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Sciatica: A common pain in the butt!

Sciatica pain results from pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve.  This nerve originates in the spine and runs down through the buttocks and the back of the if you've ever literally had a pain in the butt, it is possible that sciatica is the problem.  The cause of the pressure can be from a number of sources...for instance,  compression in the spinal cord due to disc injury or a tumor.
The sciatica pain sensation can vary can present as a numbness or tingling, dull ache, burning, and in severe cases the pain can make movement quite difficult. Over time, it is possible for sciatica to resolve on its own.  If it does not, it is important to seek medical help to determine the root cause of the pain.

The usual first course of remedies for sciatica include ice application to the affected area for the first 48-72 hours, followed by heat.  Over the counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are also appropriate.  Bed rest is not recommended, but it…

Modern Medical Methods: Diagnosing Pain

Pain 'Signature' Spotted on Brain MRIs Scientists could distinguish physical from emotional pain, discomfort in study WebMD News from HealthDay
By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter WEDNESDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- For the first time, scientists say they've found evidence that physical pain may leave a distinct "signature" in the brain that can be picked up with specialized MRI scans. The study looked only at short-term pain in healthy people, but researchers hope the findings will lead to better understanding of complex conditions such as chronic severe headaches or fibromyalgia. When researchers exposed healthy volunteers to a painful dose of heat, it left a reliable pattern of brain activity that could be viewed on functional MRI (fMRI) -- a type of imaging that charts changes in blood flow through the brain. That so-called "neurologic signature" was able to predict people's subjective pain ratings with more than 90 percent accuracy…


DISCOVERY CHANNEL DOCUMENTARY “PAIN MATTERS” CHRONICLES THE BURDENS OF LIVING WITH CHRONIC PAINLoved Ones Provide Significant Support, But Many Still Struggle with Pain’s Invisibility, New Survey Finds
North Wales, Pa., November 4, 2013 – There are 100 million American adults who live with chronic pain – more than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined. A new documentary titled “Pain Matters,” airing Nov. 16 on the Discovery Channel, explores the realities of chronic pain through the eyes of individuals who live with it, as well as the perspective from leading national experts in pain management.
The film features a range of stories of people living with chronic pain including a U.S. Navy veteran and a two-time Stanley Cup-winning hockey player. “Pain Matters” chronicles their individual challenges in managing their condition, including validation of their pain due to the difficulty in objectively measuring it and working with healthcare professionals to develop an indi…

The Multimodal Approach to Pain Management if you've been following this blog you will notice that there are a good number of ideas to help manage chronic pain.  You might ask yourself, "Which one of these ideas is best for me ?" I would suggest that you might try any number of these things, depending on your level of ability/disability, health care team recommendations, and your personal interests.  There are a number of reasons for doing this:

1) The patient is in control..with few exceptions, it is your decision what to try/not try and how many different things you want to experiment with at any time.

2) Non drug pain management ideas do not have any of the drug interactions or side effects that medications have.  You may have to set limits or modify activity according to personal circumstances, but usually it does not hurt to try any of them.

3)You usually do not need a prescription for most of the ideas I have described.  There are a few exceptions, such as physical therapy.  There is no waiting at th…

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Recap

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Orthopedic pillows

Is there an orthopedic pillow out there for you?

Another possibility that one can incorporate into a pain management regimen is an orthopedic pillow.  There are many kinds of therapeutic pillows available,having different fillings and different intent of use.  Some pillows are better for lumbar support, for example, while others may help someone with cervical spine issues.  Doing a little internet research may help you to see if there is one out there for you. It would also be good to check with your health care team to confirm whether or not this is in your best interests.

By improving your posture as you sleep, you improve the quality of sleep during the night and will be able to function better throughout your waking hours. And that can make a world of difference!

What is Fibromyalgia?

FibromyalgiaFibromyositis; Fibrositis Last reviewed: February 2, 2012. Fibromyalgia is a common syndrome in which a person has long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors The cause is unknown. Possible causes or triggers of fibromyalgia include:
Physical or emotional trauma Abnormal pain response - areas in the brain that are responsible for pain may react differently in fibromyalgia patients Sleep disturbances Infection, such as a virus, although none has been identified Fibromyalgia is most common among women aged 20 to 50.
The following conditions may be seen with fibromyalgia or mimic its symptoms:
Chronic neck or back pain Chronic fatigue syndrome Depression Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) Lyme disease Sleep disorders Symptoms Pain is the main symptom of fibromyalgia. It may be mild to se…

