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Showing posts from July, 2014

Some good news...and some bad news...about fibromyalgia

When preparing for this post, I found a couple of things in the news recently that I thought would be of interest to readers, especially those with fibromyalgia.  I don't know which news you'd rather have first...but I think I'm gonna tell you the bad news.... so we can end on a positive note!



The bad news is that a recent study has revealed a connection between exposure to hepatitis B virus and fibromyalgia.  It appears that a a protein in some strains of the hepatitis B virus is to blame.  Maybe this is actually good news in the sense that, the more we know about fibromyalgia, the better we can understand how to prevent, diagnose, and treat it.


The good news that I have for you--has nothing to do with the bad news.  A meta-analysis of various medications and other modes of treatment for fibromyalgia were studied.  Winifred Hauser, an expert in the field, made the following statement:
"There is no magic drug against fibromyalgia, and in my opinion, there will never be. …

Hot & Cold Therapy

We've all heard of applying heat or an ice pack to an injury. Recently I came across a different twist on these ideas.  I kind of put it on the back burner, until a friend was telling me that she used it for a foot injury and that it worked really well.  So without, further ado I am passing the idea on to those who never heard of it before!




The idea is known as "Contrast Hydrotherapy."  Basically it involves immersing an injured body part into ice water or using cold packs for five or so minutes--immediately followed by application of heat or immersion into a warm water bath. The exercise can be repeated multiple times.  The theory is that the warm application causes the blood vessels to dilate...the cold causes them to constrict.  As this occurs, the lymphatic system follows suit.  The blood vessels have a central pump (the heart!) but the lymphatic system does not.  The hot/cold treatment essentially provides the pumping action for the lymph nodes to pump stagnant flu…

Guided Meditation and Virtual Reality resources..only a mouse click away!

If you are interested in guided meditation or virtual reality for your chronic pain issues...today's post is right up your alley!  There are many resources for you on the internet, and the good news is that there is a lot of help free of charge.  Here are a few to get you started. If you take the time and do your own web search, I am certain you will find many more!




Guided Imagery Resources
The resources available come in two categories:  some are scripts that you can simply read and provide your own visualization; the other category is audio/visual that are meant to be listened to or viewed.  
Scripted Guided Imagery Resources:
InnerHealth Studio: Forest Visualization
McKinley Health Center: A Trip to the Beach
Mental Health Today: Magic Carpet Exercise


Audio/Visual Guided Imagery Resources


Dartmouth College Relaxation Series: Special Place


Virtual Reality Videos for Pain Management
"Dream Castle"

"Icy Cool World"
Sources: Innerhealth Studio, Mental Health Today, dartm…

Dealing with Chronic Pain in Warm Weather

The dog days of summer are upon us; and these can be difficult for all of us, especially those who have chronic health conditions.  There's an old wives tale about achy joints flaring up before a storm or during humid weather.  I don't know about you, but I can relate!  Old wives tale or not, there most likely are bodily changes going on in response to humidity, barometric pressure, and the like.




Extreme changes in humidity and air pressure are especially difficult for chronic pain sufferers; ozone levels may also play a role.  Therefore, it is important to take action in response to the heat and humidity to help keep pain under control.  Here is a short list of some ideas in that regard.

      Climate control.  No, I don't mean this in a global sense!  If your home has air conditioning, use it. This allows you to control both the temperature and humidity levels. . If you don't have air conditioning  in your home, it might be a good idea to spend the hottest part of t…

How to avoid surprising risks of OTC Pain Medications

Here are some tips from the Cleveland Clinic on the safe use of over the counter medications. Most of us use these medications at least periodically;  using them wisely decreases the likelihood of a lot of problems that happen more often than you might think--things like drug-drug or drug-food interactions, accidental toxicity, or just bothersome side effects.




1.  Use over the counter pain medication for short term pain relief only.  These medications were never intended to be something to be used on a daily basis.

2. Try topical pain relief medications in place of oral medication when possible.  This minimizes how much medication gets into your system.  Most of these products provide a pleasing distraction sensation to the area where they are applied.



3) Use nutritional supplements that are useful for your particular pain situation.  Most of us can benefit from the omega-3 oils in fish oil supplements for pain and other reasons.  For instance, the omega 3 oils help us to produce our…

Fibromyalgia and Leaky Gut Syndrome

In prior posts, I have mentioned briefly something called leaky gut syndrome.  In today's post I am sharing a little more detail about what this is, and what to do about it. Since the theme of this week is the gut-brain axis, and that leaky gut syndrome and "fibro fog" are part of fibromyalgia, methinks this is a very appropriate spot for this topic.




