Tuesday, September 25, 2007
This post will help you to understand what Fibromyalgia really is and how to treat the pain it causes.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic and painful condition that is extremely hard to diagnose. The main symptoms are constant pain and stiffness in the musculoskeletal parts ofthe body, soft tissue tenderness and sleep disturbances leading to extreme tiredness. The pain is mostly felt in the neck, back, pelvic girdle and hands, though any other parts of the body may be affected. This disease is very hard to diagnose because so many of the symptoms are similar to other problems like chronic fatigue, rheumatism and arthritis. Doctors must rely a great deal on their patients’ description of symptoms.
There is a manual standardized test that can be given to discover if thereis pain at specified points of the body. If 11 out of 18 of these specified pointsare tender, and the patient has had pain in all four quadrants of the body for atleast three months then Fibromyalgia is certainly suspected. A compounding problemis that these symptoms can come and go from week to week. Numbness, tingling and burning may also be present and the pain can be affected by emotional stress, traumaand also by weather conditions such as humidity and cold. Too little or too much activity can also play a part in the amount of pain experienced. Sometimes FM can be triggered by an illness or injury, but it is also thought to be genetic.
New research has shown that it may be caused by an interpretive defect of the central nervous system that causes abnormal pain perception. Once the condition has beendiagnosed, there is much the patient can do to relieve the symptoms. Certainly the advice of a medical health-care provider should be sought and followed, but there are many alternative treatments that offer relief from the symptoms and most doctors agree that sufferers of FM should put into place a multi-faceted treatment regimen thatincludes nutrition, exercise, dietary supplements, acupuncture, aroma-therapy, relaxation techniques and even the use of hot-cold therapies and humor to aid in pain relief. Over the counter pain relief medication such as ibuprofen can be used, while low doses of anti-depressants from the doctor can certainly help the sufferer to getbetter sleep. Lidocaine injections into tender pain points may also be needed for relief. Gentle exercise and stretching will prevent the muscles from wasting away and is also beneficial in reducing pain and stiffness.
Because living with a chronic illness such as FM can be so debilitating, sufferersneed emotional support as well as physical. Joining an FM support group can provide helpful insights into the disease, while counseling sessions with a trained professional can open communication with friends and family who often cannot understand the extensive disabilities caused by FM. If you are an FM sufferer, it is important to keep a hopeful attitude even in the face of debilitating pain,because this disease does tend to improve over time and there are always new and different treatments being discovered.
Wishing you all Health and Happiness always!
Michele Brooks, RN, Editor
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Friday, September 21, 2007
Are you one of the approximately 25 million Americans, among others, who suffer the pain and discomfort of stomach ulcers? Are you restricting your diet from spicy foods and alcohol and blaming stress or bad genes for the constant burning sensations?
Stomach ulcers, called peptic ulcers, are a common complaint and are usually treated with over the counter antacids or prescription medication. Lifestyle changes, including diet and stress reduction, can affect your job, family time and enjoyment of life.
If you've been suffering from stomach ulcers for a long time, there's good news - you CAN find a cure!
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PEPTIC ULCERS?
The most common symptom of peptic ulcers is a burning sensation or pain behind the breastbone or in the abdomen.
Other, less common symptoms include: belching, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite or bleeding. A bleeding ulcer can lead to anemia, fatigue and more serious complications.
Since many people find their symptoms worse in the night or early morning when the stomach is empty the pain is often relieved by eating or taking antacids.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF PEPTIC ULCERS?
Until fairly recently, stomach ulcers were blamed on a diet of spicy foods, alcohol, too much stress or even heredity. Now researchers are looking at bacteria called H. pylori as the cause behind up to 90% of cases of peptic ulcers.
What this new information has done is offer medical professionals a means of targeting the cause, rather than the symptoms, of peptic ulcers. That means a cure instead of temporary relief.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE H. PYLORI INFECTION?
The H. pylori bacteria are quite widespread, although no concrete statement has been made as to how it is spread or how to prevent contamination. In fact, you can be infected with H. pylori and have no symptoms at all.
