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Showing posts from October, 2015

The Effect of Sugar Intake on Chronic Pain

**This is a repost from November 2014**
Halloween is over, and if you're like most people, it's difficult to resist indulging the the sweets brought home by household trick-or treaters, or left over candy..  Most of us are fully aware that chronic intake of foods with high glycemic loads can lead to health problems, such as weight gain and type II diabetes...but did you know that elevated blood glucose levels can worsen chronic pain?

Here's a short explanation of the problem:  When you ingest candy, or any other food that has a high glycemic index, there is an immediate spike in blood glucose levels.  As mentioned, these blood sugar spikes are bad news for those with diabetes; when blood sugar levels are frequently allowed to spike, complications of the disease, such as diabetic neuropathy, become more problematic.  For those with chronic pain--diabetic or not--elevated blood sugar levels cause a chain of reactions that damage body tissues and promote inflammation.  This i…

Is Copper Therapy Effective for Arthritis?

Since the 1970s copper bracelets (and more recently, copper socks) have been available to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Purportedly, the copper in the jewelry is absorbed by the body and has a therapeutic effect on the wearer.  While I was looking for information for this post, I discovered the following facts about this practice:



According to WebMD and the Arthritis Foundation, the practice of wearing copper jewelry(or socks)
has NO therapeutic benefit. 


A 1976 study I found in the NIH archives showed that subjects who wore copper containing products absorbed some copper through their skin over the course of wear.  Symptom improvement was reported, but it could well be placebo effect.
Copper is an essential mineral. A small amount of copper in the diet is necessary for nutritional reasons. It does have anti-inflammatory properties but there's no evidence to support that taking copper supplements is beneficial to RA patients.
Sources: Arthritis.org; WebMD; NIH; Wikimedia

Magnet Therapy--true pain relief or, not?

I first heard of magnetic jewelry some years ago. A friend told me that she bought a necklace with a magnetic pendant; purportedly the magnet improves the circulation in the area where the magnet sits on the body, ultimately providing pain relief to the wearer.  In addition to necklaces, there are rings,bracelets and magnetic strips that can be worn on ankles, wrists and back.




According to Wikipedia, several studies of this type of self treatment for chronic pain is perfectly safe, but the efficacy of these products has yet to be proven.  So if you want to try it, there is no harm in doing so, but it may not provide the pain relief you might anticipate.  There's always the chance that you will experience the "placebo effect" and actually feel that it provides some level of comfort.  If that's the case, go for it!

Sources: Wikimedia; Wikipedia


The science behind laughter, the BEST medicine

We've all heard the expression "Laughter is the best medicine."  But did you know that there is really scientific evidence to explain it?  It really is fascinating.  Here are some of the facts about laughter that explain why it really does help with chronic pain and other illnesses.









Immune system booster:   by increasing immune cells and antibodies
Reduces stress hormone levels
via release of endorphins
Helps prevent heart disease
due to improved circulation
Promotes muscle relaxation
direct effect--causes reduction of tension
Improves mood
through endorphin release
Enhances resilience
allows person to regroup during times of emotional distress
Diffuses conflict
a good laugh can break up an argument in progress by diverting attention from anger to humor
Attracts other people to us
Shared laughter makes relationship between persons more appealing
Promotes group bonding
Laughing together is a great way to build relationships!
Decreases pain
Endorphins are the body's natural feel good ho…

Back Pain : Prevention Tips for Women

This post is for all you women out there... it turns out that there are some fairly common causes of back pain that are particular to the female gender.  This post might not help you to solve evert back pain issue, but it will give you some food for thought as to why you might be having back pain in the first place...



Many people have a weak core...you know, area of your body from your shoulder to your groin.  In case you did not realize, a strong core is key and there are many types of exercises you can do to keep these muscles in tip top shape.  Sit ups are one example of a core exercise.. the plank or hover is another.  Here is a post I wrote earlier this year about that very subject.

Menstruation is another back pain problem unique to the women of the world.  Often times, women experience menstrual cramps in the back as opposed to the abdomen.  In addition, our bodies secrete a hormone called relaxin just before menstruation.  This hormone makes all the joints in the body more fl…

Chronic Pain Linked to ADHD

Have you ever heard of PAIN Week?  It's a group that hosts a series of small conferences around the country and one big meeting every year...and as the name implies, the focus of all the seminars has to do with pain management.



At the 2015 conference, an interesting small scale study was presented by Forest Tennant, MD of Intractable Pain Management group.  According to the study, approximately one in three persons who suffers from chronic pain (excluding arthritis or neuropathic pain) may actually have ADHD in addition.  During the study, the pain condition improved for these subjects once they were diagnosed and treated for the attention disorder problem.

ADHD is a problem that has gained a lot of attention over the years. Those who deal with the disorder face challenges with inability to concentrate, short attention span, impulsivity, temper, and memory.  When a chronic pain issue is added to the picture, an overactive nervous system adds fuel to the fire. This seems to make t…

Fibromyalgia in Women: Connected to Other Health Issues???

Today's post sheds a very interesting light on our understanding of fibromyalgia--if you're a woman, of course.  This very new study, released in late summer of 2015, examined the medical histories of 219 women with fibromyalgia and 16 other women who suffer from non-fibromyalgia with chronic pain.  The researchers found that there is a likely link between the onset of fibromyalgia and the pre-existence one (or more) of three pre-existing condition types: gynecologic, endocrine, or autoimmune.




