Acupuncture a PsuedoScience or Not – Baffles Many

18 05 2017

Hike the great outdoors – stay fit, meditate and connect with nature.

Updated: 18 May 2017

At one point in my life I sought alternate treatment for severe back pain.  I only did so after all other conventional treatments had failed.

It’s true physical therapy, diet, ideal body weight, prescriptions and exercise do help with weight bearing, pre-post surgery pain relief and the healing process.

But when you have substantial structural and neurological damage in/around bone and soft tissue which includes tendons, ligaments and muscle, you’re most certain to experience varying levels of acute and chronic pain for long periods of time.

For those that go under the knife to correct and alleviate pain, risk of complications do occur.   Under the best case surgical scenario, repair with significant pain relief is experienced – but not guaranteed.

Because of my unique pain story, I preferred to work around the pain centers throughout the body using alternative pain relief methods.  Since there’s no guarantee surgeries could provide a pain free experience… “I ventured into acupuncture.”

At one point in my life I would have tried any type of pain relief modality opposed to surgery.  Whether I believed it would work or not.  And at that time acupuncture was something I didn’t have a lot of faith in “but I was running out of options and desperate to reduce pain spikes.”

My current thoughts on acupuncture – “Ultimately I became a believer.”  I’m not exactly sure how it physiologically improves function and heals at a cellular level.  BUT I do see how it can relieve pain through stimulation of chemical and electrical transmitters in the body.

I also understand our bodies have this “Chi” energy force that travels throughout our neurological or meridian highways.   Where electrical-chemical energy flow can become blocked through illness, disease and injury and creates inflammation and neurological pain.  And when acupuncture needles are inserted at various points along these highways, energy flow that was once blocked can become unblocked.  And when that happens pain is relieved.

Self healing occurs by-way of many life energy and brain, body and spirit activation and lifestyle choices.

In various cultures the energy flowing through our neurological highways is not only known as Chi.  But can be seen or understood as life energy and cross-compared, or liken to Prana, life force, Spirit, subtle and vital energy, etc.  If you want to know more about these things simply google those terms on the Internet.

For me acupuncture worked, “However at first, I was baffled on exactly how.”

I can only explain it in the following manner.  “I think of my body with millions of electrical circuits where one has shorted somewhere, or was inflamed through illness or disease or injury and sending pain signals to the brain.  Whereas the pain signal can be temporarily or permanently relieved through a by-pass, or neighboring circuit… in effect – pain signal to the brain can be removed or neutralized.”  This does not mean your free of cellular disease or neurological damage.

“A relatable analogy would be similar to an electrical circuit that powers a lightbulb.”  If you take electrical current to earth ground instead of sending it to the brain-bulb or switch-ON for pain – In essence the circuit is dead, “SWITCH-OFF” and pain gone.

Western medicine defines, relates and applies acupuncture treatment in the following manner.

“Approximately 2,000 different acupuncture points lie along the body’s meridians. The idea behind acupuncture is that stimulating these points with acupuncture needles or pressure relieves obstructions in the flow of energy, enabling the body to heal.”

“In the Western view, acupuncture likely works by stimulating the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals called neurotransmitters and hormones. These chemicals dull pain, boost the immune system and regulate various body functions (Watson 2017).”

These concepts and principles are easy to visualize through my mind’s eye.  Since I have an electrical-mechanical background and physiological knowledge through undergraduate studies… my mind accepts both Eastern and Western acupuncture healing and pain relief relationship logic.  Regardless of whether Western medicine can fully explain through empirical data the exact healing agents on brain and body function… I accept it’s healing principles and believe in it.  “Belief is half the battle to curing what ails the mind, body and spirit.”  At least I believe this like many others.

Many scientists consider acupuncture a pseudoscience because it cannot be proven through a controlled lab environment why it works for some, not others and why it works at all.  I can completely understand the difficulty of creating a blind study where trial subjects wouldn’t know whether a needle was sticking them for example; while another group in the study was actually stuck.  Plus cause and pain level sensitivities is often subjective and not substantiated through medical diagnosis.

Exercise helps us to heal, stay fit and healthy. Yoga and Tie chi are said to provide similar benefits.  Trying something outside the mainstream to feel well is worth the endeavor.