The H. pylori bacteria live in the lining of the stomach and so are able to survive the acidic environment. Tests for the H. pylori bacteria include blood samples, breath tests or samples of stomach lining taken during an endoscopy which is when a small camera is inserted trough the mouth and into the stomach to look for ulcers.
HOW IS H. PYLORI INFECTION TREATED?
Prescription medication in the past concentrated on reducing the acid in the stomach so the ulcers could heal. If an H. pylori bacterium is the culprit it will require a treatment of antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria - possibly forever.
Those who prefer to use natural cures can look for information on licorice root extract and broccoli sprouts as possible links to helping cure stomach ulcers due to the H. pylori infection.
Speak to your health care provider to find out what the best strategy is to treat and CURE your ulcers so you can live life to its fullest!
Wishing you all Health and Happiness always!
Michele Brooks, RN, Editor
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Thursday, September 20, 2007
It seems more and more people are turning to natural healing methods for relief from aches and pains these days. Besides relieving the aches and pains, these methods can help release stress and return a sense of balance to the person who craves a break from a hectic lifestyle. There are hundreds of variations of these natural healing methods, or bodywork styles.
These methods don't involve any surgery, prescription drugs or invasive procedures as are routinely practiced by medical professionals and so can be considered natural. This is a type of treatment offered by skilled body workers who combine their healing techniques with the natural healing powers of the body to bring about wholeness.
Of course, it is definitely recommended that anyone with any severe or chronic pain or concern should consult with a licensed medical professional even if they choose to seek help with a natural healing method as well.
One of the better-known and more popular natural healing methods is massage therapy. There are as many forms of massage therapy as there are practitioners. Although many communities require that massage therapists attend formal training and be licensed, there is a lot of room for individuality in the practice.
Massage involves the manipulation of the soft tissue of the body. This is rubbing, kneading, pressing, and touching the skin of the client using various strokes, patterns and levels of pressure to impact the tissue below. Massage impacts the nervous system, the lymph system, circulation, digestion, muscles - you name it.
To be clear, the variety of massage available is not only due to differences in the therapists' styles, since there are many established techniques and schools. Swedish is probably the most fundamental in the west, while others include sports massage, neuromuscular, and trigger point, to name just a few.
Shiatsu Massage is Japanese in origin, although it has its roots in Chinese medicine. Shiatsu involves putting pressure on various points on the body, following the meridian pathways, to release any blocks in the system and so allow the chi to flow freely. This will then restore balance and health to the body. These therapists mostly use their thumbs in their work, but also use their fingers, palms, and even their feet when appropriate.
Although the experience of Swedish and Shiatsu massage is very different, the effects can be very similar. A Shiatsu massage can lead to feelings of deep relaxation and balance while also affecting the body's systems in healing ways.
In addition to massage, there are many other bodywork techniques. Many are hands on, involving actual touch of the body like massage. Other styles work just within the energy field of the body, and do not involve actual physical touch at all. Then there are some, like Healing Touch, that offer a combination.
Whatever the ailment someone might experience, whether it is physical, emotional, or mental, there is a natural bodywork method that could assist in the healing process. Trying out a few of the techniques to find out which styles you like the best can be a very enjoyable and relaxing experience.
Wishing you all Health and Happiness always!
Michele Brooks, RN, Editor
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
This post I wanted to talk about How Hypnosis can truly help those in pain:
Pain is a subject that touches everyone. After all, it is a human condition from which we all suffer at one time or another. There are headaches, dental procedures, sports injuries, broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, and psychosomatic pain. Research shows that 75% to 80% of all adults will experience lower back pain at some time in their lives. Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from arthritis pain and as many as 45 million suffer from chronic, recurring headaches.
There are thousands of people every year who suffer the agony of surgical interventions and thousands more who endure the pain of debilitating or terminal illnesses. All of this pain falls into two basic categories: (1) acute pain, which is of short duration and (2) chronic pain, which continues for weeks, months or years. Most people respond to pain - whether acute or chronic - by taking drugs of some kind. But drugs are often a temporary solution. What few people realize is that the ancient art of hypnosis offers a safe, effective alternative for reducing sensitivity to pain.