The chart review of these patients showed a strong correlation to a history of gynecologic issues prior to the onset of fibromyalgia.  It is not uncommon that these conditions existed for a number of years--which points to the hormonal (endocrine) aspect of the problem.  Ultimately, many of these patients end up having surgery to correct the gynecologic problem at hand.  The study showed a connection between hysterectomies and oophorectemies (ovary removals) and onset of fibromyalgia.  …

When Children Have Fibromyalgia: No Medication Required!

When children have fibromyalgia, it hurts.  It really hurts.  And from what research on this topic suggests, the pain continues for years, sometimes lasting into adulthood. Traditional thinking would suggest that there must be some kind of medication to help these kids get their life back.  But in reality, that's not the case!

Research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (known affectionately as CHOP) have come to realize a different approach to this problem.  Their treatment protocol consists of a combination of physical and occupational therapy.  They also discontinue all pain and sleeping medications that the patient may have been prescribed prior to coming to CHOP.

The researchers followed 64 children in this program.  All of the subjects suffered from fibromyalgia for about 2 years prior to beginning treatment at CHOP. At the start of the study, the average pain rating for the group was 7.1 on the 1 to 10 scale.  A few weeks into the program, the average pain scor…

A few words about men with fibromyalgia...

Much attention has been given to fibromyalgia in recent years. Much has been learned, but there is still much to learn!  For one thing, ninety percent  of fibromyalgia patients are women.  We know more about this group of patients simply because there are a lot more of them to study.  But men can be diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well--and even though there are many similar disease characteristics, there are also some striking differences.




First of all, men are affected by fibromyalgia differently because of the hormonal differences between men and women.  In women, disease flare can be associated with the menstrual cycle. For males, this is not a  problem.  On the other hand, the primary male hormone testosterone benefits males because it is thought to play a beneficial role in general when it comes to pain. The hormone cortisol also appears to be involved; here again, it appears that women are more greatly affected than their male counterparts. The neurotransmitter serotonin also s…

Chronic Pain: Facts and Figures (USA)

As I sit down to write this post, the US population stands at almost 322 million persons. There is one birth approximately every 8 seconds, and one death approximately every 13 seconds. One new international migrant enters this country every 32 seconds. That means the US population increases by 1 person every 12 seconds.  



I started to wonder...how many persons in our country actually suffer from some form of chronic pain?  There is not a clear cut answer; the biggest reason for that what is actually considered to be chronic pain. I know there are a lot of people out there, and I've rattled of a lot of statistics from various sources when writing for this blog... but what are the real numbers???
Back in 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report entitled "Relieving Pain in America." This landmark study suggested that there were over 100 million persons in this country who suffer from persistent or severe chronic pain.  This would mean that 1 of every 3 person…

Autoantibodies Predict Future RA in Healthy Relatives of Patients

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a severe and disabling autoimmune disease.  Most treatment strategies in current use attempt to get the disease under control as early as possible to slow progression and minimize disease flare-ups.  There is no real way to prevent this condition, and those afflicted usually have problems over many years...




Then again, maybe some hope for these folks is on the horizon...a five year study of Mexican RA patients and their families has attempted to find a way to predict the disease.  Over the course of the study, the patients and the relatives who agreed to be test subjects were studied periodically for the development of specific auto-antibodies that predict future development of RA.  The goal is to find those who are at high risk for disease development and begin treatment as early as possible.
In this way, it is hoped that the damaging effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis can be slowed/minimized from the get-go.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta presented this information on M…

Autism Spectrum Disorders linked to Maternal Lupus

These days, it seems everyone knows a family who has a child with autism or an autism spectrum disorder.  The cause of the autism family of disorders is perplexing; researchers have been looking at the problem from many angles in an effort to determine what really causes the problem.  Many of us have heard that vaccines can be a cause...I think the jury is still out on that one.  That being said, other potential causes have been explored as well.



A Canadian study that I recently read about followed 719 children whose mothers had Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and compared them to  8,493 mothers in a control group.  They found that the risk of autism spectrum disorder compared to the control group was 2:1. The SLE birth mothers also gave birth to more children with other neurodevelopmental disorders,  and had a tendency to give birth to more preterm babies than non-lupus counterparts.  The children of SLE mothers were  also diagnosed with autism disorders at an earlier age than th…

Attention Type II Diabetics!!

Type II diabetes is commonly referred to as "non-insulin dependent diabetes." There are a host of oral and injectable medications that are usually the first line of treatment for someone with this condition.  Usually the very first medication that is used is metformin; after some period of time, the patient is re-evaluated and other medications may be added to the first medication if needed.

One of the newer classes of medications for type II diabetes is the DPP-4 inhibitors. This class includes the following products:



The FDA has come out with a warning in the last month or so regarding this class of drugs. It is relevant to this blog because they warning states that these drugs may cause severe joint pain in patients who are taking them. The onset of pain in those who reported it began anywhere from 1 day to 1 year after therapy was initiated.

If you are a patient who is taking one of these products, it is recommended that you contact your health care provider about it. …