“Black box” warnings are issued by the FDA when a drug causes life-threatening complications.
The FDA uses this warning when it’s necessary to “call attention to serious or life-threatening risks.” To a layman, it means these drugs are potentially the most harmful of all drugs issued.
Most drugs are slapped with black box warnings after they are already on the market. There are black box warnings on drugs as common as Xanax and Adderall. These are pills prescribed to millions of Americans every year. And the warnings aren’t innocuous. The black box warning for Adderall, for example, states “increased risk of sudden death and cardiovascular events”.
The risks for black box drugs that aren’t as common can be even more extreme. An anticoagulant drug called Xarelto has been tied to severe internal bleeding incidents, and it doesn’t have an antidote! This means that if an unfortunate patient has an internal bleeding incident while taking the drug (even as prescribed), they will likely bleed to death because there is no counter-drug to reverse the effects.
Whether you’re taking a black box drug or not, you probably want to know the best ways to stay safe from such harmful side effects.
The best way, even though it’s a cliché, is to become your own doctor and advocate. Most doctors in the U.S. have very limited time with each patient, which logically infers that they’re less likely to do extensive research on each individual patient’s needs and issues. You should read through all the documentation that comes with prescriptions you’re written, and come with a list of succinct questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist when you have an appointment. It’s also a good idea to do your own research using free resources like PubMed where you can search clinical trials by condition or by treatment.
If, unfortunately, you do have an adverse reaction from the drug (which is possible even when being fully prepared beforehand), make sure to report it on the FDA Medwatch site. This will help the organization determine whether the drug is still safe for consumers. You also have the option of calling the FDA directly at 1-800-FDA-1088 to report the incident.
There is also the option to stay away entirely from black box drugs as much as possible through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, and given the risks discussed in this article, that may be the prudent thing to aim for.
The key postural distortions associated with Janda’s upper crossed syndrome (UCS) are forward head and rounded shoulders. If I see this distortion on a static posture analysis, I follow up with ROM and movement assessments. I also perform manual muscle tests, glenohumeral joint stability tests and orthopedic tests for shoulder impingement, and neuro tests for neuropathy and/or radiculopathy. Continue reading
North American marijuana sales grew 30% in 2016 to $6.7 billion as the legal market expands in the United States and Canada. A recent report by A Review Market Research indicates North American sales are projected to top $20.2 billion by 2021!! Like it or not, a growing number of states are becoming more and more accepting of this once illicit practice of growing, selling and consuming. Read more of my article Medical Cannabis Part 1
If you’re suffering from a soft tissue ailment or looking for an alternative, holistic approach to pain reduction, and want overall healthy joint aging, EPAT shockwave and laser may be an effective option. Dr. Jeffrey Tucker says “The results from EPAT (shockwave) and laser are promising for acute pain, chronic pain conditions and regenerative medicine.”
Frequently asked questions about EPAT:
Is deep tissue massage similar to EPAT Shockwave? No, EPAT shockwave penetrates much deeper than hands can get. EPAT goes beyond muscles treating the underside of muscles, bones, and joints to work on a deeper level.
EPAT Shock wave sessions usually last thirty minutes! True, they normally take about 20-30 minutes depending on the number of impulses and the number of areas we are intending to apply to a given area.
Some patients describe the EPAT as a ‘Jack hammer’. Why? The overall feeling is a combination of gliding, kneading, percussion, vibration, deep friction massage, and rolling of the soft tissue and joints.
EPAT is often used in combination with other therapies including laser, deep muscle stimulator (DMS) and cupping.
Like most massage, EPAT is traditionally practiced on exposed skin surfaces. You should wear loose, comfortable clothing to ensure the doctor can have skin exposure and be able to move your joints through the full range of motion. During EPAT therapy, ultrasound gel is used on treatment surfaces.
Dr. Tucker’s philosophy treats patients holistically, focusing on physical, mental, nutritional and healthy aging wellness. “I help achieve joint and muscle balance using a blend of modern technology like the Deep Muscle Stimulator (DMS), Laser, EPAT (shock wave) and therapies that have stood the test of time like cupping and transverse friction massage.
“I have every intention of helping patients detect and correct where they may be blocking recovery by mental and physical tension, bad habits, and the poor health they showed up with if that is the case.”
By Jeffrey Tucker, DC, DACRB
For the past several years, around the same time that the American College of Sports Medicine publishes the results of its annual survey of fitness trends, I’ve discussed what I think are the chiropractic trends for the year ahead. Here are my top chiropractic trends, followed by the top 10 ACSM trends – many of which are… continue reading
If you suffer from the pain and stiffness of hip arthritis, a steroid shot may seem like a miracle. After all, anything that can give you complete relief from that pain (even if just for a short time) is amazing. However, a new study has found that these injections can cause a domino effect that results in even more serious hip problems. And that can happen very quickly.
