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Happy New Year from Pain Stop Clinics

How did you feel at this time last year compared to now? If you struggle with chronic pain, you know there’s only one way to approach this journey: one tiny step at a time.

sarahs-scribbles-one-year-baby-steps

Give yourself credit for choosing to live a better life. We know it can be frustrating when there are false starts and steps back in treating your symptoms, and yet you know it’s worth it. You know you’re worth pain management and treatment that addresses the cause of pain safely and effectively. From all of us at Pain Stop Clinics, may you have a happy and healthy 2018. Thank you for choosing us.

 

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions You Won’t Regret

A crammed medicine cabinet will only take you so far with pain. Lifestyle factors can have a drastic effect on your symptoms, so why not make the New Year your opportunity to heal?

Exercise to Reduce Pain

Pain is worsened by stiff muscles and lack of circulation, so keeping your body moving can have a powerful impact. Yoga will stretch out your spasms, strengthen your core, and get blood flowing to the areas that need it. Even regular walks will serve you, and if muscle stiffness is holding you back, try water aerobics in a heated pool. You need a minimum of three half-hour exercise sessions a week. If your pain prohibits you from exercising, see a pain specialist to identify exercises that will help.

Improve Your Sleeping Hours

Fourth stage sleep regenerates tissues and heals the damage of the day. Excellent sleep hygiene will not only improve your symptoms, but give you the serenity to cope with your pain more easily. Sleep hygiene supports this. Turn off electronics an hour before bedtime, stay out of bed during the day, and buy an appropriate mattress to support your spine.

Set a Date to Quit Smoking

Smoking impedes healing and worsens musculoskeletal conditions. If you’re planning surgery or are simply looking for new ways to improve your pain, setting a quit date will have a powerful impact on your life. Before that date, cut out habits that you associate with smoking, and speak to your doctor about medications that can support your new way of life by reducing cravings.

Rearrange Your Office

Your posture and physical work habits might be worsening your pain. An occupational therapist can assess your living conditions and create an ergonomic environment in your workspace.

Make 2018 the year you annihilate your pain. You deserve excellent quality of life, and simple habits can help you achieve it. If you suffer from persistent pain and need help managing it, schedule an appointment at Pain Stop today.

Diets for Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back conditions are known to be more burdensome than any other syndrome, but many patients feel they have little control over their symptoms. People who suffer back pain need a balanced diet that supports bone strength, healthy cells, and good collagen formation. You have a new year ahead of you, so make it a pain-free one by choosing a diet to improve chronic pain.

Water

The spine is made almost entirely of water, which offers the flexibility needed to keep your vertebrae protected against shock.

Collagen

Collagen accounts for 30% of dry bone weight, and it needs a constant supply of amino acids and vitamin C. Glucosamine is an important component in connective tissues, so keep your protein levels where they should be with almonds, meat, broccoli, and quinoa.

Calcium and Magnesium

If you have poor bone density, calcium and magnesium should be core parts of your diet. You need a synergy of minerals to absorb these nutrients well. Keep your levels up with bok choy, dairy products, tofu, and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K distributes calcium, so you also need to include cheeses, egg yolks, and kale in your diet.

Vitamin D aids calcium absorption and is found in salmon and egg yolks. Some cereals and dairy products are fortified with it, too.

 

Protein

Omega-3-rich foods combat inflammation, so flax, chia seeds, and oily fish could improve your symptoms.

Alcohol and Soda

A daily cola habit can impede your absorption of important nutrients, while alcohol interferes with calcium absorption. Alcohol also suppresses the central nervous system. Combined with certain medications, it can cause breathing difficulties and impaired motor function.

Your diet is the building block of your medical care. Without wholesome food, even the most potent medications and therapies cannot bring their best benefits. Food has a profound effect on our short-term and long-term health outcomes, so fill your plate with nutrients that help your body recover from pain conditions.

Great Gifts For Pain Management

If a loved one suffers from chronic pain, a soothing care package could offer much needed support. Chocolate cures just about every ill, of course, but a more evidence-based gift would be appreciated just as much.

