CRPS – The Pain Is Real

Complex Regional Pain SyndromeRecent findings suggest that individuals with complex regional pain syndrome deal with a great amount of pain during every day activities. According to some pain scale rankings, CRPS ranks higher on the pain scale than childbirth, cancer and even amputation.

For those of you unaware of what complex regional pain syndrome is, CRPS is categorized as a chronic condition that typically affects one limb, usually arising out of a trauma. CRPS involves a disruption in the way sensory signals are processed and deciphered along the central nervous system, leading to extreme pain even when no traumatic experience is happening. Actions like putting on your socks or brushing against a door frame can trigger inflammation and painful sensory signals.

Treating CRPS

According to the National Institutes of Health, CRPS typically affects women, and the average age of a CRPS sufferer is 40 years old. The issue with CRPS is that since it involves a communication breakdown in the central nervous system, it can be extremely hard to diagnose correctly. One report suggests that the average CRPS sufferer searched for answers for four years before receiving the appropriate diagnosis. Part of the problem is medical oversight, but this is due in large part to it being such a rare condition, and the fact that research dollars are being spent elsewhere.

So how do we work to treat and prevent this problematic condition? For starters, education is key. That’s the main reason we shared a large infographic about CRPS on the blog earlier this week. Both patients and healthcare providers need to be aware of the problem of CRPS. It can be treated and managed, but only with an accurate diagnosis. People should not have to wait four years to get to the bottom of their health problem.

Funding For CRPS

We also need to be spending more research dollars on understanding chronic conditions. Chronic pain affects roughly 30 percent of Americans, and the toll it takes on the healthcare system as a whole is billions of dollars, yet funding to better understand the condition and help those who suffer day in and day out continues to be lacking.

If you’re dealing with chronic pain, and you’re struggling to get answers about your condition, set up a consultation with a Minnesota Pain Specialist. We won’t stop until we get to the bottom of your condition, because our goal is to help you live a pain-free life. Contact us today for more information.

What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a complicated condition in which nerves incorrectly send pain signals to the brain, even though there is no painful sensory action taking place. For people with CRPS, actions like a gust of wind on their neck or toweling off after a shower can trigger a painful flareup. CRPS can be difficult to treat because it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the problem is along the nerve path to the brain. However, with careful evaluation and coordinated treatment with a pain management specialist, symptoms can be kept under control.

Today, we want to take a closer look at CRPS by partnering up with our friends at Burning Nights CRPS. They’ve created a wonderful infographic that examines the problems caused by CRPS and what actions you can take if you’re suffering from the condition. Check out the infographic below, and be sure to swing over over to BurningNightsCRPS.org to learn more about CRPS and other chronic conditions.

CRPS Infographic

New Report Examines Benefits and Drawbacks Of Medicinal Marijuana

Medical Marijuana statsWe’re still in the early stages of managing how medicinal marijuana is used to treat certain health conditions. However, since the door has been opened, millions of dollars in funding has been given to explore the benefits and drawbacks of medical marijuana for treating specific health ailments. A new report from the National Academic of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reveals some areas of potential and some points of concern when it comes to medicinal marijuana. We explore what the report found in today’s blog.

Medical Marijuana For Ailments

One of the major points the review found was that medicinal marijuana has beneficial effects for the treatment of chronic pain. The review committee found evidence that patients who were treated with marijuana for their chronic pain were more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms. A similar finding was made for individuals suffering from muscle spasms, and for patients suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Furthermore, researchers found no evidence that smoking marijuana was related in an increased risk of cancer development, but they stated that more research was needed to see if there was a correlation between marijuana use and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or diabetes.

Drawbacks of Medicinal Marijuana

So while medicinal marijuana can be helpful for some patients with chronic pain, it is not without its drawbacks. According to the review, there was evidence that cannabis slightly increased a person’s risk of developing schizophrenia, social anxiety disorders, and to a lesser extent, depression. Heavy marijuana users are also more likely to report thoughts of suicide compared to non-users, and cannabis use increased a person’s risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. There were also increases in the number of marijuana overdoses among children who accidentally ingested the drug compared to states where recreational marijuana use was not legal.

Marijuana could also make certain ailments worse. Researchers stated that regular cannabis use was related to an increase in episodes of chronic bronchitis and other respiratory ailments, like chronic coughing and phlegm production. They did note that is unclear if marijuana use worsens symptoms from respiratory conditions like COPD or asthma.

Finally, researchers suggested that marijuana could lead to abuse or other drug problems. Evidence suggests that with greater frequency of use, there is an increased likelihood of developing problem cannabis use, and there was moderate evidence to suggest that there was a link between marijuana use and the development of substance dependence of marijuana or other substances like alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs.

