Shared Reading Helpful For Chronic Pain Patients

Shared Reading Chronic PainNew research suggests that shared reading may help ease discomfort and provide cognitive benefits for individuals battling chronic pain.

Shared reading, as the researchers defined, was the act of of gathering with others and reading short stories, poetry or other literature out loud. Researchers said by reading literature that triggers memories of experiences throughout life, like happy childhood memories or relationships, patients can experience benefits similar to or that outweigh the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain.

Shared Reading And Chronic Pain

There are hundreds of different treatment options for chronic pain, because chronic pain is unique to the individual. Some people experience pulsing pain in their lower back, others battle waves and waves of headaches, while others have nerve damage that sends pain signals to the brain when their is no painful stimulus present. What works for one person will not always work for another, and unfortunately that’s the problem that many pain sufferers are running in to. In turn, they are looking into alternative options, one of which is shared reading.

For their study, researchers compared the benefits of shared reading to cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a technique that aims to change the way people think and behave in order to better manage physical and mental issues related to chronic pain. To do this, patients with severe chronic pain were asked to participate in either five weeks of CBT or 22 weeks of shared reading. At the conclusion of the five weeks of CBT, individuals in that group joined the shared reading group for the remainder of the 22 weeks. The shared reading sessions incorporated literature that was designed to prompt memories of family, relationship, work experiences or other happy memories throughout their lifetime. Participants were required to report their pain severity and emotions before and after each session, and they were asked to record their pain and emotions twice a day in a personal journal.

Study Results

At the end of the study, researchers wrote:

  • While CBT helped to manage a person’s emotions, shared reading appeared to help patients address the painful emotions that might be contributing to chronic pain.
  • Pain severity and mood improved for up to two days after shared reading sessions.

“Our study indicated that shared reading could potentially be an alternative to CBT in bringing into conscious awareness areas of emotional pain otherwise passively suffered by chronic pain patients,” researchers wrote. “The encouragement of greater confrontation and tolerance of emotional difficulty that sharing reading provides makes it valuable as a longer-term follow-up or adjunct to CBT’s concentration on short-term management of emotion.”

Researchers want to conduct future studies with larger sample sizes, but it’s an interesting approach to treating chronic pain. We’ll certainly keep tabs on shared reading as a potential treatment option.

Resolutions For Keeping Chronic Pain Under Control

chronic pain resolutionsIt’s a new year, but that doesn’t mean you’ve left your back pain in 2016. One-third of the population battles regular pain in one form or another, so although you’re not alone, we thought the New Year was the perfect time to lay out some resolutions for pain sufferers to take back control of their bodies in 2017. Here are some resolutions to keep in mind to help control your chronic pain this year.

Pain Resolutions

The first thing is to commit to change. If you continue to do everything the same as you always have done, the results will be the same. Change is hard, but without change, there is little chance that a different outcome can be achieved. Choose to make one change at a time. It will be uncomfortable, but not all pain is bad. The first stretch in the morning always hurts, but after the initial pain, it goes away and then you feel better. Since we all are humans and not perfect, we can all benefit from change.

For many people who have pain, the next place to turn is to see a physician, especially one who specializes in Pain Management. Believe it or not, this is a small specialty of medical doctors who have expertise in diagnosing and treating all kinds of things that cause pain. Doctors who have medical boards (approved certifications by the American Board of Medical Specialties) in both Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (P.M. and R.) and in Pain Medicine may be your best choice for an expert to help guide your treatment. Most importantly, find someone in the field who has experience, and with whom you feel comfortable. Try to find those doctors who are in the top 10 percent of the specialty, as they have extensive knowledge about diagnoses and treatment, and are continuing to educate themselves about new information.

Change Your Habits

Changes that make a difference are often those that are basic to a healthy life in general. Start simple and try to get good sleep at night. The brain needs to shut down at night and follow good sleep hygiene habits. If you’re still not sleeping, have an evaluation by a physician specializing in sleep quality.

Nutrition is the next big area, what we eat and put into our bodies has a huge effect on every part of our life. We are what we eat. For many of us, we absolutely need to change our diets. Be honest with yourself, track what you eat and change it slowly. If you have no idea what to change, get some help.

Lastly, nothing changes if you do not exercise. Exercise has to be done daily, and it will include stretching, strengthening and conditioning. Stretching should be daily, while strengthening and conditioning can be alternated. Find 30 minutes a day outside of regular activities to devote specifically to exercise.

Resolve to change in the new year. Get motivated, and be responsible to yourself. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, because a third of the world has chronic pain. Medicine knows some of the best solutions are the simplest. Exercise, nutrition, reducing stress and sleep solve many of our health problems. If you have difficulty finding the path on your own, get some help by experts.

Managing Chronic Pain During The Holidays

Chronic Pain HolidaysThe holidays can be a wonderful time of year, but they can also be a time of stress, especially if you have to deal with chronic pain. Whether your pain is in the form of low back pain, arthritis or pulsing headaches, pain can make the holidays nearly unbearable. However, you can make the pain a little more manageable if you keep a few tips in mind. Today, we’re going to share four tips for keeping chronic pain under control during the holiday season.