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Meditation

In pain? Try meditation By Anne Harding, April 5, 2011 5:53 p.m. EDT Meditation can help people cope with pain, anxiety and other physical and mental health problems. STORY HIGHLIGHTS Even a brief crash course in meditative techniques can reduce sensitivity to painMeditation relieves pain by helping people control their perception of painThe type of meditation used in the study is known as Shamatha, or "focused attention" RELATED TOPICS Meditation and MindfulnessPain ManagementMedical Treatments and ProceduresHealth and FitnessCognitive ScienceAlternative Health Care ( -- You don't have to be a Buddhist monk to experience the health benefits of meditation. According to a new study, even a brief crash course in meditative techniques can sharply reduce a person's sensitivity to pain.
In the study, researchers mildly burned 15 men and women in a lab on two separate occasions, before and after the volunteers attended four 20-minute meditation tr…

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Music Therapy

Prevention News Chronic Pain Relief: Music Therapy And Pain Management More Music, Less Pain? Studies have shown that music is a powerful pain reliever. Here are some practical tips for putting it to use.By Holly C. Corbett Lullabies may do more than soothe babies to sleep—they may also help ease pain in adults. A new study finds that participants who concentrate on melodies such as "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" while receiving safe electric shocks cut pain levels by 17% overall. Moreover, actively listening to music is twice as effective at slashing pain levels for highly anxious types as compared to their less-anxious counterparts, according to the Journal of Pain. The key to using music to reduce pain is active listening. "We had people listen to specific childhood melodies that they knew well, such as 'Mary Had a Little Lamb,' and their task was to identify deviations in the songs, such as noting a jump in pitch or octave," says lead study aut…

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Tai Chi

Tai Chi for Arthritis Relief Gentle movements of the ancient Chinese exercise tai chi are one of many alternatives to help elderly people find pain relief.

WebMD Feature Archive By
WebMD Feature Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD The movements of tai chi are gentle, graceful, mystical -- and, for elderly people, a very safe way to relieve arthritis pain and gain balance, strength, and flexibility. Tai chi is one of many alternative therapies that can provide relief from pain, possibly letting you cut back on pain medications. Early mornings in large and small cities in China - and increasingly in America's parks, hospitals, and community centers - people are practicing tai chi. It is an ancient tradition said to have developed in medieval China, to help restore health of monks in poor physical condition from too much meditation and too little exercise. Recommended Related to Pain Management Chronic Pain: Does Vitamin D Help? Not getting enough vitamin…

Categorizing Pain

Pain can be characterized in many different ways, but one of the simplest ways to categorize pain is to break it into three basic types.  Below is a quick summary of the 3 basic types of pain and the main properties of each type of pain.

Neuropathic pain is usually caused by damage or injury to the nervous system, and probably responsible for a lot of chronic pain conditions.  This type of pain does not usually respond well to  the drugs we commonly think of as pain medications, such as Tylenol, Aspirin, Ibuprofen or Opioid medications.  This kind of pain can be the result of injury, such as an accident, or health conditions such as shingles. It can also be a result of cancer or cancer chemotherapy. Somatic (nocioceptive) pain is pain experienced following surgery, broken bones,  toothaches, etc.  It is the localized assault to body tissues that causes the pain sensation.  This kind of pain usually resolves as healing progresses.  It is also more likely to respond to traditional pain m…

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: From a Child's Perspective

How to cope with chronic pain from a child's point of view!

Milayzia plays 'Monster on the Move," a board game designed to help younger children with chronic pain develop coping skills that improve their ability to function and resume more normal activities. Click image to see the video...

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Hypnosis

The use of hypnosis in the treatment of chronic pain has a long and well studied history.  While not intended for use as a stand alone treatment, when used in conjunction with other pain control methods it has offered a "moderate to large hypnoanalgesic effect, supporting the efficacy of hypnotic techniques for pain management." according to a large meta-study analysis conducted by Guy Montgomery, Ph. D., of New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine (Int J Clin Exp Hypn 2000;48:138-153). 

Regarding the study, a May 2009 article in Pain Medicine News study,Dr. Montgomery says:
"Part of the appeal of hypnosis, is that it can be performed on most patients in a relatively short period of time (usually over four to 10 sessions) and has virtually no side effects. Additionally, skills learned by the patient through hypnosis can be used to cope with other issues that may accompany chronic pain, such as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and distress."

The arti…

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Support Groups

Another idea to help you to along the pain management journey is that of a support group.  Many hospital systems offer support groups for specific disease states, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, cancer, spinal cord injury, and the like.  You can find this kind of support group by looking online or by calling the hospital/health system or other appropriate agency in your locale, such as the Arthritis Foundation.  In addition to this, some psychologists or social workers may offer support groups.  Lastly, since the advent of the internet and social media, you may also find online support groups that serve your purposes as well. 

