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Showing posts with the label NonDrug Pain Management Ideas

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…

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…

Just Add Worms!

It has been speculated that our "clean living" is sometimes too clean...

Consider Inflammatory Bowel Disease, for instance.  It is thought that the absence of exposure to parasitic worms is a root cause of some oversensitive, gut-based immune system cases of IBD.  These worms are thought to help promote a balance of microorganisms in the GI tract...but it appears that the most developed nations on the earth have the highest cases of Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis.

A study team at NYU Langone Medical Center is looking into this very issue. They observed that the incidence of IBD in Malaysia ( a more underdeveloped country) is very low, while persons of this region have a high rate of worm infections.  In experiments conducted thus far, they intentionally infected mice with intestinal worms and observed a significant change in the  gut microbiome of these mice.  This is one of the first studies linking parasitic worms, normal flora of the gut, and inflammatory bow…

Seven Ways to Reduce Chronic Hip, Back, or Knee Pain...without drugs or surgery!

Given the large number of knee an hip replacement surgeries that are performed on a daily basis, it's safe to say that hip and knee pain are common problems.  It seems that low back pain could also be added to the list as well.  I know lots of people who have a "bad back." Perhaps you could say the same.

If you or someone you know is dealing with one of these problems, and surgery is not on the radar just yet, here are some pain management methods that might just do the trick.  The best thing about this list is that you can use any or all of these methods together without risk of side effects!

1) Weight Loss
Being overweight puts stress on the back and the joints.  Weight loss can help to reduce the stress and delay or perhaps eliminate the need for surgery down the road.

2) Exercise
Osteoarthritis is one big contributor to back, knee and hip pain.  One of the very best ways to preserve joint function is exercise! This does not mean it's time to run a marathon or pr…

Quell® Promises Relief For Chronic Pain Sufferers

So, have you seen television ads for Quell®?  It's a newer pain relief device, FDA approved...a TENS unit-- with a twist.

Quell® is a wearable pain management device that can be used for many types of chronic pain. While the actual device sits in an adjustable band that is worn just below the knee, it can deliver pain relief to other body sites when in use.  It has a smart phone app that can be used to make adjustments to pain relief program as needed. The product web site says that the device itself is responsive to the body's changing needs for pain relief and can adjust itself to accommodate as needed. And if that's not enough, it's a drug-free method of pain relief!

The product is available on line through the manufacturer from about $249.00. There are also some retailers who have this product available, including Amazon, QVC, and Target.  There is more information available at the product web site which you can access here.    The Quell® website is accredited by t…

Just breathe!

Breathing--the process by which the human body moves air in and out of the lungs. It's the essence of life itself.  No one teaches us how to breathe; it's instinctive. Or, is it?

Breathing is something every living person does day in, day out, asleep or awake.  This life force, when used in its fullest capacity is also a very powerful means by which an individual can take some control over anxiety, pain, and healing. It is also essential to optimal brain activity and overall good health.

Sadly, this very powerful life force is often overlooked as a pain management tool.  Through a complex mechanism, the practise of basic relaxation breath can calm nerves, reduce anxiety, and improve gastrointestinal and immune system function. If you've ever given birth or observed someone giving birth (a pretty painful process, isn't it?), you will notice that breathing is a very important part of the process...doesn't that tell us something?

There are many resources online abou…

Meet Oska Pulse--a wearable pain management device

Yet another pain management device has entered the's called the Oska Pulse.
Using pulsed electromagnetic field therapeutic technology, this small portable device is intended to relieve minor aches and pains, reduce stiffness, and help to increase mobility.

Leslie Cross, chairman of the board at Oska Wellness, says that she uses the product for chronic hip pain. After trying the product for several days, she joined the team because she was impressed by the product.  Best of all, it's drug free and can be used several times a day. A person can stay active--go for long walks, golf, spite of chronic pain!

And now the product is available to the public. Suggested retail is around $399. You can see it for yourself by visiting the Oska Wellness website.

Sources:; Drugstore News; Wikimedia

Could This Treatment Alleviate Chronic Pain Without Opioid Medications?

A new device in the chronic pain marketplace may be "just what the doctor ordered" in future pain management. Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington are studying a device that wirelessly sends electrical stimulation to sites deep within the brain to relieve long-term pain.