I believe if you believe something is possible the psychosomatic (mind/body) meridian highway healing connection can be made to greater degree.  That is the portion of brain during meridian stimulation effectively releases electrical-chemical healing agents to a target area.

Understanding these connections and relationship allows those like myself (meditative-alternative medicine believer) to channel the acupuncture stimulant point to target and heal damaged cell tissues, including nerve pain.

I can tell you there are different techniques used by acupuncturists when getting stuck with tiny micro-thin needles.

Many years ago, I experienced two different styles of Chinese acupuncture.  A hard and soft style.  “Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the most common form of acupuncture studied and practiced in the United States.  Japanese style acupuncture takes a more subtle route than TCM.  Fewer and thinner needles are used with less stimulation (Acufinder.com 2017).”

For me, “during TMC treatment the needles were inserted deep into my low back and caused discomfort and aggravation during treatment.”  They were inserted fast and hit damaged nerves frequently with precision.  After needle insertion an electrical pulsating current was sent through wire leads attached to the needles – then stimulated the damaged neurons under the skin.  Eventually this treatment would reroute the pain signal away from the brains central nervous system.

During Japanese style acupuncture the needles were more delicately inserted and didn’t penetrate deep into the skin.  I didn’t feel any discomfort during these treatments.

When I first experienced acupuncture, the TMC needle insertion technique although painful seemed to turn-off a lot of pain centers in the brain for me.  After 10 sessions I called it good.  Although I considered TMC a success, it was during the tenth session a needle hit a sensitive nerve in the low back that caused me to jolt.  This was followed by a back spasm and a bit of cussing “Don’t judge… God that hurt bad.”  I did finish the session gritting my way through it and refrained from further cussing.

Thereafter and understandably so, I had fear of going back for more treatment.  I didn’t ask for another referral from my HMO.  Instead I sought out Japanese style acupuncture to help alleviate a little more pain – as I didn’t finish the referred 25 TMC sessions.

I increased fitness levels and further minimized pain aggravation during acupuncture treatment through aerobic pool exercise.

If you have a lot of nerve damage and areas of the body are pain-sensitive to touch – Japanese style preparation prior to needle insertion is a very good treatment protocol.

The preparation and process works like this: Very light massage, relaxation and suction cup may be used.  They are heated cups placed on skin surface and along meridian pathways.  When cooling cause a suction [or vacuum] – draws oxygenated blood to damaged tissue area to increase blood circulation and expedite healing process.

Thereafter electro stimulation via inserted needles may be applied.  This technique worked wonders to remove more back pain.  Needles were not only inserted in the low back, but other parts of the body to help relieve radiating nerve pain.

To this day my total body pain is very manageable and allows me to live life to the fullest.  I’ve not seen an acupuncturists for years.

I’ve read a few blogger sites on the benefits/to no benefits of using acupuncture.  The feelings on it is a mixed bag.  It’s considered by many who believe in Eastern medicine a natural science that can heal and alleviate pain and may/may not cure disease.  To Western medicine practitioners, many professionals and lay persons at best believe it’s a pseudoscience that’s falls into categories more like magic and faith healing.

Instead of trying to convince you acupuncture may work for you, I think it is best to leave the following thoughts and insight.

What secrets will mother nature reveal next.

Like Pranic healing – modern science does not understand and has no way to prove how acupuncture and life “Chi” energy actually heals and alleviates pain for some and not others.

Or how technique or application  could be improved to be effective 100% of the time for all.  Some would challenge brain capacity, function and control over the body’s self-healing connections have something to do with its effectiveness.

I’d agree “maybe some lack the connective brain function or capacity to accept or believe an alternative healing method outside of Western medicine could help.”  Therefore self-healing through meditation or acupuncture or Pranic healing, etc., won’t work.

Unfortunately unless science can unequivocally prove something… it is open to public scrutiny, personal disbelief and a failed opportunity for whom it could work if they simply believed.

But this should not limit people to reason how the impossible can become possible than believe.  Simply reflect on a few of man’s unbelievable achievements throughout history.

