Does more choice create better treatments?

I listened this morning to a wonderful TED talk by a Swarthmore College professor, Barry Schwartz, about freedom of choice. The central idea of this talk, as well as of his 2004 book  The Paradox of Choice , is that more choice, instead of making us happier, makes us more miserable. I could not help but think of this in correlation with Medicine and Pain Management in particular. Does the abundance of choice in terms of physicians and procedures, interventions, and surgeries make our patients better? These days, patients are assaulted from all directions by all sorts of “experts”, offering an immense array of choices for almost any condition. Has that improved our outcomes? Has that made our patients happier? Schwartz also talks about expectations, and concludes that “happiness is about low expectations”, or, maybe more palatable for most people, “happiness is about realistic expectations”. This is also something we spend a lot of time talking to our patients about in our clinic

5 commonly claimed myths about regenerative treatments

I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking to you about regenerative treatments. The field of regenerative medicine has seen unprecedented growth, and I am sure all of you have read or seen some ad or have heard of somebody who has tried stem or regenerative cell therapies. Those of you who haven’t already don’t worry, you will! Those of us who have dedicated substantial time, resources, and energy to these therapies, like we have, cannot help but be amused by all the claims everybody makes these days. The truth is, because this is a lightly regulated industry at this time, everybody can claim to be an expert. And lots of people do. I want to take less than 5 minutes of your time and try to clarify some concepts and maybe dispel some commonly claimed myths. I will limit myself to our field, musculoskeletal and sports injuries, including painful spinal disorders. Stem cells are used in many conditions, from diabetes to brain injury, which are outside the scope of our practice

Alpha-2-macroglobulin and a possible alternative to medications or surgery in the treatment of osteoarthritis

Wouldn’t it be miraculous if within your own blood stream you were carrying around a biologic treatment for your arthritic knee? Well, it’s true! Your body creates a very large protein in your liver which is carried via your blood stream to your various organs and has several important roles to keep you healthy. The protein is called “alpha-2-macroglobulin” (A2M) and is among the largest and heaviest proteins that your body makes. It is a naturally occurring plasma glycoprotein whose principal activity is to counteract the protein/enzymes called “proteases” that breakdown various chemicals and molecules no longer needed in your body in a well-balanced chain of events that keeps you healthy. In a tremendous breakthrough, scientists at the Cytonics, Corp. have discovered that this very large protein can capture and neutralize the chemicals created in an arthritic joint that cause the destruction of the articular cartilage. By reducing these destructive substances, it effectively ha

Tommy John surgery for baseball elbow injuries – is it always necessary?

For all the baseball fans, or players, out there, I hope everybody enjoyed the World Series. Today, I would like to talk about one of the most common baseball injuries. This is an elbow injury, called ulnar collateral ligament tear. These days, as young players tend to specialize earlier and earlier and only play one sport, overuse injuries seem to be more and more common and seem to happen earlier in life. Ulnar collateral ligament injury is the result of repetitive use of the elbow during baseball throwing motion. This injury has been historically treated with ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. During this surgery, the ligament in the medial (inside) elbow is replaced with a tendon from somewhere else in the body, be it from the forearm, hamstring, or foot. This surgery was first performed in 1974 by Dr. Frank Jobe, on Tommy John, a pitcher who ironically started his career in 1963 with the Cleveland Indians (for all of you Cleveland World Series fans). While this su

Treatment for back pain and leg pain

Back pain is one of the most common symptoms seen in our Austin Westlake Clinic. It happens to many people, and in most cases, the low back pain symptoms are similar for eveybody. They could be ongoing, worsening pain down the leg into the foot, one sided pain on the buttock or leg, severe burning and tingling, weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot. Whether it’s related to an accident, poor posture, injury or degeneration,  leg pain or back pain is the most common symptom seen in our Austin Westlake clinic. We aim to diagnose your pain based on individual circumstances and then treat your symptoms with modern, cutting-edge, non-surgical procedures. If you are experiencing shooting pain down the leg, herniated discs may be the problem. Arthritic bones in the facet joints can also irritate the lumbar nerves. Treatments for chronic pain in the lower back and loss of sensation or weakness in the leg include more conservative options such as physical therapy, chir

Endoscopic spinal interventions and the exciting new technology of spine endoscopy

Herniated lumbar discs are the most common cause of lower back and leg pain, but many hesitate to have an intervention because traditional back surgery is sometimes associated with a difficult recovery and serious side effects. The quest for minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) has been ongoing. Judging by all the questions I get asked every day, many people have heard or seen Laser Spine Surgery commercials or the like. The idea behind these commercials is that the painful spinal structures can be accessed through a smaller and smaller portal. The laser part refers to a method if removing or vaporizing tissue, usually disc material. Apart from its obvious advertising appeal, the use of laser is usually a secondary, far less important part of these procedures, as compared to minimizing the tissue trauma of traditional back surgery. The latest and least invasive of these techniques are the  endoscopic  discectomy to treat herniated disks and endoscopic rhizotomy to treat b

The best core strengthening exercises

Many of you ask me frequently what the best core strengthening exercises are, especially when you already have a fair amount of back pain. I recently came across this blog and I am happy to share it with all of you. I believe it has very good advice that is immediately useful. The exercises presented require very little equipment and are easy to learn. Enjoy! The Best Core Strengthening Exercises