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Showing posts from June, 2016

Everyday Ways to Battle RA

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can really affect the quality of a person's life. Just ask anyone who has been diagnosed as such, or one of their family members or friends.  More than likely, they will have a lot of information to share with you. In a prior post, "Rheumatoid Arthritis IS A Deadly Disease" you will find a list of some things that cause an RA patient to suffer above and beyond the usual.  You will see that there are some things on the list that these patients can control...and that's what today's post is about.




Some of these things are lifestyle changes--and while they are not easy, they can happen. One of those things is modification of salt intake.  The American diet is pretty high in sodium as is. Opting for reduced sodium food products and using salt substitutes such as "Mrs. Dash" or pink himalayan salt can be a good place to start.  While himalayan salt does contain sodium, it has slightly less sodium than table salt, and contains some o…

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Sufferers...You'll Get a Jolt Out of This!

Do you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome?  I have been dealing with it for twenty five years or more. I am hesitant to opt for the surgery because of the long recovery times, and because it does not necessarily guarantee a cure. I have known people who benefitted from the surgery, and some who required more surgery after the first one.



In the meantime, I go through periods of time when it's not bothersome and other periods where I awaken during the night with the feeling of pins and needles from elbow to hand.  I have rigid wrist braces and they really do offer some relief. The disadvantages I find are that they are cumbersome and make it difficult to do just about anything involving hands during waking hours.  I tend to wear them overnight when I do use them.

A study published in the June issue of CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) compares this traditional method of splinting vs. splinting with electroacupuncture for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.  Of the 174 p…

Please Pass (On) the Pepto!

You may (or may not) realize it--but there are antacid products on the US pharmaceutical market that contain "salicylates"--which are a form of aspirin.  One example it Pepto-Bismol®: just look at the active ingredients and you'll see the term "bismuth subsalicylate".

Herein lies the problem..as salicylates are a form of aspirin, they carry all the risks of aspirin and all the other NSAID drugs.  Recently the FDA has been monitoring reports of increased bleed risk with use of these drugs.  Many people take a daily dose of aspirin to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. Who would think that taking a product for an upset stomach on top of this could be such a serious problem?




My advice to you...ALWAYS read labels carefully when you purchase over the counter products. Just because a product is available over-the-counter does not mean it's risk free.  Make sure you understand exactly what you are taking and why you are taking it!  Check with your pharma…

You Are What You Eat!

A new study out of Brigham and Women's Hospital puts a new twist on the adage, "You are what you eat."  In this instance, researchers were looking at the "gut brain" and how it plays a role in inflammation of the human brain.





The researchers found that bacteria in the gut produce molecules known as astrocytes. These molecules are derived from tryptophan, which is an amino acid found in high protein foods such as chicken, turkey, fish, and nuts.  These astrocytes, once formed, reside in the brain and spinal cord and serve to limit inflammatory activity there. During this study, it was found that multiple sclerosis patients had low levels of these tryptophan -derived molecules. Tryptophan is also essential in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and mental activity.  According to the study author, "Deficits in the gut flora, deficits in the diet, or deficits in the ability to uptake these products from the gut flora or transpo…

Prince: An Untimely Death

In recent weeks, we all were shocked and horrified about the death of pop star Prince. At the time, the cause of death was not apparent.  The coroner would not speculate but instead said that the results were inconclusive pending toxicology results.




Just last week, the toxicology results were in--and the cause of Prince's death was said to be an accidental overdose of the pain killing drug fentanyl.  This might not mean much to the average citizen, but I see a huge red flag here.  First of all, fentanyl is one of the most potent opioids out there. To give you some perspective, fentanyl isone-hundred times more potent than morphine (intravenous use)!

This tells me a couple of things:

1)  Fentanyl would not be a first choice drug for a person with chronic pain.  It's pretty safe to assume that Prince was using pain medication for a while, and was prescribed fentanyl when other medications did not provide adequate pain relief.

2) This scenario can play out--and has played itsel…

Fibromyalgia Week: Day 5

For this last day of Fibromyalgia Week, I have two things for you, my readers.
First, I have a quiz...just to see how much you know, or have learned, about fibromyalgia this week.  Click the link below if you want to try it out!



