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Showing posts from October, 2014

Spinal Cord Stimulators: A Success Story

Here is a success story about spinal cord stimulation...as a follow up to my earlier post this week.  It's a really amazing technique. It certainly won't help everyone with chronic pain, it can do great things for lots of folks who are out there suffering-without drug fog or risk of addiction!

The pain in Sequoia Lawson’s right arm grew so severe that she could not lift it to shake hands.
Nothing worked to dull the pain from what doctors said was nerve damage – not medication, physical therapy or multiple surgeries. That is, until she took the 3,000-mile trip from her home in Washington State to Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences in Newark.
Lawson, 30, had learned of the work of neurosurgeon Antonios Mammis at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School treating pain through spinal cord stimulation.  Mammis often consults with colleagues as part of a new interdisciplinary approach to pain management at Rutgers.
“I had suffered with pain for more than a decade and was willing to try anyt…

Neuromodulation: A more detailed look at spinal cord stimulators

Back in September, I posted a piece entitled, "Spinal Cord Stimulators: Early Intervention Shows High Success Rate." If you read it....or even if you didn't...it probably left you with more questions than answers.  I have done a little investigating since then, and found an interesting article that sheds more light on these devices and answers a lot of the frequently asked questions.  So, without further ado, I would like to the things I have learned with my readers.




1) Neuromodulation can be applied through a number of techniques.  Spinal cord stimulation is one form of this treatment; others include peripheral nerve field stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation, brain stimulation, sacral stimulation, spinal drug delivery systems, and brain stimulation. These treatments are generally available from physicians who have training in this specialized medical field.

2) Neuromodulation is FDA approved and has been in use for over twenty five years.

3) Neuromodulation can impr…

Happy Anniversary!

The end of October marks the one year anniversary for this, my first and favorite blog.
Thanks for your readership!  I appreciate it.


Personalized Pain Management: DNA based treatment

An Ohio based company launched a new pain management initiative earlier this year. ViaQuest, a
health care company that offers hospice services, is now using DNA samples from patients to determine which pain medications and dosages will work best for a given patient. The company is focusing on pain management at present, but plans to employ the same strategy for more types of medications in the future. ViaQuest is conducting this program in conjunction with PGXL Laboratories, based in Louisville, KY. PGXL is an leader in the field of pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine.





"Pain tends to be universal in end-of-life stages, and sadly, the prescribing of pain medications often becomes guesswork for hospice patients," said Kathy Richard, vice president of home health and hospice at ViaQuest. "We are taking the guesswork out of pain management for our patients. We believe that our patients have the right to be as comfortable as possible, enabling them to experience imp…

HowStuffWorks "Mysterious Pain Quiz"

How much do you know about painful medical conditions?  This link is VERY informative!
HowStuffWorks "Mysterious Pain Quiz"

Sources:How Stuff Works; Wikimedia

Meet SENSUS: A new non-pharmaceutical device in the world of pain Management

Neurometrix, a developer of wearable medical technology recently launched a new device in the pain management marketplace. It's called SENSUS(2nd generation), a newer version of what is essentially a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.




For those who are unaware, diabetics suffer not only from difficulty in controlling blood glucose levels. They can also be afflicted by a myriad of other complications as well, including neuropathy which begins as a "pins and needles" sensation in the extremities, especially in the legs and feet. Sadly over 50 percent of diabetics suffer from this condition; the chronic pain aspect of the problem can negatively effect quality of life.

Having good control of blood glucose levels helps to slow progression of this condition; unfortunately as it progresses it may even result in total loss of sensation. To give you an example of the problem: back in college I had a friend whose mother was …

Current Approaches to Managing Chronic Bone and Joint Pain

After reading an article entitled "Chronic Bone and Joint Pain: Managing the Problem" some of the things I often think about with respect to pain management were confirmed. That is to say, while medicine is readily able to help those with acute pain issues such as broken bones, or post-operative pain...it is a lot more challenging to tackle chronic pain.  

Even though that is the case, there are things that chronic pain sufferers can do to minimize their own pain and suffering.  Here are some ideas to help with that effort:
Avoid acute pain by using common sense and safety precautions. As an example, if you have arthritis of the knee and you know that running causes acute aggravation..it might be good to become a walker instead.Avoid behaviors that tend to exacerbate chronic pain conditions, such as smoking and drinking alcohol.If  you have underlying disease states, such as depression, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, make your best effort to comply with your treatment plan.…

Fibromyalgia Treatment: A Review of Current Management Strategies

I don't want to bore my fibro friends with some long boring article in this post...so I am going to get to the nitty gritty as quickly as possible.  So, here we go:

A study posted in the December 2013 edition of Pain and Therapy (Okifuji & Hare) presents the results of a study that reviewed effectiveness of various strategies for managing fibromyalgia. The authors considered medications, exercise, behavioral modifications, and multimodal approaches to the condition.  In the end, they say that a lack of methodology really prevents them from statistically comparing these various strategies to each other. 

That being the case, the authors did come to a very interesting conclusion--and here it is, word for word:


"...Although there are some other variations, a typical trial testing a multidisciplinary approach includes education, exercise and psychological (typically cognitive behavioral) therapy. Programs aimed at acquisition of coping and pain management skills seem to provide …

Novel paths to pain management: older drugs doing new tricks!

If you follow the world of pain management as I do, you are always looking for new material...




For instance, recently the DEA tightened restrictions on some of the drugs already in the pain management arena.  Hydrocodone (a component of Vicodin® and the new long-acting product Zohydro®) and many other products is now a Schedule II drug.  That makes for a lot of  new restrictions/problems for those who use these products in their pain management regimen. Tramadol, which previously was not a scheduled drug , was recently placed in Schedule IV. This means that all products that contain tramadol are more tightly regulated than they used to be.


Now for some good news..

With this tightening of regulation...regarding all opioid drugs, and more recently the addition of the two above...there is research going on to find pain management applications for drugs currently in the marketplace that possess no abuse potential.  The tricyclic antidepressants and SSRI/SNRI drugs, for example, have fou…

Is Pain Management on The Right Track ? | Picture of Pain

I always like what Dr. Kristiansen has to say. I would have paraphrased this for you, but I didn't think I could word it any better than he does. I found this post on his blog recently, and really like what he has to say about goal setting aspects of pain management...click the link if you'd like to read it as well!



Is Pain Management on The Right Track ? | Picture of Pain

Sources: dolotest blog, wikimedia

Painkillers: Separating Fact From Fiction

A recent article in the Buffalo News about this topic prompted the idea for this post. This is something everyone should know about pain medications before taking them.  An educated decision is the best kind to make!
 Here is a synopsis of the article.  It was based on the thoughts of Dr. Richard Rosenquist, chairman of pain management at the Cleveland Clinic, and his assessment of six common myths about opioid drugs...a.k.a. "painkillers."





Myth #1: The more you take, the better they work.
In the short term, it is possible, that after experiencing an injury, or surgery, for instance, that two pills will work better than one at relieving pain. However, if two pills are become the usual dosage, a tolerance to the medication can develop, leading to further problems. (Tolerance occurs when an individual experiences a decrease in effectiveness over time, leading to the need to take more drug to achieve the same effect.)
Myth# 2: If you actually take pain medication for a valid rea…

New approach to chronic pain...promising in dogs...possible in humans?

Chronic pain is a hot topic in the research world these days...great news for those who are suffering to know that one day (hopefully soon!) a new approach to treatment will appear.




Here is one such research article; instead of aspirin, ibuprofen and opiates, pain treatment in the form of gene therapy that acts on the glial cells of the nervous system rather than the neurons. So far it looks promising!


You can read the article by clicking here.

Sources: Colorado Arts & Sciences, wikimedia

Treatment options in fibromyalgia

Once again, it's time to present a post on fibromyalgia.  It seems like a good time to review some things we already know the treatment for this condition.  If you've been reading this blog for some time, you know that there are medications for fibromyalgia, but they really don't do that much good all by themselves.  The preferred approach to fibromyalgia is a combination of medication and the use of self-management techniques.

As for the medication aspect of the condition, the types of medication fall into four categories:

1) Over the counter pain medications (examples are acetaminophen ibuprofen)

2)Prescription analgesics, such as tramadol

3) Anti-depressant medications--there are many.  Some examples here would be Cymbalta, which is
  a newer agent that is recommended for chronic pain, and Savella, which is specifically for          fibromyalgia.

4)Some of the anti-seizure medications can be used in the treatment of fibromyalgia. These drugs modify nerve impulses...in …

Treat pain at its source...

I just finished reading an article written by a physician who specializes in hospice care.  I think she brings up some interesting points that relate to chronic pain and pain management in general, so that's what I am writing about in today's post.



First and foremost, the author says that she originally intended to be a psychologist, but changed course and became a physician because she thought psychology had too many "grey areas" while medicine was more "black and white." She goes on to say that she could not be more wrong about medicine...that there are, in fact MANY "grey areas" in medicine.  And isn't pain management one of those?  
Pain is a subjective thing.  If a patient self reports pain, that is all that is needed to justify its existence. There is no blood test or x-ray or any other test to confirm its existence.  We try to quantify pain by using methods of measurement, such as pain scales, to decide how severe it is.  However, aren…