Sleep and Caffeine May Play Key Role In Controlling Chronic Pain

sleep caffeineNew research out of Boston suggests that sleep and caffeine may play integral roles in controlling chronic pain flareups.

It’s probably not a huge surprise that sleep is beneficial for controlling chronic pain, as we’ve talked about the restorative benefits of sleep on our blog many times before, but the part about caffeine is interesting. Here’s what the researchers had to say.

Benefits of Sleep and Caffeine

For their study, researchers looked at the effects of sleep (or lack thereof) and caffeine on mice and their pain sensitivity. Researchers began by tracking normal sleep cycles and measuring brain activity, then they began to disrupt this healthy sleep cycle by giving mice toys and activities that entertained them and kept them awake (much like Netflix or our iPads do for humans).

“Mice love nesting, so when they started to get sleepy (as seen by their EEG/EMG pattern) we would give them nesting materials like a wipe or cotton ball,” says Dr. Alban Latremoliere, PhD and pain expert at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Rodents also like chewing, so we introduced a lot of activities based around chewing, for example, having to chew through something to get to a cotton ball.”

Researchers kept mice awake for up to 12 hours in one night or for six hours five nights in a row. They examined that fatigue, stress and pain sensitivity all increased during this time.

“We found that five consecutive days of moderate sleep deprivation can significantly exacerbate pain sensitivity over time in otherwise healthy mice,” says Dr. Chloe Alexandre, a sleep physiologist.

Caffeine’s Role

According to researchers, common painkillers did not help mice combat pain, and morphine was less effective in sleep-deprived mice, meaning chronic pain patients who are tired may have to up their morphine dose in order for it to be effective. However, researchers found that caffeine helped to block pain sensitivity.

This led researchers to conclude that a good night’s sleep combined with caffeine during the day (along with other good habits like regular exercise and a healthy diet) may be more effective for managing chronic pain than simply relaying on analgesic medications.

“Many patients with chronic pain suffer from poor sleep and daytime fatigue, and some pain medications themselves can contribute to these co-morbidities,” Dr. Kiran Maski, M.D. at Boston Children’s hospital who studies sleep disorders. “This study suggests a novel approach to pain management that would be relatively easy to implement in clinical care.”

PTSD An Approved Condition For Medical Marijuana In Minnesota

PTSD medical marijuanaThe Minnesota Department of Health added post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition under the state’s medical marijuana program on Thursday.

“PTSD presented the strongest case for potential benefits and a … lack of treatment alternatives,” said MDH Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

PTSD comes in many forms, and there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for individuals who are dealing with the psychological condition. Medical marijuana will not work for everyone, but like we mentioned in our post on Daith piercings for migraines, medical marijuana will provide another potential low-cost treatment option. Medical marijuana is by no means cheap, but trying the initial treatment is much less costly then certain therapy sessions or countless doctor visits, so it opens a new door for individuals with PTSD.

Coming In 2017

Although PTSD has been added to the list of approved conditions for medical marijuana in the state, it was not granted immediate approval. PTSD won’t be considered an active condition until August 1, 2017. However, this doesn’t mean that it will be easy to get clearance from a doctor for PTSD. Military veterans will need to get a doctor’s diagnosis and approval in order to be eligible, but that recommendation cannot come from any Veterans Affairs hospital because marijuana is considered illegal under federal guidelines. They will need to get approval from another physician, and oftentimes it’s difficult to get a new physician to declare you eligible for the medical marijuana program, as doctors are leery of patients jumping from doctor to doctor to try and find a doctor that will grant them approval.

PTSD was the only condition added to the list of approved conditions on Thursday, as Ehlinger and the Minnesota Department of Health shot down proposals for other conditions like arthritis and depression.

Follow These Tips To Calm Your Chronic Pain

Happy 4th of July! Hopefully you had a wonderful long weekend with friends and family. If you’re like most Americans, you probably did some traveling over the long weekend. Traveling can be a lot of fun, but not if your chronic pain flares up. Today, we share nine tips from our friends at Cleveland Clinic for managing chronic pain when you’re traveling and throughout your daily life.

