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Showing posts with the label Non Drug Pain Management Ideas

INTRACEPT..A Newly FDA Approved Treatment for Chronic Low Back Pain

The FDA recently approved a new approach to treat (and hopefully, eliminate) chronic low back pain in the last several weeks.  Known as INTRACEPT®, this new therapy uses minimally invasive surgery to deliver radio frequency to select portions of the lower spine.  The goal of this treatment is ablation of the basivertebral nerve. As such, it is said to be the first treatment of its kind for those who have failed conservative treatment of   > 6 months duration  You can read more about this newly approved treatment by clicking here.

Relievant Systems, the innovators of the INTRACEPT system, have provided a video via YouTube which shows a simulation of the procedure using this device.  You can view the video here:


As of the time of this writing , Relievant Systems has not yet updated their website to indicate where or when this product will be available in the US.  For future reference, you can access that site by clicking here.

Sources: Painweek; Relievant.com;YouTube;PRNewswire

Hello Sunshine!

Serotonin is an important chemical in the human body.  In a nutshell, it's a neurotransmitter that's involved in many body processes.  The current thinking on depression and anxiety (which often accompany chronic pain syndromes) is that there is an imbalance in the central nervous system mainly due to low levels of serotonin.  Many of the medications we use to treat depression belong to a class of drugs known as SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. These drugs help the body to make the most use of the serotonin a person has in their body by keeping it "active" as much as possible.






But this is not the only way serotonin levels can be boosted.  There are many natural phenomenon that help fulfill this purpose.  It's good to know that these practices can help to accomplish the same goals that these medications do.  If you are a person who does not wish to take these medications, I would like to share these ideas with you today!

So, without further ado,…

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

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

"Technaceuticals"-- The Future of Pain Relief!

As we ponder the opioid crisis and the rise in heroin usage, and death from drug overdoses, we must wonder what the future holds.  We've seen the development of many types of pain management devices--Alpha Stim®, Sensus®, Cefaly®, Quell®,iovera®, and Oska Pulse ® are a few of these.
Due to fears of addiction, and shifting medical opinions on the management of chronic pain, these devices are potential options for pain sufferers everywhere.




These devices have many advantages for potential users:

Drug free pain relief--reduced risk of drug interactions and/or side effects of drugsUnlike prescription refills, many offer a free trial period to see if the product is effective.After initial expense, maintenance costs are relatively low. Can lead to more cost effective pain relief!May help to postpone or completely eliminate the need for surgery or use of medications altogether It's really up to the patient to decide whether or not to pursue this avenue. It's good for the patient…

Beyond Pampering...Medical Massage Can Be Just What The Doctor Ordered For Many Conditions!

Some people say that the massage experience is the ultimate in pampering.  In truth, it can be much more than that.  There is a form of massage known as medical massage. With proper training, any license massage therapist can provide this therapy for any number of conditions, including seizures,
fibromyalgia, migraines, nerve pain, joint pain, and many others.





Medical massage is a bit different from the spa experience that you might be visualizing right now.  A given patient may go to see his/her therapist weekly, for anywhere from four to sixteen visits.  The number of treatments varies so widely because it is outcome based, so depending on the condition being treated and the goals of therapy.  The therapist will  likely follow up with clients after treatment to ensure that everything is going well and determine whether or not future sessions are necessary.
Sadly, health care insurance providers do not always see the benefit of this form of therapy so they do not always cover it.  …

The Willow Curve: Effective Product or Scam?

Have you seen the infomercials for the "Willow Curve?" It is a low level laser device which is claimed to be useful for temporary pain reduction.  The shape of the device dictates that is can be used on many areas of the body...extremities and neck seem to be the most obvious sites for use. While expensive ( approximately $600), it can be used at home as an alternative or adjunct to other pain management methods. The device is FDA approved. But the million dollar question is--does it work?




There are reviews on the official web site, and while two or three folks did not rate it highly...most people claim to be elated with it.  But outside of those reviews, the jury is mixed to put it best.  For instance, consumer fraud reporting site has mixed messages about this product.  Amazon.com used to sell the product...then suddenly it disappeared. While it was available there, only 49 reviews were posted...one person referred to it as a $600 heating pad.

I neither condone or promote…