SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: American family physician

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Low back pain is usually nonspecific or mechanical. Mechanical low back pain arises intrinsically from the spine, intervertebral disks, or surrounding soft tissues. Clinical clues, or red flags, may help identify cases of nonmechanical low back pain and prompt further evaluation or imaging. Red flags include progressive motor or sensory loss, new urinary retention or overflow incontinence, history of cancer, recent invasive spinal procedure, and significant trauma relative to age. Imaging on initial presentation should be reserved for when there is suspicion for cauda equina syndrome, malignancy, fracture, or infection. Plain radiography of the lumbar spine is appropriate to assess for fracture and bony abnormality, whereas magnetic resonance imaging is better for identifying the source of neurologic or soft tissue abnormalities. There are multiple treatment modalities for mechanical low back pain, but strong evidence of benefit is often lacking. Moderate evidence supports the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, and topiramate in the short-term treatment of mechanical low back pain. There is little or no evidence of benefit for acetaminophen, antidepressants (except duloxetine), skeletal muscle relaxants, lidocaine patches, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation in the treatment of chronic low back pain. There is strong evidence for short-term effectiveness and moderate-quality evidence for long-term effectiveness of yoga in the treatment of chronic low back pain. Various spinal manipulative techniques (osteopathic manipulative treatment, spinal manipulative therapy) have shown mixed benefits in the acute and chronic setting. Physical therapy modalities such as the McKenzie method may decrease the recurrence of low back pain and health care expenditures. Physical therapy modalities such as the McKenzie method may decrease the recurrence of low back pain and use of health care. Educating patients on prognosis and incorporating psychosocial components of care such as identifying comorbid psychological problems and barriers to treatment are essential components of long-term management.

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Evidence supports the use of opioids for treating acute pain. However, the evidence is limited for the use of chronic opioid therapy for chronic pain. Furthermore, the risks of chronic therapy are significant and may outweigh any potential benefits. When considering chronic opioid therapy, physicians should weigh the risks against any possible benefits throughout the therapy, including assessing for the risks of opioid misuse, opioid use disorder, and overdose. When initiating opioid therapy, physicians should consider buprenorphine for patients at risk of opioid misuse, opioid use disorder, and overdose. If and when opioid misuse is detected, opioids do not necessarily need to be discontinued, but misuse should be noted on the problem list and interventions should be performed to change the patient’s behavior. If aberrant behavior continues, opioid use disorder should be diagnosed and treated accordingly. When patients are discontinuing opioid therapy, the dosage should be decreased slowly, especially in those who have intolerable withdrawal. It is not unreasonable for discontinuation of chronic opioid therapy to take many months. Benzodiazepines should not be coprescribed during chronic opioid therapy or when tapering, because some patients may develop cross-dependence. For patients at risk of overdose, naloxone should be offered to the patient and to others who may be in a position to witness and reverse opioid overdose.

Concepts: Patient, Opioid, Pain, Morphine, Heroin, Naloxone, Buprenorphine, Benzodiazepine

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Peripartum depression affects up to one in seven women and is associated with significant maternal and neonatal morbidity if untreated. A history of depression is the strongest risk factor for developing peripartum depression. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening pregnant and postpartum women for depression. Both two-step and one-step screening strategies are effective in identifying peripartum depression. Peripartum depression should be distinguished from the baby blues, which is characterized by short duration, mild symptoms, and minimal impact on functioning. Women with peripartum depression should be evaluated for bipolar disorder, postpartum psychosis, and suicidal risk. For first-time mothers, adolescent mothers, and mothers who have experienced a traumatic delivery, home health visits, telephone-based peer support, and psychotherapy may help prevent peripartum depression. Mild to moderate depression should be treated with psychotherapy or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, whereas moderate to severe depression should be treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Citalopram, escitalopram, and sertraline appear to be the safest selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors during pregnancy, whereas fluvoxamine, paroxetine, and sertraline are preferred in breastfeeding women because they lead to the lowest serum medication levels in breastfed infants. Patients with psychosis, active suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming their newborns should receive same-day psychiatric consultation and referral for possible inpatient treatment.

