Fact or Fiction, Article 2
Happy Friday everybody and welcome to the second article of the “Fact or Fiction” series. In conjunction with SportsMEDiscussion, we are going to be bringing you weekly Sports Medicine related information, but with a twist. Our goal is to give you quality scientific information that interests you, but in an informal, laid-back way. We hope that you use this information to finish your week of right, or start your next week off strong!
Treat the Source, Relieve the Pain
Something that I’ve come across multiple times throughout my athletic training education when it comes to healthcare is this idea of “pain management.” I’m sure many of you have heard this term used if you or someone you know have dealt with an injury. The issue that we are going to talk about today is how this “pain management” paradigm that’s being pushed, is outdated in my opinion. To go more in depth, the issue with pain management is in the name… you’re managing the pain, not relieving it. Throughout their lifetime, many patients are told “rest and take [Insert Drug Name] for [Insert Frequency], do some light stretching and then come back to see me in 2 weeks.” Don’t get me wrong, pain medication has it’s place in the healthcare field, it makes injuries much more tolerable allowing you to do more daily activities and they can be used beneficially to reduce swelling post injury. But there are two outcomes to this scenario: the patient comes back in 2 weeks and nothing has changed OR the patient comes back in 2 weeks and no longer has symptoms. You’re probably thinking… well they have no symptoms, so everything must be fine. WRONG. More likely than not, the reason the patient feels good is because the drugs have done their job… “masking” the pain. BUT they have not gotten rid of the ISSUE that started the symptoms in the first place. So based on this example, unless there is another intervention introduced, the patient will ultimately take pain medication frequently to manage the pain. Which leads to something worse… a cycle where your constantly shoving pills down your throat just to get through the day.
How can we change this? As mentioned above, an intervention needs to be introduced. A rehabilitation program is the best method. This can consist of many different things... stretching, joint range of motion, soft tissue work and strengthening exercises to name a few. Obviously, your capabilities can vary based on your injury situation. But the take home of the story... if you’re being told to rest and manage your pain without being introduced to other interventions... raise some questions. If you have access to an Athletic Trainer or Physical Therapist they can help you out with this. If not, check out Todd’s (IG: toddsportsmed) quick clips on exercises and stretches specific to the area you’re having trouble with and don’t forget to #HealByMoving. Next week I’ll be giving you all some good insights on how to relieve knee pain and how this topic relates, stay tuned!
Disclaimer: Make sure you consult your primary care physician before beginning any rehabilitation or injury prevention program.