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What are trigger points?

The term “trigger point” comes with enough contention to make a doctor drop her stethoscope. It’s said to be an area of sensitive connective tissue that radiates pain, and while myofascial tissue is prone to painful reactions to repetitive contractions, myofascial tissue isn’t limited to isolated trigger points. Aches in these areas are believed to be peripheral nerve pain or spasms. Diagnosis based on trigger point science is sketchy, so it’s important that any widespread pain be assessed under the banner of musculoskeletal medicine.

The Problem of Pain and Diagnosis

Trigger points are traditionally linked to fibromyalgia, a poorly understood disorder with no solid diagnostic tests. It’s possible that this kind of chronic pain is the result of a quirky nervous system that deals with pain signals differently. Since it often coexists with depression, it’s critical that effective therapies be found. This can only be done if your physicians take a broader look at your symptoms and all their potential causes.

Trigger point therapy stretches out the trigger points to relieve pain, either with physical manipulation or injections. Call it a combination of massage therapy and physiotherapy if you will, because these modes of care come with plenty of evidence. Chronic, non-malignant pain usually responds well to massage, and injections are even more powerful.

Myofascial pain syndrome is said to describe chronic, aching, generalized pain—a description that could be used to describe arthritis, early M.S., repetitive strain, and any number of other disorders. Trigger points are thus not adequate diagnostic or treatment tools on their own. Your doctor will use them to identify referred pain patterns after other conditions have been thoroughly tested for. Pain Stop Clinics will comb through your symptoms and ensure you receive the most efficient treatment for your unique problem.

This is Your Brain on Pain

Chronic pain is more than a frustration or a nuisance, it can truly impact every aspect of your life. It reduces your quality of life.

Pain can be challenging to treat. Medications work in the short-term. However, due to the risks of pain medication, many doctors and scientists are researching and endorsing other methods of pain management. This research has led to numerous studies on how pain impacts your brain.

Pain and The Thalamus

The thalamus is the connection between the spine and the higher areas of the brain. Any time you sustain an injury or feel pain, the thalamus creates a passageway through which the “pain message” is transmitted. Once pain subsides and an injury is healed this passageway essentially closes. However, some research now indicates that for those who suffer from chronic pain this passageway remains open.

Pain and The Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is the control center for our emotions and dictates much of our personality and behavior. Studies have indicated that there is a link between chronic pain and a decrease in the volume of the prefrontal cortex.

Perception and Pain

Pain can also affect your perception. If you suffer from chronic pain you may have trouble pinpointing the location of exactly what hurts. You may also notice changes in how you perceive touch. Research indicates that this may be due to a change in how cells communicate with each other.

The good news is that these impacts can be reversed. Pain causes change, not permanent damage. Effective pain management is the key to reversing this impact and improving your quality of life. Contact Pain Stop Clinics today to help find the best solutions and techniques to manage your pain.

 

How to Cope with Painful Episodes

If you experience chronic pain, you know your pain levels fluctuate. Sometimes it’s tolerable, and sometimes it takes over entirely. Some people can predict episodes based on their triggers, while for others the pain strikes unexpectedly. Managing these painful episodes greatly improves your quality of life. Here are some methods you can use that don’t involve medication:

Biofeedback

The more tension your body carries, the worse pain will be. Professionals use machines to release muscle tension and slow down the heart rate. These machines train the body to relax at will. Once the technique is mastered, the patient can learn to relax without the help of machines.

Distraction Methods

There’s nothing wrong with a little distraction when it reduces the intensity of your pain. Patients are encouraged to listen to music, talk to friends or read a book as a positive distraction. You can also concentrate on pleasant mental pictures and memories.

Relaxation Training

This is another method of releasing muscle tension with the help of slow, deep breathing and thinking calming thoughts. Relaxation tapes are made available to patients which guide them through the process of achieving a more tranquil state of mind.

Pain Transfer or Transform

With practice, these techniques can be highly effective. Pain sends a signal to your brain, and this is essentially your brain sending a signal back that says “yes, message received, but no thank you.” You can concentrate on an area of your body that isn’t hurting, for instance, or send your aching neck on a river cruise while the rest of you goes about your day.

Hypnosis

This technique is used to reduce the patient’s awareness of pain. Hypnosis is carried out by a professional therapist, who plants a post-hypnotic suggestion to reduce the sensation of pain. In some cases, patients can also learn to hypnotize themselves.