Chronic Pain and The Holidays

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as the holidays approach.

1. Share Duties – No matter what you’re doing, be it wrapping presents, shoveling the driveway or cooking a Christmas feast, always recruit some helpers to take the burden off your body. Standing on your feet or over stressing your back can all cause inflammation to flare up, making pain worse. Always see if some friends or family are willing to lend a hand when you have a lot on your plate.

2. Travel Comfort – Whether you’re driving home from college or flying across the country to meet up with loved ones, if you aren’t prepared to travel, chronic pain can be exacerbated by the extended period in one spot. Consider these tips when attempting to keep chronic pain at bay when traveling:

  • Stand up and stretch during stops or when allowed to move about the cabin.
  • Pack a pillow to help you get comfortable in your seat.
  • Request a seat that will give you the best chance to get comfortable (aisle, captain seat, etc.).
  • Leave early so you can hit rest stops if need be.

3. Exercise – Exercise can not only help us relieve stress during the holiday season, but it can also prevent chronic pain from bubbling to the surface. Exercise helps oxygenated blood circulate through our bodies, which helps keep them in good working order, and exercise can release endorphins in your brain, which can impact our mindset and push away chronic pain triggers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the holidays, jump on the treadmill for a quick run.

4. Eat Right – This is one especially difficult to do during the holidays when gingerbread cookies and candy canes are bountiful. As we’ve stated on the blog before, junk foods, especially foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar, can trigger inflammation in our joints. Coupled with the cold weather, these inflammatory flare ups can trigger the onset of chronic pain. We’re not saying you can’t indulge here and there, but work in some fruits and vegetables between snacks to ensure your body is getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients.

Preventing Chronic Pain When Shoveling

Chronic Pain ShovelingA big snowstorm is coming our way, and odds are you’re going to need to bust out the shovel or snowblower when it’s all said and done. Moving all that snow is never easy, but it can be an even bigger headache if you’re also dealing with chronic pain. Today, we’re going to share a few tips for how to effectively move snow without triggering a chronic pain flareup.

Chronic Pain and Shoveling

Keep these tips in mind the next time you have to head out and shovel snow:

  • Warm up your body before you head outside. Do 5-10 minutes of light stretching exercises to ensure your muscles are warm before heading outside.
  • Grab a friend. The more people helping to move snow, the quicker the job will get done.
  • Take frequent breaks. Don’t try to get everything done in one session, because if you overwork your muscles, you’re more likely to trigger a chronic pain flareup.
  • Practice proper lifting techniques. Try to push the snow off your driveway instead of lifting and throwing it, as that can lead to back problems. When bending, bend at the knees, not the waist.
  • Stay warm. Cold weather can trigger inflammation in our joints. Put on enough layers so that you’ll stay warm when shoveling, and head inside to heat up if you start to get cold.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen prior to heading outside to shovel to help keep inflammation at bay.
  • Invest in a snowblower. They can be pretty pricey, but if they help prevent painful flareups, they are well worth the investment.
  • Talk to your doctor. If you are dealing with a specific chronic pain condition, talk to your doctor to see if they have any other specific tips for preventing chronic pain flareups while you’re removing snow from your driveway and sidewalks.

Stay safe this weekend, and follow these tips before you head outside to shovel!

Pain Care – When Correlation Doesn’t Equal Causation

Opioid Abuse Smoking StudyIt seems that there are new articles being published almost every day on the dangers of opioid pain medications. Unfortunately a lot of the studies are not very enlightening. Worse yet, some are just sensational, dumb correlations without causation.

For instance, saying obesity is correlated to eating is a great example of poor research. If you eat, of course could run the risk of being obese, but if you do not eat you could die, so obviously these findings are not very meaningful.

The latest was an article stating that a third of all adults in the United States in the last year received a prescription of opioid medication, and this is larger than the number of people who smoke cigarettesThe reason this is absolutely meaningless is this number has no real meaning. If you add up all the prescriptions for opioids written in one year and divide by the adult population, this is very likely.

Another interpretation would be that 1 in 3 people had a serious medical issue in the last year and were prescribed pain medication. Most people who have been in the hospital or emergency room for a surgery or injury may get a short-term prescription for pain medications. This is one of the very legitimate uses of these drugs, and should not be demonized. Treating acute pain aggressively at the outset has been shown to reduce the incidence of chronic pain problems. Several days of pain medications after a surgery or serious injury is appropriate but it should not be an ongoing use once the acute episode has healed.

Making Bad Connections

A third of the world population also suffers from chronic pain. A small percentage of those people are helped only by opioid medication and use these appropriately to maintain function and ability. There are many who use these medications extremely sparingly and thus continue to be highly productive in society since then they can control their symptoms. These people are dependent on these medications, they are not addicted, and oftentimes other conservative treatments have failed them. If there were better legal treatments available, many of these people would never use opioids.

Taking a prescription pain medication for a legitimate medical problem is not a significant issue or statistic. Smoking cigarettes for most is a daily addiction, affecting 25 percent of adults. It is voluntary, it causes multiple health problems, and has a huge cost to society. Comparing pain medication use to smoking is a useless correlation with no meaning.