Hypnosis has been shown effective in the management of various types of pain. Besides providing an effective solution for maladies such as headaches and acute injuries, hypnosis offers a unique solution for those suffering from chronic conditions like back pain and arthritis as well as intermediate and advanced stages of cancer. Studies show that patients with chronic diseases require fewer painkillers to achieve pain relief when they practice hypnosis. These same patients exhibit fewer signs of anxiety and experience greater comfort during medical procedures.
Hypnosis also has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. The most effective approach for acute pain appears to be the use of hypnotic suggestions focusing on anxiety reduction and minimizing the importance of the pain. For chronic pain, it is more effective to confront the pain directly under hypnosis, dealing with both the pain's physical and psychological effects. Another area where hypnosis offers significant positive results is in dealing with pre- and post-operative patients. Using hypnosis in preparation for surgery has been shown to reduce the experience of pain during surgery, resulting in the need for less anesthetics.
Hypnosis as a pain management tool with surgical patients also has been shown to reduce nausea and greatly increase the recovery rate in most patients, thereby truncating the length of time spent in the hospital. (That creates another rarely mentioned positive result: reduced medical costs!) But efficacy and lower medical expenses are not the only positives related to the use of hypnosis for pain management. This modality has no dangerous side effects. Unlike medications, hypnosis does not become less effective with use and does not require stronger and stronger doses to cope with pain. While patients may have to ingest costly medications several times a day for years, they have the potential for reducing or eliminating their pain in just a few hypnotic sessions for significantly less cost.
Does hypnosis always work? In the area of pain control, everyone can be helped to SOME degree. There are essentially five categories into which subjects fall:
1. Those who find total and permanent relief.
2. Those that have a decrease in the severity of pain.
3. Those who experience pain relief initially, but who need occasional reinforcement.
4. Those that experience intermittent relief.
5. Those that still have pain, but feel 10-30% less pain than before.
What accounts for these differences in relief? The answer appears to be the patient's susceptibility to hypnosis - the level of relaxation reached during the hypnotic sessions. The deeper the relaxation, the more effective the pain reduction. Certainly, no treatment for pain - whether chemical, physical or psychological - is effective all the time. However, hypnosis has shown over and over again that it can help people reduce or eliminate both acute and chronic pain. Best of all, it works its magic without any side effects. As a safe, effective alternative for reducing sensitivity to pain, hypnosis is second to none.
Wishing you all Health and Happiness always!
Michele Brooks, RN, Editor
Monday, September 17, 2007
This article is for those who suffer from Carpul Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome has received much media attention in recent years. Still, there appears to be some confusion about the definition of the ailment and how it is diagnosed. The greater one's understanding of carpal tunnel syndrome, the more likely it is that one can receive appropriate treatment.
Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve, which stretches from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. This is significant because the median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some of the muscles in the hand that permit the fingers and thumb to move. The median nerve rests inside a tunnel in the hand whose floor and walls are made up of bones know as carpal bones. The roof of the tunnel is a structure known as the transverse carpal ligament. In addition to the nerve, there are nine tendons which move the fingers and thumb that pass through the tunnel. When the lining around the tendons becomes inflamed, there is less space for the nerve and it becomes compressed. The compression of the nerve gives rise to the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
The symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome include n numbness and tingling in the hand, often occurring at night. Those afflicted also frequently complain of pain and weakness in the hand, especially the thumb. If the condition is untreated, it can lead to atrophy of the muscles in the base of the thumb. A few years ago, you might not have heard about carpal tunnel syndrome. Now, the phrase is commonly heard around office coolers, as secretaries, receptionists, and other office workers complain of its symptoms. But what are the real causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome tends to be associated with certain tasks involving the hands. These include repetitive hand motions, awkward hand positions, strong gripping, mechanical stress on the palm, and vibration. There are a number of occupations and job tasks which have been linked with carpal tunnel syndrome. For instance, a tailor or garment worker might develop the syndrome from grasping and tugging fabric or pulling cloth. A farmer could develop it milking cows, or an assembly line worker might experience it handling objects on a conveyor belt. Mechanics have been known to develop it pushing down a ratchet or using a screw driver, while gardeners can experience it from hand weeding. Painters using spray guns can experience carpal tunnel symptoms, as well as janitors who find themselves routinely scrubbing. Others who may experience carpal tunnel symptoms include musicians, cashiers, clerical workers, butchers, locksmiths, carpenters, and stable hands. A common aspect that turns a typical activity into one that can develop into carpal tunnel syndrome is the lack of frequent, short, rests. It is the constant stress over an extended length of time that creates the inflammation that leads to the syndrome.
