Tackling health misinformation one story at a time

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My mission is to challenge health misinformation by improving knowledge translation from research to clinicians and patients.

Health misinformation is pervasive…


Research shows that ice may be more harmful than helpful for inflammation. Say goodbye RICE and hello to PEACE & LOVE.

Person using an ice pack on their arm.
Source: Getty Images

Two things come to mind when I think of Shaquille O’Neal. First, he was one of the most dominant centers in NBA history. Second, IcyHot “saved” him from pain.

Well, that is what he would have us believe.

There was a period when every other commercial break on ESPN included Shaq telling me how these magic patches use “icy to dull the pain and hot to relax it away™.” IcyHot was hardly the first company to take advantage of the pain-relieving effects of hot and cold modalities.

I don’t have an exact date, but it is safe to assume people…


How much longer are we going to ignore decades of research?

Photo by ednopack on Getty Images

The posture nonsense is getting out of control. While preparing for a residency lecture this week, I came across an article on posture written by a physician. It was hard to contain my frustration.

“Sitting badly or standing in a slouched position stresses your lower back, weakening and damaging an intricate network of muscles, discs, and joints. And once you’ve damaged your back it’s hard to repair.” — Dr. Michael Mosley

This is a load of BS and has no research to support it. The article will cause harm, not help people. Ok, I’m still a little frustrated.

It's not…


Using unique studies to expand your understanding of pain

woman in pain
dragana991 from Getty Images

“I often wished that more people understood the invisible side of things. Even the people who seemed to understand, didn’t really.”
― Jennifer Starzec, Determination

Our minds are powerful. Our thoughts and expectations shape our future experiences. As we learn more about pain, we have come to understand the experience of pain is complex.

Common beliefs are routinely debunked. For example, mounds of research show there is no ideal posture and rounded necks and back are not dangerous.

I fight the misguided narratives around pain daily as a physical therapist. Whether I am educating patients in the clinic, clinicians in…


A physical therapist addresses misconceptions around intensity, soreness, and pain

Photo: adamkaz/Getty Images

“No pain, no gain” might be the worst phrase ever uttered in the gym. Asking the question, “Is it soreness or pain?” is a close second. At the end of the day, both pain and soreness are unpleasant. Attempting to delineate between the two is meaningless for most of us. For trained people who are highly attuned to each response their body has after exercise, sure, they can tell the difference. For everyone else, any kind of discomfort is typically a deterrent to continue making treks to the gym or lacing up running shoes.

Pain is not necessary to obtain…


New research looks at the effectiveness of 10 common elective orthopedic procedures

Woman doing kettlebells vs. one undergoing surgery.
Image designed by author (original images from Getty Images).

If you have a tear to a body structure, does it need to be surgically repaired? Do degenerated joints need to be replaced?

As the research on these topics grows, the answer becomes less clear. Research over the past 30 years has shown pain is not strictly a biological phenomenon and damage is only a piece of the puzzle.

Surgery is a common route people elect to treat pain and orthopedic conditions, but is it the best option?

A recent study assessed the effectiveness of the ten most common orthopedic procedures in the US: arthroscopic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction…


Challenging the assumption surgery is needed to repair tears

Men playing soccer.
KeithJJ from pixabay

Surgery may not be the answer for many orthopedic procedures. A recent study assessed the effectiveness of the ten most common orthopedic procedures in the US and found only two were superior to non-operative care (carpal tunnel decompression and total knee replacements).

Two of the surgeries on the list of “no benefit compared to non-operative care” were arthroscopic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Surprised?

Let’s take a closer look at the studies showing the value of conservative care.

The value of wait and see

We are seeing more baseball players, including major league pitchers with multi-million dollar salaries, attempting conservative rehab…


New research plus three variations to implement in your workouts

Man running.
source: Jacob Lund

It is common to look for the magic exercise or program that will help us achieve all of our fitness goals or prevent all injuries.

There is no such thing as a ‘best’ exercise program but there are some exercises that are better than others for achieving specific goals. In my world of physical therapy, injury prevention is often the name of the game.

Are any exercises or exercise programs effective for injury prevention? The 11+ warm-up has solid data for reducing ACL risk. Outside of that, injury prevention is too complex to boil down to a single cause. …


3 questions to ask healthcare providers before accepting their advice

Sculpture of a hydra.
Photo by aisvri on Unsplash

Who is to blame for the rampant presence of medical misinformation?

It’s hard to place blame for the spreading of misinformation or the burden of stopping it at the feet of a single group of people. This pandemic is a case study in how people determine source credibility and tease out misinformation.

It’s been painful to watch.

Much of the focus is on the struggle to transfer valid information from credible experts to the general population, as well it should be, but let’s not forget about the importance of trained professionals holding each other accountable.

It often doesn’t happen, as…


How a simple book can help guide your career and life

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Picking a new book is exciting a slightly anxiety-inducing. I don’t want to pick a bad one. I am not a slow reader, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy spending $10–15 and several hours on a book I don’t enjoy. I choose my books based on reviews, recommendations, and topics I am interested in.

I am always reading and listening to multiple books at once, a combination of fiction and non-fiction (non-fiction is hardcopy only). In my recent rotation, I decided to grab a book recommended by two of my first podcast guests and which falls on many ‘must-read’ lists.

Zachary Walston

A physical therapist tackling health misinformation | Elemental, Better Humans, Start It Up| https://www.zacharywalston.com/subscribe | Clinical Gap Podcast

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