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Neuropathy: New findings suggest an association with Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease that occurs in persons who are genetically predisposed. It is estimated that 1 in 100 persons worldwide are afflicted. In America alone, there are about 2.5 million people who are not yet diagnosed and at risk for long-term health complications due to the disease.
When a person has celiac disease, they have an immune response to gluten, which is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley.  Long term health problems can result, including multiple sclerosis, anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriage, and others.

Currently the only known treatment of celiac disease is a gluten free diet. Persons with this condition must avoid all foods and  that contain wheat, rye, or barley. This includes many things most of us take for granted in our daily diet--bread and beer for example, and even medications that contain gluten in their formulation.  Even a few crumbs can cause health issues, so the diet must be followed religiously 100% of the ti…

Beware of the deadly nightshade!

We have made many mentions in this blog about ways to control pain through diet.  Back in January 2014, I wrote a post entitled "Eat those fruits and vegetables!" I mentioned that some people should avoid vegetables in the deadly nightshade family.

In a recent post by the Healthy Home Economist, I was able to find further explanation as to why these vegetables are  sometimes problematic.  The author explains that members of this group of vegetables contain nicotine. She says that nicotine is known to inhibit proper healing.  One can determine if this food group is problematic simply by eliminating these foods from the diet to see if it is helpful.

Also mentioned is a compound known as solanine, which apparently slows the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter found in the human body.  A common problem attributed to this is stiffness, particularly after sitting for long periods, due to prolonged muscle contraction.

It is also said that this group of fruits and veget…

By the numbers: Some facts about chronic pain

Here are some random facts about Chronic Pain in America.  Interesting?  Well, I think so!

More Americans suffer from chronic pain than many other chronic illnesses?  It is estimated that about 100 million citizens are afflicted by chronic pain.  Compare that to 25.8 million Americans who have diabetes, 16.3 million with heart disease, 7 million stroke victims, and 11.9 who have cancer! The cost of health care related to chronic pain, including medical costs and lost wages is somewhere between $560 and $635 billions dollars per year (expressed in 2010 dollars). This is approximately $2000 per person including all persons in the US.Lifestyle adjustments that are made to deal with chronic pain include taking disability leave from work, change of career, obtaining assistance with activities of daily living, and moving to a home that is easier to maintain.Overall, workers who were surveyed in one study lost an average of 4.6 work hours per week due to a pain condition.Approximately 20% of…

Home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis

Do you have rheumatoid arthritis?  Here are some ideas for "home remedies"..
Keep in mind that this form of arthritis is a systemic disease and should be under a doctor's care. But home remedies can offer some help in living with this uncomfortable, crippling condition!


Garlic has some very potent anti-inflammatory properties.  Some say you should consume one or two raw cloves of garlic daily, but there are garlic capsules available if this doesn't seem appealing to you.


This remedy has many benefits--it can boost mood, maintain or increase range of motion, and can build strength and/or increase endurance!  For most benefit, work with a personal trainer or physical therapist to create a personalized program of exercise.

Epsom Salts

Add 2 cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath; soak for about one half hour a few times each week to help reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness.


It would be really nice to get a professional massage on a regular basis, b…

Stimwave Freedom, World's Smallest Neurostimulator, FDA Cleared for Back, Leg Pain (VIDEO)

There's a new player in town for those who suffer from back or leg pain. It's a spinal cord stimulator that's so small it can fit on a fingertip!  Most of these devices are about the size of a deck of cards due to the fact that the traditional devices hold a battery within.  The Stimwave, on the other hand is an all in one device that is wireless.  Traditional devices in this category require surgical implant; the Stimwave can be injected via conventional needle!

Here is a short video about the device:

For more information about the product, you can visit the corporate web page by clicking here.

Sources: YouTube;;

Vulvodynia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

The term vulvodynia refers to chronic pain in the external female genitalia with no apparent cause.
It is estimated that somewhere between 200,000 and 6 million women are affected.  It seems that white females, African American, and Hispanic women are affected equally.  A woman of any age from the teen years upward can be affected.

Researchers are looking at several possible causes of this "private" condition but they have not come up with a concrete answer just yet. Sexually transmitted diseases do not seem to predispose females to this condition.  Other causes that are being explored include genetic factors, nerve injury/irritation, hormonal changes, frequency of antibiotic use, and history of sexual abuse.

A woman with vulvodynia may experience one or many symptoms, including burning, aching, soreness or itching.  The problem may occur frequently, occasionally, or rarely.  Sometimes certain situations may bring on the symptoms--exercise, tampon insertion, or intercourse …

Botox: Not for cosmetic use only!

Botox--which is the trade name for botulinum toxin--has been in the US pharmaceutical marketplace for several years now.  Most of us know it as a desirable in the world of cosmetic medicine; used widely by many stars of stage and screen, and other celebrities as well--to rid the appearance of facial wrinkles.  The effect of a treatment can last for several months, making it the ultimate cosmetic accessory. In nature, this toxin is produced by the bacteria species Clostridum.  The commercial version of the toxin is produced in laboratories for medical use.