For example, it was impossible for man to fly, let alone sore through space and land on the moon.  Or, until Penicillin as an effective antibiotic was discovered.  Many with serious disease through infection were doomed to die with no hope of a cure.  During historical times, cultural and scientific positions based on beliefs could not think out side of any box.  But todays anti-aging and healing science appears to know no limit of possibilities.

“For the self-healing and alternative medicine believer – Meditative and Spiritual untapped brain function has the healing energy capacity necessary to cure what ails us.”  [MirrorAthlete]

I agree like many of you “science does not know everything about brain capacity and function and self-healing.”  It has long been said people on earth only use 10% of their brain capacity.   This too is controversial due to opposing views of natural selection.  Since the brain tissue has metabolically evolved throughout time, to lose 90% of capacity would have catastrophic consequences on the human regulation of body function…  What if brain capacity increased 1-2% up to, or over that 10% without body function affliction.  I believe this has already been accomplished by faith healers, spiritual mediators and protégées to name a few?  “Think outside that box!”  There’s no scientific proof using more brain capacity to increase IQ or self-heal is harmful to health.

In relating to this line of reasoning – acupuncture and panic healing may open a 2% healing mind-body-spiritual opportunity to increase brain capacity and bodily function to heal damaged cellular tissue and get well.   Just because science can’t prove how brain capacity and body function coordinate above and beyond what natural selection scholars, the medical community and scientists can prove – doesn’t mean self-healing and alternative medicine doesn’t work.

Since most aren’t educated and trained in meditative and alternative medicine and therapeutic practices, if open to the wellness and healing possibilities allow someone schooled in it to help.

Do what you enjoy pain free. Believe!

If you have acute, chronic or severe pain regardless of what the cause, what have you got to lose?  Give acupuncture a try?  What doesn’t work for others may work for you?  You may have the ability to unlock the Chi force hidden within part of your untapped brain capacity reserve and make use of it like I did to restore pain free mobility function.

I believe one day science will prove through empirical trials how and why acupuncture works for some patients and not others.  Then hopefully educate everyone on how to tap this self-healing power.

Like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity “Time was no longer uniform and absolute.” Physics could no longer be understood as space by itself, hence space and time was also dependent on velocity.  Until this time Isaac Newton’s physics and astronomy stood as a 200-year-old theory of mechanics.

Acupuncture is thousands of years old.  But has only been accepted in Western medicine and studied for decades.  What has Western medicine yet to discover about the practice as applied to individual life force healing energy?  Will it take 200 years or more to discover all of it’s secrets?  Who knows.

If you want to try acupuncture and your primary care physician won’t refer you, or it’s not covered in your health insurance there are 3 things you can do.

During your employer annual health insurance selections – pick a provider or policy that covers acupuncture [most HMO policies offer it].  Or, if you have coverage for this service, but a physician won’t refer for whatever reason, request a new primary care physician.  Or request of your primary care physician a referral to a physiatrist.  A physiatrist is a pain management medical [doctor-specialist] and will likely refer you to an acupuncturist if you request it.

References:

Craig, Gary.  Acupuncture Meridians Pathways of Chi Energy.  Healing with EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques.  Website: http://www.healing-with-eft.com/acupuncture-meridians.html

Google answer site.  Do We Use all of our Brain Power?   http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/751682.html

Novella, Steven.  Does Acupuncture Work or Not?  Neurologica blog.  Sep 25, 2007.http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/does-acupuncture-work-or-not/

Watson, Stephanie.  Acupuncture Overview.  HowStuffWorks. a division of InfoSpace Holdings LLC. 2017.

Woodard, Marc.  What is Pranic Healing and Does it Work?  Mirror Athlete’s Fitness Secrets! July 23, 2010. http://www.mirrorathlete.com/2017/05/10/what-is-pranic-healing-and-does-it-work/

Woodard, Marc.  Why a Physiatrist Offers the Best Rehabilitative Course.  Mirror Athlete’s Fitness Secrets!  June 23, 2011. http://www.mirrorathlete.com/2011/06/23/why-a-physiatrist-offers-the-best-rehabilitative-course/

Woodamarc.  “Pain Depression Origins.” HubPages.  http://woodamarc.hubpages.com/hub/Pain-Depression-Origins

Physiotherapy Adelaide Site.  How Does Acupuncture Work?  Copyright 2011. http://www.howdoesacupuncturework.com/

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2017 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

 





Recreational and Medical Marijuana Use Perspective

23 07 2014
Life is full of many potential roads that can be traveled.  Which life roads will you choose?

