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A Car With Four Flat Tires

I have shared a link to this video was posted on YouTube by the American Chronic Pain Association.  It very accurately explains why anyone with chronic pain should approach the situation with multiple modes of attack.  If you have two minutes to watch this video, it might just change your life!

It might also be a good idea to visit the American Chronic Pain Association web site when you have more time.  If you have never done so, it's worth having a look..they have some great resources to explore.
Have a great weekend!
Sources: YouTube; American Chronic Pain Association

Long Term Opioids Linked To Increased Risk Of New Onset Depression

Chronic pain, by its very nature, has been linked to anxiety and depression.  People with chronic pain frequently suffer anxiety due to the unpredictability of living with a chronic pain condition.  They may also experience depression due to the feelings of incapacity and isolation caused by living with a chronic illness.  Perhaps these individuals can no longer work or care for themselves; perhaps they feel isolated from the world because they cannot experience the daily life that they were once accustomed to.

Now comes a new study in the January/February 2016 issue of Annals of Family Medicine that concludes that the risk of depression is increased when chronic opioid therapy is used to treat these same chronic pain conditions.  According to the authors, the risk is more closely associated with longer duration of therapy and less closely related to the opioid dosage.

The study, conducted by Scherrer et. al. at Saint Louis University School of medicine, concludes the following:


Foot Pain Combined With Knee Pain....A Disabling Recipe

A 2014 study of Australians with osteoarthritis of the knee revealed that one in four subjects also had foot pain for at least half the days in the previous month.  The patients who reported pain in both feet and knees also reported a lower quality of life, and higher pain levels.

Interestingly, more women than men reported having concurrent foot and knee pain.  Hinman and colleagues, who authored the study, also noted that these patients had higher body mass indexes. It was also noted that in 55% of this patient group experienced pain in both extremities.

The authors' analysis of the findings suggests that the foot pain may result from a patient's compensatory response to the knee pain.  That is to say, that knee pain may cause a patient to change their posture in such a way that they put undue pressure on their feet.

You can read about this study and all the other findings by the authors by clicking here.

Source: MedPageToday; Pixabay

Reducing risk of gout...without medication!

Gout is a painful condition..ask anyone who has it, and I am sure they will have plenty to say about it. The underlying cause of gout is an elevated serum level of uric acid, otherwise known as hyperuricemia.  Elevated uric acid levels have also been associated with other health conditions including cardiac issues and type 2 diabetes.  For this reason, it makes sense to try to control the condition by controlling uric acid levels.

Traditionally, this goal has been accomplished using medications. There is a class of drugs known as
xanthine oxidase inhibitors. These drugs limit the amount of uric acid that the body can produce. While they are very effective, they have side effects, including low blood counts, reduced liver function, rash and nausea.  NSAID drugs, such as colchicine and ibuprofen are used to combat an acute attack of gout.  These drugs are safe and effective during short term use, but long term use can precipitate GI problems, bleed risk, and cardiovascular or kidney iss…

If you have, out!

A long term study conducted in the UK found something interesting about patients with gout...something that might sound surprising at first glance.

Over the multiple year study, 45,378 patients were followed.  Gout patients smoked more cigarettes and consumed more alcohol than their non-gout counterparts...and they were at a significantly increased risk for atrial fibrillation. During the study, 12% of subjects diagnosed with gout developed atrial fibrillation within 5 years!  It is believed that the elevated uric acid levels of gout patients are the common denominator. Although this study may have its faults, it certainly sheds light on the fact that more research is needed in this area.

You can read specifics about the study by clicking this link.

Sources: MedPageToday; Wikimedia

Weighted Blankets: Helping to battle anxiety and insomnia

Chronic pain disorders are often associated with anxiety and insomnia...and that is surely no secret!
While some patients turn to medications to battle these issues, there are some natural ways to fight back...and today I am going to share one with you!

Originally, occupational therapists used weighted blankets to help children with sensory disorders to combat anxieties associated with those conditions.  These blankets are constructed with "pockets" of plastic pellets from top to bottom. The extra weight of the blanket has a calming effect on the person under it; it is thought that the added weight signals the brain to release neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, causing relaxation.

In present day, these blankets have become a powerful tool in the world of psychiatry for other individuals as well...particularly those with anxiety.  These blankets weight anywhere from fifteen to thirty pounds, and act much like a firm hug on those who need relief from such distr…

Gluten Free Diet: Beware of unexpected sources of gluten!

Looking back on a previous post about Celiac Disease,  I thought it might be a good idea to follow up with a post about gluten free diets, which are the only known treatment for this malady.  At first glance, it may seem simple enough to eat gluten free...but when you need to eliminate all gluten from your diet, it's not quite that simple.

To this point, here are some examples.  You might be surprised after reading these!

1) Soy sauce, salad dressings, and soups can contain gluten.  Soy sauce is made from fermented wheat; soups and salad dressings often contain malt or flour as a thickening agent.