How much do you know about Fibromyalgia? » online quizzes




Secondly, and very importantly...I have found something that some of readers may find quite useful.  There are lots of "apps" for smartphones out there, and some for fibromyalgia. Today I am sharing a link for "FibroMapp", which is available for Android and Kindle.  Sadly, there is not an Apple platform for this app but we can only hope that some day....  There are other apps like this available, but this one seems to have lots of good reviews.  Here is a link if you would like to check it out.



repost from 2014

Fibromyalgia Week: Day 4

On this day 4 of fibromyalgia week, I am going to focus my writing on treatments for this
mysterious condition.  As discussed in earlier posts, this condition tends to be chronic --and while it is debilitating, it is not life threatening.  There is no inflammatory process involved either.

Pharmacotherapy for fibromyalgia 

Drug treatment for fibromyalgia is still sort of in the trial and error phase.  There has been good response to some of the SSRI and tricyclic antidepressants to date.  Other drugs that have some use in fibromyalgia are NSAIDs (ibuprofen for example), COX 2 inhibitors (a specific category of NSAID such as celecoxib) and antiepileptics (eg Gabapentin). There have been some trials of naltrexone and also Immune Globulin . To date, these last two studies look promising but at this point they are not conventional therapy.  At one time, guaifenesin was thought to be promising but there is no clinical or scientific data to support its use as a treatment for fibromyalgia. In…

Fibromyalgia Week: Day 3

Today, I am sharing some thoughts about what causes fibromyalgia.  Current understanding of this debilitating disorder suggests that central pain processing in fibromyalgia patients is altered.  Somehow, the central nervous system (CNS)  has some faulty wiring problems, resulting in an amplified physical pain. In the adult population, it seems that more women are affected by fibromyalgia than are men.  In children and adolescents the gender ratio is 1:1.



There are a few theories out there as to the root cause of fibromyalgia.  Some ideas:

1)Genetic Basis--it seems that fibromyalgia "runs in families", suggesting that there is a specific gene  that may be involved in the perception of pain.

2)Biochemical Imbalances--Some findings in fibromyalgia show that these patients have very low levels of serotonin,which has been linked to problems with sleep,pain perception,headaches, and mood disorders. Other studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia have elevated levels of sub…

Fibromyalgia Week: Day 2

Tender points are a unique feature of fibromaylgia.  There are 18 such points on the human body (9 pairs as shown).  Using special technique by hand or a dolorimeter, a fibromyalgia patient will experience pain in at least 11 points, and there will be at least one painful tender point in each quadrant of the body!

One study found that up to 96% of fibromyalgia patients suffer from sleep disorders. It is believed that this is responsible for a deprivation of delta sleep, during which human growth hormone is produced. This hormone is essential to tissue repair. Other common problems in fibromyalgia are fatigue, concentration/memory ("fibro fog"), and depression. 
There is no doubt in my mind that just enabling the patient to sleep well on a regular basis would be of great benefit!


It is not uncommon for fibromyalgia patients to have coexisting conditions--some of these are lupus, disease, irritable bowel syndrome, lyme disease, restless leg syndrome, and chronic fatigue s…

Fibromyalgia Week: Day 1

I have been watching the statistics on this blog since I started it, and I could not help but notice that some of the most popular posts pertained to fibromyalgia.  So, I thought,  why not devote a whole week to the subject?  So, without further ado, on this first day of Fibromyalgia Week, I shall begin with an overview.

The American Medical Association  gave official recognition to fibromyalgia back in 1987. Before that time, this disorder was considered a "wastebasket" diagnosis, but in more recent years it is being recognized as a true illness.





Here are some interesting facts about fibromyalgia:

The characteristic feature of fibromyalgia is chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain, associated wit symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms such as stiffness, headache, and chest pain.An interesting and unique feature of fibromyalgia is "tender points"--which are specific targeted areas where people with this disorder feel an amplified pain sensation when on…

Feeling "Under The Weather?" The reasoning is still a bit cloudy...