Gifts for Migraine Sufferers

Migraines are a neuropathic and vascular condition that can last days. Their cause isn’t well understood, but their triggers are. Light, noise, flashing, and certain food products are common triggers. Give a migraine sufferer:

  • a pair of tinted glasses.
  • total blackout blinds.
  • ice packs or an adjustable ice wrap.

Tension Headaches and Back Pain

When muscle tension causes pain, targeted heat therapy can relieve symptoms and make them feel tolerable. Give your muscle pain patient:

  • heated mattress pads with dual side control.
  • an infrared heat therapy pad for deeper heat delivery.
  • a deep tissue massage or spa voucher for serious spoiling.

Diabetes-Related Nerve Damage

Sensory diabetic neuropathy and ulcers are often worsened by poor circulation. Dry heat is needed, as soaking can prevent healing. Avoid heating pads, which can cause burns when used on numb feet. Give your diabetic family member:

  • podiatrist-recommended flexible slippers.
  • memory foam insets.
  • insoles designed specifically for those with plantar fasciitis.

Spasms

Many pain conditions are caused by spasms and are highly responsive to massage. Give your chronic pain sufferer:

  • a massage stick roller with comfortable handles.
  • an electric massage device or pillow.
  • an ergonomic chair.
  • a massage ball.

Better yet, take your loved one to Pain Stop Clinics for proactive medical support. Resist the temptation to offer miracle cures or solutions that worked for a completely different person with a completely different condition, as well-meaning gestures can create frustration.

Remember that the most valuable gift you can give is yourself. Pain can make life challenging, so offer your friend a shopping trip, frozen meals, or your baby-sitting services. Comfort is often in short supply when you’re not feeling well, and friendship is the warmest cure.

How Much Does Exercise Reduce Pain?

Chronic pain encourages a sedentary lifestyle, but recent research suggests that curling up in bed waiting for your aches to disappear could make your condition worse. Exercise not only improves lower back pain symptoms, but reduces your odds of ever developing the problem in the first place.

Positive Effects of Exercise on Back Pain

A daily walk, combined with patient education, reduces risk by between 27 and 33%.

If your lifestyle is currently inactive, you reduce your risk of developing lower back pain by up to 38%, simply by taking up exercise.

Occupational health specialist, Dr Rahman Shiri, suggests strengthening and stretching your core muscles, even if you’ve already developed spine issues. Muscle spasms set your posture off balance, which causes even more spasms, pain, and pinched nerves. By loosening up your back and strengthening your core, you encourage the right muscles to support your body weight.

Add some feel-good aerobic exercise to your routine, and you’ll flood your body with pain-reducing hormones. If you have poor posture, Pilates and yoga can teach you better habits.

The Wrong Kind of Exercise for Back Pain

If you have a painful condition, exercise can worsen your symptoms as much as improve them. Any movements that put your weight onto your back should be avoided. Substitute toe touches with half crunches. Avoid sit-ups, leg lifts, and any movements that place pressure on the hollow of your back. Avoid jarring exercise and take a moderate approach to stretching. If you’re unsure about your routine, your physician or physiotherapist is there to guide you.

Patients who exercise tend to be slow to ask for medical help or take necessary sick leave. It’s commendable to take your health into your own hands by exercising, but try not to view exercise as your only option for wellness.

Taking control of your health has mental benefits as well as medical payoffs. By taking action, you’ll find your emotional response to your pain will improve.

Opioids Rarely Help Bodily Pain: A New Pain Assessment

Pain rating scales have become a medical standard for excellent reason: They give doctors important information about changing symptoms and have led to better outcomes in clinical trials. The pain intensity numeric scale (PI-NRS) and patient’s global impression of change (PGIC) contribute to better care but bring a heavy dose of subjectivity to the consulting room. Partly as a result of this subjectivity, doctors may be too quick to prescribe opioid medication when other treatments would be preferable.