2) Medications are not necessarily gluten free.  "Gluten Free Drugs" is a good reference for those who need to be in the know.  You can reach it by clicking the link.

3) Condiments are not guaranteed to be gluten free unless they are labelled as such.  Thickening agents and stabilizers are  used in ketchup and barbecue sauce may contain gluten.  The best advice here is not to …

Osteoarthritis of the Foot: Reducing Pain the Drug Free Way!

Maybe you are familiar with "rocker soles" and foot orthoses...or not.

Rocker soles are a feature on some footwear designs today. As the name implies, the bottom of the shoe is somewhat rounded in appearance.Manufacturers of these shoe styles claim that they are beneficial to persons who suffer from various forms of foot pain. Here is a sample image of a shoe with a rocker heel.

Foot orthoses are inserts that fit inside the shoe.  There are various styles available. Some can be bought off of a store display such as Dr. Scholl's product line; others are custom made and can be obtained from certain health care professionals, such as chiropractors and podiatrists. These products can serve various functions, such as relief of foot pain or back pain.

The question is: do they really work?  A recent study that compared rocker soles and foot orthoses in patients with osteoarthritis of the feet, which is present in at least 35 percent of adults over the age of 35.  The results s…

Breakthrough in Chronic Pain Relief Just Ahead?

In late 2015, a very big breakthrough came about in the world of pain management. It's so big, in fact, that a whole new method for treating pain could be just a few years away!

University College London scientists made this discovery by examining people with a rare condition which inhibits them from feeling any pain sensation at all.  The scientists that discovered that some "channels" in the nervous system (particularly channel Nav1.7)  conduct the sensation of pain to the brain.  Persons who are deficient in Nav1.7 channels are the rare folks who cannot experience pain.

At this point, the focus of the research is to develop drugs that block the transmission of the pain signal along the Nav1.7 channel.  There are a few drugs currently in development, but the effect of the current drugs is weak.  Development of a drug with the appropriate potency could eliminate the need for opioids, or at least greatly reduce it.  While opioids are effective, the addiction potential …

Surgery or Physical Therapy?? Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain, 6 and 12 Months After Treatment

This is good news indeed!  I have had carpal tunnel syndrome for years.  I never opted for the surgery because I can't bear the thought of being out of commission, even if it is only for a few weeks.  I've also heard of surgeries "gone awry"--or perhaps that someone didn't follow post-operative care instructions too well, but still...that just means...more surgery.  Carpal tunnel syndrome here in the US is a cause of lost wages and lost productivity for those affected.  And it can be painful as well.

If you're like me , you have new reason for new hope!  A Spanish study followed 120 females with carpal tunnel syndrome for a 12 months, and found that physical therapy vs surgery outcomes were about equal.  So for those of you who feel as I do--here's an option to explore!
You can read more about this exciting finding by clicking here.

After Breast Cancer: Aromatase Inhibitor Use Linked to Carpal Tunnel

We all know someone who has had breast cancer...and we all know that many of those affected are survivors. That is indeed good news!  And while we are all grateful that advances in treatment have made this possible, cancer survivors have complications due to the disease, or the treatment of the disease,or both,  that go on for years and years.

One such complication of breast cancer treatment was featured in a study that was recently featured in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.  The study compared incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome in patients prescribed anastrazole (an aromatase inhibitor commonly ordered for breast cancer patients) to placebo.  The incidence of carpal tunnel was four times higher in the anastrazole group!

The study authors believe that there are two important points with respect to their findings:

1)The anti-estrogen effects of aromatase inhibitors may be to blame for the increased incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome.

2) Development of complications such as carpal…

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 …

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Have you ever heard of trigeminal neuralgia?  It is a relatively rare, but painful condition that affects the nerves between a person's face and their brain.  Most commonly those affected are persons over fifty years of age--and more women than men are affected.  This condition is also referred to as tic douloureux. The causes of this condition include, but are not limited to, stroke, injury, or brain lesions.

Those affected with this condition typically experience short, mild attacks . Simple everyday personal care such as shaving or brushing teeth can be excruciating!  A doctor will suspect this condition if a person:

--experiences shock--like jolts of pain intermittently in areas of the face--the location of the pain is important; it's tell tale if someone is truly affected by this condition--the circumstances that trigger the pain also help to indicate whether or not this is trigeminal neuralgia A neurological exam will be an important part of the diagnostic process.  An M…

10 Healthy New Year Resolutions For Those With Chronic Pain

2015 is almost over...and that being the case, many are making resolutions for the upcoming New Year.  Many of us make promises to ourselves, but can't seem to stick to it for too long.  Sometimes our goals are too lofty, or maybe we try to make too many resolutions at one time.

So, today I thought I would suggest ten things that would be beneficial to most people in the chronic pain world.  It's best to start small and work your way up as you go along.  Which one of these is most do-able for you?  If you find one that you can use as a starting point, that's really great!