Leaky gut syndrome is a kind of grey area in medicine. For one thing, this is not something you would find a a medical textbook.  Not much is really known about the condition except that the symptoms include bloating, gas, cramps, aches, pains, and food sensitivities.  This is possibly caused by a gut that has more permeability than normal. Substances from the GI tract that would not otherwise enter the bloodstream-- seem to enter the circulation in this way.  Once in the circulation, these substances can travel virtually anywhere in the body without interference.

Another condition that often accompanies leaky gut syndrome …

Good Health via the Gut Brain Axis: How to develop a healthy microbiome

So, in this third post on the gut brain axis and how it impacts our health...in terms of chronic pain and otherwise..we're looking at our microbiome and things we can do make or keep it healthy !




The human microbiome consists of the "normal flora"...the microrganisms that live on our skin, in our mouth, our GI tract...We all have this world of organisms living in and on our bodies; and amazingly, no two are alike! These colonies of bacteria also change at various times throughout one's life in response to body changes. Of most importance here is whether or not there is a healthy balance of these organisms. We are learning more and more about the importance of maintaining a healthy flora: we're finding out more and more that many health conditions may be connected to the normal flora in ways we'd never have suspected. 
Some well-known examples of an unhealthy balance of the microbiome include yeast infections, gastrointestinal disturbances such as diarrhea, resp…

Pain Management and the Gut-Brain Axis

As I see it, the Gut-Brain Axis holds great potential for future treatment in pain management!

For one thing, many people with chronic pain also have depression. It is feasible that new ways to treat depression could emerge from better understanding of how the brain and gastrointestinal tract work together.




On a different level, in my recent post "Foods and Fibromyalgia: Know your enemies!" there is mention of leaky gut syndrome, a mysterious condition faced by some people with fibromyalgia.  For certain, better understanding of the gut-brain axis will play a role in the management of this condition.

For those with auto-immune disorders, especially rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, there is reason for hope...as is better understood how the gut-brain is connected to the immune system. This may completely transform the approach to treatment of these conditions.

This might also mean that we could control the underlying disease of many pain conditions with dietary changes.  Mayb…

The Gut: A Second Brain?

If you've ever had the sensation of butterflies in the stomach, or felt the pangs of hunger after watching a food advertisement, you have experienced what I am discussing in today's post.  Why does this happen?  Does this mean that there is a connection between the gut and the brain?




A February 2010 article in Scientific American entitled "Think Twice: How the Gut's "Second Brain Influences Mood and Well Being goes into some detail about this very interesting body phenomenon.  The article states that the gut is not involved in actual thought process, however.  There are literally multitudes (over 100 million!) of neurons that line the outer layer of the GI tract; technically this is known as the "enteric nervous system."  While the role of these neurons is primarily digestive function, this nervous system is in constant contact with the central nervous system.

As an example..suppose you just enjoyed a very spicy but enjoyable meal.  Shortly thereafter,…

A bit of wisdom for the weekend...

Life is for the living.  As long as you're alive, you have purpose...



So remember to live a little...love a little...laugh a little.


Have a great weekend!

Image source: DeviantArt

Re-evaluating Opioid Use in Chronic Pain: Then and Now

Opioid drugs have been on the marketplace for decades. But it wasn't until the 1980s that the idea of using long acting opioid products for chronic pain became reality.Before that time, opiates were mostly used short term; long term use of these products was pretty much limited to terminal illnesses, including cancer.  At that time, I was a newly licensed pharmacist; we were taught that, if someone had a terminal illness, quality of life was more important. If a terminally ill person became addicted to pain medication, so be it.




Dr. Russell Portenoy was one of the early proponents using opioid medications for patients with chronic pain conditions.  In the late 1980s, he co-authored a paper about a study using these products in this way.  The study was based on a relatively small sample: only 38 patients were involved. The authors contended that the benefits of long term opiate therapy experienced by the study subjects could be of potential benefit to many people with chronic pain. …

The Vitamin Drip Craze

This blog post is truly more my opinion than anything.  I was looking to write a post on fibromyalgia because I try to post something about it every week for my readers.  This week, I came across some articles about Intravenous Vitamin Drips for various conditions, and the latest one is fibromyalgia.