Before turning to steroids that can damage bones, let’s give this a second thought. Especially since there are some proven safe and effective treatments for hip pain that won’t prove to be bone damaging!
Dr. Connie Chang, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, examined patients X-rays after hip steroid injection. She kept finding “rapidly” developing changes, namely bone “death and collapse” occurring several months after such injections.
Dr. Chang arranged a study of close to 250 patients with hip arthritis, some of whom received a steroid shot in their hip and some who didn’t. And as soon as three months later, she was finding “new” occurrences of bone death, eventually affecting up to a quarter of the volunteers who had been given a shot.
Along with that, around 17 percent of those who got a steroid shot suffered from bone collapse in the “head” of their femur bone.
Dr. Chang said that joint and bone changes in those with arthritis usually develop “slowly over time.” That’s been my clinical experience over the years. This is why I talk about your age and current pain levels before getting a cortisone shot. If you are young there is a lot of risk. If you are old but plan on living a long time, let’s talk about this.
The fact is that steroids can cause damage to your bones.
The Mayo Clinic warns that steroids are the most “common cause” of “avascular necrosis” (which is basically the death of bone tissue caused by a lack of blood supply, eventually leading to collapse of the bone) that isn’t caused by bone trauma.
The University of Michigan Medical School and the VA Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, found that you don’t have to be taking steroids for a long time to suffer some serious side effects.
Even a low dose, such as 20 mg a day or less, can trigger sepsis… triple your risk of a blood clot… and double the chance of breaking a bone.
While steroids can be lifesavers, say, during a bad asthma attack, the truth is that, given the risks they come along with, they’re given out way too haphazardly.
Before you resort to a shot in the hip, why not first give these alternative treatments a try?
• Laser: This treatment uses light therapy and has been proven to reduce inflammation and decrease pain in numerous conditions, including arthritis.
• Shockwave therapy: This has been a remarkable therapy for my patients. It penetrates deep into the tissues to increase circulation and stimulate the breakup of scar tissue and other pain producing substances.
• Exercises: Having a skilled doctor that can guide you through stretches and exercises can help keep your hips moving smoother.
• Natural anti-inflammatories: Taking a daily supplement of omega fatty acids that contain DHA and EPA made by Metagenics (offered to our patients) is well known to reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation.
“Steroid injections for arthritic hips: More trouble than they’re worth?” Robert Preidt, November 29, 2017, U.S. News & World Report, usnews.com
What I do as a practitioner is provide the kind of care I want for myself and my family. My practice style is interactive, meaning we make decisions together, co-decide treatment options for pain relief, and I will help you achieve new range of motion. If you need weight loss I have very successful practical plans, and if you want to improve your fitness I can help guide you along. I’m formally trained in pain reduction strategies, flexibility and mobility training, weight loss, strength training, cardio and all its many forms, nutritional supplements, diets, and stress reduction. I have studied all of these concepts for 35 years. The things I continue to do and use are methods I know have worked for other people. I have stayed at the top of my game by staying in active practice, I’ve continued learning, I am an instructor to other Doctors around the world, I enjoy writing, sharing, and I continue to learn my craft.
I have been challenged by difficult patients with chronic pain, over-achievers with lots of stress, and patients with crazy character. I’ve learned and tried many different techniques, studied with masters and put together my own processes based on what works. For example if you ask me “What’s a good exercise?” I will say ‘One the patient does’ – I teach the ones I know patients do because I live it every day. As I have gotten older I have become more direct, a no nonsense style, and I have applied ‘healthy aging’ knowledge to myself and my patients. I am more serious about helping people regain lost range of motion in the neck, shoulders and back and then it is up to you to never lose it. That is my ‘healthy aging’ program for patients.
A session with me starts with getting to know you. Then we make a plan or program. Maybe you will need to schedule twice a week, once a week, once every two weeks. I don’t know that answer until we meet. I will teach you what you can do at home on your own. The truth is that what we do in the office is 10-20% of your change, the other 80-90% is what you do at home. Please call my West Los Angeles office 310-444-9393 for an appointment.
In this study patients with chronic low back pain who followed cognitive intervention and exercise programs (versus surgery) improved signi?cantly in muscle strength compared with patients who underwent lumbar fusion. In the lumbar fusion group, muscle density (meaning ‘weak muscles’) decreased signi?cantly at L3–L4 compared with the exercise group.1
In addition to exercise therapy for chronic low back pain, current treatments include laser therapy and shockwave therapy for spinal problems, especially when scar tissue has formed. If you have damaged spinal ligaments causing spinal instability or ‘Enthesopathy’ (areas of irritable ligament attachment to bone) a trial of exercise and laser is highly recommended.
