Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2015

The Agony of Acronyms

If you read a lot of articles about medicine, as I do, you will see many acronyms in the text.  It can be very frustrating when an author uses lots of acronyms in their writings, especially for folks who are just wanting to learn more about a given medical condition.  I have been reading these articles for years and I have to say this newfangled way of writing can be a pain--no pun intended!

For that reason, I decided it might be nice to create a post with some of the more common acronyms in texts about pain management.  I will do my best to at least give you a "heads up" about specific acronyms as I use them.  In this way, you will at least have a way to understand what I am talking about!

So, without further ado, here is a short list of common terms you might see in medical writings and doctor's notes regarding pain management issues.

CNS                                      Central Nervous System
COX-2 Inhibitor                   A specific subtype of …

You don't say....or what NOT to say to a chronic pain patient!

When someone is in a trying situation...and a chronic pain condition is one of's not always easy to know what to say, or how to say things without sounding insensitive.  I recently came across an article about this very subject.  Here is a link to the article; if you prefer a "short list" of some taboo phrases, read on!

"But you don't look disabled...""...I thought you'd be better by now.""Essential oils would probably fix that!""Your poor husband and kids!""How much disability do you get?""Oh come on, it's not that bad.""So do you take any good drugs?""Are you contagious?""You don't have to work?  Must be nice."Source: Buzzfeed.; wikimedia

Auricular Therapy: A specialized form of acupuncture

Most of us have heard of acupuncture, but have you ever heard of auricular therapy?  It's a specialized form of acupuncture that focuses on treating pain by inserting needles in the ear. Developed by a French physician in the 1950s, it is rooted in ancient Chinese medicine. In this form of therapy, each area of the body has a corresponding point on the ear. As such, needles placement to treat a patient's pain will depend on the specific area of bodily discomfort. This type of alternative medical treatment can be provided by a number of practitioners, including biofeedback specialists, acupuncturists, chiropractic doctors, reflexologists, and others.

Almost any area of the body can be treated by this type of acupuncture; however, literature suggests that headaches, chronic pain, detoxification from addiction, relief of nausea, and reduction of hypertension are common conditions of persons seeking this approach as a remedy.

It is thought that auricular therapy works in one of …

Lyme Disease Trivia

Some people think trivia is fun...and I suppose that it can be fun.  Since Lyme disease is so prevalent and can cause a person a lifetime of pain and other issues, I thought it was important to point out some important (trivia) points!

Lyme Disease is  caused by  a bacteria  known as Borrelia burgdorferi . It can only be transmitted to humans via an infected tick.
A tick must be attached its host for at leasthours to cause an infection.
Seventy to eighty percent of those infected with Lyme disease will develop the classic “bulls eye” rash several days to several weeks after becoming infected.
Most cases of Lyme Disease occur in late spring to early summer.  The largest number of infections occur in the Northeast and Upper Midwest areas of the USA.
Most cases of Lyme Disease  are successfully treated by a course of antibiotics lasting a few weeks. Not all ticks carry Lyme Disease! Only 25-50% of ticks are carriers of  disease.
The best way to remove a deer or tick is not by burning or suffoca…

Chronic Lyme Disease: A Patient's Perspective

One thing is for sure about Lyme disease: it's bizarre.  You might know someone who's been infected, maybe even someone with chronic Lyme as I am about to describe.  To begin with, many people who have Lyme disease are not aware of it in the early stages...perhaps because they do not recall or did not recognize a tick on their body.  Perhaps they did not have any symptoms in the early stages of illness.  Later on in its course, the disease symptoms come and go.  So it may seem like these periods of illness are not related.  But maybe they are--and it all begins with that one tiny tick that was never even obvious.

One person who speaks freely of this problem is author Amy Tan.  She has posted on her author web site a long story about how she believes she may have been infected, and they many problems she has experienced over the course of her illness.  At one point her problems was thought to be Multiple she was tested for that. She had suffered some very scary i…

Can Lyme Disease Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis?

I have been thinking about this post for a few days all started when I ran into an old friend one day last week.  This individual told me that--after being diagnosed with Lyme disease some time ago--has been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I knew that some of the symptoms of Lyme Disease are very much like the symptoms of, can Lyme Disease cause RA?

After doing some research, I found out some very interesting things about the answer to my question.
According to what I believe are very reliable sources-such as the CDC, Mayo Clinic, and Cleveland Clinic here is what I can report:

The cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis is unknown, but it is suspected that genetic factors may predispose a person to the condition. The actual disease process may actually be triggered by a virus, bacteria, or other environmental factor.The arthritic features of Lyme Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis have some common clinical findings--such as joint pain, stiffness and and lab test findings. …

Chronic Lyme Disease: Potentially Chronic Pain Condition

Those of us who live in areas where Lyme Disease is prevalent have learned about the early symptoms and why early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing a whole host of problems.  If you are not up to speed on this topic, here is a brief overview:

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is caused by an organism known as Borrelia burgdorferi.
A person or animal can become infected with this organism when an infected deer tick, commonly found in the US and approximately sixty other countries across the globe, attaches itself to a "host".

