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Swearing In Moderation May Ease Pain

Swearing really can relieve pain, but only if one doesn’t do it daily.

Researchers at Keele University in England have considered this topic before, and most recently, they studied whether people who swear more often in everyday life get as much pain relief from cursing as those who swear less frequently.

My Hand, 1992 by styro via Flickr and Creative Commons licenseResearchers recruited 71 participants who completed a questionnaire that assessed how often they swore. Pain tolerance was assessed by how long participants could keep their unclenched hand in icy water (5° C, capped at 5 minutes) while repeating a chosen word. The word was either a swear word (self-selected from a list of five words the person might use after hitting their thumb with a hammer) or a control word (one of five they might use to describe a table). Interestingly, one person was excluded from the study because they did not list a swear word among their five choices.

Results appeared in NeuroReport.

Swearing increased pain tolerance and heart rate, and decreased perceived pain compared with not swearing. But, the more often people swear in daily life, the less time they were able to hold their hand in the icy water when swearing compared with when not swearing. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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 »

True Story: An Anesthetist Attempts To Sabotage A Surgeon

There is a sort of love/hate relationship between the surgeons and the anesthetists. Neither one can survive without the other. We supply them with work and they get the work to lie still while we cut and dice. Yet their job is to keep the patient alive while we challenge their ability to stay alive. At the moment of surgery they play good cop and we play bad cop. Of course after surgery the good cop is suddenly the surgeon through and through. But that is another story.

I really appreciate a good anesthetist (I‘ve had bad ones) and to tell the truth these days I’m spoiled by the quality of the gas monkeys that I work with. However many years ago I remember a case where the anesthetist and I had a misunderstanding about time frame.

I was doing a laparotomy in Kalafong. The gas monkey was a long term medical officer. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*

Physicians And Hospitals Protect Their Turf With Patient-Safety Arguments

Prototype ‘BS’ meter.

So many folks express views that are obviously self-serving, but they try to masquerade them as altruistic positions that benefit some other constituency. These attempts usually fool no one, but yet these performances are common and ongoing. They are potent fertilizer for cynicism.

Teachers’ unions have been performing for us for decades. Their positions on charter schools, school vouchers, merit pay and the tenure system are clear examples of professional advocacy to protect teachers’ jobs and benefits; yet the stated reasons are to protect our kids. Yeah, right. While our kids are not receiving a top flight education, the public has gotten smart in a hurry on what’s really needed to reform our public educational system. This is why these unions are now retreating and regrouping, grudgingly ‘welcoming’ some reform proposals that have been on the table for decades. This was no epiphany on their part. They were exposed and vulnerable. They wisely sensed that the public lost faith in their arguments and was turning against them. Once the public walked away, or became adversaries, established and entrenched teachers’ union views and policies would be aggressively targeted. Those of us in the medical profession have learned the risk of alienating the public. Teachers have been smarter than we were.

The medical profession is full of ‘performances’ where the stated view is mere camouflage. For example, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at MD Whistleblower*

Anesthesia Medications Automatically Delivered During Surgery

A team of French anesthesiologists has developed an automatic delivery system of propofol and remifentanil, which they recently tested in a multi-center trial involving 196 surgical patients. The researchers reported in Anesthesia & Analgesia that the system, which uses a Bispectral Index (BIS) monitor as a guide, performed better than manual administration:

We have developed a proportional-integral-derivative controller allowing the closed-loop coadministration of propofol and remifentanil, guided by a Bispectral Index (BIS) monitor, during induction and maintenance of general anesthesia. The controller was compared with manual target-controlled infusion.

The controller allows the automated delivery of propofol and remifentanil and maintains BIS values in predetermined boundaries during general anesthesia better than manual administration.

 Abstract in Anesthesia & Analgesia: Closed-Loop Coadministration of Propofol and Remifentanil Guided by Bispectral Index: A Randomized Multicenter Study

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*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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