Life has many potential roads to travel. Which lifestyle path will you choose?

It is very interesting to learn how attitudes have changed about  marijuana use since I was a kid. After speaking with local youth in two states (California and Oregon) regarding marijuana use… there is a nonchalant attitude regarding medicinal and recreational use of this natural weed.

The common answers to my questions, “don’t you think marijuana will harm you in any way if you continue to use it?”  Or more to the point, “if you keep smoking the stuff, aren’t you afraid of addiction and associated health risks?”  Much like laying a bet, are you assured you are not gambling with your future life potential, relationships and health?

The common answers in reply, “Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes.” “Alcohol unlike marijuana use is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, broken families, job loss etc., where cannabis use does not appear to be the case.”  Other common answers I get from adults, “I can quit anytime I want to, it’s not addicting, it’s not a gateway drug and I don’t drink; I choose this drug as my recreational drug or pain management program of choice.  ‘I prefer this vice opposed to drinking.”

Others simply state, “For me there are no problems regarding the use of this drug, therefore, no harm to career, health, family or other future endeavors.” Much or our youth and many adults don’t appear to see recreational or medicinal cannabis a harmful substance derived from mother earth.  They see man-made pharmaceuticals and other illicit drugs to be worse compared to a natural weed habit or medical use.

It is interesting to note, they mostly compare weed within the same legal recreational drug class as tobacco, spirits, wine and beer. In other words, “on the street,” cannabis use perception is that weed is an  acceptable recreational and medicinal drug choice that is a right and should not be outlawed from such use.  However, there are risks of potential drug addiction and health problems from smoking marijuana just like any other toxin that needs to be filtered from the body.  Such as respiratory and carcinogenic risks from carbon monoxide inhalation.

My sampling of these queries is rather small, around 50 discussions on this topic where 80-90% concede (teenagers and adults), cannabis is probably the least harmful of the illegal drugs.  Almost all adults I spoke with acknowledge the medicinal properties and benefits for chronic pain sufferers and cancer patients.

Consumers today are very educated because of the Internet.  Allot of the paranoia over this natural weed has been removed from society.  Through demographic and cultural studies consumers see how various peoples have used marijuana socially, spiritually and medicinally for thousands of years without any documented deaths caused from an overdose.

I can see the medicinal benefits from scientific studies, however “all” drugs have the potential to addict the user and cause respiratory, or other secondary health and social problems similar to alcohol and tobacco overuse. Science does show in research studies where cannabis can have a negative impact on growing minds and bodies especially if one becomes addicted during the developmental stage of their lives [18 and younger].  This physiological fact alone can destroy a life before it begins.  This is why sales and regulatory controls must be put in place once State medicinal and recreational laws are passed.

I felt it was very important to add two addiction articles back in 2009 that support this updated article “Medical Marijuana Use; Part 1 (pain benefits) and “Lay your Bet” 2 (scientific support data) for chronic pain sufferers.”  As you read those two earlier articles, there is a very good case to continue THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) research and medicinal benefits.

There is some very good science based around severed or damaged nerve endings where only the THC and other cannabinoid receivers at the nerve endings provide pain relief through cannabis use.  Science also shows these damaged nerve endings do not respond to the typical opiate prescription; hence pain alleviation through the pharmaceutical prescription gold standard has little to no effect in many chronic pain controlled studies.  Read Part 2, Pain Relief Benefits. Regardless of the medicinal benefits, we must be very vigilant with our children while our states continue to relax marijuana use laws for patients and now recreational use in some states.

I’m in favor of legalized marijuana use for chronic pain sufferers and other ill-health conditions.  My concern over Recreational use legalization is controlling the substance distribution on a large commercial scale and keeping it out of the hands of our children. I’m very aware and concerned about our children’s access to marijuana should it become fully legalized for recreational use.  This would add an additional drug within hundreds or retail outlets and thousands of households that requires the same protections as prescription drugs, liquor and tobacco.

