Advanced Medical Consultants October 2017

October 2017

Exercise Is Medicine What Health Care Workers Should Do Differently When It Comes to Pain

I hope you’re capping off a healthy and active summer. The weather is cooling down, and as I drive to work in the morning, there are more people outside walking and jogging, which I love to see. While the weather has an effect on your activity, nothing affects your everyday movement as much as pain. When you’re in a lot of pain, you don’t have the motivation or energy to do much. I know this because I see it with my patients and have felt it myself. don’t do enough to educate patients about it. We don’t give enough direction. Sometimes, doctors write a prescription or recommend surgery without suggesting lifestyle changes that will help in the long run and prevent the pain from becoming chronic. My shoulder pain will usually go away after I stretch or exercise. Those activities are severely underrated when it comes to pain relief. They won’t fix a herniated disc, but they’ll increase blood flow and relieve soreness and tension. They also improve mood, which helps you deal with the severe pain with greater control. It makes you less likely to resort to drastic measures to ease it. Sometimes, surgery, pain medication, and bed rest are necessary. If you’re experiencing urgent symptoms, like neurological damage or incontinence, you don’t need surgery today; you needed it yesterday. But when surgery, medication, and bed rest becomes a cycle and alters the way you live your life, you’ll find that the pain has a habit of sticking around. That leads to chronic pain, which alters your quality of life for years. One of the most common times I see people is after a car accident. Whiplash and other symptoms lead to tension and pain, especially in the back and shoulders (and you know what they say: When your back hurts, everything hurts). Sometimes surgery is necessary, but I believe that 80–90 percent of my car accident victims could manage their pain with the right instruction and treatment, including the following: • Exercise • Stretching • Progressive resistance training • Aerobics • Eating right

These can lead to positive habits and lifestyle changes rather than a cycle of surgeries and prescriptions. Don’t be reactive. Be proactive about your health, as it will be better for you every time. Constant prescriptions from doctors wanting a quick fix has contributed greatly to the opioid epidemic in our country. Maybe we wouldn’t be in this position if us health care workers gave patients better direction on managing pain in an organic, lasting way (whenever possible). I’m working on a project to help my patients manage back pain with the right habits. Hopefully I’ll be able to roll that out and attack this problem head-on very soon. As an industry, I know we can create more programs and utilize technology, including mobile apps, to instruct patients on how to get better — the right way. If you’re struggling with back pain, feel free to reach out for help. As you do, remember what I try to tell every patient who walks through my door: Exercise is medicine. Dr. Chi Izeogu


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