Blogs by ‘Dr Mary Wyatt’
This graph is from Professor Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde, who is a sophisticated researcher in this area.
If you are in your 20s, the chance of some degree of degenerative changes is about 10%. If you are in your 70s the chance is about 70% or 80%.
When someone develops back pain, it is common to see their condition reported as an aggravation of a pre-existing underlying degenerative change.
But what does this statement mean?
There is some correlation between back pain and the presence of degenerative changes, but the correlation is weak or poor....
Today I want to talk about Occupational Epidemiology.
That might include studying an epidemic, such as the spread of the AIDS virus. It might involve studying the occurrence of asthma, which groups of people get asthma, and what factors might increase the risk of asthma in the various demographics.
Occupational epidemiology studies what happens to the population of people who are working. For example, do brick layers get more shoulder problems than bank managers? Which chemicals tend to induce asthma? Which body movements increase the likelihood someone will experience neck or...
Doctors who conduct pre-employmentDoctors who conduct pre-employment assessments say that around 10% of people report previous back soreness. This is in conflict with the studies which tell us at least 70% of the population have had prior back soreness.
For many, an individual’s past back pain back pain won’t interfere with their ability to do the job. They also know that if they declare their back pain, they are less likely to get the job.
Whatever the rules say should happen, many employers believe they can avoid claims by discriminating against people with certain health...
The challenge we face is that a person’s recollection of their health problems is not reliable.
I’ll use back pain as an example.
Studies of large groups of people tell us that back pain is common. 20% or more of the population has a long term back complaint, where they experience some level of back discomfort or soreness on most days. More than 30% of people experience intermittent episodes of back pain. Only about 30% of the working age population have never experienced back pain.
New and better quality studies suggest that people can move from one of these groups to...
The impact of work on a particular health problem can be a contentious issue, and the assessments are often not done well (IMHO).
Disputed claims cause can cause significant grief. They are more likely to be expensive, and return to work rates are worse. This is a big issue and needs to be addressed, but is not currently being tackled at a policy level.
Employees feel aggrieved if they believe work has contributed to their condition and their claim is denied. After they have an accepted claim for a few years, receiving advice their claim is being terminated on the basis that...
I recently saw a man in his mid-30s who’d worked in steady employment since leaving school, mainly as a sheet metal worker. He developed a back problem, a disc prolapse with sciatica, and underwent spinal surgery. He couldn’t go back to his previous type of work, but youth and many years of work ahead suggests support to get back into a different long-term line of work is a priority.
Yet there had been almost no focus on rehabilitation. A realistic approach would be 6 to 18 months of retraining, moving him into a different line of work: OH&S, a youth worker, AutoCAD work, becoming a...
A United States study published on March 14 found when patients requested specific medications from the treating doctor, they were much more likely to be prescribed that medication.¹
Actors were sent to see doctors about musculoskeletal problems. Some of the actors requested medication they said they had seen advertised on TV, or medication friends had taken, while some actors were instructed to leave any medication up to the doctor. Those who requested specific meds were much more likely to get that medication.
This doesn’t come as a surprise. Pharmaceutical companies can...
I’m Victoria based. Once a month I travel to South Australia and Western Australia to see patients. Over the last few years it has been fascinating to compare different compensation systems through the lens of the patient. There is a notable difference in how the schemes affect people.
When patients provide a history they are essentially tell their story. How the system is treating them impacts how they tell their story.
For example, patients going through a common law process commonly start their history differently. Instead of “I started getting a sore back two years ago”, the...