provided by Barbara Bergin, M.D.

In my line of work, I get a lot of requests for pain pills. The majority of patients who need them have either just had surgery or an injury, like a fracture. And most people stop taking the pain pills as soon as they feel they don’t need them. Sometimes they wean themselves off of them by lowering the numbers of pills they take, or gradually increasing the interval of time in between the narcotics. Sometimes they supplement the pain medications with non-narcotic pain relievers.

But sometimes patients continue to take pain pills. Weeks and even months go by, and they continue to request large doses of pain pills. It’s really hard for some of our patients to gauge how many pain pills they should be taking or how to wean themselves off of them. They start getting into a habit of taking the pills. Maybe they think that if they are experiencing any pain at all, they should go ahead and take the pain pill. Sometimes they use the pain pills to help them sleep at night. And sometimes they use them in order to be able to function without pain during the day. These are all problematic ways in which to use pain pills.

In my opinion it is best to stop taking pain pills as soon as possible. Pain doesn’t actually “hurt” you. It’s a sensation; like hunger or itching. Just because you are hungry, it doesn’t mean you absolutely have to eat. And you don’t have to scratch when you have an itch. You don’t have to relieve pain every time you feel it.

Addiction to prescription narcotic medications is a serious national health problem. In my next blog I’ll talk about some things patients can do to minimize their use of pain pills.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Return of Football Season Brings Attention to High Injury Rates and Need for Prevention

Post provided by The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)

According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

- The 2009 football season saw over 1.2 million football-related injuries
- Such injuries resulted in more than $2.8 billion total medical costs from treatments in hospitals, doctor's offices, and emergency rooms

"Traumatic injuries to the knee and shoulder as well as concussions are the most common types of injuries we see on both the professional and youth levels," said orthopaedic surgeon Matthew Matava, MD, team physician for the St. Louis Rams and spokesperson for the STOP Sports Injuries campaign and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Overuse injuries, especially in the beginning of the season, are another big issue with kids pushing themselves too far and too fast without proper conditioning."

The STOP Sports Injuries Campaign was launched in the spring of 2010 by a coalition of leading healthcare organizations to expose the growing epidemic of youth sports injuries related to overuse and trauma.

Because most football injuries can be prevented, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons encourage the following easy strategies for parents, coaches, and athletes:

- Have a pre-season health and wellness evaluation to determine ability to participate

- Warm-up properly with low-impact exercises like jogging that gradually increase the heart rate

- Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching. A good stretch involves not going beyond the point of resistance and should be held for 10-12 seconds

- Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize cramps

- Play multiple positions and/or sports during the off-season to minimize overuse injuries

- Wear properly fitted protective equipment and do not modify equipment

- Cool-down properly to gradually lower heart rate with exercises like light jogging or stretching

- Don't play through the pain. Speak with an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about injuries or tips on injury prevention