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Showing posts from December, 2015

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Have you ever heard of trigeminal neuralgia?  It is a relatively rare, but painful condition that affects the nerves between a person's face and their brain.  Most commonly those affected are persons over fifty years of age--and more women than men are affected.  This condition is also referred to as tic douloureux. The causes of this condition include, but are not limited to, stroke, injury, or brain lesions.



Those affected with this condition typically experience short, mild attacks . Simple everyday personal care such as shaving or brushing teeth can be excruciating!  A doctor will suspect this condition if a person:

--experiences shock--like jolts of pain intermittently in areas of the face--the location of the pain is important; it's tell tale if someone is truly affected by this condition--the circumstances that trigger the pain also help to indicate whether or not this is trigeminal neuralgia A neurological exam will be an important part of the diagnostic process.  An M…

10 Healthy New Year Resolutions For Those With Chronic Pain

2015 is almost over...and that being the case, many are making resolutions for the upcoming New Year.  Many of us make promises to ourselves, but can't seem to stick to it for too long.  Sometimes our goals are too lofty, or maybe we try to make too many resolutions at one time.




So, today I thought I would suggest ten things that would be beneficial to most people in the chronic pain world.  It's best to start small and work your way up as you go along.  Which one of these is most do-able for you?  If you find one that you can use as a starting point, that's really great!

1) Smoking Cessation

2) Dietary modifications (click link for example of this)

3) Exercise regimen

4) Weight loss

5) Meditation

6) Pace yourself

7) Improve sleep habits

8) Try a new alternative or complementary pain management practice

9) Occupational therapy can help... (not limited to carpal tunnel syndrome...other pain issues may benefit!

10) Join a support group


Happy New Year to ALL!

(Sources: Every…

Minor pain management: I'm ALL Ears!

According to the science of reflexology, there are six points on the ear that correspond to specific zones of the body. These are good to know when you're experiencing minor aches and pains!

Applying pressure to the part of the ear that corresponds to the painful area--by using a clothespin or even your thumb and forefinger--is purported to help relieve the pain.



I am not saying that this practice works or does not work; it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to try it and determine if it's effective.  Keep in mind that this is intended for minor aches and pains only!
Here is a little more detail about each particular zone as illustrated above:
1) Back and shoulders: The uppermost part of the outer ear is designated for relief of tension that builds up during the course of the day.  Try applying pressure for a minute at a time periodically over the course of a day for best result.
2)  Internal Organs: Area #2 is your "go to" for minor aches that occur…

Go Bananas!

One of the most useful power foods on planet Earth is the lowly banana.  Have you ever stopped to think about all the benefits bananas can provide your body?  Here are some benefits recent LifeHack article suggested about including three bananas a day in a person's diet:

1) Mood enhancement      A medium sized banana contains about 27 mg of magnesium...having insufficient amounts of this mineral in the human system can lead to anxiety, depression, and irritability.  Eating 3 bananas per day can provide some of the human body's daily requirement of this very important mineral.
2) Appetite suppression     Dr. Alan Hirsch of Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation reports that the bananas can suppress appetite and hunger pangs. His studies indicate that the smell of a banana can dupe the human body into thinking that a meal has been eaten and hunger is eliminated. That's pretty sneaky!
3) Bananas improve athletic performance     Many athletes like bananas an…

How Occupational Therapy Can Help With Arthritis In The Hands

Some time ago, I wrote this post about occupational therapy and how people with chronic pain can benefit from this practice.  Occupational therapy helps persons who have disabilities learn new ways to function in spite of a number of types of disabilities.  As an example, if an individual has a stroke and loses the ability to use an arm...they can re-learn to bathe, dress themselves, etc, in spite of the loss of function with the help of an occupational therapist.






More recently, I came across an article written by an occupational therapist about how an occupational therapist can help those who have osteoarthritis in their hands. This is a specialized practice that can help the patient to ease pain and increase range of motion, so that they can more easily perform everyday tasks.

An occupational therapist who has expertise in this area is familiar with a number of techniques to help afflicted patients using any number of methods.  While each person's treatment is individualized, i…

New “Trick” Steroids Discovered

Most problems that affect chronic pain sufferers also involve inflammation.  Cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus  are a few examples of these conditions.  While inflammation is a body's response to harmful stimuli, an overactive response leads to progression of disease. When inflammation runs amok, it is paramount to use methods to control it, as too much inflammation does more harm than good.




The mainstay of treatment of inflammation is a class of drugs known as glucocorticoids.  While they are a very effective form of treatment, long term use leads to serious complications, such as immune suppression, weight gain, fluid retention, and mental health issues.  The glucocorticoids are still widely used ,but are most appropriate for short term therapy.