Concepts: Childbirth, Infant, Antidepressant, Escitalopram, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Sertraline

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Infantile colic is a benign process in which an infant has paroxysms of inconsolable crying for more than three hours per day, more than three days per week, for longer than three weeks. It affects approximately 10% to 40% of infants worldwide and peaks at around six weeks of age, with symptoms resolving by three to six months of age. The incidence is equal between sexes, and there is no correlation with type of feeding (breast vs. bottle), gestational age, or socioeconomic status. The cause of infantile colic is not known; proposed causes include alterations in fecal microflora, intolerance to cow’s milk protein or lactose, gastrointestinal immaturity or inflammation, increased serotonin secretion, poor feeding technique, and maternal smoking or nicotine replacement therapy. Colic is a diagnosis of exclusion after a detailed history and physical examination have ruled out concerning causes. Parental support and reassurance are key components of the management of colic. Simethicone and proton pump inhibitors are ineffective for the treatment of colic, and dicyclomine is contraindicated. Treatment options for breastfed infants include the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (strain DSM 17938) and reducing maternal dietary allergen intake. Switching to a hydrolyzed formula is an option for formula-fed infants. Evidence does not support chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, infant massage, swaddling, acupuncture, or herbal supplements.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Infant, Gut flora, Microbiology, Milk, Probiotic, Lactobacillus reuteri, Baby colic

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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a multidimensional chronic neurodevelopmental condition that affects 8.4% of U.S. children between two and 17 years of age and may pose long-term morbidity if untreated. The evaluation for ADHD begins when parents or caregivers present to primary care physicians with concerns about behavior problems or poor school or social function. A comprehensive history and physical examination should assess for comorbid or other conditions that can mimic ADHD. The combination of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed., criteria and validated screening tools completed by parents, teachers, or other adults can aid in establishing the diagnosis. The goals of treatment include symptom reduction and improved social and cognitive function. Psychosocial interventions are the recommended first-line treatment for preschool children (four to five years) and can improve overall function when used as an adjunct therapy in elementary school children (six to 11 years of age) and adolescents (12 to 17 years of age). Stimulant medications are well-established as an effective treatment for reducing symptoms of ADHD in elementary school children and adolescents. Nonstimulant medications are less effective but reasonable as adjunct or alternative therapy when stimulants are ineffective or not tolerated. Regular follow-up is key in the management of ADHD and should assess symptoms, overall function, presence of comorbidities, adverse effects of treatment, and medication use.

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Central retinal artery occlusions, chemical injuries, mechanical globe injuries, and retinal detachments are eye emergencies that can result in permanent vision loss if not treated urgently. Family physicians should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of each condition and be able to perform a basic eye examination. Patients with a central retinal artery occlusion require urgent referral for stroke evaluation and should receive therapy to lower intraocular pressure and vasodilating agents to minimize retinal ischemia. Chemical injuries require immediate irrigation of the eye to neutralize the pH of the ocular surface. A globe laceration or rupture is common in patients with a recent history of trauma from a blunt or penetrating object. Physicians should administer prophylactic oral antibiotics after a globe injury to prevent endophthalmitis. The eye should be covered with a metal shield until evaluation by an ophthalmologist. Patients with symptomatic floaters and flashing lights should be referred to an ophthalmologist for a dilated funduscopic examination to evaluate for a retinal tear or detachment.

