Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2016

Why aren't chronic opioids prescribed for fibromyalgia?

Given that fibromyalgia is such a painful condition, it may seem logical to think that treatment should include chronic opioids. After all, the "tender points" that are the hallmark for diagnosing this condition are so excruciatingly painful to the slightest touch. That leads us to question why the practice of prescribing Oxycontin and similar products for round the clock relief...right?

If the truth be told, the American College of Rheumatology treatment guidelines for fibromyalgia specifically state the following in this regard:

"Doctors do not recommend opioid narcotics for treating fibromyalgia. The reason for this is that research evidence suggests these drugs are not of great benefit to most people with fibromyalgia. In fact, they may cause greater pain sensitivity or make pain persist."

There are currently three drugs on the market that have FDA approval for chronic treatment of fibromyalgia--and all three of them are antidepressants.  Whether or not to use the…

Just Breathe!

Have you ever noticed that your body tends to "tense up" in response to discomfort?  If not, maybe it's worth paying attention to.  Many of us actually hold our breath during those difficult moments...

I recently read a column written by Sarah Anne Shockley about this very topic.  Ms. Shockley suffers from thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which nerves, muscles and blood vessels are compressed in her thorax, making something as simple as breathing very difficult to do without pain. After years of attempts to treat the condition with physical therapy, medications, meditation, exercise and such, she found little to no relief. With a little thought and some experimentation, Ms. Shockley came to discover a whole new approach to her condition. Her breathing awareness technique evolved; this has done much to help her cope with her condition. 
I have often stated in this blog that it takes some trial and error on the part of the patient to find what is optimal for a giv…

Parkinson's Disease Possibly Linked to Migraine

An observational study of older Taiwanese adults with migraine suggests that there is a link between migraine headache and the development of Parkinson's disease.  While the study has its shortcomings, it does suggest the possibility that older persons who endure these very debilitating headaches should be monitored for the development of Parkinson's. The exact relationship between these two conditions is unclear; further study is needed determine the connection.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that develops slowly over time.  Early symptoms may include slurred speech, and/or a lack of facial expressions.  Eventually, the patient may develop a tremor, slowed movement, changes in speech and/ or handwriting, and impaired posture or balance.

While there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, there are many medications available in the present day that can help control symptoms.  An active lifestyle, including aerobic exercise and a healthy diet c…

Endomorphin...pain relief without side effects?

Researchers at Tulane University School of Medicine are working on a genetically engineered version of endorphin.  For those of you who don't know, endorphins are the feel-good, pain killing substance that the human body produces as a way of relieving pain.

The genetically engineered version, known as endomorphin, seems to work at least as well as morphine in preliminary studies.  The best part is, the risks of morphine usage--such as respiratory depression and impaired motor skills--do not seem to occur when endomorphin is used.  In addition, endomorphin does not appear to be addictive in nature.

According to lead researcher James Zadina,  it's unprecedented to that a peptide such as endomorphin can fight pain so well without the side effects of the opioid drugs currently in use.  Clinical trials are expected to begin within a couple of years.

Source: PainWeek; Wikimedia

Never Ignore Pain...

Today I am sharing a link to WebMD's slide show on chronic pain. Many Americans suffer from various forms of chronic pain:  arthritis, migraine headaches, post herpetic neuralgia, back pain, etc. etc.

I would encourage you to have a look at the slide show.  There's a lot of good advice in this short presentation about pain relieving solutions that just might be of help.  If you take nothing else from this post, here is the main thing to remember:

If you suffer from pain on a regular basis--even if it's mild pain--it's worth your while to seek medical attention.  You might just be able to prevent a potentially serious condition from becoming disabling or even fatal.

Your body talks to please listen carefully!

Sources: WebMD; Pixabay

Rules for Success: You ARE What You EAT!

Did you know...that for individuals with chronic pain, forty percent of the problem can be traced to their diet?

Well, it's true. And sadly, the foods that are the most problematic are the very foods we love oh so much.  Eating these foods, especially when we know they are triggers, can mess us up for weeks on end.  Doctors and other health care providers are not always in the loop about this.  They do need to become more knowledgeable so they can help patients to help themselves.  In the end, those same patients will feel better more of the time and rely on medications much less.  That's a winning combination!

So, which foods should be avoided?  Start with bread, flour, sugars, artificial sweeteners, fruit juices, potatoes, and hydrogenated fats.  Those seem to affect most everyone.  Read the ingredients on all the foods you eat.  You'd be surprised how many wheats, fats, etc. you are consuming without even thinking about it.  This kind of diet is not about losing weigh…

Chronic Pain And The Loves of Our Lives...or the Lack Thereof

According to a 2015 NIH study, nearly 50 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic or severe pain. That number is alarming. And if that isn't bad enough, chronic pain not only affects an individual, but all family, friends, husbands, wives, and others connected to that individual.

Maybe those not affected by chronic pain don't stop to think about the impact of this statistic.  For one thing, chronic pain affects the most intimate relationships because it can impact the ability to be physically intimate.  Consider fibromyalgia as an example... even the slightest touch can be excruciating. That's only one example--many other possibilities exist. At some point, someone with chronic pain may even "opt out" of physical love completely, just because it hurts too much.

Pain management medications take their toll on these relationships as well.  In as much as they benefit the patient, side effects such as decreased libido and fatigue can be a problem. Communica…

Oxygen Chamber Therapy May Benefit Patients With Fibromyalgia

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers have been used therapeutically for many years. Best known to most of us as decompression therapy for scuba divers, hyperbaric oxygen is also used for a number of other conditions including carbon monoxide poisoning, wound healing, and radiation burns.  Now, it appears that this treatment may also prove useful for patients with fibromyalgia. And that is exciting news indeed!

