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Showing posts from March, 2015

The Impact of Personality Traits on the Chronic Pain Experience

The Role of Positive Traits and Pain Catastrophizing in Pain Perception

Scholarly studies are done all the time to look at cause and effect relationships between various things.  A report in a 2013 issue of Current Pain and Headache Reports, authored by Kim Pulvers and Anna Hood is one such article.  These two authors did a review of scholarly articles and reported on how two distinct personality traits--Optimism and Pain Catastrophizing--impacted pain perception in the human population.
For purposes of discussion, the authors define optimism as "a generalized expectancy for positive outcomes." They surveyed populations with various painful conditions, including, cancer, sickle cell disease, osteoarthritis, and facial pain.  The general trend that they discovered was that optimism was a protective mechanism against pain. They go on to say that hope, a goal directed form of thought, can be associated with a higher threshold for pain. Self-efficacy, or believing in one's o…

Myofascial Pain Syndrome...and why you should know about it

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder in which pressure on certain points in the body (known as trigger points) causes pain in another part of the body, seemingly unrelated.  This is commonly caused by the muscle tension that results from repetitive motion. We all have aches and pains due to some kind of hobby or job responsibility that we repeat again and again, but in this syndrome tends to persist, or even get worse.

At the present time treatment for myofascial pain syndrome includes physical therapy and/or injections into the trigger points.  There are also massage or chiropractic techniques known as "myofascial release" that may be of help. Sadly, not all chronic pain conditions can be "cured" and this condition may well be one of those.  Even though that may be the case, there are many things that can be done by a patient or his/her treatment team so that the patient can live with their condition more comfortably.  It is important to work with y…

Surprising facts about Chronic Pain...

Here are some interesting things I recently read about chronic pain...and they may surprise you!

1) Similar to the story I posted about spider venom...scorpion venom is under investigation for pain
   management uses.

2) Painful menstrual cramps can be relieved by avoiding caffeine, chocolate, dairy products, salty foods, red meat, and sugary foods during menstrual periods.

3) It is not uncommon to have vitamin D deficiency due to use of sunblocks, or avoiding time in the sun to prevent skin cancer.  This can be determined by a simple blood test.  Why is this important?
Many of these same people suffer from chronic pain are are in the vitamin D deficient group. Vitamin D supplementation will not only correct the deficiency, but also help to improve pain levels.

4) Sleeping in the fetal position is known as "the natural defensive position." In the psychological sense, this posture reminds us of the safety and comfort of our mother's womb. It may also help to relax muscl…

Spider venom-- new tool in the pain management toolbox?

Spider bites can be painful, right?  And they can become infected, which leads to a whole host of problems worse than the original bite.  But believe it or not, some of the substances contained in some varieties of spider venom may actually provide a new way to treat some forms of chronic pain.

Brian Stallard, a writer at Nature World News, recently wrote an article about this very topic. He cites an article in the British Journal of Pharmacology that describes research in this area.  The journal authors have found that some persons are genetically deficient in the ability to block certain pain channels, resulting in widespread pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia.  The venom components under study seems to block these pain channels, resulting in some relief from the widespread pain.

While this research is still in its infancy, it shows promise for development of a whole new class of painkillers. They also offer hope to those who suffer from these disorders, which have limited treatme…

Asbestos possibly linked to painful autoimmune diseases

I am a child of the fifties.  I remember going through a period in high school during which the dangers of asbestos became apparent, and there was much ado about removing asbestos from homes and public buildings.  Our high school, which was built in the 1920s, underwent massive asbestos removal and parts of the complex were closed for extended periods of time.

I believe at the time, the big scare over asbestos focused largely on the fact that it is a known human carcinogen.  But now, there is even more to be said about the hazards of these minerals.  Last year, a group of researchers from Idaho State University and The Center for Environmental Health Studies at the University of Montana revealed that asbestos may play a role in some autoimmune diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and a newly described autoimmune disease affecting the lungs.

In the early 2000s, the CDC conducted an extensive screening in the town of Libby, Montana, where many individuals have been exposed…

Laughter: An important tool in your pain management toolbox!

Have you ever heard the expression, "Laughter is the best medicine"?  Well, to some extent this is true.  All too often we take life much too seriously...and that includes everyone, not just chronic pain sufferers. Laughter is a distraction technique. If you can learn to step out of the box for a bit and enjoy some comedy, it just might help your pain tolerance levels to improve.

I just read an article about this topic, and the author recommended some funny movies that might help my readers in this way.  I could post a link to the article, but I think I'll just send you a list of the movies instead.  These are by no means the only movies that ever made anyone laugh..but I hope they make your day a little brighter!