Remember, painkillers may provide quick relief from chronic pain, but they carry many risks. If you’re ready to take control of your life by controlling your pain, visit one of our pain professionals for a free consultation.

 

Benefits of Warm Baths

Many people suffer from musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. If you have been suffering from painful conditions, consider perhaps the oldest form of alternative therapy: soaking in warm water. Here are some of the benefits of this ancient technique, explained in modern language:

Enhances circulation

Heat improves blood circulation around aching muscles and joints. Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients that promote healing. When you experience pain, drink a glass of water to help increase blood flow.

Eases the stiffness

Warm water treatment helps relax the tendons that make the muscles and joints feel stiff, reducing pain and improving your range of motion.

Reduces compression

When you submerge yourself in water, you relieve pressure on your joints. Move the aching muscles and joints to stimulate blood flow and enable the joint loosen up.

For best results, soak in the warm water for at least 20 minutes. Make sure it’s warm, too, not lobster boil hot. Your nerves are likely to respond to unwanted heat levels with a pain response, so keep it comfortably warm. Of course, if you recently injured yourself and are experiencing painful swelling, you should probably hold off on any kind of heat treatment until the inflammation goes down.

Heat or Ice for Sore Muscles?

When treating muscle pain, should you opt for cold or hot therapy? This tends to confuse people who have had different results with different methods of pain relief. Some think it’s better to go for hot, while others think it’s better to go for cold.

For muscle pain caused by an injury, it’s best to choose both, with cold coming first followed by hot. For chronic muscle pain, heat is usually best.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is a form of pain treatment that exposes irritated nerves to freezing temperatures for a few minutes. The cold reduce blood flow and deadens the nerves, resulting in decreased inflammation and consequently, pain. Cryotherapy can be localized or general, though it’s more often used to treat localized nerves. Generally it’s advisable to treat muscle injuries with ice intermittently for up to 48 hours after the injury.

Thermotherapy

Thermotherapy is a form of pain treatment that uses heat to alleviate pain. The heat dilates blood vessels, causing tight muscles to relax and removing waste buildup of lactic acid. It also increases the oxygen delivered to the targeted muscles, facilitating faster repair of damaged tissue.

Both cryotherapy and thermotherapy can be simulated with a cold and hot compress, respectively. This DIY approach works for mild pain. Your pain management professional may recommend using one or both of these therapies at home.

For serious and chronic pain, these therapies may only provide temporary or supplemental relief. At Pain Stop Clinics, we take a holistic approach to treating pain disorders. Your treatment plan will be tailored to your diagnosis and individual needs. Heat and cold treatments are one simple, proven method that can be used in conjunction with several healing modalities.

Chronic Pain Syndrome: What You Need to Know

Chronic pain is a reality for a growing number of people. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50 million Americans live with chronic pain. If you’re one of them, you may be looking for alternatives to powerful prescription medications, as the side effects can be detrimental in the long run, not to mention the risk of addiction. The good news is that there is increasing interest in and knowledge about non-drug related therapies.

It takes time, commitment, and knowledge to find and utilize some of the therapeutic alternatives to pills. Here’s a partial list:

  • Massage
  • Heat or cold
  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Ultrasound
  • Exercise
  • Hypnosis

This list, while not complete, gives you an idea about where to start looking for solutions to your pain. Each of these alternatives should be carefully researched and used correctly to be effective, which is why you should seek treatment with a pain professional. It’s important to understand how each technique works, how it’s applied, and what you can expect to feel afterward. Many people find their way to pain clinics for advice they can trust and for correctly applied treatment. Seeing a professional can not only keep you off prescription medication, it helps you avoid causing further injury. Make sure you communicate with your treatment professional about your symptoms and responses to treatment.

Pain Stop Clinics works with you to design a program of alternative therapies to treat your chronic pain. Please feel free to contact us for information or an appointment.

Do You Need to See a Pain Management Professional?

Suffering from chronic pain can become completely debilitating. 50 million Americans live with chronic pain, yet many do nothing about it. They have simply accepted it as part of their routine. You should not allow your quality of life to dwindle because of the pain you experience. Perhaps you have gone from one doctor to the next, without any cure, treatment or idea of the cause. It may be time to see a pain management professional.

More Questions than Answers?