The early symptoms of infections in the human population are varied. They include a flu like illness (fever, chills, muscle aches, joint pain, and/or nausea), a characteristic "bulls-eye" rash around the site of the tick bite, Bells Palsy, or perhaps no symptoms at all.  It is reported that 30% to 80% of all patients diagnosed with Lyme disease report some/all of these symptoms.

If left untreated--or treated insufficiently…

Expert: Non Drug Therapies Probably Most Effective Way to Treat Fibromyalgia Pain

Each year, the American Pain Society sponsors a scientific meeting. It is the place where researchers in pain management and health care practitioners converge to share "the latest" in their respective areas of expertise.  This year's meeting included a session on fibromyalgia which was presented by Daniel Clauw, MD who is a professor of anesthesiology at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

During his presentation, Dr. Clauw made some very interesting points about this poorly understood disorder.  It is the second most common rheumatic disorder after osteoarthritis--and tends to stay with a patient for a lifetime. Patients with fibromyalgia experience higher levels of pain than other individuals, even at the slightest touch. It is believed that a mechanism in the brain and spinal cord that seems to be responsible for this exaggerated pain sensation. Dr. Clauw suggested to his fellow physicians that fibromyalgia should be suspected in patients with lifelong histories of pa…

Common Mistakes that can be avoided when something hurts...

I write this blog especially for people who have chronic pain..but today's post is sage advice for all of us, whether chronic or occasional pain is an issue.  We all experience some discomfort at different points in our lives, and making good choices on how to address this problem can make all the difference in the world.

First of ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  To that end, it is important to take the best care of yourself every day.  Healthy habits such as exercise, a nutritious diet and avoidance of tobacco products are a good starting point.  The better your overall health, the better you will feel every day.Choose medications wisely.  Try to minimize use of the most potent pain medications (if prescribed) or avoid altogether to eliminate the possibility of addiction.  Be careful never to exceed the amount prescribed. In the case of over the counter medications, keeping your overall health situation in mind when choosing a product.  For instance, what i…

Have you had your thyroid checked lately?

I have had a thyroid problem for years. I was diagnosed as hypothyroid (low levels of thyroid hormone) about thirty years ago.  Once I started taking medication and following up regularly, things were great for a long time. Then, after menopause, I started having problems again.  At that point, my levels were abnormal because of all the changes a woman's body undergoes at this point in life.  In case you are uninformed about the problems caused by thyroid imbalance, here is a short's incomplete but it will give you the idea:

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism                                          Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism  (underactivegland)                                                            (overactive gland)

depressed moodanxious or agitated sluggish                                                                           jittery slow heart beat                                                                racing heart sensitive to cold                           …

Say no to GMO!

A little background about this post:

You are what you eat...or so it is said.  And as I am growing older, I see the wisdom in those words.
It all started with a bowl of popcorn. I love popcorn, I could eat it by the carload.  I never was particular about brand, and the kind you buy in the microwave bags was good enough for me.  Then when I began my weight loss journey some years ago, I discovered that popcorn was not a bad thing to eat on the plan I followed, if it wasn't drowning in butter or other topping.  I purchased a re-useable microwave popper and a jar of Orville Redenbacher's best.  It certainly did the trick when it came to trimming fat and calories.  In the meantime I noticed that I would have abdominal discomfort whenever I consumed this food as a snack.  I guess that I always had that problem with it but it became more noticeable over time.

I started thinking about why I had this problem.  One thought was that I did not drink enough water to help my food pass easi…

A few more thoughts about acceptance....

After writing the post about the Serenity Prayer, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few thoughts about acceptance.  You might not think this is really an appropriate topic for a pain management blog, but if you'll bear with me for a few paragraphs, you'll see the connection.

What is acceptance? Wikipedia seems to give me the most appropriate description for purposes of  this discussion.  The first paragraph under this topic goes like this:
Acceptance in humanpsychology is a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest. The concept is close in meaning to 'acquiescence', derived from the Latin 'acquiÄ“scere' (to find rest in).[1]
When a person is accepting of a situation or condition--it changes everything!  In chronic pain syndromes this simply means that you know that a certain level of discomfort is going to be present no matte…

The Serenity Prayer

Many of you might be familiar with "The Serenity Prayer." It's used at places like Alcoholics Anonymous....but I believe it has its place in the chronic pain world...for those who believe in God, that is.  There's a lot of wisdom here, about acceptance and guidance from above in when we're making decisions about life situations and how to address them.

So, without further ado,it goes like this: