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15 comments

Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

Posted January 12, 2007 10:26 AM by Steve Melito
User-tagged by 3 users

I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. But when a surgeon from Dartmouth College suggests playing through the pain, I wonder if I can bill Medicare for advice that I've dispensed for free. Most middle-aged athletes have their share of minor medial ailments – sore elbows, bad backs, strained Achilles tendons, or trick knees. Dr. James Weinstein, a runner and doctor at Dartmouth, is no exception to the rule. When Dr. Weinstein strained his back, however, he committed sports medicine heresy – he went for a short run. Today, he makes far more money than I do by advising active adults to play through the pain (within reason) when their injuries are minor.

Traditional sports medicine recommended extended periods of rest for minor, nagging injuries such as tennis elbow. Injured joints were immobilized for months while their frustrated, soon-to-be flabby owners marked the slow passage of time. Today, Dr. Weinstein is joined by medical researchers who believe that if an injury is not severe, resting may prolong recovery. So where's the science? Doctors Freddie Fu and James Wang of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) are studying tendonitis at the molecular level. They are growing and stretching human tendons in the laboratory and, in separate experiments, running mice on treadmills to induce tiny tendon tears. According to the good doctors, the results indicate that the repeated stretching of tendons that are already inflamed leads to the production of molecules that heal inflammation. As Dr. Weinstein may have said while lacing his running shoes, "physician, heal thyself".

As much as I'd like to send you a bill, please don't take "my" advice about playing through the pain. Do your own homework. Start by reading this excellent article in the New York Times. Then talk to your doctor – a real doctor – if you have questions or concerns. Use common-sense and remember that cross-training can help you to stay fit while providing a change of pace. "The easy way out", warns orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman, "is to say 'Don't exercise'".

Steve Melito - The Y Files

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#1

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/13/2007 3:45 AM

I am 37 years old and have been earning my living with my hands making custom made products since 1994 and some 3 years ago my joint (right elbow) started giving me hassles. I compensated by using my left arm more when I do heavy work resulting much worse pain in this arm. It feels that the pain is not in the joint but rather where the mussle attach to the bone. I can't afford to stop my work, but it is getting worst. I have asked some doctors advice and they said I must rest the arm. My question is if you think resting will cure it completely, or will I have to find another job. My suspicion is that even if I rest the arm for a year, one strainious incident will put me back exactly where I was ..

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Popular Science - Weaponology - Scapolie, new member.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/13/2007 8:16 AM

oomsarel. When I was 23 years of age and working in shipbuilding I developed a very painfull neck and shoulders, my doctor at the time said that it was nothing and that I should carry on working as usual. Two years later it got so bad that it would leave me crying some days so I went to my doctor again. I was told that I was a wimp and not man enough, and to ignor it like real men would. Over the years it got much worse and I was eventally sacked for taking days off. Up until 1996 I continued to work, then one day it got so bad that I decided to go to the local hospital accident and emergancy department. I couldn't lift my right arm, my head and neck were stuck on one side and it was immposible to turn my head. I was immediately seen by a specialist who had my neck and shoulder x-rayed. He told me that I had degenarative spondylitis, and that had my doctor sent me to be x-rayed all those years ago then I would not have been in the state that I was in now. I am now 62 years old, wear a neck brace and suffer pain 24 hours a day. I cannot work and everyday life is extremely difficult for me. As my original doctor is now deceased I cannot claim compensation, so much for trusting my doctor and I will never trust a doctor again, it has ruined my life.

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Anonymous Poster
#3

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/13/2007 11:50 AM

I would just like to add my $.02 also. When I was in my early 30's I had a skiing accident that tore a ligament, chipped a bone and ripped the cartiage, an orthopedic surgeon said. I had just started my own business - landscaping. I could not afford to take off the 3 months for the surgery, nor did I even have the money so I had to keep on working. I'm in my late 50's today and my knee is fine. Oh, I still have some tender moments, but I have learned to just 'work' through it and it all works out just fine. I believe that , at least part of, the solution (I'm leaning more & more to All of the solution) is what I expect or intend from each situation. Quantum science is really teaching me that one cannot have a universe without mind entering into it. Almost like science has been climbing up one side of this huge mountain and upon reaching the top, finds the gurus and spiritualist sitting up there saying, "What kept you so long? Let's get to work now, huh?"