If and when recreational use of marijuana is approved by voters, it must have similar controls and penalties as our states liquor laws. In preparation for recreational marijuana legalization, parents must not and cannot depend on any school, or government agency to protect children from abusing any drug.  It is our responsibility as parents and educators to teach them to know differences between right and wrong and consequences of any form of substance abuse.

As part of this educational messaging, confusion can be mitigated amongst your youth if our federal government fully recognizes states rights per voters approved marijuana use laws and conflict of their drug laws.   Regardless of the voter approved marijuana use  consumers should not have to fear Federal prosecution because State and Federal laws differ.  Our kids and young adults should not be confused over Federal and State rights conflicts where incarceration may occur from an outside agency having no right to interfere with States Voters rights.  So long as its use and distribution stays within the legalized States boundaries.

Until DEA controlled substance laws relative to marijuana use become reclassified as less then a scheduled 1 controlled substance or recreational drug use, then cannabis users may be prosecuted over States rights by the FEDs.  These legalities must be resolved as cannabis will eventually be legalized in many states for medical marijuana and/or recreational use.  To not resolve this State’s right issue can only ruin young lives through unjust incarceration.

Here’s an interesting conflict within our DEA drug schedule classification.  THC the psycho active ingredient in marijuana is already legally sold as Marinol & prescribed by HMO medical providers.  However, most consumers don’t know this information.

Marinol is listed and classified by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), as a scheduled class III drug under the same physician prescription controls as Tylenol pain relief medication.  This is very easy for the patient to get their hands on. So instead of smoking the cannabis, or eating it which is the illegal part, you are legally able to ingest the THC oil [psycho active ingredient] prescribed by most HMO’s for almost any type of pain and/or disease.

Maybe our government within its infinite wisdom determined it would be easier to control marijuana distribution through legal pill prescription so children couldn’t get their hands on it.  Since Marinol must be refrigerated, it seems to me, it would be easier for our children to get their hands on these tiny capsules, conceal and consume.  So do they really have our children’s best interests in mind?

So it stems to reason, the medical community understands the medicinal use of THC and also enjoys the profits from this high cost prescription drug.   If the government was truly concerned about a chronic pain or cancer patient wellbeing the DEA would cooperate with States rights to fully legitimize the use of cannabis for pain patients.  They could do this by simply declassifying the DEA drug schedule to list medical marijuana as a Class III prescription similar to Marinol; and remove the fear of a patience medicine being taken away and prosecuted.

Recreational marijuana use on the other hand is a different ball game which requires a different set of rules to protect our children from drug abuse and addiction.  If and when medicinal and recreational use in your community occurs, it will be up to all parents to get involved within home town politics and tell elected officials your expectations of how local government will create home town policies to protect our kids from those that don’t want to play by the rules.

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2014 Copyright, All rights reserved.  MirrorAthlete Corp., Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.





Why Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia Challenge Pain Specialists

8 05 2014

Sticky Tongue to Ice Can Be Painful

Updated:  8 May 2014

Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) is a poorly defined condition “and somewhat” similar to fibromyalgia as a chronic pain experience.  CPS is where a neurologically based pain has not resolved, or finding the exact cause of pain may have not been identified.  We’ve all experienced pain at one time or the other, e.g., a broken bone, or speck of dirt in the eye, a bruised, or strained muscle, or maybe you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience a passing kidney stone.  These painful experiences are considered temporary or acute pain conditions.  If the injury heals then the acute pain will typically resolve itself within a 30 day window.  The difference between chronic and the acute pain, you healed and are no longer in pain, or that pain is triggered infrequently when aggravated.

If a pain condition has not healed significantly after 30 days, or you still experience significant pain for a 3-6 month time period, this is a chronic pain condition.  Those diagnosed with CPS can appear to experience pain all over and at any point of the neurological body.  This is much akin to those that experience frequent phantom pain anywhere at any time throughout the body.  You hurt and the pain varies in frequency and intensity throughout each day.  Nevertheless, your body always seems to be in pain.  For those with this type of chronic pain it is much harder for medical specialists to explain what is causing it, especially when a pain origin is not obvious.  Understanding and treating a CPS is certainly a challenge for the medical professional.