Botox has found clinical applications outside of the cosmetic realm as well, For example,  when I was working hospital pharmacy I remember the interventional radiologist using it to treat patients who had a condition causing GI motility issues, known as gastroparesis.  It can also be used to treat patients who have problems with excessive sweating and a number of neurological disorders.
This product has made its way into the pain man…

Everyday things that can cause you pain!

Not long ago, I posted some surprising causes of chronic pain.  These were things you might not think as the root cause of an ache or pain that just won't go away no matter what you try.

Today I have a different take on that theme.  Today I am going to talk about a few more of these everyday things that might be the source of a pain problem for some of you.  It's interesting--we don't always think about the things that are right in front of us, but sometimes that's exactly what we need to think about!  So, without further ado...

~ An old mattress can be the source of neck or back pain.  In addition, mattresses that are too hard or too soft can be problematic.  The solution here is to replace an old mattress with one that provides proper support.  Another idea is to sleep on your side or back.  Placing a pillow under the knees can also offer relief.

~A purse or shoulder bag can cause misalignment of the spine and guess what else? Pain of course. Ideally a purse should …

Valedo: A wearable treatment device for back pain

Here's a new idea for those of you who suffer from back pain--meet Valedo!  This product is an electronic device which has been FDA approved.  The device is manufactured by Hocoma, who also manufactures products for people who are rehabilitating from other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and stroke.

I never heard of this device... until I read a post on an independent tech news website.  The author of the post, Katherine Boehret, suffers from back pain and and decided to give this product a try. In her report, she says that the device basically consists of two wireless sensors that are attached to the lower back and chest with special stickers that come with the product.  These sensors are to be worn while playing a specially designed video game on Android or iOs devices (which is connected to the sensors via blue tooth). The game actually tricks the user into exercise movements that help to strengthen the muscles in the back!  The developer says that the user will notice…

Guaifenesin Protocol: Does it really help fibromyalgia patients?

In today's post I am going to do something that I have wanted to do for a long time...and while I can't prove or disprove its effectiveness, I can tell you some things about the guaifenesin protocol for fibromyalgia.

This treatment was developed by an endocrinologist who himself has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  He theorizes that people with fibromyalgia have low energy because they have low levels of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  His theory goes on to say that the deficiency of ATP is due to an excess of phosphate.  The drug guaifenesin, he says, helps the patient's kidneys to rid the body of the phosphate excess, allowing the body to produce more ATP.

There is very little information about whether or not this theory is true or untrue, and whether or not guaifenesin is actually an effective fibromyalgia treatment.  One thing is for sure; this drug has been around forever and ever and is generally free of interactions with other drugs and is well tolerated by most f…

Pain Management 101

In my early pharmacist days, I worked in a number of retail pharmacies and got to know the customers pretty well.  I remember one woman in particular who was dealing with breast cancer and came for prescriptions on a regular basis.  She was always very polite, and well dressed too.  On any given day, no matter how she was feeling, Anne was always dressed in a skirt with matching jacket and blouse, dress with scarf, or similar attire.

I will never forget. one particular occasion when Anne came to the store for her prescriptions. She was, as usual smiling and well dressed.  In an effort to be complimentary and positive, I said to her:
"You're looking spiffy today!" I was totally unprepared for her reaction...she immediately began to cry and said, "Well, I really don't feel so spiffy today."

The lesson I learned on that fateful day will stay with me for the rest of my life.  It was in those brief moments that I came to understand that you can't tell what&…

Pain Management: Finding the perfect recipe

Most of us can relate to a favorite recipe from childhood, or even in adult life.  If you're a cook, you could even relate to the idea of finding a recipe and "making it your own" by adding omitting ingredients till you get it just right.  It may take weeks, months or even years to get the recipe just right.  Is it worth it?  Well, this is usually true...

This concept has a role in pain management as well.  If you have a chronic pain issue you may have tried some treatments that worked really well and others that did no good whatsoever.  The good news is that the options/combination of options is nearly endless.  It might take a really long time to find the "perfect blend" of remedies to manage the aches and pains of chronic illness.

I am here to tell you that whether you're the cook or the pain sufferer, it really is worth persevering to find the right combination of ingredients to achieve the best result.  It takes time, it takes patience, and maybe a l…

Connecting the dots...Migraine and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Recently news in the pain world has pointed to a possible connection between migraine headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. These two chronic pain conditions that would otherwise seem unrelated, but this study out of Dallas, Texas suggest that people with carpal tunnel syndrome are more likely to suffer from migraine, and vice versa.  The study authors seem to think that there is some common neurologic or systemic risk factor, but that has yet to be identified.

Dr. Huay Zong Law and his colleagues at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center surveyed about 26,000 Americans to collect data for this study.  Here are some interesting statistics that they gathered during the study:

Thirty four percent of those who reported having carpal tunnel syndrome also reported that they had migraine headache.  In those who do not have carpal tunnel issues, the incidence of migraine is about sixteen percent.  This means that the risk of migraine headache issues is 2.6 times higher for those wh…

TMJ: Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Today's post is about a little different kind of chronic pain condition.  TMD (or TMJ), officially known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, affects the hinge-like joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull.  Without this skeletal feature, life would be quite different, for it is used for chewing food, speaking, and yawning.

