Health News from 2017

2017 was a year to remember, or forget, depending upon your perspective. Old and new, surprises and same-old, advances and set-backs were aplenty in all walks of life. To ring in 2018 I’ve compiled a handful of interesting health/physio-related facts, findings and possibilities that 2017 threw up. I’ll start nagging you all to GET MOVING! next month but for now, in the hibernation period that is January, grab a brew and peruse the random but interesting snippets below.

shouldersCould the end be nigh for this form of shoulder surgery?

A trial appears to show that a commonly undertaken surgery for shoulder pain is no better than ‘fake’ surgery. CSAW (Can Shoulder Arthroscopy Work) compared arthroscopic sub-acromial decompression – a common surgery that involves shaving some bone and often removal of some bits of soft tissue, aiming to reduce compression of the muscles underneath – with sham surgery i.e. the patient was anaesthetised, the surgeon made some incisions… and then stitched the patient back up again. The results of the study showed that there was no significant difference between the two surgical groups, in theory demonstrating that surgery is in this case not needed to reduce the very common sub-acromial shoulder pain and disability. This has potentially big implications for treatment, namely that should surgery become less routine and other interventions – physiotherapy? – be considered instead? It’s not quite as cut and dried as that when you dig into the nitty-gritty of the study but watch out for surgeons playing a less prominent role in management of shoulders and physio’s picking up the ball instead…

Speedy blood test could save the NHS £millions

A team at Kings College London has trialled a blood test that takes just 20 minutes to tell whether or not someone has had a heart attack. They claim it could save the NHS millions of pounds.

houseworkHousework could be just what you need…

Whoever said housework wasn’t exercise?! Vacuuming and scrubbing the floor can offer enough exercise to protect the heart and extend life, according to a study published in the Lancet. 30 minutes of exercise per day reduced the risk of death from any cause by 28% and crucially, it wasn’t necessary to do conventional ‘exercise. Of the 130,000 people taking part, less than 3% who achieved their high levels of activity through conventional leisure pursuits; walking, having a physical job and domestic chores were adequate contributors.

Solo-living can be a risk factor for dementia

There are myriad pros and cons to living alone but it appears that it may increase your risk of developing dementia, so finds a study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. People who have lived alone all their lives have a 42 per cent higher risk of dementia than is the case with married couples.

Drug that may reduce migraine time by half

A drug that can halve how long a migraine lasts is ‘incredibly important’ according to the trial lead from King’s College London. The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.

tickingtimebombSedentary lifestyles should come with a health warning

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Centre recently used activity trackers to monitor 8,000 workers over the age of 45. The findings were striking. The average period of inactivity during each waking day was 12.3 hours. Employees who were sedentary for more than 13 hours a day were twice as likely to die prematurely as those who were inactive for 11.5 hours. The authors concluded that sitting in an office for long periods has a similar effect to smoking and ought to come with a health warning.

UK body weight statistics are not looking good…

OECD health statistics are some of the most comprehensive and rigorous figures published. In 2017 they found that 27% of the UK population were obese, with a further 36% overweight but not obese, meaning that 59% of the UK population are overweight or obese – the 6th highest in OECD countries and the highest in western Europe.

Photo by Emma Simpson on UnsplashExercise can help reduce postnatal depression

Aerobic Exercise may help curb postnatal depression, found a review of available evidence. Interventions aimed at boosting aerobic exercise were compared with usual care amongst depressed young mothers. Aerobic exercise – undertaken as a group, individually or when added to other interventions – was shown to significantly reduce symptoms of postnatal depression. The size of the effect was comparable with that reported for psychological interventions.

Low back pain (LBP) recommendations updated – and the news is good for physio & self-management…

NICE (National Institute for Clinical Guidelines) recommendations for LBP now places more emphasis on self-management, namely bearing in mind the points that I’ve previously discussed HERE. The guidelines now state that the use of imaging (x-ray/MRI) should not be routine and should only be used if there is concern of a more serious underlying Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplashproblem; acupuncture is no longer recommended for LBP – though that’s not to say that it doesn’t have a role to play in some cases – and there is continued advice to not prescribe paracetamol, anti-convulsants, antidepressants or opioids to treat LBP without sciatica (nerve-related pain). Physiotherapists are well positioned to offer information and advice on management and exercise for LBP.


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