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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…

Self Management of Chronic Pain: A Tale of Two Patients

Today I'm going to tell you a short story about two different patients.  They both suffer from severe joint pain/osteoarthritis of the knees.  They are both around the same age.  But that is where the similarities end---



Maria is in her mid 60s and has had arthritis in her knees for several years.  When she was first diagnosed, she was overweight and worked at a desk job five days a week. She did not get much exercise because she was tired and achy when she came home from work. She retired in the last few years and now has more free time. That being the case, she decided to join a weight loss program and has lost 25 pounds in the last year.  She has also taken up exercise, which for her means a daily walk around the neighborhood or a nearby public park.  She was able to take a class in meditation and has used the skills she learned when she experiences increased pain levels.  Maria also a volunteers at the local library weekly.  She enjoys spending time with her young grandchildr…

Pain Management IS Possible Without Pain Medication: All About Recovery

Dr. Peter Przekop is  the director of Addiction Medicine at the famous Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.  He knows a thing or two about folks who have become dependent on opioids. Many individuals became hooked on these drugs due to a chronic pain issue.  Here is an article he wrote for The Desert Sun, a Palm Springs newspaper.  I'm sharing it today because I know there are a lot of people out there who find themselves in this predicament...perhaps it will inspire you to know that there is a way to get yourself free of these drugs AND reduce chronic pain!





Here is a link to the article. If this helps even one person to get their life back, this post was worth sharing!!!


Sources: Betty Ford Clinic; Desert Sun; Pixabay


Life Hacks for A Healthy Back

Life hacks are all over social media. You can find so many tips on laundry, housecleaning, cooking, and just about everything else. So, today I am putting out a list of life hacks that will help keeping your spine healthy and strong!




Attention ladies: Forget the high heeled shoes. While they may make a fashion statement and make your legs look more appealing, wearing shoes with higher heels too frequently destabilizes the spine and actually cause back pain.  Opt for shoes with heels of comfort and cushion, with heels of one inch or less for best back protection.

Travel light!  When you leave home in the morning, take only the things you really need for the day.
Look through briefcases, backpacks, and handbags and eliminate things you don't really need to keep your load light. Over the long term,your spine will thank you for it.

Give up the cigarettes. Did you know that smoking restricts blood flow to the discs that cushion and support your back?  That might explain why smokers with …

Words of Wisdom from Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken




Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
I don't know how many of you are familiar with Robert Frost's poetry...but this particular poem has a lot to say about many different things in life.  It could be applicable to a life with chronic pain if you think about it.

Living with a ch…

The American Chronic Pain Association

Have you ever heard of the American Chronic Pain Association? They have a great website with lots of resources for those of you who are dealing with chronic pain on any level.  Whether you are a caregiver, a patient, or a family member, there is something here for you!  Click the link if you'd like to have a look.





I particularly like a video on this site that gets to the very heart of what I am trying to convey about pain management in my blog.  The video is entitled "A Car With Four Flat Tires" and you can watch it by clicking this link.  If you choose not to view the video, here is a short synopsis:

Living with chronic pain is like having a car with four flat tires...and that makes it really difficult to go forward.  Taking medication for chronic pain (any medication) is akin to putting air in one of the tires.  But what about the other three tires?  You can "inflate" those tires by adding complementary forms of treatment to fill the other three tires.  These…

September is Pain Awareness Month!

Source: FLICKR.com

Are you "double jointed"?

Remember those days in childhood when you challenged a friend to a physical stunt...such as a split...and having conversations about being able to perform such challenges due to being "double jointed"?



As it turns out, being "double jointed" is a two-edged sword.  The medical term for this phenomenon is hypermobility.  It appears that many people who have been genetically gifted to perform well in sports and dancing are often more prone to have hypermobility.  Well it's a good thing to be a star athlete or an accomplished ballerina, there may be consequences for those who have this trait.


Generalized joint hypermobility (GJH) seems to be a predecessor to a host of chronic pain conditions that develop as age progresses.  Poorly understood, it frequently occurs in a number of persons diagnosed with diseases of connective tissue, such as Marfan syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.  Hypermobility syndrome affects approximately 57% of the…

Music Therapy: A new trend in fibromyalgia treatment

The treatment of fibromyalgia is a bit tricky.  For one thing, there are not many pharmaceutical treatments out there.  It's been said by at least one expert that this condition is best managed without medications.  There are many avenues of approach.  Using a combination of techniques, a patient can regain function and quality of life.