Wishing you all Health and Happiness always!
Michele Brooks, RN
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Are you suffering from constant headaches? Headaches are a common ailment, but research has uncovered treatments that may help your problem almost disappear.
According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF) tension headaches affect nearly 78% of the adult population. 13% of the population suffers from migraines. Because the cause of migraines varies greatly, what relieves a migraine in one person may trigger an attack in another. The suggestions here are guidelines for those who suffer regularly from tension headaches which may have an identifiable physical cause.
WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
Some headache sufferers notice a connection with eating or drinking foods with aspartame. For those who are sensitive to the chemical it may cause blood vessels to expand in the brain and trigger a headache.
Caffeine is used to treat headaches. Its proprieties can assist pain medication in providing relief and can be found in medications to treat migraines. However, too much caffeine can have a 'rebound' effect and actually cause headaches. If you suffer from regular headaches you should avoid daily use of caffeinated beverages such as coffee and certain sodas.
According to the McKinley Health Center, avoiding tobacco can also reduce headaches.
Skipping meals may cause headaches in some people, so eating regular meals may prevent headaches in these individuals.
REDUCE THE STRESS
Getting enough sleep is important for everyone. If you suffer from tension headaches you may find getting your eight hours every night reduces the amount or intensity of your headaches. On the other hand, oversleeping can bring on a headache if you don't get up at your regular time (such as on the weekend or during holidays).
Some headaches also seem to be aggravated by too much sun. Excessive exercise outdoors and lack of hydration can lead to headaches. Keep eyes shaded and be sure to drink plenty of water when outdoors.
Not surprisingly it was recently found that women wearing tight ponytails had an increased risk of tension headaches. Releasing or loosening the hair and performing a brief massage to the head can bring almost immediate relief.
What you may think is a sinus headache may actually be a migraine. A consultation with your doctor may determine if you should switch to a migraine medication.
According to the NHF, tension headaches caused by stress should respond to reducing the stress or use of over-the-counter analgesics. However, if headaches occur almost daily you need to look for ways of dealing with the stress and discuss other options with your doctor.
As with caffeine, regular daily use of over the counter medications can actually cause headaches.
If headaches occur for long periods, are unusually intense or do not respond to pain medication after several days you should seek treatment and diagnosis from a health care professional.
Leading a healthy and active lifestyle has many health benefits, including a reduction of tension-type headaches. Combining a healthy lifestyle with avoidance of triggers may help you find relief from tension-type headaches.
Wishing you all Health and Happiness always!
Michele Brooks, RN
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
An estimated eight out of ten people in the United States will injure their back at some point during their lives. Few of these problems will require extended treatment, but back problems are invariably painful. Managing and relieving back pain is not a simple process. The experience of pain is subjective; it cannot be measured from the outside. Health providers who treat back pain find it challenging to obtain the objective or measurable signs that verify and diagnose a patient's painful back symptoms. Additionally, everyone's experience of pain is different. Pain descriptors encompass numerous adjectives - dull, sharp, throbbing, pulsating, stabbing and shock-like, just to name a few.