I just reviewed a very interestingarticle regarding scientific reasoning with respect to weather and various chronic pain conditions.  Many who suffer from afflictions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraines seem to feel that the weather honestly affects how they feel on any given day.  But in the world of science, the jury is still out.





A peer-review of many studies on this topic revealed conflicting information.  Some studies demonstrated that certain weather changes affected pain levels for some pain conditions, while others seem to find no evidence for this.  The authors of the article conclude the following possibilities:

One study method, known as the crossover method, seems to mitigate the time invariant factors in this type of study...leading to confounding results.

Studies regarding pain level versus changes in barometric pressure are sometimes poorly designed, or don't really have enough subjects in the study to really come to a decisiv…

Migraine Miscellany

Did you know...

18 percent of all Americans suffer from migraines. In other words, it's a very common disorder!

2-3 percent of migraine sufferers will progress from episodic migraines (occasional) to chronic migraines (suffering migraine several days of the week, every week).

Risk factors for developing chronic migraine include:

increasing frequency of migraine attacks  nausea  allodynia (experiencing pain from something that does not usually cause pain)  risk is increased for persons who also have comorbid disorders such as depression, anxiety, obesity, asthma, stress, sleep apnea, other pain disorders, or neck issues  failed relief after using rescue medications can also lead to risk from episodic to chronic migraine,especially if those medications contain barbiturates or opioids
The risk of progression from episodic migraine to chronic migraine can also be reduced by the following measures: learn what your migraine triggers are (keeping a journal is very helpful)pursue treatmen…

How do you spell N-A-P-R-A-PA-T-H-Y ?

You might be familiar with Chiropractic Medicine--it's probably one of the most popular forms of alternative medical practices in the US today.  But have you ever heard of naprapathy ?




Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as--

“…a system of treatment by manipulation of connective tissue and adjoining structures and by dietary measures that is held to facilitate the recuperative and regenerative processes of the body.”
The origin of this word is from the Czech word , naprava, which in English means correction.
Naprapathy is similar to chiropractic medicine because it's practitioners learn to manipulate body parts.  But rather than manipulation of bone and spine (chiropractic medicine), a doctor of naprapathic medicine manipulates connective tissues.  The goal of naprapathic medicine is to ease tension and bring the skeleton back into alignment. 
This form of alternative medicine is becoming more popular due to the all too common problems that have emerged with the use of painkil…

Men, Osteoporosis..and Exercise

Thinking about osteoporosis, I think about those who have the highest number of these risk factors--

small framefemaleCaucasian or Asianpost-menopausal or post-hysterectomyfamily history






Osteoporosis in and of itself is not painful, but it increases the risk of fracture. If a fracture does occur, it can be disabling or perhaps even fatal.  In the last few years I have seen a few women with known osteoporosis suffer fractures that laid them up for months on end. And it never seems to be the same after the fact, even after the bones have healed, and many physical therapy sessions have been attended.

With that in mind, we must also keep in mind that other persons can suffer from osteoporosis as well.
Men, for example, can develop this condition, and it's sometimes overlooked because the focus is on women with known risk factors.  Sadly, this group can suffer the same risk of fracture, and when it happens, they can be laid up for months on just like their female counterparts.

That bei…

FDA Changes Course on Pain Management Policy

While we await a final autopsy findings on Prince's cause of death, Peoplemagazine reports that
he was being treated for addiction just prior to his demise.  Sadly, bad things happen to good people..and whether or not Prince's death is related to this issue, it brings the topic of addiction front and center.




The Washington Post recently reported that there were 52 deaths per day in 2014 due to opioids.  If you do the math, that amounts to almost 190,000 deaths per year!  The federal government has recently shown some movement in response to this issue...last month, the CDC released its recommendations for prescribers with respect to opioid usage and prescribing.  In the last couple of weeks, the FDA has chimed in. An FDA advisory panel has voted in favor of mandatory opioid prescribing training for physicians.

It's about time something is done. This problem has been ongoing for the last twenty years. There have been many deaths that could have been prevented. There have b…