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Pain Management: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

When it comes to treating chronic pain such as arthritis or low back pain, it’s important to remember that what works for one patient may not work for the next patient. Some people are able to control their pain by taking a nonprescription medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), while others may need an opioid (also known as narcotics). Tablets or capsules containing the opioid hydrocodone plus acetaminophen (known as Vicodin or Lortab) are among the most commonly dispensed medications in the US. But remember: just because this medication is popular doesn’t make it the best pain reliever for everyone!

For example, a recent study showed the older adults who were prescribed a short-acting opioid such as hydrocodone or oxycodone (e.g., Percocet) were twice as likely to break a bone in the following year compared to those on a long-acting opioid or a different pain medication altogether. How can doctors tell which pain medication to prescribe to best treat your pain, without increasing the risk of side effects? People also frequently turn to their pharmacist for medication advice – how does the pharmacist know what to recommend for your pain?

It all starts with a careful description of your pain. Read more »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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