People experience and describe pain so differently partly due to its varied and complex origins. In fact, pain originates from numerous places in the body, such as muscles, bones, nerves, organs or blood vessels. Pain is also described as acute or chronic. The word "acute" derives from the Latin word for needles and is usually described as a severe, sharp sensation. The initial stage of an injury is called the acute phase. The word "chronic", on the other hand, originated from the Greek word for time. Chronic pain is pain that persists after a length of time, often months to years.
Many back injuries tend to become chronic, especially when not treated properly during the acute phase. Chronic pain is often experienced as a dull ache or constant nagging irritant. Acute and chronic pain sensations also travel different nervous system pathways inside the body. When you injure muscles or ligaments in your back, nerve endings called pain receptors pick up the pain impulses and transmit them to the spinal cord. From here, the pain message ascends to the brain. This process takes place at varying rates of speed depending on the size of the nerve fiber involved. Acute pain tends to travel on faster, larger diameter fibers, while chronic pain prefers smaller, slower pain fibers. Experts suggest that chronic pain affects the brain's limbic system, which is associated with emotional states. Anyone who has ever had a long-term painful injury knows that negative or distressing emotions may accompany or perpetuate the initial injury. The best way to treat chronic back pain syndromes is to prevent them.
Although proficient early treatment does not always prevent an acute injury from turning into a chronic problem, it is a good insurance policy. Early treatment is especially important with injuries to the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) to prevent them from becoming weaker, less elastic and more pain-sensitive. One of the best ways to treat both acute and chronic soft tissue injuries is a hands-on approach that works to repair the injured tissues. Some examples are joint and soft tissue manipulation and mobilization, typically performed by a doctor of chiropractic or osteopath. Other good options are massage and physical therapy. A formal rehabilitation program at a health club or therapy clinic may also help to strengthen weakened and damaged muscles, especially the core stabilizers of the back.
Until next time,
Wishing you all Health and Happiness!
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Monday, September 10, 2007
I thought I would start some posts talking about Arthritic and Joint pain and some information about common treatments.
The conservative medical community tends to treat arthritis with painkillers and exercise. This is because these drug therapies have been around for at least fifty years and surgery has a fairly high success rate, while many other remedies like dietary supplements are relative newcomers to the scene. The only trouble with traditional treatment is that many painkillers can actually worsen the disease, while still masking the symptoms by providing pain relief. Many drugs prescribed for arthritis pain can upset the stomach causing nausea and diarrhea. If the wall of the gut becomes compromised due to the action of these drugs – or for any other reason – it can allow antigens to leak into the system enter the bloodstream and end up in a joint. Once there, they will trigger an attack by the white blood cells that are the body’s defense system. The trouble is this causes more pain and inflammation as the white blood cells release prostaglandins and leukotrienes in an attempt to dispose of the enemy. They also release digestive enzymes to dispose of bacteria, but these often begin to attack and digest the actual cartilage, bone, ligament and muscle that are supposed to be saved. This can then become a chronic problem, which is what happens in RA (rheumatoid arthritis) especially. Other drugs like aspirin rob the body of essential vitamins – especially the B group - and minerals. Loss of these bodybuilding nutrients can cause the very same symptoms that arthritis causes. That is, pain and inflammation due to the breakdown of cartilage, bone and other important tissues. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs like indomethicin (Indocid) and ibuprofen and others, give pain relief and reduce joint swelling, but cause stomach problems with long-term use, while the Cox –2 inhibitors like celecoxib (Celebrex) while safer for the stomach, may cause cardiovascular problems. Steroid medication causes a loss of potassium, but retention of sodium, while penicillamine, often used to treat RA, causes a lack of copper. Gout, the only form of arthritis scientifically shown to have a direct link to diet, is often treated with colchicine, which can cause a loss of vitamin B12. One long-term effect of steroid use is osteoporosis. To prevent this and other problems, steroids such as cortisone can be injected into the painful joint. Disease-modifying and immunosuppressive drugs are sometimes given, but they have serious side effects too, so must be closely monitored. Some of these include: - gold, by injection or orally, methotrexate (Matrex), and anti-malarial drugs to name just a few. When drugs don’t seem to work, or the side effects are too serious, doctors may suggest surgery. Knee and hip replacements seem to be the flavor of the month and the success rate is about 95%, with most patients becoming pain-free. Replaced joint can last for up to fifteen years and when they start to give trouble can be replaced. There are a few unfortunates for whom the operation is not successful and the artificial joint must be removed. They are then left in a more debilitating condition than they started with. There are other surgery options like removing inflamed joint cavity linings, repairing damaged tendons or removing them completely. It is also possible to remove part of a bone that is causing pain, release trapped nerves, or fuse a joint to make it more stable. Always make sure that any proposed surgery, or other treatment is discussed thoroughly with your health care provider, so that you know exactly what risks are involved.
