Published at Friday, December 25th 2020. by jack154 in Bodybuilders.
Marcus Ruhl is a German-American neurosurgeon who has been practicing for more than 35 years. He holds a senior position at the Center for Specialized Medicine in Munich, Germany. As an associate professor in the division of neurosurgery at the University of Munich he specialises in pain management, specifically pain management in athletes and patients with sports-related injuries. In his book The Physiotherapist as Surgeon, he discusses numerous areas of specialisation within the field.
Athletes can have neuromuscular pathways affected by trauma, repetitive overuse, disease, or injury which all lead to pain, restriction of movement or balance, dizziness and reduced performance. The good news is that neuromuscular pathways can be trained and thus altered to prevent or reduce pain in athletes. This process is known as targeted therapy and it has produced remarkable results in sports medicine, especially in athletes.
Ruhl first reported that steroids affect the functioning of motor neurons in 1990. Since then there has been a huge amount of research on pain, athletes and the effect of steroids on pain management. In fact, since the early nineties almost every sport injury has been researched using Ruhl's methodology. He has developed a unique method of pain localization and analysis using spinal fluid.
One theory surrounding why athletes' muscles become injured faster is due to localisation of pain. If an athlete has a painful nerve feed into that particular muscle, it will decrease inflammation and therefore the pain will be localised to that area. However, if pain can be delivered to a different area through a spinal canal, the reaction is opposite. Instead, the brain will send signals to the spine to increase inflammation, in order to protect that area from pain. As such, if a steroid reduces inflammation, it will also reduce the localisation of pain.
Another point of interest revolves around athletes' inactivity. Many sports injuries are as a result of decreased performance. After an event a competitor may be inactive for several days, with less than ideal nutrition and no form of the recovery process. These factors all combine to increase the risk of athletes' experiencing pain in their spinal column, which can greatly limit their athletic performance.
The effect of steroids on pain management extends beyond the athletes' ability to participate in their sport. Steroids reduce the nervous system's ability to heal itself, which means the muscles and nerves are more likely to react to trauma, resulting in increased pain. Muscle and nerve damage can also lead to serious disabilities. Marcus Ruhl is hopeful that future research will help to find better alternatives to steroids and pain management.
It is unknown whether future research will lead to better alternatives or the development of a drug free alternative for athletes to take after an injury. Currently, there are a number of prescription pain medications available to treat nerve damage and muscle spasms caused by an injury, but they are not effective against spinal discs. Some researchers are hoping to develop a drug that can be used by athletes to reduce pain from their sport related injury and spinal nerve damage.
In the mean time, athletes suffering from spinal cord injuries and pain need to seek medical attention to determine if the cause of the pain is as a result of nerve damage and inflammation or if the pain is muscular in nature. A skilled and experienced physician such as a family physician is highly qualified to make these determinations. As we've seen, steroids may be able to mask pain for a short period of time, but the long term effects of steroid use on the spinal cord and nervous system are not known. Until such time, patients suffering from spinal cord injuries and severe pain should seek immediate medical attention.
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