Anaesthesiologist Myles Gart proposes an objective way to assess acute pain. The metrics can be remembered with a cheeky mnemonic based on the acronym ORHBP: Opioids Rarely Help Bodily Pain.

Observation

Pain often shows in mood and behavior, but so do symptoms unrelated to pain. By ruling out hypoxemia and other conditions, physicians can assess whether a patient’s pain is intolerable. Gart suggests that analgesics should only be given to patients who have hit 10 on the PI-NRS scale.

Respiratory Rate

The link between respiratory rate and pain has not been proven in trials, but Gart believes that intolerable pain causes a rate higher than 20. He proposes that when rates fall below 12, opioid treatments should not be given.

Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Rehabilitation doctors often use heart rate to assess pain levels, a link that hasn’t yet been established in trials. A small University of Sherbrook study showed that men’s heart rates rise in the presence of pain. Women’s heart rates weren’t affected.

Similarly, pain might cause high blood pressure during the initial stages of chronic, but not acute, pain. However, studies show that pain often brings blood pressure down, making this an unreliable measure.

Pupil Size

Pupil size is used by anaesthesiologists to detect pain response. As long as the patient is not sedated and medicated with drugs that cause dilation, pupil response can add another layer of objectivity to pain assessment.

The medical world has been searching for an objective way to evaluate pain for decades. Gart’s proposals could bring doctors a step closer to achieving that goal, though it needs more evidence-based support. In its current form, it comes with the caveat that different objective measures, such as vital signs, mean different things for different patients.

Virtual Reality for Chronic Pain Works

Morphine’s long-term efficacy and safety remains contentious. In studies, it has reduced pain by between one and three points on the numeric pain rating scale, so while it certainly has its place, more effective, safe analgesic therapies are desperately needed. Hope might come from an unexpected place: virtual reality software.

The Studies Supporting VR for Chronic Pain

In March 2017, researchers at Cedars Sinai Medical Center studied the effects of calming virtual reality content on 50 pain patients. They reported a 24% drop in pain—equal to that of morphine. Two dimensional video and music brought a 13.2% improvement.

Psychologist, Hunter Hoffman, tried out a different virtual reality environment called Snow World on burn victims during and after wound care. Patients reported 60% to 75% less pain during their sessions and 30% to 50% less afterwards.

The Brain Hijack

Researcher Brennan Spiegel thinks that virtual reality works as an “immersive distraction” that “hijacks the senses.” It keeps the brain from processing pain, an effect that still needs to be tested over longer periods of time. Spiegel has already begun a larger trial, which will look into how virtual environments affect the length of hospital stays.

The study isn’t as spurious as it may seem. The brain and mood’s impact on medical outcomes is well documented. Optimism not only encourages recovery from surgery, but lowers death rates.

Pain is a strange and stubborn creature. To endure it, you must use all your personal resources. Patients must alter their perceptions of what they feel and find optimism at a time when it’s least available. Many treatments support this difficult task.

Chronic pain constantly occupies a place in your brain, which leads to depression and insomnia. PainStop Clinic understands your suffering and will support you with a range of therapies that replace risky opioid-based medications.

 

Healthy Spine Tips to Prevent Back and Neck Pain

Lower back pain is responsible for more global disabilities than any other problem. It affects 80% of people at some point in their lives. Up to 90% will also suffer from tension headaches at least once, and posture, neck spasms, and stress can all contribute. The evolution of the human spine has been slow and, at times, painful. It’s simply not ideal for upright walking, so getting your pain under control requires a little effort and support. Causes include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle strain from overstretching or carrying heavy objects incorrectly
  • Poor posture and badly designed work stations
  • Sports injuries
  • Herniated discs
  • Curvature

A typical strain creates swelling, sets your posture off balance, and causes spasms that create even more pronounced posture problems and swelling. Sports injuries, curvature, and even herniation can create a similar cycle, so two of the most important ways to bring healing are through stretching and spasm release. Physiotherapy, yoga, and stretching achieve this.