Other stimulation devices currently on the marketplace are designed to send electrical stimulation to a body site where chronic pain originates. The new device is different because it acts at a site deep within the brain--and wireless. It could be used to treat any number of pain conditions and allows the user to go about his/her usual business while it is working!

According to the researchers, “There are several other commercial companies making FDA-approved stimulation devices for neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, depression and dystonia, so many safety issues have already been investigated and addressed,” he said. “We hope to see this move forward rapidly…

Quantum Mechanics Offers New Hope For Patients With Peripheral Neuropathy

As previously mentioned, one of the most painful consequences of type II diabetes is a condition known as peripheral neuropathy. This condition is essentially nerve damage caused by elevated blood sugar levels over extended periods of time.

There are also other forms of peripheral neuropathy--due to nerve damage from other causes. According to Peter Carney, MD, there are approximately 23 million persons in America who suffer from this problem.  Dr. Carney is the lead author of a study that offers a novel approach to treatment of this condition...and perhaps the answer to a prayer for sufferers.

Dr. Carney's study involves using a technique known as Combined Electrochemical Therapy (CET).
This technique uses a combination of local anesthetic and electrical current. Forty-one patients with peripheral neuropathy were studied. After twice weekly treatments (up to 24 total treatments per patient), 73% showed regrowth of nerves. Reduction in pain (as per visual analog scale) was marke…

Increased Mindfulness ---> Better Glucose Control

Mindfulness is defined as "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something." This concept has become a hot topic in the past couple of decades. The roots of this idea are ancient—martial arts, yoga, meditation and Buddhism are all closely related to it.

Mindfulness is a very powerful tool. There are reports that Buddhist monks who sleep in freezing conditions in the mountains of Tibet are able to control their body temperature using this technique!  You have to ask yourself...what things could be possible in your own life if you were able to master this practice?
Four hundred participants in a study at Brown University recently gave us a hint at what is possible.  Using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), researchers found a significant association between dispositional mindfulness and glucose control. After evaluating their findings, the authors hypothesize that being aware of the present moment can lead to reduced likelihood of obesity and a greater s…

Biopsychosocial Program: A Method That Provides Long-Term Pain Relief to Patients Not Responding to Opioids

Okay, so sometimes pain management with opioids fails for one reason or another.  Maybe the side effects are just too much for an individual...or maybe an individual becomes addicted and wants to find and alternative way to manage pain going forward.  If that sounds like you, or someone you know...there is hope.

Research findings presented at this year's American Academy of Pain Management describe a study of this very thing.  A study of patients at the Chronic Pain and Recovery Center in New Canaan, Connecticut followed 154 patients who came to the center due to opioid failure/addiction.  Following a 28 day residential treatment program, these patients learned self management techniques,and participated in group therapy, physical therapy,substance abuse and nutrition counseling, 63 percent of these folks were no longer on opioids and still reported a reduction in their pain scores!

These findings are preliminary, but they are indeed good news! You can read the original story by …

Pain Medications Can Hurt You, Too...

A very traditional part of medicine follows the logic that medication is the first resort for pretty much every medical condition known to man.  This was a widely accepted practice for many years. For patients, it became pretty much expected that a visit to the doctor entailed a brief exam to evaluate the patient's complaint, followed by a prescription for some medication to treat said medical condition.

In more recent years, the medical community has learned from the flaws in this logic.  For example, after treating patient after patient with antibiotics for minor infection, we have fallen victim to "super bugs"--strains of bacteria that are resistant to most, if not all, antibiotics.  We have learned that it's better to find other approaches to the more minor infections, allowing the body to heal itself and develop a stronger immune system.
In that same vein, chronic pain conditions fell into the same logic process.  Long acting opioid products used over long peri…

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. 

Pain Shield® Delivers Ultrasound Therapy Via Topical Patch!

The Pain Shield®   was introduced last summer by NanoVibronix, a New York based medical device company.  This device delivers "slow release" ultrasound  via a topical patch.  This presents a new way to treat many types of pain that have been problematic in the past.  The testimonials on the company's website come from patients with many difficult to treat conditions.  Some report trying to treat trigeminal neuralgia for more than 20 years with no apparent success, until this device became available.  Others report positive results for other maladies--foot and shoulder problems, for example.