Wishing you Health and Happiness always!
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I wanted to start my postings with a little bit of statistics and information about Pain sufferers.
It's sad to say but the one health complaint throughout the worldis-by far is pain. It accounts for more doctors' visits than anything else and nothing else even comes close. More money is spenton this one health problem than anything else. Give up? It's pain, or what has come to be referred to as either the "silent epidemic" or the "hidden epidemic."
The number of people who have to deal with pain on a regular basis intheir life is absolutely staggering. When you examine the statistics associated with pain, it is glaringly obvious that despite all of the often reported advances made in healthcare, pain is increasingly becoming more common, not less so. The numbers are so striking it's difficult toeven grasp the full measure of the problem. Literally hundreds of millions of people are in pain and for many of them it is constant pain every day.
For many of the people sufferring, their chronic pain is so severe and debilitating, they feel they can't function as normal people. Huge numbersof people believe that pain is simply a part of getting older; that painis something you simply have to learn to live with.
What about you; what's your belief system about pain?
Are you one of those who have bought into the inevitability of pain?
Are you convinced that because it's so prevalent it's just a matter of time before something starts to hurt?
That certainly as time goes by something has to start to hurt?
Or are you one of those who are already in pain and have simply resigned yourself to it?
Everything to be found regarding how to combat pain revolves around pain management; dealing with, coping with, or in some way learning how to live with pain. With many debilitating problems, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia,lupus, or chronic fatigue syndrome, the medical community declares that "there is no known cause." There is not a word to be found regarding how one might goabout removing the cause of the pain because it has been accepted as fact thatthe cause is unknown. Just because the medical community does not know the cause of your pain that does not mean that no one does. The cause is known, and it can be removed. I am living proof of this.
The number one tool in pain management is drugs; Drugs do not fix or heal anything. They simply help to fight symptoms. They do not get to the underlying cause of pain. you should never lose sight that your body is always striving to heal anything that needs fixing, inside the body or not.
Wishing you Health and Happiness!
Friday, September 7, 2007
My name is Michele and I put this Blog together because I have lived with Pain for many, many years due mostly to a few spinal tumors called Schwanomma's, which thank goodness were benign but had to be removed from my spinal cord. I have had 5 back surgeries over the past 13 years along with hernia repairs secondary to the weak muscles left from the surgeries. My full story is being written as we speak. I am starting right from the beginning, back about 25 years ago when my back pain started. I am including all of my experiences, with hospitals, doctors, physical therapy, pain medications, alternative therapies, and more that I have experienced in hopes to help many others who have had or many be going through now similar experiences. I have tried just about every type of pain relieving regimen, both prescribed by MD's and those that are considered alternative therapies. I will be including as many different tips, tricks, techniques and articles, incuding products that I would personally endorse as I can.
I became a Registered Nurse 15 years ago, but although I loved working as a floor nurse, my health issues forced me to start thinking that I could not continue to practice as a nurse too much longer. My job was very stressful and physically demanding having me work long hours, weekends and holidays. I have been working an office Job now for a while.
I am on a mission to share with everyone that I come in contact with as much information as I can to help make others live as pain free as possible..that includes physical as well as emotional Pain.
Here is to Health and happiness to all!!
I hope I can be a part of making this happen for you.
I hope to hear from you with your input that may indeed help others as well.
PS. Keep your eyes open for more posts:)