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Showing posts from July, 2016

And now, there's even an FDA approved device for insomnia!

Today's post is for all those who struggle to get a good night's sleep. Insomnia is a problem for many people, and when you have chronic pain it's part of the picture to be sure.  The traditional approach to insomnia often includes hypnotics, also known "sleeping pills." These products are effective but can lead to sedation during daytime hours, and also dependency.
Other traditional methods to improve quality of sleep include improving "sleep hygiene." This includes rituals such as avoiding eating for a given period of time before bed, setting regular bedtime and awaking times, and avoiding light from cell phones, TVs, digital clocks and the like during sleeping hours.  
Now we have a new option...available by prescription only, the Cereve Sleep System was approved by the FDA in June 2016.  As I understand it, the device is attached to a pad which the user wears on the forehead during sleep periods.  The device gently cools the forehead, reducing acti…

Have you seen this...???

If you have been in your local drugstore lately...or maybe seen on TV...the makers of "Aleve" have a new product on the market.  Aleve Direct is a tens unit that you might find in the pain relief section of the store.  I also noticed that the makers of Icy Hot have a similar product on store shelves as well.



This is a brilliant move by the manufacturers in my opinion.  By attaching a familiar name to these new products, maybe some people will be less skeptical about trying them out.  That is definitely a step in the right direction!

While this product is not currently available at Amazon.com, it must have been in the past. Here is a link to the customer reviews section for this product. While there are less then 10 reviews of this writing for the most part it's pretty positive feedback!

Sources: Aleve.com; Amazon.com. Wikimedia

Aqua Therapy

I belong to a health club.  I wouldn't have it any other way...there are so many ways to exercise!
Most weeks, I follow the same ritual.  Once in a while, when I am injured or I need some time off I still go to the gym and try new things.




One of the things I enjoy now and again is water exercise.  I have seen people "water walk" in the lanes of the swimming pool. There is a warm water pool and a regular pool at our facility...each of which has advantages and disadvantages.  Occasionally I take a water aerobics class. And the icing on the cake(for me) is a trip to the whirlpool after class!  Ahhhhh..... I can just feel it now.

There are many advantages to working out in the water.  For one, you the water offers resistance against you when you are in it.  Water walkers often take advantage of this...it gives some of the advantages of weight or resistance training.  A second advantage is that the bouyancy of the water is easy on the joints. This is a great advantage to tho…

HCAHPS 101

Have you ever heard of HCAHPS? It's an acronym for Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. A creation of the US Department of Health and Human Services, this is website where you can look up patient satisfaction scores for specific doctors, hospitals, and such.  The data provided on this site is generated from surveys sent randomly to patients following hospital admissions, medical visits, etc.




Under the Affordable Care Act, this data is also used to determine reimbursement rates for these same providers.  To put it simply, better scores mean better rates of reimbursement for health care providers. So it's natural to assume that providers want to perform well, because that means more income for them!

One of the sections of these surveys pertains to pain management.  And since pain was considered the "fifth vital sign" until very recently, pain control is/was very important part of patient satisfaction. Now that we are in the midst of an &qu…

Gadgets Galore: Is one of these devices is right for your chronic pain condition?

As the heroin epidemic continues, and the struggle with taming the opioid crisis goes on, the marketplace has become full of many new devices to help those who deal with chronic pain. So today, let's look at some of the new devices that have come out in the past year.  I am surely hoping that someday, someone will read this--or one of my many other posts--and find a reason for hope, and a way to make each and every day brighter.  So, without further ado, here are a few of the devices that came out this year, along with a link and brief description.



1) PainShield®--  This novel device is actually an ultrasound device that is applied to the body via a topical patch.  It is very portable--and battery operated-- so it can be used anywhere, anytime. The manufacturer says it is indicated forpain and soft tissue injuries. Most of the reviews on the product website claim that it is helpful for trigeminal neuralgia that has failed to respond to other therapies.