If primary care physicians are unable to identify the cause of your pain or develop a treatment plan, you need to see a pain management professional. Some doctors may prescribe pain medication, but this is not desirable. Medication does not treat the problem. It only masks it and it can cause alternative problems. You don’t want to cover up pain. You want to treat it.

Consult Your Insurance Provider

Your insurance provider may have specific steps to follow before seeing a professional. This can include the need for a referral from your primary care physician, so always contact your insurance provider before scheduling an appointment. This way, you’ll know for sure whether or not you’re covered.

You’re Ready for a Better Tomorrow

If you are ready to follow through with treatments that address the cause of your pain for long-term quality of life improvement, you should see a pain management professional. Contact Pain Stops Clinics to set up your initial appointment and begin your journey to freedom.

Car Accident Injuries Can Have Long-Term Affects

Car accidents can cause a range of injuries, from whiplash to broken bones to brain trauma. In some cases, the injuries may not even be noticeable until days after the accident. However, whether immediately noticeable or not, they often have long-term effects.

The Effects of Car Accident Injuries

Long-term neck pain and back pain are two of the most common symptoms that have a delayed onset. For example, whiplash can result in neck pain, neck stiffness, headaches, back pain and even muscle or ligament injuries.

Then there are more severe long-term effects, such as loss of mobility or loss of limbs. Patients experience pain from the injury itself and during the rehabilitation process.

Unfortunately, many patients are prescribed pain medications long-term. Though effective, they can prove to be addictive, presenting car accident survivors with yet another hurdle to overcome. Pain medication abuse can be particularly problematic for patients who have developed PTSD symptoms.

Alternative Methods for Treating Pain

Fortunately, the pain medications often prescribed by medical professionals do not have to be the solution the long-term effects that you are experiencing as a result of your car accident. Here at Pain Stop, we can mitigate your pain as well as treat the affected area to help prevent further injuries. Contact us or walk in for a consultation.

 

4 of the Worst Sports Injuries of All-Time

Because athletes often push themselves to the physical limit, they are prone to experiencing injuries – even with all the training and conditioning they undergo. If you have a strong stomach, read on about some of the worst sports injuries ever:

1. Lacerated Throat

Back in 1989, goalie Clint Malarchuk collided with another player during a hockey game that resulted in a stray skate catching him in the throat. He managed to make it off the ice even while almost bleeding out. He was lucky to survive – and because of the horrendous injury, hockey goalies are now required to wear neck protection.

2. Collapsed Larynx

This injury occurred in another hockey game. Like Malarchuk, Mitch Callahan was lucky to make it out alive after his larynx was crushed by a hockey puck shot. The injury left him unable to speak for six weeks, and he was no longer able to play because his air passage was 15% narrower than before.

3. Broken Leg

Breaking your leg might not seem like the worst thing, until you see how soccer player Eduardo Da Silva broke his. In 2008, he was on the wrong end of a tackle that basically snapped his lower leg in two, breaking his left fibula and dislocating his ankle. Fortunately, he made a full recovery.

4. Baseball to the Nose

In 2002, baseball pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii took a line drive right to his nose, which basically crushed part of his face and required surgery in order to remove the bone shards.

When to Worry About Your Neck Pain

Neck pain is an issue millions of Americans suffer from. For many, the pain stems from poor posture or other easily corrected physical ailments. However, there are times where you should be more worried about your neck pain. If you experience any of the following red flags it is best to schedule an appointment with a professional right away.

Extended Neck Pain

Neck pain can stem from sleeping wrong, dehydration or stiff posture. However, if your neck pain has continued for six weeks or more, it’s time to go in and see a professional. There may be something more serious going on.

Pain Is Not Improving

Your neck pain typically is at its worst when it first happens. It should slowly start to feel better as the body naturally corrects itself. However, if your neck pain is either not improving or is getting worse, see a professional. The longer you let the pain linger the worse the situation might become.

Light Pressure is Painful

If someone taps your shoulder or you brush up against something along your back and you feel instant pain, you need to see a professional as soon as possible.

You Have Terrible Headaches

Do you suddenly experience terrible headaches? If so, they may be caused by a pinched nerve or another urgent issue.

Chronic neck pain is a serious condition. Pain Stop Clinics can assist with determining the cause of the pain and treating the problem. Contact Pain Stop Clinics to set up your consultation.

 

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