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Showing posts from April, 2015

Pain Management: Finding the perfect recipe

Most of us can relate to a favorite recipe from childhood, or even in adult life.  If you're a cook, you could even relate to the idea of finding a recipe and "making it your own" by adding omitting ingredients till you get it just right.  It may take weeks, months or even years to get the recipe just right.  Is it worth it?  Well, this is usually true...



This concept has a role in pain management as well.  If you have a chronic pain issue you may have tried some treatments that worked really well and others that did no good whatsoever.  The good news is that the options/combination of options is nearly endless.  It might take a really long time to find the "perfect blend" of remedies to manage the aches and pains of chronic illness.

I am here to tell you that whether you're the cook or the pain sufferer, it really is worth persevering to find the right combination of ingredients to achieve the best result.  It takes time, it takes patience, and maybe a l…

Connecting the dots...Migraine and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Recently news in the pain world has pointed to a possible connection between migraine headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. These two chronic pain conditions that would otherwise seem unrelated, but this study out of Dallas, Texas suggest that people with carpal tunnel syndrome are more likely to suffer from migraine, and vice versa.  The study authors seem to think that there is some common neurologic or systemic risk factor, but that has yet to be identified.





Dr. Huay Zong Law and his colleagues at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center surveyed about 26,000 Americans to collect data for this study.  Here are some interesting statistics that they gathered during the study:

Thirty four percent of those who reported having carpal tunnel syndrome also reported that they had migraine headache.  In those who do not have carpal tunnel issues, the incidence of migraine is about sixteen percent.  This means that the risk of migraine headache issues is 2.6 times higher for those wh…

TMJ: Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Today's post is about a little different kind of chronic pain condition.  TMD (or TMJ), officially known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, affects the hinge-like joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull.  Without this skeletal feature, life would be quite different, for it is used for chewing food, speaking, and yawning.




The cause of TMJ/TMD is unclear, but it is thought to arise as a result of whiplash or injury.  Other possible causes include grinding of the teeth, stress,  or arthritis of the temporomandibular joint. There is a cushion-like disk within this joint that may fall out of alignment, potentially leading to TMD.

This condition is more common in women, and usually affects persons between the ages of 20 and 40. Common symptoms of TMJ/TMD include clicking, popping or grating sounds when chewing or opening the mouth. Sometimes the jaw will actually lock open or closed. Facial pain, or perhaps pain in the neck or shoulders can be indicative of TM…

Study finds common household pain reliever may have a down side...

Acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, has been America's favorite pain reliever for decades.  It is one of the safest and most effective products on the market for as long as I can remember.  Many of us are aware that this medicine is generally safe to take.



There have been a few problems with this drug and related products over the years...I remember the early 80s when some Tylenol products on store shelves were found to be tainted with a poison and great strides were made to make the product line tamper proof.  We found out that there is such a thing as "too much" when it comes to acetaminophen.  There were recommendations put in place reduce the risk of liver toxicity.  
To this day, acetaminophen products are a large sector of the over-the counter medication market, and many combination products that are RX only contain acetaminophen as well.  If that doesn't make a statement, I don't know what does.
Fast forward to 2015.  A small study at Ohio State University reveal…

Chronic pain and the gut brain...

Current research suggests that there is a connection between the brain and the GI tract in the human body.  This connection is in the form of communication that goes in both directions--from brain to gut and vice versa--and it is modulated (via neurohormones) by the microbes that live within our GI tract, known as normal flora.







This connection is a hot research topic these days.  There is evidence that the connectivity between the two plays a role in conditions such as anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome.  It also appears that when the normal flora is out of balance--perhaps due to a course of antibiotics or an illness--that the gut brain axis is affected, causing a disturbance to the bidirectional communications across the gut brain axis. That is why probiotics have entered the marketplace; they claim to restore normal colonization to a disturbed GI microbiota.

Now some research is focusing on the role of the gut brain axis in chronic pain syndromes. The Wellcome trust is gathering…

A few words about Functional Restoration Programs...

When I recently wrote a post about pain coaching services, I mentioned the term "functional restoration program."  I realized after the fact that this is something I've never mentioned before in my blog..so in today's post I would like to give you a little introduction to that concept.


When researching for this topic, I noticed that I could not find a strict definition for a functional restoration program.  What I can tell you is that a functional restoration program is a multi-disciplinary approach to problems such a chronic pain.  The treatment team may involve physical therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and other specialties, depending on the individual program.
As an example of this, here is some information from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Spine Center regarding their functional restoration program:
“Our goal is to treat the whole person, recognizing that pain and disability affect all aspects of a person's life. Each patient enrolled in the progra…

Rapid Release Technology: A new pain management tool

I saw a story from last year about former professional football players who took the NFL to court . The players argued that the NFL used poor decision making and mishandled prescription pain killers for during the course of their medical treatments. Over 500 players took part in the suit. According to the article, the DEA raided at least three NFL training rooms to investigate the situation.