The cause of TMJ/TMD is unclear, but it is thought to arise as a result of whiplash or injury.  Other possible causes include grinding of the teeth, stress,  or arthritis of the temporomandibular joint. There is a cushion-like disk within this joint that may fall out of alignment, potentially leading to TMD.

This condition is more common in women, and usually affects persons between the ages of 20 and 40. Common symptoms of TMJ/TMD include clicking, popping or grating sounds when chewing or opening the mouth. Sometimes the jaw will actually lock open or closed. Facial pain, or perhaps pain in the neck or shoulders can be indicative of TM…

Study finds common household pain reliever may have a down side...

Acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, has been America's favorite pain reliever for decades.  It is one of the safest and most effective products on the market for as long as I can remember.  Many of us are aware that this medicine is generally safe to take.

There have been a few problems with this drug and related products over the years...I remember the early 80s when some Tylenol products on store shelves were found to be tainted with a poison and great strides were made to make the product line tamper proof.  We found out that there is such a thing as "too much" when it comes to acetaminophen.  There were recommendations put in place reduce the risk of liver toxicity.  
To this day, acetaminophen products are a large sector of the over-the counter medication market, and many combination products that are RX only contain acetaminophen as well.  If that doesn't make a statement, I don't know what does.
Fast forward to 2015.  A small study at Ohio State University reveal…

Chronic pain and the gut brain...

Current research suggests that there is a connection between the brain and the GI tract in the human body.  This connection is in the form of communication that goes in both directions--from brain to gut and vice versa--and it is modulated (via neurohormones) by the microbes that live within our GI tract, known as normal flora.

This connection is a hot research topic these days.  There is evidence that the connectivity between the two plays a role in conditions such as anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome.  It also appears that when the normal flora is out of balance--perhaps due to a course of antibiotics or an illness--that the gut brain axis is affected, causing a disturbance to the bidirectional communications across the gut brain axis. That is why probiotics have entered the marketplace; they claim to restore normal colonization to a disturbed GI microbiota.

Now some research is focusing on the role of the gut brain axis in chronic pain syndromes. The Wellcome trust is gathering…

A few words about Functional Restoration Programs...

When I recently wrote a post about pain coaching services, I mentioned the term "functional restoration program."  I realized after the fact that this is something I've never mentioned before in my in today's post I would like to give you a little introduction to that concept.

When researching for this topic, I noticed that I could not find a strict definition for a functional restoration program.  What I can tell you is that a functional restoration program is a multi-disciplinary approach to problems such a chronic pain.  The treatment team may involve physical therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and other specialties, depending on the individual program.
As an example of this, here is some information from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Spine Center regarding their functional restoration program:
“Our goal is to treat the whole person, recognizing that pain and disability affect all aspects of a person's life. Each patient enrolled in the progra…

Rapid Release Technology: A new pain management tool

I saw a story from last year about former professional football players who took the NFL to court . The players argued that the NFL used poor decision making and mishandled prescription pain killers for during the course of their medical treatments. Over 500 players took part in the suit. According to the article, the DEA raided at least three NFL training rooms to investigate the situation.

In light of these issues, many NFL teams have adopted different strategies for pain management issues of professional players.  One such strategy is the use of Rapid Release Technology, or RRT.

As per the manufacturer's website,

Rapid Release Therapy (TM) is a revolutionary breakthrough in therapeutic technology focused on relief of soft tissue problems affecting nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  RRT was designed from the ground up to target scar tissue adhesions with a specific frequency.  In addition, this frequency is in a range that is known to relax muscle guarding or spasms.  Thi…

Natural Pain Relief from Foods

As discussed previously, there are many diets for pain related health conditions...we've looked at the ant-inflammatory diet, gout diet, dietary restrictions for fibromyalgia, etc. over the course of this blog.

In today's post I want to share a video from WISN TV in Milwaukee.  In the video the pain relieving properties of some of the foods we eat are discussed.  This is interesting stuff.  If you like the idea of natural pain relief but don't want to be dedicated to a whole diet, try one or more of these.  It just might offer you unexpected relief.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Sources: WISN TV; Wikimedia

A message of hope for those with chronic pain

In many situations, it's of great benefit for one to have someone who has been through a given situation and knows what worked and what didn't work for them.  They offer a beacon of hope, a promise that just maybe things can be better in the future than at the present moment.  For chronic pain sufferers, this is a possibility.  In the past we've explored some ideas like this, including support groups and online classes that are available to us.

Today, I would like to share another mentoring option.  Leading into this, I would like to ask you if you've ever heard of a doula. Most commonly, the doula is a person hired by an expectant mother to coach her through the labor and birthing process of pregnancy.  Taking a moment to stop and think about this--pregnancy and childbirth have been around as long as the human race.  There is plenty of experience about this for a woman to draw upon another woman's experience to get through the process.
Now that chronic pain has b…