This form treatment has been around for some time, largely a Hollywood fad.  The celebrities are all about it, claiming it helps to rejuvenate.  Apparently these infusions are customized to the individual and they are said to provide immediate relief because the nutrients can reach their targets instantly. Some websites are beginning to promote this idea as a treatment for fibromyalgia...and that is why I am writing about it today.




A recent story in the Huffington Post tells one such story. Actor Ryan Phillipe and his girlfriend Paulina Slagter apparently use this treatment.  Apparently this treatment makes up for the fact that they don't eat right because they're always busy and…

A medical doctor's view of chiropractic care

I found this article in a blog at the Chicago Tribune....(To read the article, click here.)


Today I am sharing this interview with  Dr. Ralph Gay, who is both a chiropractor and a physician. He is on the medical staff at the prestigious Mayo Clinic!   His is a unique perspective because he is trained in both professions.  If you are considering chiropractic medicine for your chronic pain problems, I highly suggest reading this article.  It might help you to decide if chiropractic medicine might be a good choice for your situation!






The basics of chiropractic care

Chiropractic medicine is a health care profession that focuses on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems of the body, and the effect of theses systems on one's overall health.  Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine most often treat disorders involving pain of  the spine, neck, joints, and legs, and headaches.
The chiropractic approach to medicine is drug free.  Typically practitioners use manual techniques to manipulate the spine of the patient in an effort to restore normalcy.  Chiropractic doctors also are good resources for therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises. They also are educated in the areas of nutrition and lifestyle change.
This approach to medicine may not be suited for all medical issues, all the time.  But certainly there is much to offer to many people who suffer from many types of chronic pain!'
Here is a short video about chiropractic medicine that might offer further information if you are interested.




Sources:wikimedia,aca today,youtube

Prayer and Spirituality

Medical literature suggests that there is a relationship between spirituality and health. The American Academy of Physicians says that "spirituality is the way we can find meaning, hope, comfort, and inner peace in our lives." Religion is one common way for people to find spirituality, while for others, it is found in art, music, a connection with nature, or values and principles.

Many people practice a given religion and share it with others.  Some people do not have a specific religion, but do have spiritual beliefs.  These beliefs can bring a sense of meaning and purpose to life, help put things into perspective, and establish priorities. Sometimes it is just what is needed to motivate an individual to make difficult changes or accept a reality we don't want to face.  Having a religion that we share with a group is also a great support system, where assistance can be given or received from others.

Recent studies demonstrate that people who belong to a religious commu…

Foods and Fibromyalgia: Know your enemies!

Usually the number 7 is a lucky number. Maybe in this case it's a lucky number too, because if you know about these seven foods it just might help you to have better control over fibromyalgia!  I had heard about one of them earlier on, then when I was researching this post I discovered this list. So, without further ado, here is the taboo list--complete with rationale.

1) Soy
Many people with fibromyalgia develop "leaky gut syndrome"--a mysterious condition that involves gas, bloating, cramps, food sensitivites, and bodily aches and pains.  Some think soy is healthy--and while some things about soy are healthy, in this case it's best left avoided.  The big problem is that soy is an ingredient in so many processed foods--that you must be vigilant.
Your best defense is to read labels!






2) Gluten
Gluten free diets have become all the rage in recent years; while many people can eat foods that contain gluten, some folks have a definite intolerance to them.  This is because …

Virtual Reality--an adjunct treatment in pain management?

For anyone who has suffered pain--chronic or acute--at least some of us would admit that medications do not necessarily take care of all the pain, all the time.  For that reason, many adjunct and/or alternative treatments have become known; there are still new ones being discovered all the time.
I never thought I'd be writing about virtual reality in the context of pain management--but it has become a reality!  Several articles on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking  website report that researchers have found that pleasant virtual reality experiences have actually been of benefit for patients with conditions such as chronic regional pain syndrome and fibromyalgia.  
In thinking about this a few minutes, it actually makes sense--the virtual reality experience is truly a form of distraction technique. Who knew that SuperMario Brothers or Pac Man would actually become therapeutic?  The good news is that once again, we see that pain management can truly be enhanced by in…

Using your mind to control your pain: Think positive!

"Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable."  Voltaire

A recent edition of  "The Journal of Pain" reports that  Positive activities, such as increasing supportive emotions, can reduce body discomfort in adults with mild to moderate chronic pain. A multi-center study led by the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare system randomized subjects to complete two, four, or six positive activities over the course of six weeks.  Examples of the recommended positive activities included identifying three good things that went well each day and dwelling on them, focusing intensely on positive experiences two to three times a day, and practicing how to respond positively to good news shared by others. At the end of the six week period, those who were assigned four positive activities or more reported reductions in bodily pain that lasted six months or more following program completion.
There is an important lesson here for all of us, especially those who suff…

Using your mind to control your pain: Ideas for Guided Imagery

If you've ever been to any of the Disney theme parks, you have experienced "imagineering": recreating the feel of being in another place or another time...without having to actually go there.  The various theme areas within the parks can make you feel like you're in the tropics, the future, Colonial America, or anything in between.

Today, we are going to look at this concept in the context of pain management.  Some of us might be familiar with this technique, while for others it might be something new to try.  You might have heard the words "guided imagery"to describe this pain management tool.  It's interesting to think that you can take yourself to another place...in your own mind...without going to a Disney Park or anywhere else!

There was a television ad twenty or thirty years ago that I remember vividly. In the ad, a woman who was totally overwhelmed by the stress of her life really needed to get away from it all. When she got home she got out he…

Non Drug Pain Management Ideas: Coping with Lupus at night

By now, you have probably heard the expression,"Cold hands...warm heart." And for those of you with Lupus, it might just be more than that!  Raynaud's phenomenon, a painful vascular problem, is not unusual in people with Lupus disease.  If affected, the hands and other areas of the body (earlobes, for instance) experience circulatory changes due to stress or cold exposure.  Some ideas to combat the discomforts of Raynaud's include using insulated glasses when drinking cold drinks, or wearing gloves during colder weather to protect your hands from the elements. Gloves are also useful when you need to put food into/remove food from the freezer!



Diet is an important element of managing lupus, whether it is time for a snack or a meal. Eat plenty of
whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Lean meats are a good choice, but make an effort to include fish in your diet.  The omega-3 oils in some fish, such as salmon, help reduce inflammation and may be cardio-protective in …

Vibration Exercise for Fibromyalgia Relief...hope for the future?

Researchers from Indiana University found that whole-body vibration exercise may reduce pain symptoms and improve aspects of quality of life in individuals diagnosed with the musculoskeletal condition.
Here were are, fifty years later...and a new twist to this concept has emerged.  Researchers from  an Indiana University presented  results from their studies at a May 2014 meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Orlando, Florida.  Their findings suggest that whole body vibration exercise may reduce pain symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. 
“Our findings are promising, but it is not entirely clear whether these improvements were the result of added vibration or just the effects of being more active," Tony Kaleth, lead author of the study and associate professor in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said in a statement.

For patients with fibrom…

Non Drug Pain Management Ideas: Coping with Lupus in the daytime

When someone is diagnosed with Lupus, the problems associated with that condition can be problematic anytime-- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  In a post earlier this week, coping skills to help with Lupus problems that are common upon awakening.  Today's post will focus on the issues surrounding this chronic health condition during the waking hours.




Sunlight exposure can be a real problem for those who are diagnosed with Lupus. It is important to use "all possible tools in the toolbox" if possible. Tinted windows are one example of defense. Clothing that affords some degree of sun protection can also be of help. (Hint: look for tight weaves of fabric in darker colors for best protection. Test by holding fabric up to light--if you can see through the fabric, the protection is insufficient.) Stay out of the sun when it is most intense-- usually between 10 am and 4 pm daily.  If you do plan to be out, sunscreen SPF 30 or higher during this hours affords some protection. Eve…

Non Management Pain Ideas: Live with purpose!!

"One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody." 
  ~~Mother Teresa of Calcutta






As a fan of Mother Teresa, I have come so see the wisdom in the things she had to say while she was on this earth.  Even though she is no longer with us, her works and words show to us the value of living with purpose.  
For those with chronic pain, life is a struggle every day.  Physical activity can be cut to a halt, or limited.  The pain can sometimes overwhelm and affect not only the individual, but cause problems with friends and family as well.  Which leads to the point of today's blog post: Do you feel like you have a purpose in life?  Is your life all about your illness, your, incapacity, your moods, your pain...Do you still have the ability to share your time offering support to others who maybe just need someone to talk to? Can you still help someone who is less fortunate than you in some way? Do you still have the ability to show your love to your family and friends?
I am a …