The most mysterious thing about CPS is that the chronic pain conditions can occur without evident exasperation, or aggravation of past injury, illness or disease.  And on the other hand, chronic pain can be a substantiated medical pain origin finding caused from illness and disease, i.e., cancer, immune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, back condition(s), past injuries and other radiating neuropathies that affect and cause pain.  CPS is typically a complex treatment pain story “often” without an origin of pain and/or lacks medically substantiated cause of injury or disease.

Regardless of pain origin or cause, or lack thereof, chronic pain patients will require a pain management specialist or team of various resources to treat a complex pain etiology, especially if the cause is unclear.  Those resources might include acupuncture, electroneuro-stimulation, hot/cold modalities, exercise, physical therapy, specialized diet, supplements, pharmaceuticals, or deep muscle massage, etc.

If you’re a pain patient with unexplainable pain and you’ve not been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or some other form of immune disorder for example, you may likely be diagnosed with CPS.  What is the difference between the two diagnoses?  Fibromyalgia is a neurosensory disorder where one feels widespread pain throughout the body, but most specifically; joint and muscle stiffness and pain with fatigue.

During the early years of fibromyalgia diagnosis, it was thought this type of pain originated from the brain and where chemical imbalance may be connected somehow to the cause of muscle and joint pain.  In other words, at one time a great portion of the medical community believed it possible to think the pain and from the psychosomatic (brain-body) connection, the pain manifested itself into chronic pain.  Although this is partially true, it is not the whole truth.

The American College of Rheumatology diagnosis criteria has proven that the origin of pain does not solely stem from a brain signal that produces the pain.  Instead a physiological chemical shortfall is present in many pain patient cases that prevent the patient from completely alleviating pain.  In my mind, this would be the equivalent of a person whose immune system is down, gets a cold and can never completely get rid of the cold.  So you always feel under the weather sort of speak and where it does not take much physical activity or stress to aggravate low-sensory acute pain to a high chronic pain condition.

Another difference between fibromyalgia versus CPS appears to be three primary symptoms for those that suffer with fibromyalgia:  Muscle tenderness, aches and joint pain, which produce stiffness and fatigue and/or emotional stress that can continue for years.  There also appears to be a chemical identifier in the way fibromyalgia pain origins present pain symptoms.  That’s where the neurosensory pain connection between the brain and spinal cord are now known to be chemically interlinked.

People with Fibromyalgia tend to have a low chemical P substance, and low levels of neurotransmitter chemical production of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.  It appears pain patients with a low P substance condition are more sensitive to acute low sensory pain perceived by the brain and spinal cord.  So it can be stated, if our bodies are low on P substance and neurotransmitters, anyone of us would be susceptible to low-acute to chronic pain conditions by lacking the ability to immunological and physiologically low stress environmental aggravation we’d not experience otherwise.

If our ability to produce natural pain alleviating chemicals is compromised than it is reasonable to deduce this makes pain patients more likely to be sensitive to daily stress.  And this everyday stress pain could be amplified 10-fold from the way anyone else would experience it given the same environment.

So the stress most of us experience daily is likely shielded chemically by normal levels of P substance and natural neurotransmitters in the body.  If pain protection is not chemically balanced to shield the body from the mental to physical pain, then those that lack this protection will experience more pain.  In time this can chronically fatigue a person into manifesting itself into illness-disease and painful medical condition.

Patients now diagnosed with fibromyalgia are taken much more serious as a real chronic pain condition where chemical deficiency and immune systems are likely compromised.  I suspect there are many hormonal and chemical imbalances within the brain-body barrier that creates an unshielded pain recipient experience.  It is amazing to realize that ~35% of all Americans have some form, or have experienced chronic pain.  And some 50 million have experienced partial to full disability due to chronic pain.

Many patients that experience CPS also experience the same internalizing and rationalizing effect of fibromyalgia depression for lack of ability to provide help for self and family.  This depression stress is often brought about by the obvious… Chronic unrelenting pain and addiction to pain alleviation drug use, anxiety, fatigue, reduced activities including sexual desire, and maybe simultaneous experience of other disabilities that are secondary to the primary cause of pain and medications.

This vicious cycle of internalizing and inability to control the pain becomes exhausting and to the point where it is difficult to get a good night sleep.  If this exhaustion cycle is not alleviated the calamity of suffering, sleeplessness and sadness can have a demoralizing impact on self and family.