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/13/2007 12:26 PM

Hi guest, But you didn't have the same spinal problem as me, so I suggest that before you make any other remarks you read up about spondylitis and its devastaing results if it is left untreated. I now have three disks in my neck,the cervical disks, due to wear that are completely eroded away. This means that my four top vertibrea grind together and trap nerves, extremely painfull I can tell you. I am also missing two disks in my lower spine, they too have worn away causing me to have sciatica, another ailment that you should read about. I resent your remarks you made to to me, as I see it as an afront to every disabled person on earth, it is discriminating and demeaning. Another thing that you should know, is that degenerative spondylitis is incurable, so don't get me started.

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Associate

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#5

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/13/2007 1:10 PM

I found this item interestig because it fits in with advice my mother gave me years ago. This was that if you knock yourself or sprain an ankle, rub the area hard for at least a minute. My personal experience is that the method works. I wondered why and came to the conclusion that the rubbing increased circualation locally. Obviously hard rubbing back and forth will repeatedly stretch the area concerned, which fits in with the explanation in the article.

It is obvious from other replies to this item that a degree of caution is requred. If the rubbing/massage/exercise do not work and the problem persist then further investigation is called for.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/13/2007 3:10 PM

alba16384. You are so right, I had back, neck and shoulder massage for twenty years and it did not help me, this is why I demanded that the hospital take a look at my problem more closely. It turned out that the massaging I recieved helped to agrevate the spondylitis, so much for that remedy. I would implore anyone who has persistant pains in their spine, neck or shoulders should insist on specialist treatment.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/13/2007 3:54 PM

Thank you Scapolie for the story and the advice. I think we as young, strong, hard headed and proud men often ignore the signs of aging and wear and tear on our bodies. At the end it is you and you alone that is stuck with the concequences... I really think I am going to listen to what my body tells me and ease off using my arms as bending brakes and lifting hoists... I am starting to use 3D computer modelling and will find some one else or some machine to do the hard work. Only thing is that I also will have to start doing aditional excercise to replace the work I was used doing. Otherwise I will become over-weight and have floppy muscles..

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/14/2007 8:32 AM

oomsarel. Yes, I agree with you, but you should do what I do! Exersise is neccesary for body and mind but you must never over do it. Walk, swim, cycle, whatever, but do it gently, and always rest whenever you feel it is neccesary. My mother is 84 and walks everywhere, and whenever I ask her how she does it, she says that everything in moderation is my motto, and listen to ones body as it always tells you when to stop doing something and take a rest. My mother never rushes anything no matter what anybody says to her, and if she lives to be as old as her mother then she will atain the ripe old age of 102 years before she pops her clogs. So my advice to you is listen to nobody else but your body, remember there is always another day, and if that is not to anybody elses satisfaction then stuff them as it is your life not theirs.

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Anonymous Poster
#9

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/14/2007 10:43 AM

Hello, I have been welding pipe for near 30 years. This has caused severe corporal tunnel, trigger finger and a real nasty case of tennis elbow in my right arm for close to 15 years now. As long as I only weld the pain is bearable but one of my problems was my blacksmtihing sideline activities. I finnally got to the point of giving it up because the hammering caused pain in my elbow that is just unbearable. Recently the elbow got so bad that I tried more injections. Although after 3 injections of steriod type drugs my elbow pain is now bearable. I can tell you all for sure that trying to go back to hammering would be a big mistake. I have many times tried to work through the pain because I frankly had no choice and needed the money that I earned from doing it. It has never gotten better and always got alot worse when I did this. I am at the point now of not being able to get any more injections and my only recourse is surgery to repair the tendon. My doctor has told me that he has very good sucsess with this type surgery but most people in my profession cannot afford to be without thier welding arm for 6 weeks while it heals. I have been told that usually pysical therepy will solve the problem. So now I am back in therapy and so far it seems to just aggrivate the elbow more. Still hoping that somehow it will heal its self as long as I stay away from my forge and hammer.

Steve

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/14/2007 12:02 PM

Hi Guest. Welcome to this site. I too had to work through the pain barrier and beyond because I needed the money, but I now regret doing so. Every time I came home from work in pain, my wife would plead with me to give up and learn another trade, but as I pointed out to her, we needed the money for survival. This is one of the evils of modern life, we work until we are forced to give up in agony and misery while the bosses we worked for live in luxury and never suffer like us workers. When we have worked ourselves to near death we are cast aside on the scrapheap of humanity, while our bosses and politicians have guilt edged pensions to fall back on. Myself, these days I do not give a shit, at least I can look back and be proud of what I produced, world class ships. These days, while I am living on a small pension I have studed to become a mineralogist, something I have always wanted to do. At least through my working years I had a hobby to fall back on to keep me occupied, i collected and analysed minerals. I am now a sought after person to give lectures to university and colleges. So my recomendation to you is to get out of what you are doing now and change your life style, I know that this can be very painfull economically, but remember I did it when I was 52 years old, and if I can do it, so can you. Just think about what you would want to do and go for it.