The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen were also once more widely used for treatment of chronic pain and inflamma…

LIfestyle Changes DO Matter!

I am more than certain that there are people out there who don't think lifestyle changes or alternative/complementary medical practices can do very much to help people with various maladies, chronic pain included.  And many of us do rely first on traditional medicine, and maybe come to find later--or never--that these treatment options can be much more than the icing on the cake!





About five or six years ago, I was twenty five pounds overweight..and like the folks I'm referring to, it never occurred to me that weight loss would help all that much.  Sure, I have arthritis in my knee and if I just avoid activities that cause pain, I'll be alright, I thought.  But I have learned so much since then.  I did manage to lose the extra weight with the help of Weight Watchers programs. In and of itself, it made a big difference in the way I felt.  More energy and less pain in that arthritic joint..but that was only the beginning!

As time went on I learned to eat healthier. And even …

Complementary and Alternative Medicines Defined

In all the time this blog has been in existence, many complementary and alternative medical practices have been discussed.  I must apologize that I never really explained the meaning of those terms. So today, I am going to explain more fully about these concepts.




First, let me explain the concept of alternative medicine. Alternative medicine refers to medical practices outside the scope of the traditional practice of medicine.  One practices alternative medicine when they opt to use a treatment method in place of traditional medicine.  One example is using mindfulness or yoga as a means to control chronic pain instead of using medication.  Another example is the use of herbal supplements in place of traditional medication...perhaps using Saint John's Wort instead of a prescription antidepressant.

With that in mind, I can explain the term complementary medicine. Complementary practice means that a person is using a non-traditional medical practice to enhance the benefits of any tr…

Could the Alexander Technique Be A Good Pain Management Technique For You?

Until recently, I never heard of the Alexander Technique.  But it has been around since the mid-1900s. Frederick Mathias Alexander was an  Australian actor who suffered bouts of laryngitis when performing.  Doctors could not seem to help him; in time he came to find a way to help himself. He came to realize that excess tension in his neck and body were at the root of his problems, and his discovered a method by which he could help himself to reduce the stress and the tension...and thus the Alexander Technique was born!




The doctors who treated Mr. Alexander were quite impressed with the outcome of his efforts. He was persuaded to help others with what he had taught himself.  Over a span of about fifty years he refined his technique to become the Alexander Technique we know today.  Following his death, a number of people who learned from Mr. Alexander taught the technique to others.  Even though you may have never heard of it, this method is alive and well for those who wish to learn …

Osteoporosis Gone Awry: Preventive measures are your best option!

Osteoporosis is a common problem.  This condition is basically a softening of the bones, and, if left untreated, can be a risk factor for other, more serious problems.  Risk factors for osteoporosis include the following:


Female gender is more at risk than male genderRisk increases with ageThose of Caucasian or Asian races have higher riskFamily history positive for osteoporosis, especially parent or siblingsThose who have smaller body frames have increased riskLow levels of sex hormones (low testosterone or post menopause) have elevated riskHistory of hyperthyroidism increases risk of osteoporosisOveractive adrenal and/or parathyroid glands have been associated with osteoporosis
While having osteoporosis is not a painful condition in and of itself, it can to the risk of fractures which can be debilitating. The most debilitating of these is hip fracture, which is beyond  the scope of this discussion.  Another issue is spinal compression fractures, which are small fractures that can oc…

Optogenetics: Update

In August 2014, I wrote a post for this blog about an exciting new approach to pain management known as "optogenetics."  You can read the post in its entirety here...but here is a brief refresher:



Optogentics is an evolving new field that sheds promise on the treatment of many conditions including chronic pain management.  In a nutshell, optogenetics is a technology that employs beams of light to control  selected areas of the brain, essentially turning them on or off.

The use of various forms of light to treat disease is not a new idea...consider the use of UV light to treat psoriasis...or light boxes for seasonal affective disorder...or lasers used in surgical procedures. It's not surprising to think that light beams can be used in other ways to treat other disorders..right?

Fast forward to November 2015. Now there are reports of studies of implantable optoelectronic systems for treatment of many health conditions via wireless.  These implants, when strategically pla…

Alternative Strategies For Managing Chronic Pain...From A Patient's Point Of View

Today I just wanted to share a recent article from Pain News Network. Guest columnist Fred Kaeser is a chronic pain patient; he is sharing his experience with readers.  I commend the author for sharing his thoughts and experiences with us. He has much to offer if you're willing to read his article!




Click here to have a look--it's a great read!

Sources: Pain News Network; Wikimedia