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"Technaceuticals"-- The Future of Pain Relief!

As we ponder the opioid crisis and the rise in heroin usage, and death from drug overdoses, we must wonder what the future holds.  We've seen the development of many types of pain management devices--Alpha Stim®, Sensus®, Cefaly®, Quell®,iovera®, and Oska Pulse ® are a few of these.
Due to fears of addiction, and shifting medical opinions on the management of chronic pain, these devices are potential options for pain sufferers everywhere.




These devices have many advantages for potential users:

Drug free pain relief--reduced risk of drug interactions and/or side effects of drugsUnlike prescription refills, many offer a free trial period to see if the product is effective.After initial expense, maintenance costs are relatively low. Can lead to more cost effective pain relief!May help to postpone or completely eliminate the need for surgery or use of medications altogether It's really up to the patient to decide whether or not to pursue this avenue. It's good for the patient…

Are NSAIDS safe to take...or not?

Some new thoughts on the dangers of long term use of popular NSAID drugs are emerging from a study out of UC Davis.  According to study author Aldrin Gomes, PhD. , we already knew that prolonged use of these medications could lead to increased risk of heart disease and stroke...but now we are beginning to understand why.



The study examined the use of prolonged administration of NSAIDs in mice, and discovered the following:

a reduced ability of cardiac cells to produce energygeneration of a stress-inducing reactive oxygen speciesinterference with production of proteasome ...all of which leads to a toxic buildup and eventual cell death.
Another finding of note--the study compared naproxen, which is available over the counter, with a more potent prescription product, meclonfenamate sodium.  It appears that the prescription drug was more likely to have detrimental effects than its OTC counterpart.  In addition, the authors note that vitamin C, an antioxidant, along with NSAIDs my help to …

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…

The "Trickle Down" Effect of Chronic Pain

Individuals with chronic pain suffer a great deal...at least, until they find the means to obtain relief and restore functionality.  But did you ever stop to think how chronic pain can affect that person's family and/or friends?

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."                                                                   ~Ben Franklin



Just as an example, consider the following case scenario...

Jan G. is middle aged, relatively healthy individual.  One winter day Jan is out shoveling her sidewalk when the unthinkable happens. Jan slips and falls on an ice patch!

While at the local hospital emergency room a bit later, X-rays reveal that Jan has a hip fracture.
This is one of the most debilitating fractures!  Jan will require surgery, during which the surgeon will use plates, screws, nails, and/or plates to keep the broken bones in place during the healing period.
Jan can expect to be "off duty" with respect to her normal routine for quite …

Celiac Disease: It's More Painful and Complicated Than You Might Think

As the gluten free marketplace expands, and more and more people are following the gluten free trend, many of us are unaware of the most important reason to follow a gluten free diet: celiac disease. This condition affects approximately 1 in 100 persons worldwide.  If a parent or sibling has been given this diagnosis, there is a 1 in 10 risk that children, brothers, and sisters will also be diagnosed.





If you know something about Celiac disease, you might know that it's an autoimmune disorder. The gastrointestinal effects of the condition are well known, including cramping, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and such. There are many other signs and symptoms that you can read about here.  But there are additional problems that can and do occur with this diagnosis, including a rash known as dermatitis herpetiformis, migraines, nutritional deficiencies, seizures and osteoporosis.  Some persons with Celiac disease also develop other serious conditions such as type I diabetes and multipl…

The Pain~Pleasure Continuum

Have you ever laughed so hard you started to cry--or maybe experienced being tickled until it hurts?
Over the centuries it's been proposed that pain and pleasure are at opposite ends of a continuum...




It has been established scientifically that these pain and pleasure neural pathways may at least overlap. From the standpoint of evolution, it would be important to be able to discern pain from pleasure for the ability to survive.  Some who have studied this topic say that having pain and pleasure on a continuum is the most efficient way to accomplish this.  As diametric opponents, when you feel true pleasure you really don't feel much in the way of pain, and vice versa.

