Fibromyalgia – Not Just In Your Head

The problem with invisible illnesses like fibromyalgia or CRPS is that people who don’t understand the condition often think someone is faking the condition or making it up for attention. The fact of the matter is that these are real conditions that plague hundreds of thousands of individuals in the United States each and every day. Because symptoms come in waves and patients can have good days and bad days, outsiders think that symptom prevalence can arise or decrease at “convenient times.”

Let me tell you this – there is nothing “convenient” about these illnesses. Some of the strongest people I’ve seen carry around the weight of these invisible diseases every day. Nobody wants to be bothered by painful flare ups or joint discomfort. They want to be pain free, and oftentimes they’ve undergone countless different treatment options to no avail.

Understanding Fibromyalgia

In an effort to help more people understand these invisible illnesses, we’ve decided to share an infographic that helps to shine a light on one of the more common chronic conditions – Fibromyalgia. So take a couple of minutes and give the infographic a closer look, so the next time someone opens up about their pain, you’ll have a better understanding of what they might be going through.

The following infographic is from MBA-Healthcare-Management.com

fibromyalgia

More Findings On The Daith Piercing

daith piercing survey resultsAs you’re probably aware if you read this blog, we’ve been helping push patients who have undergone the Daith Piercing for headaches to Dr. Chris Blatchley’s website. Dr. Blatchley has been attempting to conduct one of the foremost studies on the Daith Piercing, and he recently completed his findings. You can see the full results from Version 1 of the study by clicking here. If that link is no longer working, head to his website and look for a link to the survey results.

Before we get into some of the findings in Version 1, Dr. Blatchley reached out to us to see if we could help direct people to take a second version of the Daith Piercing survey. This will again help us learn more about pain pathways and how the piercing may help some individuals with certain types of headaches and migraines. So if you haven’t yet taken the second version of the Daith Piecing Survey, please click here and consider taking a couple minutes to help advance our medical knowledge.

Daith Piercing Survey Results

As we mentioned above, you can take a closer look at the full report by clicking the above link, but here are some of the takeaways in bullet point form:

  • More than 1,250 individuals completed the survey.
  • 98.5 percent of survey respondents were women.
  • 90% had seen a family doctor and 40% a medical specialist. 44% had underwent a brain/MRI scan.
  • Roughly 80 percent of patients said they were either “Delighted” or “Very Happy” with the results from the Daith Piercing in terms of headache relief at measured intervals after receiving the piercing (first 30 days, 1-3 months, 4-6 months, etc.).
  • Only 2.6% of respondents said they were “Very Unhappy” with the piercing, with the most common reason why being that it did not provide them with headache relief.
  • Interestingly, the side the piercing was on was split almost right down the middle. 51 percent got the piercing in their right ear, while 49 percent got it in their left ear.
  • About 20 percent of respondents had both ears pierced with the Daith technique.
  • The majority of respondents reported a decrease in symptoms of headache frequency after undergoing the piercing, and many of these decreases occurred quickly after the piercing was administered.

For more information about the study, or to check out the results, I urge you to head over to Dr. Blatchley’s site. Hopefully Version 2 of the study will be as enlightening as the first version.

Minnesota Researching Opioid Alternatives

opioid abuse alternativesEven if you’re not a chronic pain sufferer, you’ve probably heard about the “opioid crisis” here in America. Overdoses and accidental deaths from pain medications have skyrocketed in recent years, and things are only getting more divisive as we try to put an end to overdoses. There are too many competing interests working against one another. For example:

  • You have a government officials who are supported by money from big pharma.
  • You have big pharma, who is making a lot of money through the increase in prescription medications.
  • You have some overworked doctors who jump right to pain pills instead of taking more time to find solutions.
  • You have some chronic pain patients who take the idea of opioid regulation as a personal offense.

That’s simply too many interests pulling in too many directions, and chronic pain patients are suffering because of it. However, Minnesota has recently taken some tangible steps to look for alternatives to opioids.

Opioid Alternatives

Earlier this month, leading medical minds met in St. Paul to talk about some alternatives to pain management to help combat the opioid epidemic. They discussed a range of possibilities, including such options as:

  • Electrotherapy
  • Radio-frequency ablation
  • Cryogenics
  • Implantable spinal cord stimulators
  • Epidural injections
  • Medical gadgetry
  • Chemical compisitions
  • Physical therapy techniques

The goal of the meeting was to help lawmakers understand that they have the ability to influence how research funding can be allocated for some of these alternatives, and that the future of these pain management techniques are worth exploring.

Dr. Clarence Shannon, an anesthesiologist who works in the University of Minnesota Pain Clinic in Minneapolis, spoke about the summit and how it’s important to test out potential treatment options before jumping to opioids.

“It’s a stair-step approach that I like to use: nonsteroidals, anti-epileptics or neuropathic medications. We’ll try radio-frequency ablation if we can. We’ll do nerve blocks. And then we’ll move up to the things like the implantable devices,” Shannon said.

