Category Archives: Interesting

Exercise Hyped as Universal Solution to Chronic Pain

Is exercise the new snake oil? or just a dirty word? | HealthSkills Blog – by Bronnie Thompson – Aug 2020

This is a great article explaining that while exercise is generally “good for you”, it does very little to relieve pain and disability. The studies that supposedly prove this are problematic and cited more than they deserve to be.

Exercise can do all these wonderful things – help you lose weight, reduce heart disease, moderate insulin and blood glucose levels, improve your mental health, and yes! reduce pain and disability when you’re sore. (check this list out)

The claims sound suspiciously similar to the claims made by old snake oil merchants.

Qualitative researchers have often investigated how people with pain view exercise: Continue reading

Does awareness (or pain) reside in the brain?

Does awareness reside in the brain? – Dr. Michel Accad – May 2018

This is just strange: a brain scan showing hardly any brain in a person functioning normally.

a report of a 44-year-old married man and father of 2, duly employed by the French postal service, who went to the hospital for evaluation of mild weakness.

Because he gave a history of having hydrocephalus as an infant, which was treated with a drain that was removed at age 14, the hospital staff thought it would be prudent to obtain a CT scan to investigate this minor weakness.    Continue reading

The importance of values in evidence-based medicine

The importance of values in evidence-based medicine – free full-text  /PMC4603687/ – Oct 2015

This is a long well-thought-out article about the current model of evidence-based medical care that we have to live with. I think the meat of the matter is in these two paragraphs:

The world as we think it ought to be is the world of values. Different people will have different values, and it is very hard to resolve value-based disagreements on the basis of scientific evidence. But values are ever present.

Despite the caricature of the passionless objective (often male) scientist in a white coat, the questions scientists decide to ask, the methods they select, and the way they interpret results are chosen through a filter of often unacknowledged and subconscious values.   Continue reading

Working from home under surveillance

Working from home surveillance software for your boss – The Washington Post – by Drew Harwell Apr 2020

This is in the category of “sad, but true”…

digital marketing director James Luce decided to replicate the office experience entirely online.

Employees were told to create a digital avatar and spend their workday in a virtual office, replete with chat room cubicles and a gossip-ready “water cooler.” They were also instructed to keep their home webcams and microphones on and at the ready, so a spontaneous face-to-face chat was always only a click away. 

I can’t believe people have to work under such incredibly stressful and demeaning conditions, especially during this pandemic which already puts so much stress on families quarantined together.   Continue reading

More information not always better for decisions

When more information may not lead to better decisions | National Institutes of Health (NIH)March 3, 2020

Every day we use information about cause and effect to help make decisions. With advances in machine learning, computers are now able to turn data into sophisticated models of causation.

These models have the potential to help inform the choices that people make in their daily lives. However, it’s unclear how well people can use such models to make real-world decisions.

To me, this is about the difference between data, like raw numbers, and real information, like how the numbers interact with each other (causation, influence, etc.)  Continue reading

The bias that can cause catastrophe

The bias that can cause catastrophe – BBC WorklifeBy David Robson
– Oct 2019

This article shows how a cognitive error can, and does, cause much misery for those who must suffer the consequences. I think we see a lot of this in our medical care with doctors who see a positive outcome one time expect the same positive outcome in every following case, making it very difficult for any “non-standard” patients to get appropriate care.

Imagine a pilot is taking a familiar flight along a known route, during which the weather takes a turn for the worst. She knows that flying through the storm comes with some serious risks – and according to her training, she should take a detour or return. But she has flown the same route before, in similar weather – and she hadn’t experienced any problems then. Should she continue? Or should she turn back?

If you believe that she is safe to fly on, then you have fallen for a cognitive quirk known as the “outcome bias”.   Continue reading

Brainless, Single-Celled Blob Can Make Complex ‘Decisions’

This Brainless, Single-Celled Blob Can Make Complex ‘Decisions’ | Live ScienceBy Yasemin Saplakoglu – Staff Writer – Dec 2019

Tiny, brainless blobs might be able to make decisions: A single-celled organism can “change its mind” to avoid going near an irritating substance, according to new findings.

I can think of several “brainless blobs” right away who seem to be in charge of the misguided and counterproductive response to the crisis of overdose deaths.

Over a century ago, American zoologist Herbert Spencer Jennings conducted an experiment on a relatively large, trumpet-shaped, single-celled organism called Stentor roeselii Continue reading

This Has Been the Best Year Ever (but not for pain patients)

Opinion | This Has Been the Best Year Ever – The New York Times by Nicholas Kristof – Dec 2019

If you’re depressed by the state of the world, let me toss out an idea: In the long arc of human history, 2019 has been the best year ever.

The bad things that you fret about are true. But it’s also true that since modern humans emerged about 200,000 years ago, 2019 was probably the year in which

  • children were least likely to die,
  • adults were least likely to be illiterate and
  • people were least likely to suffer excruciating and disfiguring diseases.

This is of small comfort to those of us with chronic pain, but at least someone somewhere is having a better life – and that is a genuine “good thing”, even if it isn’t affecting us directly.   Continue reading

Just for fun – Tidbits from my travels around the web

Happy New Year!

In honor of this calendar event and in the midst of all the misery being foisted upon pain patients, here’s something completely different, unusual, odd, or strange and possibly entertaining for the curious.

This is another blog where I save all kinds of uncommon and interesting (to me, at least) articles that I’ve stumbled across:

Worth a Second Look – Tidbits from my travels around the web

We Have Salamander-Like Ability to Regrow Cartilage

Humans Have Salamander-Like Ability to Regrow Cartilage in JointsDuke Clinical Research Institute Oct 2019

Here’s a promising development for one of the scourges of aging, osteoarthritis. Additionally, with EDS cartilage can be defective and deteriorate faster than the norm, so this could be very good news.

“Once cartilage is gone, it’s gone for good and there’s no replacement that we know of,” Luk said.


Contrary to popular belief, cartilage in human joints can repair itself through a process similar to that used by creatures such as salamanders and zebrafish to regenerate limbs, researchers at Duke Health found.   Continue reading