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Stopping Pain Without Drugs

The New York Times—May 14, 2010

As a non-surgeon practicing at the busiest orthopedic surgery hospital in the country, Dr. Vijay Vad stands out. Instead of sending his patients to surgery, his goal is to keep them out of it. A sports medicine physiatry specialist at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery who regularly works with professional golfers and tennis players, Dr. Vad is a believer in the power of the mind-body connection and regularly prescribes yoga exercises and other alternative strategies for his patients. He is also the author of the new book “Stop Pain: Inflammation Relief for an Active Life,’’ which is packed with practical advice and self-care options to help chronic pain patients reduce their dependence on narcotics and avoid additional medical procedures.

Tara Parker-Pope spoke with Dr. Vad recently about his new book and the problem of chronic pain. Here’s their conversation.

Why did you think there needed to be a book about pain?
I have seen a big explosion in chronic back pain and arthritis, and what I realized is that people have very limited self-help options. I felt there was a need for people whose main focus is self help, giving them clinically proven options that will really help them improve their quality of life and minimize their dependence on narcotics and medical procedures as soon as possible.
What else can someone do to relieve pain besides take a prescription pain reliever or undergo a procedure?
There are so many self-help things you can do. Something as simple as trying to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise can help.
Are there other self-help measures besides exercise?
That’s only one part of self help. There are topical treatments and supplements as well. When I started exploring this I used to think the topical thing is bogus. But there is a whole science behind topical pain relievers.
What are you hoping people get out of this book?
Whether you have a medical procedure or not, there are so many things you can do that are available right now. Every little thing adds up. Look at your mattress. Maybe the chair at work isn’t right. Maybe your computer setup isn’t perfect and is causing you neck pain.
What we’re trying to do here is add up six things you can do properly on your own, and it might have a huge impact on your quality of life. I’m trying to get people off using narcotics every time. And even with anti-inflammatory drugs, there are health issues. I’m trying to give people options that really don’t have a lot of downside.

Read the full article at nytimes.com.



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