When I first wrote Orthopedics 2.0 way back in 2012, it was a way to get down on paper all of the ideas that had been building in my head for years. Since then it’s been rewritten a few times and will soon be again so that it keeps pace with the incredible explosion in regenerative medicine. I’m proud to say that it’s also an Amazon best seller in its category. However, it needed something more, which is why today I’m launching my new book focused on the spine, The Spine Owner’s Manual.
If Orthopedics 2.0 has one problem, it tries to cover too much. I somehow had to make sure that patients with pain in the neck, back, knee, hip, shoulder, wrist, and ankle could all get something out of the book. However, it’s now time to introduce more-focused-problem-area books so that patients can dive deep into understanding their problem.
Why Write This Book?
First, if you haven’t guessed it yet, I love taking complex information and simplifying it for patients. I’ve always scoffed at physicians who feel the need to talk 30,000 feet above their patient’s heads. While this may seem like they have expertise, it’s more insecurity on the part of the doctor, as if by talking above someone’s head, the person isn’t likely to notice that you don’t understand the topic.
Second, many patients with neck and back problems get the shaft. Why? This lack of excellent spine care happens because there are only a few simple concepts that drive modern spine care. Also, many people, in general, have a hard time thinking outside the box. In fact, this is doubly so in medicine, where thinking outside the box gets you into trouble. Hence, most of what you can get offered in traditional medicine if you have back or neck issues can be boiled down to a few simple concepts:
- Fuse it! I’ve blogged before about why back or neck fusion is a dog with fleas.
- Cut it out! The problem with if it hurts we need to cut it out is that what’s left is often weaker and more problematic.
- Rehab it till you drop! Good physical therapy can often make the difference between a successful recovery and still being broken, but sometimes, when that’s all there is, the patient can’t recover. There are reasons for this that are discussed in the book, but suffice it to say that sometimes beating a dead horse gets you no closer to the finish line.
- ‘Roid it! Most physicians who perform spine care are a one-trick pony (or maybe two as you’ll see below). All they have in their bag of tricks is an injection of potent anti-inflammatory steroids that have one little problem called side effects. So while they can get rid of pain, the damage done by what they inject builds up over time, leading to new issues.
- Nuke it, nuke it good! The other trick most pain management physicians use is to burn away the painful nerve with radiofrequency ablation (RF or RFA). The problem here is simple: all nerves are there for a reason, so there is no such thing as a nerve you can burn that won’t eventually lead to new problems.
- It’s all in your head! Finally, my personal favorite is physicians and PTs who have never gotten good enough at their craft to be able to help patients, so they begin to blame the patients for why they’re not getting better. While this may have made some sense in the ’70s, when we knew little about the pathophysiology of pain, in 2016 it’s simple nonsense.
The book covers more, but you get the idea. The average patient with chronic headaches, neck pain, or upper or lower back pain is often out of luck in trying to find answers. This book aims to give them those answers and help them solve their life-altering pain nightmare.
The upshot? The Spine Owner’s Manual will be one of many to come that will focus on a particular body area. I’ll begin working on the next installment, “The Knee Owner’s Manual,” sometime over the holidays. Take a few minutes to download my new spine book and maybe consider giving it to a loved one, family member, or friend who finds themselves in one of the problematic buckets described above!