The device is expensive to buy--approximately $800 according to the company website.  The company's FAQs about the product reports that some patients were able to obtain financial assistance through their medical insurance coverage.  If you would like to read more about the device and related information, you can access the company site via this link.

It's very exciting that …

Moxibustion: Ancient Chinese Secret?

Moxibustion is an ancient Chinese medical practice employed by some practitioners of acupuncture. These practitioners employ an herb known as "moxa" during an acupuncture session in order to warm and improve blood flow to the area being treated.  Some claim that this practice is effective in relieving chronic pain, especially arthritis. The practice of moxibustion has been around for thousands of years, it true?

An article in MedPage Today from 2014 cites a study about this very topic.  A randomized clinical trial was conducted, involving 110 osteoarthritis patients who were unfamiliar to this type of treatment.  It was reported that after six weeks of treatment,three times per week, pain scores were reduced by about half in those who received active treatment. In a similar manner. their physical function difficulty scores also improved greatly!
It is interesting to note that after a certain period of time--around 24 weeks of further improvement was no…

What do you believe?

"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it."                             William Arthur Ward

This is what I'd like to reflect on in today's post.  I am not talking about the latest breakthrough in pain management research. I am simply asking you to think about some of the non-drug pain management ideas we've explored on this blog in the past--such as dietary changes, weight loss, smoking cessation, and exercise.  It's not easy to find the motivation to make these changes for many of us. These lifestyle changes begin as every journey does--by taking the first step.  But what is the first step?  Is it heading for the gym tomorrow, or starting a  new diet tomorrow?  It is not.
What is the first step, then, you ask? And so I will tell you. The first step requires time to think about what you really need to do.  It requires accepting the challenges you will face when you make that very first step.  In order to accomplish this…

The Spice Shop: Common Herbs and Spices with Pain Relieving Properties

You might or might not realize this...but many herbs and spices have medicinal properties. Some of them are useful for pain management purposes. Who knew you might have just what the doctor ordered right in your kitchen cabinet? These are good to know when you don't feel good and need something in a pinch, or if you have a "less is more" idea about medications and want to be more holistic about your health...

Here are some examples:


 While you might know ginger as a remedy for an upset stomach, it can also be used for joint pain!
 If you suffer from arthritis or gout, try rubbing ginger powder (mixed into a little sesame seed oil) on  an achy joint.


One of the most common pantry ingredients, onion can be used to treat bruises, contusions, etc.
  To prepare, grind the onion into a paste and then warm it through. Apply directly to affected area       to relieve pain and inflammation.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is great for pain relief on the skin, especially for minor b…

Attention Type II Diabetics!!

Type II diabetes is commonly referred to as "non-insulin dependent diabetes." There are a host of oral and injectable medications that are usually the first line of treatment for someone with this condition.  Usually the very first medication that is used is metformin; after some period of time, the patient is re-evaluated and other medications may be added to the first medication if needed.

One of the newer classes of medications for type II diabetes is the DPP-4 inhibitors. This class includes the following products:

The FDA has come out with a warning in the last month or so regarding this class of drugs. It is relevant to this blog because they warning states that these drugs may cause severe joint pain in patients who are taking them. The onset of pain in those who reported it began anywhere from 1 day to 1 year after therapy was initiated.

If you are a patient who is taking one of these products, it is recommended that you contact your health care provider about it. …

The Power of Perspective

As I was having a conversation with someone who recently fell on some hard times, something very important occurred to me.  This person recently lost their job; during our conversation I learned that they were very upset. Basically they felt that they had done a lot for the employer and got a hosing in return.

My husband and I had a conversation about this afterward. During the time of employment, this individual was subject to periodic layoffs due to lack of work. The employer offered an education program for the employees to attend whether they were laid of or not.  They employer paid for health care premiums for those laid off as long as they attended the educational program.  With respect to my friend, this pattern continued over a couple of years...

Why did my friend not see the positives here?  It was difficult for me  comprehend that he could not see that his employer was actually pretty generous in many ways.  My friend did not seem grateful for the opportunity for  advanced…