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Gout is caused by monosodium urate crystal deposition in joints and tissues. Risk factors include male sex; obesity; hypertension; alcohol intake; diuretic use; a diet rich in meat and seafood; chronic kidney disease; a diet heavy in fructose-rich food and beverages; being a member of certain ethnic groups, including Taiwanese, Pacific Islander, and New Zealand Maori; and living in high-income countries. Gout is characterized by swelling, pain, or tenderness in a peripheral joint or bursa, including the development of a tophus. Diagnosis of gout can be made using several validated clinical prediction rules. Arthrocentesis should be performed when suspicion for an underlying septic joint is present; synovial fluid or tophus analysis should be performed if the diagnosis is uncertain. Colchicine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroids relieve pain in adults with acute gout episodes. Indications for long-term urate-lowering therapy include chronic kidney disease, two or more flare-ups per year, urolithiasis, the presence of tophus, chronic gouty arthritis, and joint damage. Allopurinol and febuxostat are used to prevent flare-ups, although febuxostat is associated with an increase in all-cause and cardiovascular mortality and is therefore not routinely recommended.

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Common benign chronic vulvar conditions include genitourinary syndrome of menopause (formerly called vulvovaginal atrophy), lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, lichen simplex chronicus, and vulvodynia. Genitourinary syndrome of menopause results from the hypoestrogenic state that leads to atrophy of normal vulvar and vaginal tissues. It is typically treated with lubricants, moisturizers, and intravaginal estrogen. Lichen sclerosus is an inflammatory condition characterized by intense vulvar itching. It is treated with topical steroids or, in some cases, topical calcineurin inhibitors. Patients with lichen sclerosus are at risk of vulvar squamous cell carcinoma and should be monitored closely for malignancy. Lichen planus is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder that can affect the vulva and vagina in addition to other skin and mucosal surfaces. The first-line treatment is topical steroids, and significant scarring can occur if left untreated. Lichen simplex chronicus manifests as persistent itching and scratching of the vulvar skin that leads to thickened epithelium. Breaking the itch-scratch cycle, often with topical steroids, is the key to treatment. Vulvodynia is a common vulvar pain disorder and is a diagnosis of exclusion. A multimodal treatment approach typically includes vulvar hygiene, physical therapy, psychosocial interventions, and antineuropathy medications.

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Chronic low back pain, neck pain, hip and knee osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia are the most common types of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Because no individual therapy has consistent benefit, a multimodal treatment approach to chronic musculoskeletal pain is recommended. Many nonpharmacologic, noninvasive treatment approaches yield small to moderate improvement and can be used with pharmacologic or more invasive modalities. Systematic reviews and guidelines support the effectiveness of various forms of exercise in improving pain and function in patients with chronic pain. Cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness techniques appear to be effective for small to moderate short- and long-term improvement of chronic low back pain. Cognitive behavior therapy may also be effective for small short- and intermediate-term improvement of fibromyalgia. Spinal manipulation leads to a small benefit for chronic neck and low back pain. Acupuncture has a small to moderate benefit for low back pain and small benefit for nonpain fibromyalgia symptoms. Massage or myofascial release yields a small improvement in low back pain, hip and knee osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. Low reactive level laser therapy may provide short-term relief of chronic neck and low back pain, and ultrasound may provide short-term pain relief for knee osteoarthritis. Multidisciplinary rehabilitation may be effective for short- and at least intermediate-term improvement in pain and function for chronic low back pain and fibromyalgia. Patients should be encouraged to engage in a variety of therapies aligned with their preferences and motivation.

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Common presenting symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. However, patients may have a wide range of symptoms representing a spectrum of mild to severe illness. Symptoms in children tend to be milder and may include fever, cough, and feeding difficulty. The incubation period is two to 14 days, although symptoms typically appear within five days of exposure. Multiple testing modalities exist, but infection should be confirmed by polymerase chain reaction testing using a nasopharyngeal swab. There are no evidence- based treatments appropriate for use in the outpatient setting; management is supportive and should include education about isolation. In hospitalized patients, remdesivir should be considered to reduce time to recovery, and low-dose dexamethasone should be considered in patients who require supplemental oxygen. Overall, 85% of patients have mild illness, whereas 14% have severe disease requiring hospitalization, including 5% who require admission to an intensive care unit. Predictors of severe disease include increasing age, comorbidities, lymphopenia, neutrophilia, leukocytosis, low oxygen saturation, and increased levels of C-reactive protein, d-dimer, transaminases, and lactate dehydrogenase.