Would you like to quit smoking? Manage back pain? Understand prostate testing? And do you not have a lot of time for research?
Check out Mike Evans, a Toronto physician and professor with a talent for simple explanations and a good grasp of online messaging.
He writes and produces a series of lively videos that his YouTube channel calls the “Whiteboard Med School,” so named because his rapid-fire delivery is accompanied by cartoons speedily drawn on a whiteboard, giving even a depressing discussion about kidney dialysis a rather jaunty air.
Given the ubiquity of back pain — about 80 percent of us will experience it at some point — you might be likely to start with “All you need to know about lower back pain in 11 minutes.”
It’s a broad summary of medical information in simple language, given a sort of jaunty tone by illustrations speedily scribbled on a whiteboard. “The severity of the pain does not always reflect the severity of the problem,” Evans points out, adding that while most back pain goes away on its own, 40 percent of sufferers will have a recurrence within a year.
He speeds through back-dominant-vs.-leg-dominant pain (the former is usually “good pain,” he says, because it doesn’t signal damage to your nerves or spinal cord), the limits of X-rays and MRI scans as diagnostic tools, and a lot of suggestions for improvement.
The most important suggestion: Keep moving and change your mind-set; acknowledge the pain but don’t focus on it. There’s a lot of information packed in here.
Evans puts out a continuing series of these whiteboard videos on his YouTube channel: prostate cancer, dialysis, stress, flatulence. His first foray into online messaging, “23 and 1 / 2 Hours,” posed the question “What is the single best thing you can do for your health?” and went viral after getting a shout-out on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.” What’s his answer? Exercise. The reason for the title is that working out any more than about half an hour a day offers diminishing returns.