We've discussed many of the treatment options in this blog in the past. Some of them involve exercise or diet; some others strategies or lifestyle modifications that make living with fibromyalgia a less daunting task.

Now comes a small study of a new approach to fibromyalgia treatment: music therapy.  This treatment is one that is best used in addition to other  treatment strategies.  A recent small scale study revealed a statistically significant reduction in pain when the subjects listened to relaxation CDs that contained the sounds of waves and water.  The reduction in pain was seen as early as 14 days into the study!

It's good for all …

Have a headache? The real cause may surprise you...

Problems with headaches are quite common.  For the most minor headaches, a good nap or a dose of an over the counter pain medication will put things right.  In other cases, the problem may be something more serious.  If you suffer from chronic headaches, you may have been told to keep a diary so you can figure out your own personal triggers.  This is a great way to be pro-active about the problem.



In some cases, the pain you feel in your head is not really a headache at all...it's a "referred pain." This means that the actual origin of the pain is NOT in your head but is expressed in your head.  For instance, a problem in the upper (cervical) portion of the spine due to injury or extensive desk work can result in a headache. 
With that in mind, here are some other headache triggers that you might like to know about.  Hopefully you won't have a headache anytime soon, but if you do it might help you to figure out what's causing pain in your head.
1) Caffeine withd…

Coping with Chronic Pain: Train your brain to keep it positive!!!

In keeping with the last post...don't forget about the most basic practices along the pain management journey.  As I mentioned in that post, there are so very many complementary and alternative practices one can use to enhance quality of life. Fortunately for all of us, some of them can be implemented without any physical effort whatsoever!

Here is one such example of a complementary coping mechanism:practicing positivty!  This is more of a mental exercise  i.e., working on developing the habit of framing our daily thoughts in a positive way.  Here are some examples of how to accomplish this:

1) Do nice things for other people.  

Even the little things in life make a difference. No matter what your physical status, this is always possible on some level. It's always possible to compliment people in conversation.  Phone a friend or send a card just to let someone know you're thinking of them. Consider doing volunteer work if you are able. If you happen to be in a public pla…

The Pain Management Conundrum: From A Practitioner's Point of View

Today I'm going to share a link to an editorial from the New York Times.  I thought it important to share... patients see the health care professions from a patient's point of view and don't always see the other side of the coin.  This editorial was written by a physician who describes what's going on in his mind during an office visit with a patient.  It's good to know what's going on in your health care team's mind when you are conversing with them at a visit.  I hope in sharing this your visits with your doctors and other health care practitioners will become more productive!

Back to the Basics--Dealing with the challenges of the many faces of pain...

I've been thinking about the problem of chronic pain for a long time..years, in fact.  I have my own personal chronic pain issues, but today I'm thinking on a broader scale.  The problem of chronic pain is extremely widespread. I have read article after article about how so many people are in pain, how pain is not well managed in chronic and other pain patients, and so on. It's very sad and quite frankly, depressing.


The problem is...pain is not something that a health care practitioner can gauge in an objective way. To put it another way, when a person says they are in pain, they are in pain.  The only way to really measure pain is to ask the patient about the severity or use one of the pain scales that's based on observation.  On top of that, there are many types of pain.  For example, a patient may present with acute pain or chronic pain.  The pain of a migraine headache is not at all similar to the pain a person might experience passing a kidney stone, or sufferin…

The Agony of Acronyms

If you read a lot of articles about medicine, as I do, you will see many acronyms in the text.  It can be very frustrating when an author uses lots of acronyms in their writings, especially for folks who are just wanting to learn more about a given medical condition.  I have been reading these articles for years and I have to say this newfangled way of writing can be a pain--no pun intended!

For that reason, I decided it might be nice to create a post with some of the more common acronyms in texts about pain management.  I will do my best to at least give you a "heads up" about specific acronyms as I use them.  In this way, you will at least have a way to understand what I am talking about!





So, without further ado, here is a short list of common terms you might see in medical writings and doctor's notes regarding pain management issues.

AcronymDefinition
CNS                                      Central Nervous System
COX-2 Inhibitor                   A specific subtype of …

You don't say....or what NOT to say to a chronic pain patient!

When someone is in a trying situation...and a chronic pain condition is one of those...it's not always easy to know what to say, or how to say things without sounding insensitive.  I recently came across an article about this very subject.  Here is a link to the article; if you prefer a "short list" of some taboo phrases, read on!




