Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Tag: Mike Evans

Ever Had Back Pain?

Yes you have. Unless you’re a real statistical outlier, all of us have had (or will get) back pain at some point in our adult lives.’s annoying. It hurts. It makes us feel vulnerable. Back pain can mean many things to us:

  • a harbinger of serious illness
  • a predictor of disability
  • a reminder that we’re getting older

There are a couple of key facts you should know about “garden variety” back pain—the kind that 95% of us get.

Of the 95% of us that will get it, 95% of it will be self-limited, as in, it will get better. On it’s own. No need for x-rays. No need for MRIs. And for God’s sake, avoid surgery for low back pain.

There are things you can do to improve back pain, and prevent it from recurring (core strengthening, physical therapy, etc.).

As he’s done with his masterful video about the importance of (at least minimal) exercise, preventive medicine expert Dr. Mike Evans of Toronto (@docmikeevans) has done it again. This time for a scourge common to all of us. Watch the video below when you want to learn what the science really tells us about back pain.

It will change the way you think about your back pain. And hopefully get you working on a ‘back resilience plan.’

Sensible Ideas

patient-paradox-why-sexed-up-medicine-is-bad-margaret-mccartney-paperback-cover-artHappy New Year.

I came across this very reasonable list of healthy behaviors and thought I’d post them here for your enjoyment and commitment to be healthy in 2013. They come from a Scottish GP named Margaret McCartney, who writes frequently about common sense medical care on her blog, for the British Medical Journal, and for the Manchester Guardian. She’s also the author of the excellent book The Patient Paradox, which is unfortunately not in print in the U.S. (but you can order it from Amazon UK among other places):

Don’t smoke.
Don’t drink excessively, and not every day.
Eat a wide variety of foods, mainly fruits and vegetables.
Exercise daily, and if you can, make it sociable.
Have a job you like.
See people and do things you enjoy.
Stay reasonably trim.
And don’t be poor.

That last one is not meant to be cheeky–it simply refers to the fact that in terms of health outcomes, those at the low end of the income scale are proportionately more likely to die sooner than the rest of us.

And by popular demand, I’m again embedding the popular video “23 1/2 hours” below; it’s another evidence-based guide to being healthier in a simple fashion. It really comes down to moving our bodies–and the data shows that the benefits of SOME moving are much greater than more vigorous moving in those who already exercise. Nevertheless, if you’re already exercising, work on eating less, and making what you eat more fruits and vegetables. The point is simple–walk a minimum of 30 minutes per day. Do it with someone. Park farther away when you drive places. It won’t hurt you.

Go forth and walk!

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