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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to your most common questions.

What is a steroid?
There are many kinds of steroids. In our office, we may use steroids sparingly as a powerful medication to decrease swelling and inflammation of joints, muscles and nerves. We will always discuss potential side effects with you and may decide to withhold steroid treatment based on your medical condition.
     
I heard that steroids are bad for you. Is that true?
Steroids can have significant side effects, particularly if taken for months to years. In our office, we prescribe short bursts of steroids to decrease swelling and inflammation. When taken this way, steroids have far fewer and short lived side effects. News reports often comment on steroids that increase athletic performance or overuse of steroid "pain shots" that can cause serious medical problems. These uses of steroids are medically controversial and we do not prescribe such steroids in this office.
     
What are anti-inflammatory medicines?
These medicines are often called NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs). They are used to decrease swelling and inflammation of joints, muscles and nerves. NSAIDs are commonly available without a prescription from your pharmacy, for example: Ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Alleve. These medicines are generally safe, however they may have significant side effects including intestinal bleeding, heart complications, or kidney malfunction depending on interactions with other medicines you take or on your medical condition. Tylenol is a pain reliever but not an anti-inflammatory medicine.

In this office we may offer you prescription NSAIDs. The benefit to these is that they may be more potent or more convenient to use. We will always discuss potential side effects with you and may decide to withhold NSAID treatment based on your medical condition.
     
Why do I need to exercise?
There are many types of exercise. Many people exercise at a gym or health club to maintain their physical fitness. General exercise has many benefits including:
  1. Weight loss
  2. Weight maintenance by increasing the body's metabolism
  3. Cardiac and aerobic conditioning
  4. Increased strength
  5. Increased endurance
  6. Decreased emotional stress
We encourage our patients to participate in this type of exercise. However, many people are not aware of the existence of therapeutic exercise, which is like medicine for many spine, joint and nerve conditions. At Spine & Sports Physiatrists, we specialize in prescribing therapeutic exercise to treat such conditions.
     
What is therapeutic exercise?
Therapeutic exercise is the most important treatment for most spine, joint and nerve conditions. Therapeutic exercise is medicine and mechanically takes pressure off of injured structures.  Most people are surprised to learn that therapeutic exercise is also pain-relieving.  Once patients are properly instructed, therapeutic exercise can be done at home to prevent future episodes of pain.  Like medicines, some exercises may be very beneficial and some may worsen your condition. Not all exercises are helpful for all conditions.  Just as medicines need to be taken properly, exercises need to be performed properly.  Physiatrists are experts at prescribing and coordinating therapeutic exercise programs.

When offered a therapeutic exercise program for a spine, joint or nerve condition, many people resist because they feel they exercise enough in the course of their everyday activities. Although these everyday activities may be strenuous, they do not have a medical benefit like therapeutic exercise. Examples of such activities are:
  1. Working out at the health club
  2. Long shopping trips at the mall
  3. Caring for young children all day
  4. Heavy labor jobs
  5. Being on your feet (running around) at work all day
     
Why do I need to go to physical or occupational therapy?
Physical and occupational therapists are experts in showing you how to do therapeutic exercises properly. Our doctors coordinate exercise programs with expert therapists to ensure you get better. Just like physicians, therapists often have different areas of expertise. Our doctors will often suggest specific therapists who have the proper expertise for your particular condition. Utilizing these therapists will give you the most out of your physical therapy time.