In light of these issues, many NFL teams have adopted different strategies for pain management issues of professional players.  One such strategy is the use of Rapid Release Technology, or RRT.





As per the manufacturer's website,


Rapid Release Therapy (TM) is a revolutionary breakthrough in therapeutic technology focused on relief of soft tissue problems affecting nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  RRT was designed from the ground up to target scar tissue adhesions with a specific frequency.  In addition, this frequency is in a range that is known to relax muscle guarding or spasms.  Thi…

Natural Pain Relief from Foods

As discussed previously, there are many diets for pain related health conditions...we've looked at the ant-inflammatory diet, gout diet, dietary restrictions for fibromyalgia, etc. over the course of this blog.



In today's post I want to share a video from WISN TV in Milwaukee.  In the video the pain relieving properties of some of the foods we eat are discussed.  This is interesting stuff.  If you like the idea of natural pain relief but don't want to be dedicated to a whole diet, try one or more of these.  It just might offer you unexpected relief.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!




Sources: WISN TV; Wikimedia

A message of hope for those with chronic pain

In many situations, it's of great benefit for one to have someone who has been through a given situation and knows what worked and what didn't work for them.  They offer a beacon of hope, a promise that just maybe things can be better in the future than at the present moment.  For chronic pain sufferers, this is a possibility.  In the past we've explored some ideas like this, including support groups and online classes that are available to us.





Today, I would like to share another mentoring option.  Leading into this, I would like to ask you if you've ever heard of a doula. Most commonly, the doula is a person hired by an expectant mother to coach her through the labor and birthing process of pregnancy.  Taking a moment to stop and think about this--pregnancy and childbirth have been around as long as the human race.  There is plenty of experience about this for a woman to draw upon another woman's experience to get through the process.
Now that chronic pain has b…

fMRI: A Method for Measuring Chronic Pain

Most of us have some familiarity with the idea that pain is usually something that is  self reported; health care providers may ask a patient to rate the discomfort on a scale of 1 to 10, use the smiley face pain index, or some similar scale to gauge how comfortable or uncomfortable a patient may feel.


 The trouble is, this is all subjective.  There is no way to actually measure the pain.





  A few years ago, there was a research paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine about measuring chronic pain. The method that was discussed is something new and interesting, and really does attempt to measure pain in an objective way.  The study authors used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to identify a "pain signature" within the patients brain.  Most of the study is too technical for the purposes of this blog...but the exciting thing is that confirmation of  a patient's self report of pain could actually exist in the future of medicine!

  My thoughts on…

Tips for preventing chronic pain in your life

I have been posting to this blog regularly for about eighteen months now.  Recently I have had many positive comments to my posts, and I hope there are many more readers out there who haven't commented...but benefit from the information I share here.





Today's post is a little different..most of the posts are about living with chronic pain once you have it. But, what if you could prevent chronic pain?  As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  This applies to chronic pain and many other chronic health conditions as it applies to all kinds of things in daily life.  
I came across a newspaper article about this very topic, and I am going to share their tips for prevention of chronic pain with you today Even though there is not a 100% guarantee that following all these tips to the letter will spare the reader from all physical pain, the advice is very good.  I have previously discussed many of these ideas in prior blog posts in more deta…

Core training: the all natural back brace

Have you ever seen anyone wearing a back brace...similar to the image above?  Such devices provide support to the spine.  These devices help to heal a back injury and provide support in a preventive way.  You can purchase such a device at many medical supply stores and pharmacies.

What if you could achieve the same kind of support using your own muscle tissue?  There are many advantages to this:

1) You never have to worry over whether or not the fit is correct.
2) You don't have to put it on or take it off.
3)  It works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
4)  It's 100% natural.
5)  Your body shape will change in appearance...for the better! Looking better helps one to feel
      better.

If this sounds good to you...I have good news for you.  It is possible to achieve this goal!  I wrote a post about this concept (known as core training) last year, if you are interested click here to read more. There is a brief description of core training and also there are a couple of outside ref…

A Natural Pain Management Treatment: The MELT Method

I am very excited to tell you about an all natural method of pain management for all types of chronic pain.  It's called the MELT method, and it is based on the theory that exacerbation of chronic pain can be attributed to dehydration of connective tissues in our bodies.




According to Sue Hitzman, author of The MELT Method,  all people are subject to dehydration of body connective tissues.  She asserts that this dehydration process lead to "stuck stress" and inflammation over the course of time.  The MELT method is a way to address the "stuck stress" and help to disrupt the chronic pain cycle. She theorizes that the body's connective tissue is a network throughout the body, so all body parts are interconnected in a way...and her self-help technique is thus useful for chronic pain no matter what the source.

If you'd like to know more about the MELT method, here is a link to the author's post from a Dr. Oz episode.  You can also find her book at Amazo…