Chronic Pain Tips

Chronic Pain in the Fall

Autumn and Chronic PainThe changing seasons can make inflammation and chronic pain flare up, and autumn is no different. Fall brings a host of new activities, like cleaning out the gutters, raking the leaves and putting up Halloween decorations. All of those activities are difficult on their own, let alone if you’re battling chronic pain.

Today, we’re going share some tips for managing chronic pain in the fall.

Autumn and Chronic Pain

Here are some ways to prevent chronic pain flare ups this season.

Stretch and Exercise – Before you jump into an activity, make sure your body is warmed up. If you don’t give your body time to get ready for physical activity, you’ll notice it in your joints. Even it’s something as simple as walking around your house or yard for five minutes before you begin, give your body time to warm up.

Dress Warm – Speaking of warming up, make sure you dress appropriately for the weather. As we saw in the last few weeks, autumn can bring 90 degree temperatures and 50 degree weather, so don’t just assume you’ll be warm enough with a T-shirt and shorts. It’s always easier to overdress and take a layer off than to find more layers if you’re away from your home. Keeping your appendages warm will ensure your blood circulates properly and your fingers and toes get the oxygen they need to avoid cramping or pain.

Ask For Help – If you’re having a particularly painful day, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member for help. Attempting to rake the whole yard can exacerbate pain if you overdo it. Additionally, it’s always nice to have a friend nearby if you have to get up on a ladder to reach the gutters or put up decorations. Not only can they stabilize the ladder, but they can take over if the pain is too great.

Pain Relievers – If you know you’re in for a day of physical activity, consider an over-the-counter pain reliever. Ibuprofen, Aspirin and Naproxen can help control inflammation, which is often the root cause of chronic pain. Be sure you know how your body reacts under these medications, and consult with your doctor if you are currently on any prescription medications before taking anything else.

Stop if you Feel Pain – If you’re dealing with chronic pain, odds are physical activity will bring about some discomfort, and that’s actually a good thing. You’re strengthening your muscles and naturally combating chronic pain, but if you start to feel dizzy, nauseous or sharp pain, stop what you’re doing. Take a break for a bit and see if a little rest helps the pain subside. If pain is just too much, schedule a consultation with a pain specialist.

September is Pain Awareness Month

Chronic Pain in St. CloudSeptember is Pain Awareness Month, and as the name implies, the goal of the month is to help raise awareness and spread the word about chronic pain. As we’ve stated before, more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. We want to help share their stories and explain what they go through on a regular basis, so here’s more information about one of the leading causes of disability in America.

Chronic Pain Problems

Chronic pain can affect any part of your body. Below is a closer look at some areas that are commonly affected by chronic pain, and some of the symptoms that accompany those painful areas.

Chronic Arthritis – Arthritis pain is caused by inflammation in your joints, and millions of Americans suffer from chronic arthritis in their fingers, knees and toes. Most people associate arthritis pain with older individuals, but nearly 300,000 children suffer from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Chronic Headaches – Headaches and migraines are another chronic condition that can make it hard to go about your daily routine. Crippling or shooting pain in your head can be caused by a chemical imbalance or a poor diet. If exercise and diet modifications don’t stop the headaches, pain injections or other treatment options can provide temporary relief.

Chronic Back PainChronic back pain is probably the condition I treat most at my clinic. Whether chronic pain develops from overuse or acute injury, it can make life extremely painful for the patient. Luckily, modern medicine continues to improve how we diagnose and treat back injuries. Through physical therapy, injections or even surgery, most people find some sort of pain relief.

Chronic Leg Pain – Chronic leg pain typically occurs when there is an issue with nerves in your legs and feet. Nerve issues in your leg can cause shooting pain in your legs and spine. Again, physical therapy and injections can help treat the issue, as well as surgery to remove the damaged nerves.

Chronic Neck PainChronic neck pain typically sets in after an acute injury, like whiplash from a car accident or a sports injury. Neck pain can make it extremely painful to turn your head or preform routine activities. Treatment of whiplash typically involves rest, physical therapy, injections and strengthening exercises.

If you or someone you know deals with chronic pain on a regular basis, encourage them to seek out professional help. You shouldn’t have to live life in pain, so speak to a pain specialist today.