A small scale study of about 48 women with fibromyalgia preliminarily revealed just that. After two months of this form of treatment, seventy percent of subjects showed significant symptomatic improvement, along with improved brain function.  They were almost indistinguishable from their non fibromyalgia counterparts following treatment, according to one expert.

The study findings were reported in the June 2015 edition of PLOS One.  You can read further about this promising research by clicking here.

One thing to point out before you get too excited about finding this sort of treatment f…

Zika Virus: Pain Management Advice From the CDC

The Zika virus has been all over the news lately; nearly a million persons in Brazil have been infected. In addition, may people in Central and South American have become ill due to this mosquito borne virus.

Approximately one in five persons who contracts Zika virus will become ill. Symptoms include joint pain, fever, conjunctivitis, and rash.  These symptoms seem to last for about a week, and then go away. Some symptoms of Zika virus closely resemble Dengue fever and Chikungunya. As a matter of fact, all three of these viruses have been known to be carried by the same  variety of mosquitoes!
This virus was first identified in Americans sometime around 2007; those who were infected initially contracted the illness due to travel.  However, at this point in time, infected mosquitoes are commonplace in the US. Cases of Zika virus are on the rise here in the states.  While NSAIDs including aspirin and ibuprofen are effective in relief of virus associated joint pain and fever, the CDC does …

New Recommendations on Pain Management for Babies

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently announced an updated policy with regard to pain management in newborn babies.  Interestingly, they are saying that  painkilling drugs should be
a choice of last resort, and that advance planning is key to pain management in a given situation.

Instead of medications, the AAP is strongly advising that sensory stimulation should be used to help infants deal with pain.  This would include the use of breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact, and /or visual, or auditory stimulation.  Gustatory stimulation-- i.e.,the use of aromas-- can also be employed.

The AAP goes on to say that administration of glucose/sucrose can be used during individual procedures, but does not recommend it as a continuous method of pain control. These sugars, when used as such, are considered medications, and appropriate monitoring parameters should be in place. Data suggests that opioids, such as morphine, have limited favorable effect. Physicians should be selective wh…

The "Hows and Whys" of Using a Pain Diary

Anyone with chronic pain has good days and bad days. They all know that sometimes a bad day can be triggered by changes in weather, diet, activity, and the like.  That's why a pain diary can be a very important tool in the management of a chronic pain condition.  It doesn't cost much money to use this tool, and anyone who is able to read and write can make use of it.  Alternatively, caregivers can keep pain diaries for those in their care.

By keeping track of day to day life, chronic pain patients can identify the relationship between painful flare-ups and potential causes of those flare-ups.  By identifying these patterns, a person can learn how to predict problems in advance, and and how to best manage the situation . Additionally, this information can also be shared with health care providers during medical visits.

What should be recorded in a pain diary?  The following elements are key:

Time and dateRecent activities, weather patterns, foods, and possible pain triggersAny …

The Ups and Downs of Scleroderma

A lesser known condition related to rheumatoid arthritis is scleroderma.  It is also an autoimmune disorder that afflicts some 300,000 Americans.  The name "scleroderma" comes from the Greek language and it can be literally translated as "hard skin." Persons who are afflicted with this disorder experience local or systemic hardening of the connective tissues.  It is a chronic disorder and over time can become life threatening.

In similar fashion to rheumatoid arthritis, the joints may be affected, as well as internal organs. This can be painful, and that aspect of scleroderma is the topic for today's post.  
Persons with scleroderma experience joint stiffness, especially in the morning, and it is common in the hands.  The hands may feel "puffy" as part of the reason for the stiffness is accumulation of fluid that seems to improve over the waking part of the day.  Unfortunately, medications such as diuretics do not help to resolve the problem. 

Chronic Pain: Why Should Opioids Be Reserved As A Last Resort?

If you look around this blog, you will clearly see that I believe opioid medications should NOT be a first line treatment for chronic pain conditions.  Today I would like to raise a few points as to why I think this is the case.  I know there are many people who use this form of therapy for chronic pain and who would refute my arguments. Perhaps for them this post is too little, too late. But for those of you who are contemplating various treatment modalities, here is what I'd have to say...

During the 1990's physicians believed that patients using opioid medications for pain would not have problems of addiction if they took medications as prescribed.  In the years that have passed since then, we have learned that this is not really the case.  Addictioncan develop very rapidly. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are 15,000 to 18,000 deaths per year in the U.S. due to overdoses.

There are also a number of side effects associated with opioid usage, including sedation, con…

Rheumatoid Arthritis IS A Deadly Disease!

Most of us know someone who has rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And while we are all familiar with the disfiguration and disability it can cause, we don't think about it being a fatal disease.  The recent death of the Eagle's Glenn Frey brings this issue front and center.  His death was apparently due to rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia.  That brought me to thinking that this is an appropriate time to raise this issue.

First off, while many of my posts are about complementary and alternative main reason for sharing these is to help people to understand that opioid therapy should be a last resort rather then a first line therapy.  Rheumatoid arthritis is really a systemic disease, and while many of the posts I share can be of help, they should not be used as stand alone treatments for this particular condition.  Early medical intervention is key to getting RA under control before too much damage is done.

I shared a post earlier on in my blog abo…