Dr. Jeffrey Tucker has created new treatments combining laser therapy, shockwave therapy and exercise to stimulate stem cell activity. Most up-to-date doctors agree that treating back pain patients with conservative care is better than injections or surgery. Doctors that understand how to treat chronic low back pain such as degenerative disc disease, address the problems of spinal ligament instability and scar tissue formation by stimulating the body’s natural ability to regenerate the discs indirectly – decrease spinal stiffness, increase paraspinal muscle activation/strength, and increase hydration in the discs.2 This approach helps decrease pain in the low back.
Please feel free to call my office for a consultation 310-444-9393
- Keller A, Brox JI, Gunderson R, Holm I, Friis A, Reikerås O. Trunk muscle strength, cross-sectional area, and density in patients with chronic low back pain randomized to lumbar fusion or cognitive intervention and exercises. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2004 Jan 1;29(1):3-8.
- Röllinghoff M, Schlüter-Brust K, Groos D, et al. Mid-range outcomes in 64 consecutive cases of multilevel fusion for degenerative diseases of the lumbar spine. Orthopedic Reviews. 2010;2(1):e3.
West Los Angeles Chiropractor
Patients who are thinking about spinal injections or surgery, or have had spinal surgery (fusion, disc procedure, etc.) should see a Chiropractor trained in proper exercise therapy and who uses laser therapy and other new technology such as acoustic wave therapy to improve spinal strength and stability. In addition, scar tissue and muscle atrophy needs to be evaluated and treated. This can help prevent costly and risky injections and surgery.
Why is failed back surgery syndrome so common? Researchers at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University in Japan:
Up to 25% of patients report unimproved or worse pain and up to 40% are not happy with the outcome of lumbar fusion.
The possible reasons for poor results include instrumentation failure, inadequate surgical technique, and poor patient selection.
In patients who had continued pain after back surgery, muscle biopsies revealed:
Atrophy of paraspinal muscles
Loss of muscular support leading to disability and increased biomechanical strain and possibly failed back syndrome.1
In another study researchers found that the muscles adjacent to the fusion (the paraspinal muscles of the lumbar spine) play an important role in recovery. The muscles become weak and unstable after a spinal fusion.2 If those muscles remain damaged or weakened, the spine is unstable and pain persists.2
I can’t say enough about this…Doctors at Oslo University Hospital examined patients who had continued pain 7 to 11 years after spinal fusion. They found reduced muscle strength and density of tissue one year after lumbar fusion: 27% reduction in muscle density.3 Again, patients need a skilled practitioner like myself to help them properly build strength and stability…but I recommend doing this before injections or surgery if at all possible.
1 Ohtori S, Orita S, Yamauchi K, et al. Classification of Chronic Back Muscle Degeneration after Spinal Surgery and Its Relationship with Low Back Pain. Asian Spine Journal. 2016;10(3):516-521.
2 Malakoutian M, Street J, Wilke HJ, Stavness I, Dvorak M, Fels S, Oxland T. Role of muscle damage on loading at the level adjacent to a lumbar spine fusion: a biomechanical analysis. Eur Spine J. 2016 Sep;25(9):2929-37.
3 Froholdt A, Holm I, Keller A, Gunderson RB, Reikeraas O, Brox JI. No difference in long-term trunk muscle strength, cross-sectional area, and density in patients with chronic low back pain 7 to 11 years after lumbar fusion versus cognitive intervention and exercises. Spine J. 2011 Aug;11(8):718-25.
In a recent study in the journal PMR, (June 2017) a Washington University School of Medicine team found links between the hip and the spine affecting pain and function. The key finding was that hip disease, before it was even evident on an MRI as osteoarthritis, could cause problems in the lower back.1 The hip was the true disguised pain generator in back pain patients. This is no surprise to me and my patients. Every patient in my office has had a hip evaluation if they present with low back pain. This truly is a case where the science is catching up with what active practitioners have known for years.
What is this research telling us? If you had an MRI of your hip, and nothing presented itself as obvious, then the doctor may chase something in the spine that is not causing the pain.
The link that the researchers are still missing is that tight and immobile hips cause increased dysfunctional motion in the lower lumbar spine and this causes excess rubbing and irritation in the low back.
The same team of researchers, publishing earlier in February 2017 were also able to conclude that physical examination findings indicating hip osteoarthritis (loss of range of motion and acute pain) are common in patients who also have low back pain. A patient presenting with low back pain should be examined for hip osteoarthritis).2
1 Prather H, Cheng A, May KS, Maheshwari V, VanDillen L. Association of Hip Radiograph Findings with Pain and Function in Patients Presenting with Low Back Pain. PM&R. 2017 Jun 16.
2. Prather H, Cheng A, May KS, Maheshwari V, VanDillen L. Hip and Lumbar Spine Physical Examination Findings in People Presenting With Low Back Pain With or Without Lower Extremity Pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017 Feb 3:1-36. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2017.6567.