This over-subscribed (some attendees had to sit on the steps of the auditorium) talk in Mandarin this afternoon at the HDB Hub Convention Centre was jointly organised by Singapore Paincare Centre and Mt Alvernia Hospital. It was an enlightening and interactive session hosted by veteran 96.3fm DJ Anna (extreme left in photo below) from SPH Radio Pte Ltd.
The medical specialists were (from right to left) Dr Tan Bee Gawh (well-known TCM physician), Dr Jeffrey Loh (Paincare Practitioner), Dr Chang Haw Chong (Orthopedic Surgeon) and Dr Bernard Lee (Consultant Pain Specialist).
The panel provided deep insights on musculoskeletal conditions and its impact on the psychological well-being to the sufferers and the available treatments from evidence-based perspectives on musculoskeletal conditions and the use of various types of medication that complement the overall treatment both physically and psychologically.
Pain affects the quality of life, and nine in ten ailments involve pain – joints (arthritis), muscles, ligaments, inflammation, cramps, stress fractures, nerves, peripheral artery disease, deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins, burns, sores, bone spurs, slipped disc, gout and so on. Close to 40% of people above age 60 experience leg cramps up to three times a week. Both oesteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis affect mostly females aged 40-60; there is no cure besides temporary relief from therapy and it is crucial to prevent further damage (eg, from overuse of fingers and other joints). Plantar Fascia is often caused by being flat-footed, inappropriate footwear (like wearing high-heeled shoes and worn-out shoes or going barefooted) and obesity. Other factors for such ailments include poor blood circulation, sitting for long periods, frequent dizziness, breathing difficulty and coughing blood and those with a high risk of diabetes, heart diseases and stroke. Age and deterioration (“wear and tear”) can also cause damage, besides external injuries and incorrect posture and gait.
Regular exercise is essential to prevent stiffness but it must not be overdone as sprains can occur. Swimming is the best exercise but if that is not possible (for example, yours truly has aquaphobia), then cycling would be the next best thing to do; walking and jogging is not as desirable due to the strain on the knees. (No wonder my physiotherapist told me to stop using the treadmill but insisted that I cycle for at least 30 minutes a day five times a week.)
“Prevention is Better than Cure”. This would include maintaining correct posture (for example, in using the handphone, sleeping, walking, holding a pen, using the computer). Exercising is important (“Life is about moving”); so are nutrition, sleep and mental health.
The various non-evasive treatment (such as painkillers, physiotherapy, maintaining a healthy weight, using walking aids and injections) and surgery (such as partial/full knee replacement, artroscopy, makoplasty, nucleoplasty and vertebroplasty) were discussed. All surgeries carry risks. There is also a 15% chance of the same problem recurring for there is no guarantee against wear and tear, age and deterioration.
All the speakers were competent but I found Dr Chang to be the most interesting, endearing, witty and humorous. I particularly enjoyed his banter with Dr Lee (aka “Dr Pain”).