CPS, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue pain patients are typically treated as outpatients and require a variety of pain alleviation drugs and other clinical resources to help manage their pain.

If you experience chronic pain, and/or pain depression and anxiety and are experiencing a complex pain condition and need help, be sure to seek medical referrals to a pain management specialist, rheumatologist, immunologist, or physiatrist through your primary care physician to get the treatment you need.

Referrals,

The Free Dictionary, by Farlex.  Fibromyalgia.  http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/fibromyalgia

Dellwo, Adrienne. About.com. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.  July 2, 2012.  http://chronicfatigue.about.com/b/2012/07/02/sound-off-about-symptoms-fibromyalgia-chronic-fatigue-syndrome.htm

Wikipedia.  Chronic Pain.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_pain

Health Encyclopedia – Diseases and Conditions.  http://www.healthscout.com/ency/1/629/main.html

Singh, Manish K. Chronic Pain Syndrome.  Medscape. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/310834-overview

Woodamarc.  Pain Depression Origins.  Hubpages.com. http://woodamarc.hubpages.com/_sigsinmula/hub/Pain-Depression-Origins

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2014 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., http://www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





Why Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia Challenge Pain Specialists

19 07 2012

Sticky Tongue to Ice Can Be Painful

Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) is a poorly defined condition “and somewhat” similar to fibromyalgia as a chronic pain experience.  CPS is where a neurologically based pain has not resolved, or finding the exact cause of pain may have not been identified.  We’ve all experienced pain at one time or the other, e.g., a broken bone, or speck of dirt in the eye, a bruised, or strained muscle, or maybe you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience a passing kidney stone.  These painful experiences are considered temporary or acute pain conditions.  If the injury heals then the acute pain will typically resolve itself within a 30 day window.  The difference between chronic and the acute pain, you healed and are no longer in pain, or that pain is triggered infrequently when aggravated.

If a pain condition has not healed significantly after 30 days, or you still experience significant pain for a 3-6 month time period, this is a chronic pain condition.  Those diagnosed with CPS can appear to experience pain all over and at any point of the neurological body.  This is much akin to those that experience frequent phantom pain anywhere at any time throughout the body.  You hurt and the pain varies in frequency and intensity throughout each day.  Nevertheless, your body always seems to be in pain.  For those with this type of chronic pain it is much harder for medical specialists to explain what is causing it, especially when a pain origin is not obvious.  Understanding and treating a CPS is certainly a challenge for the medical professional.

The most mysterious thing about CPS is that the chronic pain conditions can occur without evident exasperation, or aggravation of past injury, illness or disease.  And on the other hand, chronic pain can be a substantiated medical pain origin finding caused from illness and disease, i.e., cancer, immune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, back condition(s), past injuries and other radiating neuropathies that affect and cause pain.  CPS is typically a complex treatment pain story “often” without an origin of pain and/or lacks medically substantiated cause of injury or disease.

Regardless of pain origin or cause, or lack thereof, chronic pain patients will require a pain management specialist or team of various resources to treat a complex pain etiology, especially if the cause is unclear.  Those resources might include acupuncture, electroneuro-stimulation, hot/cold modalities, exercise, physical therapy, specialized diet, supplements, pharmaceuticals, or deep muscle massage, etc.

If you’re a pain patient with unexplainable pain and you’ve not been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or some other form of immune disorder for example, you may likely be diagnosed with CPS.  What is the difference between the two diagnoses?  Fibromyalgia is a neurosensory disorder where one feels widespread pain throughout the body, but most specifically; joint and muscle stiffness and pain with fatigue.

During the early years of fibromyalgia diagnosis, it was thought this type of pain originated from the brain and where chemical imbalance may be connected somehow to the cause of muscle and joint pain.  In other words, at one time a great portion of the medical community believed it possible to think the pain and from the psychosomatic (brain-body) connection, the pain manifested itself into chronic pain.  Although this is partially true, it is not the whole truth.