1) Smoking Cessation

2) Dietary modifications (click link for example of this)

3) Exercise regimen

4) Weight loss

5) Meditation

6) Pace yourself

7) Improve sleep habits

8) Try a new alternative or complementary pain management practice

9) Occupational therapy can help... (not limited to carpal tunnel syndrome...other pain issues may benefit!

10) Join a support group

Happy New Year to ALL!

(Sources: Every…

Minor pain management: I'm ALL Ears!

According to the science of reflexology, there are six points on the ear that correspond to specific zones of the body. These are good to know when you're experiencing minor aches and pains!

Applying pressure to the part of the ear that corresponds to the painful area--by using a clothespin or even your thumb and forefinger--is purported to help relieve the pain.

I am not saying that this practice works or does not work; it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to try it and determine if it's effective.  Keep in mind that this is intended for minor aches and pains only!
Here is a little more detail about each particular zone as illustrated above:
1) Back and shoulders: The uppermost part of the outer ear is designated for relief of tension that builds up during the course of the day.  Try applying pressure for a minute at a time periodically over the course of a day for best result.
2)  Internal Organs: Area #2 is your "go to" for minor aches that occur…

Go Bananas!

One of the most useful power foods on planet Earth is the lowly banana.  Have you ever stopped to think about all the benefits bananas can provide your body?  Here are some benefits recent LifeHack article suggested about including three bananas a day in a person's diet:

1) Mood enhancement      A medium sized banana contains about 27 mg of magnesium...having insufficient amounts of this mineral in the human system can lead to anxiety, depression, and irritability.  Eating 3 bananas per day can provide some of the human body's daily requirement of this very important mineral.
2) Appetite suppression     Dr. Alan Hirsch of Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation reports that the bananas can suppress appetite and hunger pangs. His studies indicate that the smell of a banana can dupe the human body into thinking that a meal has been eaten and hunger is eliminated. That's pretty sneaky!
3) Bananas improve athletic performance     Many athletes like bananas an…

How Occupational Therapy Can Help With Arthritis In The Hands

Some time ago, I wrote this post about occupational therapy and how people with chronic pain can benefit from this practice.  Occupational therapy helps persons who have disabilities learn new ways to function in spite of a number of types of disabilities.  As an example, if an individual has a stroke and loses the ability to use an arm...they can re-learn to bathe, dress themselves, etc, in spite of the loss of function with the help of an occupational therapist.

More recently, I came across an article written by an occupational therapist about how an occupational therapist can help those who have osteoarthritis in their hands. This is a specialized practice that can help the patient to ease pain and increase range of motion, so that they can more easily perform everyday tasks.

An occupational therapist who has expertise in this area is familiar with a number of techniques to help afflicted patients using any number of methods.  While each person's treatment is individualized, i…

New “Trick” Steroids Discovered

Most problems that affect chronic pain sufferers also involve inflammation.  Cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus  are a few examples of these conditions.  While inflammation is a body's response to harmful stimuli, an overactive response leads to progression of disease. When inflammation runs amok, it is paramount to use methods to control it, as too much inflammation does more harm than good.

The mainstay of treatment of inflammation is a class of drugs known as glucocorticoids.  While they are a very effective form of treatment, long term use leads to serious complications, such as immune suppression, weight gain, fluid retention, and mental health issues.  The glucocorticoids are still widely used ,but are most appropriate for short term therapy.

The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen were also once more widely used for treatment of chronic pain and inflamma…

LIfestyle Changes DO Matter!

I am more than certain that there are people out there who don't think lifestyle changes or alternative/complementary medical practices can do very much to help people with various maladies, chronic pain included.  And many of us do rely first on traditional medicine, and maybe come to find later--or never--that these treatment options can be much more than the icing on the cake!

About five or six years ago, I was twenty five pounds overweight..and like the folks I'm referring to, it never occurred to me that weight loss would help all that much.  Sure, I have arthritis in my knee and if I just avoid activities that cause pain, I'll be alright, I thought.  But I have learned so much since then.  I did manage to lose the extra weight with the help of Weight Watchers programs. In and of itself, it made a big difference in the way I felt.  More energy and less pain in that arthritic joint..but that was only the beginning!

As time went on I learned to eat healthier. And even …

Complementary and Alternative Medicines Defined

In all the time this blog has been in existence, many complementary and alternative medical practices have been discussed.  I must apologize that I never really explained the meaning of those terms. So today, I am going to explain more fully about these concepts.

First, let me explain the concept of alternative medicine. Alternative medicine refers to medical practices outside the scope of the traditional practice of medicine.  One practices alternative medicine when they opt to use a treatment method in place of traditional medicine.  One example is using mindfulness or yoga as a means to control chronic pain instead of using medication.  Another example is the use of herbal supplements in place of traditional medication...perhaps using Saint John's Wort instead of a prescription antidepressant.

With that in mind, I can explain the term complementary medicine. Complementary practice means that a person is using a non-traditional medical practice to enhance the benefits of any tr…