Support groups serve a dual belonging to one, you have access to support and resources from others in the group.  They may have ideas that will help you when you are faced with a problem you don't know quite how to solve.  The second role of the support group is for you to be supportive to other members of the group when they are faced with challe…

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Physical Therapy

For today's post I am sharing an article from WebMD on physical therapy for pain management.  If you think physical therapy may be helpful to you, discuss it with your health care team!Pain Management and Physical Therapy Sometimes pain treatment can be accomplished through physical therapy. Physical therapy (PT), also known as physiotherapy, involves the treatment, healing, and prevention of injuries or disabilities. PT helps to relieve pain, promote healing, and restore function and movement.
PT is practiced by a professionally trained physical therapist under the referral of a doctor. A physical therapist is a specialist skilled and educated specifically in proper rehabilitation. How Is Physical Therapy Used to Treat Pain?A therapist may focus on decreasing pain with either passive or active therapy. Examples of passive physical therapy include: Heat/ice packsTENS unitsUltrasoundExamples of active physical therapy include:

Living With Pain: Purposeful Activity Ideas From The American Chronic Pain Association

Play activities come readily to small children, but as adults we don't think about them too much.  Can you remember the last time you got so engaged in an activity that you escaped from reality for a while?  There are numerous simple pleasures that can help us to pass the time in a satisfying way...away from all those daily aches and pains if only for a while!  If you haven't done so for a while, maybe it's time to revisit your inner child! 

Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

DrawingPaintingJigsaw puzzlesColoringArts and CraftsPlay Dough or Modeling ClayCard GamesBoard Games 

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Living Within Your Limitations

Going hand in hand with yesterday's post is the concept of living within your limitations.  Pacing yourself is part of this concept; another part of it is learning to function within our physical limitations.

When my daughter was young (about 5 years old), I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in a knee joint.  I was forced to accept that I could no longer play jump rope with her, but we could go for a long walk or a hike.  I could not jump into the shallow end of a pool because the impact on landing was painful-so when she and I went to the pool in the summer, we would go to the deep end to jump in.  I could give you many more examples of this concept, but I think you can get the picture from what I have already said.

The hardest part of this is acceptance.  It comes with time.  It comes easier if we spend more time focusing on the things we CAN do and minimizing our focus on the things we have to give up.

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Pace Yourself!

Once you have identified your pain triggers, you can explore the idea of pacing yourself.
By knowing what activities/ weather patterns/foods/ medications etc. serve to help or hurt your comfort level, you can develop strategies to keep yourself pain free or at reduced pain levels more of the time.

Here are some examples:

If you are just starting an exercise program, try to ease yourself into it.  You can accomplish this by starting slowly and gradually increasing your tolerance to an exercise activity slowly and steadily.  If the activity is too painful, it is possible that you've reached your upper limit for that activity, or maybe a different exercise activity is better suited for your health condition. You can also vary your workout
activities if doing the same thing all the time is problematic.

Try to plan your day(s) so that you have a good balance of activity and rest.  Don't try to clean out your whole house in one day, for example.  Break a big activity into several sm…

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Yoga

The practice of yoga can be traced back to the Stone Age.  It began as a communal form of spiritual meditation.  Since its inception, Yoga has come a long way.  There are a number of different styles of Yoga practice that formed over time, and in recent years it has become an exercise may have heard of the practices of Power Yoga and Hot Yoga.

When you are in pain on a chronic basis, you might be thinking that exercise is the last thing you really want to do.  However, yoga is a unique practice and it may offer you benefits that other forms of exercise cannot.  Here are a few excerpts from the Everyday Health article below that explain some of the benefits for pain relief:

~~Recent studies have indicated that practicing yoga for pain can cause physical changes in the body to promote healing, says Maureen McBeth, a physical therapist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
"There has been research to measure cytokines, which are markers in the body that indicate …

NonDrug Pain Management Ideas: Magnetic Therapy

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Magnetic TherapyOther common name(s): magnetic field therapy, magnet therapy, bioenergy therapy Scientific/medical name(s): none Description Magnetic therapy involves placing magnets of varying sizes and strengths on the body to try to relieve pain or treat disease. Overview Although there are reports of individuals being healed by magnetic therapy, available scientific evidence does not support these claims. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers these magnets harmless and of no use for medical purposes. How is it promoted for use? Many claims about magnetic therapy are based on the fact that some cells and tissues in the human body give off electromagnetic impulses. Some practitioners think the presence of illness or injury disrupts these fields. Magnets produce energy fields of different strengths, which proponents believe can penetrate the human body, correcting disturbances and restoring health to the afflicted systems, organs, and cell…