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Showing posts from September, 2015

The Power of Perspective

As I was having a conversation with someone who recently fell on some hard times, something very important occurred to me.  This person recently lost their job; during our conversation I learned that they were very upset. Basically they felt that they had done a lot for the employer and got a hosing in return.

My husband and I had a conversation about this afterward. During the time of employment, this individual was subject to periodic layoffs due to lack of work. The employer offered an education program for the employees to attend whether they were laid of or not.  They employer paid for health care premiums for those laid off as long as they attended the educational program.  With respect to my friend, this pattern continued over a couple of years...

Why did my friend not see the positives here?  It was difficult for me  comprehend that he could not see that his employer was actually pretty generous in many ways.  My friend did not seem grateful for the opportunity for  advanced…

Self Management of Chronic Pain: A Tale of Two Patients

Today I'm going to tell you a short story about two different patients.  They both suffer from severe joint pain/osteoarthritis of the knees.  They are both around the same age.  But that is where the similarities end---

Maria is in her mid 60s and has had arthritis in her knees for several years.  When she was first diagnosed, she was overweight and worked at a desk job five days a week. She did not get much exercise because she was tired and achy when she came home from work. She retired in the last few years and now has more free time. That being the case, she decided to join a weight loss program and has lost 25 pounds in the last year.  She has also taken up exercise, which for her means a daily walk around the neighborhood or a nearby public park.  She was able to take a class in meditation and has used the skills she learned when she experiences increased pain levels.  Maria also a volunteers at the local library weekly.  She enjoys spending time with her young grandchildr…

Pain Management IS Possible Without Pain Medication: All About Recovery

Dr. Peter Przekop is  the director of Addiction Medicine at the famous Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.  He knows a thing or two about folks who have become dependent on opioids. Many individuals became hooked on these drugs due to a chronic pain issue.  Here is an article he wrote for The Desert Sun, a Palm Springs newspaper.  I'm sharing it today because I know there are a lot of people out there who find themselves in this predicament...perhaps it will inspire you to know that there is a way to get yourself free of these drugs AND reduce chronic pain!

Here is a link to the article. If this helps even one person to get their life back, this post was worth sharing!!!

Sources: Betty Ford Clinic; Desert Sun; Pixabay

Life Hacks for A Healthy Back

Life hacks are all over social media. You can find so many tips on laundry, housecleaning, cooking, and just about everything else. So, today I am putting out a list of life hacks that will help keeping your spine healthy and strong!

Attention ladies: Forget the high heeled shoes. While they may make a fashion statement and make your legs look more appealing, wearing shoes with higher heels too frequently destabilizes the spine and actually cause back pain.  Opt for shoes with heels of comfort and cushion, with heels of one inch or less for best back protection.

Travel light!  When you leave home in the morning, take only the things you really need for the day.
Look through briefcases, backpacks, and handbags and eliminate things you don't really need to keep your load light. Over the long term,your spine will thank you for it.

Give up the cigarettes. Did you know that smoking restricts blood flow to the discs that cushion and support your back?  That might explain why smokers with …

Words of Wisdom from Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
I don't know how many of you are familiar with Robert Frost's poetry...but this particular poem has a lot to say about many different things in life.  It could be applicable to a life with chronic pain if you think about it.

Living with a ch…

The American Chronic Pain Association

Have you ever heard of the American Chronic Pain Association? They have a great website with lots of resources for those of you who are dealing with chronic pain on any level.  Whether you are a caregiver, a patient, or a family member, there is something here for you!  Click the link if you'd like to have a look.

I particularly like a video on this site that gets to the very heart of what I am trying to convey about pain management in my blog.  The video is entitled "A Car With Four Flat Tires" and you can watch it by clicking this link.  If you choose not to view the video, here is a short synopsis:

Living with chronic pain is like having a car with four flat tires...and that makes it really difficult to go forward.  Taking medication for chronic pain (any medication) is akin to putting air in one of the tires.  But what about the other three tires?  You can "inflate" those tires by adding complementary forms of treatment to fill the other three tires.  These…

September is Pain Awareness Month!


Are you "double jointed"?

Remember those days in childhood when you challenged a friend to a physical stunt...such as a split...and having conversations about being able to perform such challenges due to being "double jointed"?