Truthfully, there's been a lot of thinking on this topic, but there are no clear answers as of yet.

In the realm of pain management, we look at this continuum as a model for methods that can be used to remediate pain.  For instance, a chronic pain sufferer may dwell emotionally on the "pain" end of…

Rating Pain: What Does Yours Feel Like?

Have you ever seen the scale below? Or been asked by a health care provider to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?  I would bet most people would answer yes to at least one of those questions.




Now, a new kind of pain scale has emerged...instead of focusing on the intensity of the pain, the emphasis is on the quality/nature of the pain. "Mypainfeelslike..." is a new campaign initiated in Ireland by a German pharmaceutical company.  (You can visit the web site yourself by clicking the link above!)

The project was designed was to help patients and their doctors to better understand more about a given patients pain...there is a graphic to help patients discern between stabbing pain, burning, piercing, stabbing and other pain sensations...and a questionnaire to that the patient can complete if they so desire.  Initially, this web site developed for patients  with neuropathic pain, but it can be used by other chronic pain sufferers as well.

If this sounds helpful or interesting,…

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 marketplace..it'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, etc...in 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: Oska.com; Drugstore News; Wikimedia

Acetaminophen has its pitfalls, too...

Over a year ago, I shared some interesting news about acetaminophen.  It's not unusual think of this common household medication as benign. Overdosing or taking too much over an extended period is liver toxic, but aside from that it seems pretty safe all in all.





Fast forward to 2015...I shared this post.  A study at Ohio State University reported findings that suggest that this drug tended to dull the emotions in study subjects.  The authors reported their findings to be "subtle but reliable."At the time it was thought that further study was needed to get a better idea of this phenomenon.

Now, a first of its kind study reported in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience reports that acetaminophen may impair the brain's ability to detect errors. According to postdoctoral fellow Dan Randles, lead author of the study...

“It looks like acetaminophen makes it harder to recognize an error, which may have implications for cognitive control in daily life. Sometimes you n…

Prediabetes Thought To Be Cause Of Small Fiber Neuropathy

It's long been known that small fiber neuropathy (nerve damage) is positively associated with diabetes.  Most commonly the first sign of this problem are is a burning sensation in the feet. Diabetics are well aware of this problem, but it can also be caused by several other disorders including celiac disease, Lyme disease, HIV, lupus and alcoholism.



A small scale study of this disorder conducted at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University was recently published in JAMA Neurology. Surprisingly they discovered a new cause of small fiber neuropathy--prediabetes.  This may suggest that screening for the disorder should begin when a person diagnosed with prediabetes rather then waiting until the diagnoses of type II diabetes is confirmed.

You can read more about this topic by clicking here.

Sources: Pain Week.org; Wiki media

Beyond Pampering...Medical Massage Can Be Just What The Doctor Ordered For Many Conditions!

Some people say that the massage experience is the ultimate in pampering.  In truth, it can be much more than that.  There is a form of massage known as medical massage. With proper training, any license massage therapist can provide this therapy for any number of conditions, including seizures,
fibromyalgia, migraines, nerve pain, joint pain, and many others.





Medical massage is a bit different from the spa experience that you might be visualizing right now.  A given patient may go to see his/her therapist weekly, for anywhere from four to sixteen visits.  The number of treatments varies so widely because it is outcome based, so depending on the condition being treated and the goals of therapy.  The therapist will  likely follow up with clients after treatment to ensure that everything is going well and determine whether or not future sessions are necessary.
Sadly, health care insurance providers do not always see the benefit of this form of therapy so they do not always cover it.  …

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…

Do you have osteoporosis? Please read below...

Osteoporosis is very common in older persons. Usually it is the result of aging, but it can also be caused by a medical condition known as hyperparathyroidism. While osteoporosis is not painful, the
potential for debilitating or life threatening related conditions is great.  Read below for clarification of this point...