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#11
In reply to #9

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/14/2007 5:44 PM

Hi, I would just want to say that I have so much respect for people earning their living with their hands, the blood, sweat and hard way. Especially in our day and time where it is all about survival of the brainiaciest. But times are changing and machines are taking over. It is a dying trade, only kept alive for those who still want to get rich using cheap labour. Things like blacksmithing became a craft or hobby and very few are still trained to do it. So why don't you place an ad in the local newspaper that you give blacksmithing classes. You can train young guys to do it as a hobby, they can pay you for the classes, later use your facility (at a fee of course) to make forged items that can be sold uner your brand name at a small commision for you. (Even get rid of all those extra anger and stress in the hammering ..) Maybe the products can be sold on a market or e-bay or even a steel and hardware shop or interior decorating showroom.... You never have to hammer again, but still see the trade going on.. And quit your job when you earn enough to do so..Just an idea.

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#12

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

01/15/2007 3:17 PM

What's that old joke? Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do that! Doctor: Then don't do that!

The key seems to be managing your pain and seeing if things get worse instead of better. Results may vary because some people have more willpower or a higher pain threshold than others.

Changing activities also makes sense. When I severely injured my leg running, the doctor recommended cycling to keep things moving without the impact. Worked like a charm!

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Anonymous Poster
#13

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

02/26/2007 10:09 AM

Hi All

I'm a young male, mid twenties and uptil now, havent had many injury related problems but about a month ago, I felt a soreness in my lower back the night after working out, which resulted in a serious pain in my left leg. My doctor said it was a mild sprain and after two weeks I would be fine, which didnt seem right. I returned to the gym doing light weights and some cario. The other day, I must have turned too fast or something and felt something snap, and a sharp pain shoot up my spine. I could barely move the rest of the night and the next morning. At the ER, X Rays came up negative and i was told I have just pulled a muscle. I couldnt believe this, considering the unbelievable pain I had gone through the night before. Not satisfied with the result, I saw another doctor, who said that the first time, I clearly had a slipped disc, which I had suspected initially. He also said that this last pain, I had just sprained the middle section of my back, which may have been a result of too much pressure absorved from my lower back, and it would be better in a few days. Its been two days now, and I must say it feels much better than it did a few days ago, but he suggested i go for physiotherapy and stay away from any physical activity for 2 months at least. Once I have had a slipped disc, he says it will continue to be a problem if I dont take care of it soon.

I wanted to know the effects of a slipped disc, how long will I be out of action, and how will this continue to hinder my life from now on? Any advice folks?

Thanks!

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

07/01/2008 9:48 PM

Yeah Yeap, Absolutly, everything is about money at the bottom line. I did got bit up due hard worked and ( Back-Leg-Shoulder) -No Win Situation Anyway- that's the way the system are set-up. The smart way to make it out is through some leverage but to get the leverage is the question. 'Sand Trap Situation' with the anaconda around, believe you me! No Fun Anymore! Unless you are one of the 'superheroes' from the cartoons then is your chance to overcome the system machine. I did tried real hard but not good enough anyway and end out anyhow. So what may I expect after been injured working like a 'chicken without head' all over the place, and what I got? Got bit up badly for who? So I dont know what to tell ya' at this point but take care yourself and watch for any of those-Hard Worker Traps Ads Around- my friends. You never know..

Where's the Filling?

MC

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Associate

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Fort Myers, FL
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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Playing Hurt to Stay Healthy

12/18/2008 10:02 AM

I think this discussion focused alot on the different directions that people go in when they face an injury. But it also illustrates that the progress being made in medical fields is changing our direction, most often for the better. So for each person, this requires a combination of what you already know, and searching out good directions given by doctors and advancements in technology. These advancements are not always drugs, my family has been very impressed with essential oils. Although they are distilled directly from plants, its a relatively new technology for assisting with injuries. I use them to 'play hurt' on mild injuries. I play basketball and have a chronic ankle sprain that flares up once a year. Now I use oils to help out. However, this has been with the approval from the doctor. I think we should personally continue to seek out more direction about our conditions, and be open to change based on what we learn from our doctors and advances in technology.

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