2) iovera®--Another new dev…

Harvesting Pain Relief on the Virtual Farm

Two childhood cancer survivors, both students at  Canada's Simon Fraser University, have developed a virtual reality game to help young cancer patients cope with the pain of their illness.  Known as "Farmoo," the game was inspired by other computer games such as Farmville, this new game takes its user into a virtual reality farm.
The innovators of the game will be putting their efforts to the test at British Columbia's Children's Hospital. It is designed for cancer patients aged 12 to 18, who can play the game with simple hand movements. The game also features a frame speed that minimizes the risk of dizziness, a common problem following chemotherapy treatment.
Since both of the developers have experienced cancer diagnosis and treatment, they hope that their game concept will help its users to forget about their pain and the boredom of spending extended periods in a hospital bed.  
You can read the original article by clicking here
Sources: MedicalExpress.com; …

Prayer Makes A Difference

I haven't stressed the importance of spirituality in this blog enough...mostly because I don't want to "push" religion on anyone who doesn't think it's useful.  But today, I AM going to talk about religion and how it can have a positive impact on one's life.





The Journal of the American Medical Association- Psychiatry recently published a study of the association between religious service attendance and suicide risk for women in the US.  This study examined 89,708 US women aged 30 to 55 years during the late 1990s through 2010. The study concluded that the women under study were 5 times less likely to commit suicide if they attended church services at least once per week.  The correlation was strongest amongst those of the Catholic faith.

This is an important finding for those who suffer from chronic pain because anxiety and depression are often comorbid conditions in chronic pain patients.  In modern society many people have fallen away from practicing a…

New Device Helps Ease Difficulties of Drug Withdrawl

When someone is dependent on opioids, it's difficult to stop the drug and try a new form of treatment for a number of reasons:

1) There may be a fear that a different form of treatment will not work as well as current treatment.

2) Withdrawal from opioids can be a very uncomfortable process. This can include muscle aches, restlessness, anxiety, tearing of the eyes, sweating, insomnia, abdominal issues (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping), racing heart, and hypertension.  Knowing this in advance must surely be a deterrent to stopping these drugs!

3) The euphoria that some people experience when taking opioids will no longer be a part of life.

Some addiction medicine specialists use prescription drugs such as Subutex or Suboxone to treat patients who have used or abused opioids and need to stop.  The problem here is that these drugs will block the withdrawal symptoms but that's all.  The dependency problem is still there underneath it all. When I worked as a hospital pharmaci…

Here's a crafty way to battle chronic pain!

I really like to crochet...and one day when I was showing someone a few pictures of my work, I was told that persons who are under treatment for PTSD are shown how to knit or crochet for therapeutic reasons.  Hmmm...I thought--I am going to do a little research on that topic!

One of the things I found was this story from CNN that illustrates this point exactly.  According to the article, crafting can help anyone with anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, and/or depression.  While no specific research has been done on crafting, studies have shown that the same cognitive skills used to complete crossword puzzles may be used when a person is crafting.

I can tell you from experience that I have a little anxiety and have a history of some chronic pain disorders. When I have my yarn and hook working away, I could care less about any of those issues. I just get lost in my project and loose all sense of reality. And before you know it, I have produced a blanket, a scarf or a hat...made with love for …

Pain: The Fifth Vital Sign..Or Not?

At the moment, there is much debate about whether or not pain levels should be considered "the fifth vital sign."  This idea came about some years ago when pain control became one of the quality measures in hospital care. The hospitals, in turn, relied mostly on medication to score well on those quality measures.  Who does this idea really benefit in the end...the hospital, who may benefit from higher insurance or Medicare reimbursements due to higher scores...or the patient?






I am interested in what you might think about this topic; feel free to comment if you like.  My own personal opinion is that pain is NOT a vital sign because it's not a measure of life and death.  But I also believe that it is important to help people manage their pain levels as much as possible.  It means that those who are suffering should learn self-management from the earliest point possible, and showing them all the options that are possible, and where to find those options.

In the past we we…

There's Something Fishy About This...

Many patients who are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) find themselves on a serious, and intensive medication regimen..and while these are definitely effective, it's good to know that sometimes there are alternative choices.  If effective, alternative remedies can save a patient from side effects and drug interactions and can be cost saving as well.



Here is one example of an alternative treatment that can be effective.  Fish oil has been studied in patients with existing RA back in the 1990s and found to be minimally effective. But in the past year, an Australian study, published in Annals of Rheumatic Medicine. The study compared the use of high dose fish oil , low dose fish oil, and standard treatment regimens in patients who had RA for less than one year.  Those patients who were on the high dose fish oil regimen were less likely to progress to more advanced forms of treatment, and seemed to score better on remission assessments than those taking low dose fish oil or o…