You can prevent back pain by

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Lifting with your knees bent and your back upright
  • Taking walking or stretching breaks when you do desk work
  • Using ergonomic furniture
  • Sleeping on your side
  • Quitting smoking. Smokers have more spine problems than nonsmokers and recover from surgery more slowly.

Back Pain Associated with Aging

Osteoporosis, disk degeneration, and spinal arthritis often require more invasive solutions, but your lifestyle can greatly improve your symptoms. Solutions include:

  • Keeping calcium and magnesium levels optimal
  • Strengthening core muscles to support your spine better
  • Stretching and loosening your back muscles
  • Treating strains with ice and compression

The health of your spine is a core contributor to quality of life, and a little loving care can have powerful effects. Want to learn more about ways to relieve back pain? Ready for personalized care? Find a Pain Stop Clinic near you.

Opioid Alternatives for Chronic Pain

Almost half of opioid overdoses in the United States involve prescription drugs. A thousand people a day receive emergency room care for misusing their prescribed painkillers. As a temporary measure, there are few medications quite as efficient at erasing pain than opioids, but this may change in the next five years. Kineta, Inc, a biotech company that specializes in immune modulating drugs, recently began phase one human trials for a new class of chronic pain treatment—and this one does much more than treat mere symptoms.

A New Non-Opioid Painkiller

For the moment, Kineta is calling their new drug KCP-400. It’s a chemical component of cone snail venom that blocked pain signals where they began in animal trials. The drug seems to act at the site of the injury, and its disease-fighting effects also promote healing and reduce inflammation. It will be administered as a weekly injection, and side effects remain unknown. Since it doesn’t cross the blood/brain barrier, it shouldn’t cause tolerance or addiction.

Alternatives to Opioids In Development

Kineta’s search for an opiate replacement is not isolated. Several pharmaceutical companies are working on a new molecular approach that binds opioid receptors along a different pathway than morphine. Researchers hope that by removing the risk of addiction, the new drug class could save thousands of lives and add quality of life to millions of patients.

The DEA is working on the problem from a different angle: by cutting down the production quota of drugs like morphine and oxycodone. Some pharma companies are supporting that effort by making their drugs difficult to crush to prevent patients from injecting them, but this does little to ease the legitimate suffering of chronic pain patients.

A new drug is desperately needed, but until it’s discovered, PainStop Clinics will guide you through your pain using non-opiate therapies whenever possible. Stop in for a consultation.

Over Half of Opioid Prescriptions Given to Adults with Mood Disorders

Almost 10% of the U.S. population suffers from a mood disorder, and 19% of them use prescription opioids. Patients with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are vulnerable to highs and lows caused by medications that directly influence their moods, are prescribing them to this vulnerable group is a contentious issue. Some physicians suggest opioids as a last port of call for lifting depression, but this off-label effect is so short lived that it has little genuine value. To make matters worse, long-term opioid use frequently causes depression and manic episodes, and psychiatric patients are more likely to abuse their medications, due to the psychological drivers behind addiction.

The Depression/Pain Cycle

The opioid problem is so far ranging that the CDC has called for a new social policy to cure what it refers to as over-prescribing. Psychiatric illness poses a particular challenge to chronic pain patients. Depression can worsen your pain, and pain can worsen your depression and anxiety. There is no question that the toxic cycle needs to be broken, and opioids are far from the only option for doing so.

The reason 51% of opioid scripts are given to mood disorder patients is unclear, but it could be that depression and anxiety change the way people respond to pain. Doctors may also be more sympathetic to this group of patients. In other words, if your psychiatric health places you in this vulnerable demographic, it’s crucial that your pain be treated as proactively as your mood is. Every therapy must not only be assessed according to how effective it is, but also how it influences your psychiatric condition.

Surgery, physiotherapy, non-opioid analgesics, and occupational therapy all have an important role to play in chronic pain management. Pain Stop Clinics take a multi-pronged approach that takes our responsibility to whole patient health seriously.

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