These alternatives aren’t perfect solutions, and while they do have some drawbacks, the downsides are much less threatening to a patient’s health than the negative consequences of opioids. Medical devices may cost more, may be more prone to malfunction and may require battery changes, but those downsides are worth it if they can protect us against opioid abuse and overdose.

A Good Start

The pain management summit was a good start, but we need to also focus on getting everybody on the same page. We need to the government to look at the bottom line in terms of lives saved and not dollars earned. We need to take the burden off doctors so they don’t feel the need to fall back on opioid prescriptions without first exhausting some other options. We need chronic pain patients to realize that searching for alternatives does not mean the government is going to come and take away their prescriptions that they are using responsibly to manage their pain.

We need to work together to find a solution, or we can’t expect anything to change. Hopefully Minnesota can be at the forefront of that change.

Chronic Pain Management When Soldiers Return Home

military painChronic pain is a widespread problem for millions of Americans, but it may be even more of an issue for our returning servicemen and veterans. According to a recent study, a survey of one of the Army’s leading units revealed that 44 percent of deployed soldiers suffered from chronic pain, and 15 percent reported regular use of opioids to manage the condition.

Even though soldiers have easier access to comprehensive medical care, these figures are much higher than expected. A survey of the general population suggests that an estimated 26 percent of Americans suffer from some chronic pain condition, while four percent actively use opioids to manage the condition. This means a service member is more than 1.5 times more likely to suffer from chronic pain than an average civilian, and nearly four times as likely to be taking opioids on a regular basis.

Chronic Pain and Military Members

Other findings from the chronic pain survey include:

  • 50 percent of male veterans and 75 percent of female veterans report that pain is the most common physical complaint.
  • More than 40 percent of returning service members with chronic pain also reported having PTSD or post-concussive symptoms.

One of the biggest obstacles facing veterans with pain or mental health issues is that they don’t want to ask for help. People don’t really like to ask for help in the first place, and when you combine it with the mentality of a soldier who is supposed to be tough and selfless, it often leads to situations where they believe asking for help is a sign of weakness, which it’s absolutely note. If you are suffering from chronic pain or you just feel like you haven’t been in a healthy frame of mind lately, reach out to Dr. Cohn or another healthcare provider for assistance.

Creating A Plan To Treat Chronic Pain In Soldiers

Here’s a look at the recommendations provided by the Pain Management Task Force for helping soldiers get the care and treatment they deserve.

  • Provide tools and infrastructure that support and encourage practice and research advancements in pain management.
  • Build a full spectrum of best practices for the continuum of acute and chronic pain, based on a foundation of best available evidence.
  • Focus on the warrior and family.
  • Synchronize a culture of pain awareness, education, and proactive intervention.

The last point is key. We need to focus on shifting the culture of pain awareness and treatment from one where chronic pain patients feel shamed or scared for seeking help towards one that encourages everyone to seek active treatment for their pain. If you need help, speak up.

5 Tips For Exercising With Chronic Pain

exercise painExercise can help prevent and manage chronic pain, but chronic pain can also make it difficult to exercise on a regular basis. However, if you keep some tips in mind, you may find it easier to get through your exercise routine even if you are plagued by chronic pain.

Today, we share five tips that can make exercise easier even if you are battling a chronic pain condition.

Chronic Pain and Exercise

Here are five tips for making your exercise routine a little more bearable when you’re dealing with chronic pain.

1. Avoid The Wrong Activities – Try to get your exercise in by being mindful of where pain exists and which activities overstress these areas. You want to strengthen certain areas while avoiding overstressing painful areas. For example, if you have chronic low back pain, exercise activities like cycling or canoeing may put excess stress on your lumbar spine. Don’t partake in activities that will make the problem worse.

2. Find Your Pace – Yoga classes or group exercise routines can help make exercising more fun, but not if you’re struggling to keep up. Go at your own pace and do not worry what other people are doing. If you’re dead set on working out with a group or another person, find someone who closely matches your ability and who will be willing to scale things back or stop altogether if pain makes exercise too difficult.

3. Aqua Therapy – We’ve pushed the benefits of aqua therapy in the past, and we think it’s a great option for chronic pain sufferers because the water’s natural buoyancy helps to take stress and pressure off our joints. Also, the water provides natural resistance, which makes it easier to strengthen different structures that you might not be able to as easily on land.

4. Balanced Routine – While we want you to find what works for you, it’s also important that you find some balance in your workout routine. You need to focus on your cardiovascular health, aerobic conditioning and strength training in order to best keep chronic pain at bay.

5. Accept That Not Every Day Is Going To Be Great – This happens with everybody, so don’t get discouraged if you just don’t seem to “have it” on any given day. As long as you are up and trying to improve your physical health, that day is a win. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not always going to go smoothly, but if you’re making a conscious effort to exercise 4-5 times a week, your body will thank you for it.

For more tips on how to exercise with chronic pain, or to talk to a doctor about your chronic pain condition, reach out to Dr. Cohn today.