Six injuries that ice and Motrin would have fixed, but no—you want a $4,000 MRI

You ever get hurt in the Army? You probably got told to ice it and take some Motrin. Was that the right answer? Duffel Blog asked expert medicos which injuries need ice and rest, and which ones need advanced imagery, surgery, or specialty care:

  1. Plantar fasciitis—“This is the most run-of-the mill injury I could imagine,” says Army sports doctor Lt. Col. Katlyn Shegog. “I could have the best imagery in the world, and it would tell me to tell you to ice it and stretch.”

  2. Tennis elbow—ring ring! The 80’s called. From a landline. They’re saying you don’t need an MRI. No one has gotten tennis elbow since the 80s, and the MRI hadn’t been invented then. Get an ice pack.

  3. Runner’s Knee—“I know you are going to form your whole opinion of Army medicine based on this treatment,” Dr. Shegog says. “But absolutely, the answer is ice and rest. I’ll write you a prescription for Motrin to soothe your ego, but not a prescription for thousands of dollars worth of imagery just to give you attention.”

  4. Achilles tendinitis— “I just saw the old Tea Party sticker on your truck,” an exasperated Dr. Shegog notes. “You don’t need to run up a $4,000 MRI bill, plus money for technicians and a pre-scan ultrasound. It’s all well and good to talk about government fraud, waste, and abuse when it comes to cost overruns on the F-35, but not when it comes to wasted medical attention. For the love. Of. God. Please stretch. This could have been avoided.”

  5. Shin splints — “Okay, the real waste of government money is the four years of medical school, two years of residency, and a the prestigious fellowship the aAmy paid for, because you are very sure that I’m denying you proper treatment. Do you really think that this is the first case of shin splints I’ve seen in my career? Do you really think a second opinion is going to tell you something different? Yes, I think the medic is right. Ice and Motrin will work. And change your socks. Not because that helps shin splints, but because you are gross.”

  6. Lower Back Pain — “You know how you see those articles about professional athletes in the NFL or NBA getting expensive medical treatments for every ache and pain? That’s not you. Yes, I understand your civilian buddy got an expensive experimental back surgery. That is because his chiropractor wanted to make money off of him. It was a fee-for-service hospital. I don’t get a kickback. Enjoy this ice pack.”