So while medical marijuana is certainly an interesting avenue for controlling pain, it is not without its drawbacks. Identifying these potential pitfalls is the first step. Now we need to learn how to mitigate these risks so chronic pain sufferers aren’t exposed to danger when pursuing medicinal marijuana for their pain.

Opioid-Related Deaths Increase in Minnesota

minnesota opioid overdoseAlthough we’re still waiting on the numbers from 2016, it’s clear that there is a growing problem with opioid overdoses in Minnesota.

According to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from opioid overdoses rose in Minnesota in 2015, especially among young adults. The data suggests that 338 people died from opioid overdoses in Minnesota in 2015, up from 319 in 2014. A closer look at the data suggests that the highest number of deaths occurred in individuals in their late 20s and early 30s rather than older individuals for the first time since the 1990s. The problem isn’t contained to the big cities, either.

“It’s hitting rural areas harder than it is cities,” said Rural Aids Action Network program manage Maggie Kazel. “I think that’s a hard concept for a lot of people to grasp because we have a historic setup in our brains of drugs equal big cities. What we see in Duluth is horrible, what they see in Iron Range is pure tragic.

Synthetic Drugs On The Rise

Pain pill abuse has been a problem for a while now, as the number of people killed by opioid overdoses in Minnesota has risen steadily since 1999. The CDC recently awarded Minnesota more than a half million dollars to develop more opioid overdose prevention plans, but it’s not just normal opioids that health officials need to be aware of. According to Dana Farley, the Minnesota Department of Health’s alcohol and drug prevention policy director, synthetic drugs are popping up in Minnesota more frequently. He said synthetic drugs have become more accessible recently, which tend to be more popular in younger crowds. He believes synthetic drugs played a big part in why younger people were dying at such a higher rate in 2015.

We need to develop better opioid management programs here in Minnesota. Doctors and medical professionals can’t keep handing these pills out like candy. Opioids certainly have numerous benefits and they truly help some people, but we need to have better management of how these drugs are administered to ensure they aren’t abused. Too many people are dying, and there’s little sign for optimism based on the trends of the last decade. We need to make preventing opioid abuse a priority in Minnesota.

Weight Loss After The New Year

weight loss doctorThe new year is here, and for many people, now is a time of a renewed attitude towards weight loss. For years, there have been countless pages of advice written about weight loss and dieting. There are more experts than one could believe, and everyone is willing to dish out advice. As our knowledge has grown more recently, weight gain and loss just seems to have become more complex. The advice used to be simple, calories in vs. calories out, and you could determine weight changes. If life were only so simple.

Weight Loss In Today’s Society

A recent article in the newspaper thankfully sheds more light on weight loss. The best advice may be simple – go see a doctor of medicine that specializes in weight loss. The reason for such advice is there are so many issues that can affect a person’s weight and a comprehensive analysis is often necessary. The more we try to help people with weight loss, the more factors we find that affect weight. No two people are alike. Some people will gain weight on low calorie diets, and we all know people who can eat just about anything and not gain weight. We do know that there are many factors and genes in the body that contribute to our body shape and metabolism.  

Obesity can be caused by many things, and what we eat is just part of the story. Medications from various heart drugs, to antidepressants and even some pain drugs can contribute to weight issues. Medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, heart and lung disease, as well as abdominal conditions and depression all may affect our weight. Since many medical conditions directly affect our weight as well as the drugs we take, having a medical expert on obesity help design a program to control medical problems associated with obesity is often a first step.

Weight Loss Steps

The next most important step is probably taking a close look at oneself, and trying to understand personal factors that may be contributing to weight. These factors include the obvious, like our diet, especially what we eat, when we eat and how much we eat. Activity level is also a crucial factor. An inactive body does burn some calories, but being more active does increase the amount of energy used. Soft factors also contribute to weight, such as stress, anxiety, and how much we sleep.

Once we identify factors contributing to our weight, we need to make changes that are sustainable. Many diets fall into the category that are unsustainable, since they rely on one eating only packaged food from a special company. Changes do not need to all happen at once, as slow implementation fives the body time to make adjustments. Simple things like getting a good night of sleep, eating regular meals and taking a few minutes to exercise can make a big difference. Also, find a way to be accountable to either oneself or to another person. Being accountable tends to make a person more responsible.

Weight loss is extremely complex. There are many factors that contribute to a person’s weight. It takes a degree of dedication and the ability to understand what is happening in your body to facilitate weight loss. For the lucky, weight control is just a small amount of effort, while for others it often becomes a life long challenge. Seeking good medical advice is beneficial for any person looking to drop a few pounds.