Here are some facts and figures from The International Osteoporosis Foundation:

It is estimated that over 200 million women have osteoporosis. That’s more than the combined populations of the Germany, the United Kingdom and France!
In fact, every three seconds a bone will break, somewhere in the world, because of this disease.
Many people won’t know they have osteoporosis until their first fracture, which is why it’s called the ‘silent disease’. Even after a break, it often goes untreated.
Worldwide, one in three women and one in five men over the age of fifty will experience an osteoporotic fracture.
Fractures are usually painful; they can be debilitating depending on th…

The Chicken--or The Egg?

What comes first..the chicken, or the egg?  This riddle has been pondered by generations.  And is there really an answer? Maybe...or maybe not.  







In the world of pain management, there is a similar question, and that is the basis for today's post. It has long been apparent that living with chronic pain can be disruptive to sleep patterns. This has a negative effect on the quality of life for chronic pain patients.  
Have you ever thought about the reverse situation...that is to say, how does a disruptive sleep pattern affect chronic pain? A study of this topic, conducting in the Netherlands, gives us an idea that there is a relationship.  "Emerging adults" (age 19-22) looked at followed subjects over several years; half of those who had sleep problems in the first year of study continued to be plagued with sleep issues in the third year of the study.  The subjects who had sleep problems at the outset were more likely to have chronic pain, and more severe musculoskeletal, he…

Tinnitus and Chronic Pain: What's The Connection?

As medical research advances, there are many new and interesting findings all the time.  Some of them are revolutionary, result in new and better treatments of health issues. Still others do not help us to find cure or treatment, but instead help us to find connections or to better understand disease process.






One most interesting finding of late is that there appears to be a connection between tinnitus (constant ringing of the ears) and chronic pain.  Jose Rauschecker, lead author of a study at Georgetown University reports that these two phenomenon may coexist because of changes that occur in two areas of the brain. According to study findings, two areas in the frontal area of the brain serve as "gatekeepers" of sensory stimuli.  These regions of the brain appear to have less grey matter in persons with chronic pain and/or tinnitus as compared to normal test subjects.

This Georgetown study proposes that these areas of the brain tend to filter out signals that are not perce…

Chronic Opioid Usage-Or How To Loose Brain Cells in 30 Days

A recent small scale study conducted by scientists in the US and Australia showed that patients who took opioids for as little as one month demonstrated changes in the gray matter of the brain, confirmed by MRI.  At present, the authors of the study note that it is preliminary to say exactly what these changes mean...


“It’s disturbing to learn that in as little as one month, daily use of opioids can alter brain morphology. And it’s even more disturbing to learn that despite the harm caused to the subjects in the morphine arm, their pain wasn’t any better controlled than the patients receiving placebo,” commented Andrew Kolodny, MD, chief medical officer, Phoenix House; executive director, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing; and senior scientist, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. “This is strong evidence that for many patients, the risks of long-term opioids clearly outweigh potential benefit.”
Some interesting things to note a…

New Stem Cell Treatment-- Could It Eliminate or Delay Knee and Hip Replacements?

News reports out of Sydney, Australia are sharing promising results for patients with osteoarthritis. In a couple of studies going on there, patients with hip or joint osteoarthritis, a new technique involving stem cells is undergoing clinical trials.




According to reports, patients in these studies first undergo liposuction to harvest the stem cells needed for the procedure.  The stem cells are then processed in a laboratory, and when ready (about four weeks later), they are injected into the same patient's affected joint.

This is the first time that a treatment of this type is being tried...and while still incomplete, the early results are quite remarkable. Interestingly, the patients with most severe joint damage seem to be the ones who benefit the most!

The results are yet unpublished...but it's exciting to thing that this could revolutionize treatment of osteoarthritis in future.  Maybe joint replacement therapy will become less common, or even obsolete.

You can read more…