As it turns out, being "double jointed" is a two-edged sword.  The medical term for this phenomenon is hypermobility.  It appears that many people who have been genetically gifted to perform well in sports and dancing are often more prone to have hypermobility.  Well it's a good thing to be a star athlete or an accomplished ballerina, there may be consequences for those who have this trait.

Generalized joint hypermobility (GJH) seems to be a predecessor to a host of chronic pain conditions that develop as age progresses.  Poorly understood, it frequently occurs in a number of persons diagnosed with diseases of connective tissue, such as Marfan syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.  Hypermobility syndrome affects approximately 57% of the…

Music Therapy: A new trend in fibromyalgia treatment

The treatment of fibromyalgia is a bit tricky.  For one thing, there are not many pharmaceutical treatments out there.  It's been said by at least one expert that this condition is best managed without medications.  There are many avenues of approach.  Using a combination of techniques, a patient can regain function and quality of life.

We've discussed many of the treatment options in this blog in the past. Some of them involve exercise or diet; some others strategies or lifestyle modifications that make living with fibromyalgia a less daunting task.

Now comes a small study of a new approach to fibromyalgia treatment: music therapy.  This treatment is one that is best used in addition to other  treatment strategies.  A recent small scale study revealed a statistically significant reduction in pain when the subjects listened to relaxation CDs that contained the sounds of waves and water.  The reduction in pain was seen as early as 14 days into the study!

It's good for all …

Have a headache? The real cause may surprise you...

Problems with headaches are quite common.  For the most minor headaches, a good nap or a dose of an over the counter pain medication will put things right.  In other cases, the problem may be something more serious.  If you suffer from chronic headaches, you may have been told to keep a diary so you can figure out your own personal triggers.  This is a great way to be pro-active about the problem.

In some cases, the pain you feel in your head is not really a headache at's a "referred pain." This means that the actual origin of the pain is NOT in your head but is expressed in your head.  For instance, a problem in the upper (cervical) portion of the spine due to injury or extensive desk work can result in a headache. 
With that in mind, here are some other headache triggers that you might like to know about.  Hopefully you won't have a headache anytime soon, but if you do it might help you to figure out what's causing pain in your head.
1) Caffeine withd…

Coping with Chronic Pain: Train your brain to keep it positive!!!

In keeping with the last post...don't forget about the most basic practices along the pain management journey.  As I mentioned in that post, there are so very many complementary and alternative practices one can use to enhance quality of life. Fortunately for all of us, some of them can be implemented without any physical effort whatsoever!

Here is one such example of a complementary coping mechanism:practicing positivty!  This is more of a mental exercise  i.e., working on developing the habit of framing our daily thoughts in a positive way.  Here are some examples of how to accomplish this:

1) Do nice things for other people.  

Even the little things in life make a difference. No matter what your physical status, this is always possible on some level. It's always possible to compliment people in conversation.  Phone a friend or send a card just to let someone know you're thinking of them. Consider doing volunteer work if you are able. If you happen to be in a public pla…

The Pain Management Conundrum: From A Practitioner's Point of View

Today I'm going to share a link to an editorial from the New York Times.  I thought it important to share... patients see the health care professions from a patient's point of view and don't always see the other side of the coin.  This editorial was written by a physician who describes what's going on in his mind during an office visit with a patient.  It's good to know what's going on in your health care team's mind when you are conversing with them at a visit.  I hope in sharing this your visits with your doctors and other health care practitioners will become more productive!

Back to the Basics--Dealing with the challenges of the many faces of pain...

I've been thinking about the problem of chronic pain for a long time..years, in fact.  I have my own personal chronic pain issues, but today I'm thinking on a broader scale.  The problem of chronic pain is extremely widespread. I have read article after article about how so many people are in pain, how pain is not well managed in chronic and other pain patients, and so on. It's very sad and quite frankly, depressing.

The problem is...pain is not something that a health care practitioner can gauge in an objective way. To put it another way, when a person says they are in pain, they are in pain.  The only way to really measure pain is to ask the patient about the severity or use one of the pain scales that's based on observation.  On top of that, there are many types of pain.  For example, a patient may present with acute pain or chronic pain.  The pain of a migraine headache is not at all similar to the pain a person might experience passing a kidney stone, or sufferin…