Bridesmaids (2011)Some Like It Hot (1959) Tootsie (1982)Groundhog Day (1993)Annie Hall (1997) Airplane! (1980)The Producers (2005) Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) There's Something About Mary (1998) The Hangover (2009)Anchorman (2004)

And now, for my…

The magic of epsom salts

After I wrote the post about the Fibromyalgia Float Project, I got to thinking about Epsom Salts. Even though technically, I suppose that they could be considered a pharmaceutical, they are safe and effective.  This product has been around literally forever, and might be a real godsend for some chronic pain sufferers.

Epsom Salts are made up of naturally occurring minerals...primarily magnesium and sulfur. Magnesium deficiency is fairly common and may affect many body functions, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar regulation, and blood pressure regulation. Sulfur deficiency may play a role in obesity, heart disease, chronic fatigue, and dementia.

One way to increase magnesium is to take an oral supplement--magnesium sulfate or magnesium oxide are fairly easy to find.  But another way to increase magnesium levels in the body is to to absorb it through the skin.  This can easily be accomplished by taking an epsom salt bath. A epsom salt foot bath is another option for thos…

Chronic Pain: A Realm That Encompasses Many Dimensions

Chronic pain affects many aspects of life, if you happen to be afflicted.  Though some days may be better than others, living with the notion that an unfriendly visitor can take hold at any time is certainly a frightening prospect.  This is sort of like living on a roller coaster--you know that there are ups and downs, and even if you can anticipate them, the reality is another story.

Chronic pain is not just physical pain.  It has emotional components that cannot be ignored. Over time, having repeated bouts of unpleasant physical sensations takes its toll on an individual. Anxiety and depression are not uncommon in patients who live with conditions that yield chronic pain.  Some may even become socially withdrawn.

How does one cope on a day to day basis?  Medication may play a role, but there are many alternatives to choose from.  Meditation or yoga is one example.  Perhaps someone else might opt for psychological counseling, or massage.  Still others may find the emotional comfort …

Embracing the Mind Body Connection With Alternative Therapies

There is a mind-body connection, and it is more powerful than many might believe.  And now that the chronic use of opioid medications is being frowned upon in medical circles,  many alternative medical therapies are becoming the mainstream.  Tai chi, yoga and qi gong are becoming quite popular at this time, and traditional Chinese medicine and massage are coming into the light.

Nowadays, some schools are incorporating yoga into their physical education programs.  Cleveland Clinic now has an Herbal Therapy Clinic, and the prestigious Mayo Clinic is operating an integrative medicine center.

Acupuncture is another of these alternative practices that is growing in popularity.  This seems to be a great option for low back pain, osteoarthritis of the knee, and neck pain.  We are only on the horizon of understanding this practice and how to use it for full benefit.

Some of these treatments have the benefit of being self administered at home by the added advantage in terms of co…

Chronic Opioid Usage associated with Increased Incidence of Depression

As if we haven't already pointed out enough reasons to avoid routine use of opioids, here is yet another. A recent article in the journal Pain reports that incidence of new onset depression has been associated with chronic use of opiate based medications.  The authors of the study followed over 300 patients who suffered from low back pain and followed up on each patient at one year and two years respectively.  The authors believe that the risk of depression increased in two ways: 1) the amount of daily morphine (opiate) exposure and 2) the duration of time that opioids were used by the patient.

I personally believe that these medications have their place in pain management...for instance, post surgical or post medical procedure...or perhaps, for breakthrough pain.  The issue becomes problematic when a patient relies on this type of medication around the clock on a daily basis.

You can read more about this study in an article found here.

Sources: MedExpress;;wikimedi…

Ten daily habits that can help reduce chronic pain

This little slideshow will help you to find ten simple ways to help reduce the chronic pain in your life. Follow the link above to the WebMD presentation.  If you're in a hurry today, I am posting a short synopsis below!

Get an endorphin boost!  Exercise.Breathe. Try meditation and/or biofeedback.Avoid alcohol.Quit smoking.Eat a healthier diet.Help your doctor to help you: keep a pain journal.Schedule time to relax. Set limits.Distract yourself from your pain.Learn about your medicines  and how to take them for optimal benefit.Find (and give support): family, friends, support groups are good.Sources: WebMD; Wikimedia

An injectable alternative for osteoarthritis of the knee

There are a couple of alternative medical treatments on the marketplace for osteoarthritis of the knee that I have not yet mentioned on this blog.  They are injectable products that are intended to replace the synovial fluid of the knee joint.  Synovial fluid is an important component in all joints throughout the human body; its purpose is to reduce friction and lubricate the joint, making our every movement a smooth operation. When osteoarthritis sets in, this fluid is lost over time and eventually the bones rub against each other, causing increased pain in the afflicted joint.

Sanofi-Aventis was one of the first companies to enter the marketplace with a solution for this problem.  Synvisc, an injectable product that is intended to replace the synovial fluid of the knee joint, entered the marketplace several years ago.  It can provide relief for up to six months post injection.  The downside is that there are some cautions and warnings, such as the risk of severe allergic reaction t…