"But you don't look disabled...""...I thought you'd be better by now.""Essential oils would probably fix that!""Your poor husband and kids!""How much disability do you get?""Oh come on, it's not that bad.""So do you take any good drugs?""Are you contagious?""You don't have to work?  Must be nice."Source: Buzzfeed.; wikimedia



Auricular Therapy: A specialized form of acupuncture

Most of us have heard of acupuncture, but have you ever heard of auricular therapy?  It's a specialized form of acupuncture that focuses on treating pain by inserting needles in the ear. Developed by a French physician in the 1950s, it is rooted in ancient Chinese medicine. In this form of therapy, each area of the body has a corresponding point on the ear. As such, needles placement to treat a patient's pain will depend on the specific area of bodily discomfort. This type of alternative medical treatment can be provided by a number of practitioners, including biofeedback specialists, acupuncturists, chiropractic doctors, reflexologists, and others.





Almost any area of the body can be treated by this type of acupuncture; however, literature suggests that headaches, chronic pain, detoxification from addiction, relief of nausea, and reduction of hypertension are common conditions of persons seeking this approach as a remedy.

It is thought that auricular therapy works in one of …

Lyme Disease Trivia

Some people think trivia is fun...and I suppose that it can be fun.  Since Lyme disease is so prevalent and can cause a person a lifetime of pain and other issues, I thought it was important to point out some important (trivia) points!




Lyme Disease is  caused by  a bacteria  known as Borrelia burgdorferi . It can only be transmitted to humans via an infected tick.
A tick must be attached its host for at leasthours to cause an infection.
Seventy to eighty percent of those infected with Lyme disease will develop the classic “bulls eye” rash several days to several weeks after becoming infected.
Most cases of Lyme Disease occur in late spring to early summer.  The largest number of infections occur in the Northeast and Upper Midwest areas of the USA.
Most cases of Lyme Disease  are successfully treated by a course of antibiotics lasting a few weeks. Not all ticks carry Lyme Disease! Only 25-50% of ticks are carriers of  disease.
The best way to remove a deer or tick is not by burning or suffoca…

Chronic Lyme Disease: A Patient's Perspective

One thing is for sure about Lyme disease: it's bizarre.  You might know someone who's been infected, maybe even someone with chronic Lyme as I am about to describe.  To begin with, many people who have Lyme disease are not aware of it in the early stages...perhaps because they do not recall or did not recognize a tick on their body.  Perhaps they did not have any symptoms in the early stages of illness.  Later on in its course, the disease symptoms come and go.  So it may seem like these periods of illness are not related.  But maybe they are--and it all begins with that one tiny tick that was never even obvious.




One person who speaks freely of this problem is author Amy Tan.  She has posted on her author web site a long story about how she believes she may have been infected, and they many problems she has experienced over the course of her illness.  At one point her problems was thought to be Multiple Sclerosis..so she was tested for that. She had suffered some very scary i…

Can Lyme Disease Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis?

I have been thinking about this post for a few days now...it all started when I ran into an old friend one day last week.  This individual told me that--after being diagnosed with Lyme disease some time ago--has been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I knew that some of the symptoms of Lyme Disease are very much like the symptoms of RA...so, can Lyme Disease cause RA?




After doing some research, I found out some very interesting things about the answer to my question.
According to what I believe are very reliable sources-such as the CDC, Mayo Clinic, and Cleveland Clinic here is what I can report:

The cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis is unknown, but it is suspected that genetic factors may predispose a person to the condition. The actual disease process may actually be triggered by a virus, bacteria, or other environmental factor.The arthritic features of Lyme Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis have some common clinical findings--such as joint pain, stiffness and and lab test findings. …

Chronic Lyme Disease: Potentially Chronic Pain Condition

Those of us who live in areas where Lyme Disease is prevalent have learned about the early symptoms and why early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing a whole host of problems.  If you are not up to speed on this topic, here is a brief overview:



Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is caused by an organism known as Borrelia burgdorferi.
A person or animal can become infected with this organism when an infected deer tick, commonly found in the US and approximately sixty other countries across the globe, attaches itself to a "host".

The early symptoms of infections in the human population are varied. They include a flu like illness (fever, chills, muscle aches, joint pain, and/or nausea), a characteristic "bulls-eye" rash around the site of the tick bite, Bells Palsy, or perhaps no symptoms at all.  It is reported that 30% to 80% of all patients diagnosed with Lyme disease report some/all of these symptoms.



If left untreated--or treated insufficiently…