The American College of Rheumatology diagnosis criteria has proven that the origin of pain does not solely stem from a brain signal that produces the pain.  Instead a physiological chemical shortfall is present in many pain patient cases that prevent the patient from completely alleviating pain.  In my mind, this would be the equivalent of a person whose immune system is down, gets a cold and can never completely get rid of the cold.  So you always feel under the weather sort of speak and where it does not take much physical activity or stress to aggravate low-sensory acute pain to a high chronic pain condition.

Another difference between fibromyalgia versus CPS appears to be three primary symptoms for those that suffer with fibromyalgia:  Muscle tenderness, aches and joint pain, which produce stiffness and fatigue and/or emotional stress that can continue for years.  There also appears to be a chemical identifier in the way fibromyalgia pain origins present pain symptoms.  That’s where the neurosensory pain connection between the brain and spinal cord are now known to be chemically interlinked.

People with Fibromyalgia tend to have a low chemical P substance, and low levels of neurotransmitter chemical production of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.  It appears pain patients with a low P substance condition are more sensitive to acute low sensory pain perceived by the brain and spinal cord.  So it can be stated, if our bodies are low on P substance and neurotransmitters, anyone of us would be susceptible to low-acute to chronic pain conditions by lacking the ability to immunological and physiologically low stress environmental aggravation we’d not experience otherwise.

If our ability to produce natural pain alleviating chemicals is compromised than it is reasonable to deduce this makes pain patients more likely to be sensitive to daily stress.  And this everyday stress pain could be amplified 10-fold from the way anyone else would experience it given the same environment.

So the stress most of us experience daily is likely shielded chemically by normal levels of P substance and natural neurotransmitters in the body.  If pain protection is not chemically balanced to shield the body from the mental to physical pain, then those that lack this protection will experience more pain.  In time this can chronically fatigue a person into manifesting itself into illness-disease and painful medical condition.

Patients now diagnosed with fibromyalgia are taken much more serious as a real chronic pain condition where chemical deficiency and immune systems are likely compromised.  I suspect there are many hormonal and chemical imbalances within the brain-body barrier that creates an unshielded pain recipient experience.  It is amazing to realize that ~35% of all Americans have some form, or have experienced chronic pain.  And some 50 million have experienced partial to full disability due to chronic pain.

Many patients that experience CPS also experience the same internalizing and rationalizing effect of fibromyalgia depression for lack of ability to provide help for self and family.  This depression stress is often brought about by the obvious… Chronic unrelenting pain and addiction to pain alleviation drug use, anxiety, fatigue, reduced activities including sexual desire, and maybe simultaneous experience of other disabilities that are secondary to the primary cause of pain and medications.

This vicious cycle of internalizing and inability to control the pain becomes exhausting and to the point where it is difficult to get a good night sleep.  If this exhaustion cycle is not alleviated the calamity of suffering, sleeplessness and sadness can have a demoralizing impact on self and family.

CPS, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue pain patients are typically treated as outpatients and require a variety of pain alleviation drugs and other clinical resources to help manage their pain.

If you experience chronic pain, and/or pain depression and anxiety and are experiencing a complex pain condition and need help, be sure to seek medical referrals to a pain management specialist, rheumatologist, immunologist, or physiatrist through your primary care physician to get the treatment you need.

Referrals,

The Free Dictionary, by Farlex.  Fibromyalgia.  http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/fibromyalgia

Dellwo, Adrienne. About.com. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.  July 2, 2012.  http://chronicfatigue.about.com/b/2012/07/02/sound-off-about-symptoms-fibromyalgia-chronic-fatigue-syndrome.htm

Wikipedia.  Chronic Pain.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_pain

Health Encyclopedia – Diseases and Conditions.  http://www.healthscout.com/ency/1/629/main.html

Singh, Manish K. Chronic Pain Syndrome.  Medscape. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/310834-overview

Woodamarc.  Pain Depression Origins.  Hubpages.com. http://woodamarc.hubpages.com/_sigsinmula/hub/Pain-Depression-Origins

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2012 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





A Familiar Supplement that Relieves Chronic Pain

23 11 2011

The Golden Years Don't Have to Be Painful

It is now known through scientific studies there is a correlation between low levels of vitamin D in the body and pain.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States.  And they also show through research that a significant amount of pain patients lack Vitamin D in their diet.  This research also concludes on the average, pain patients with low Vitamin D levels use twice as much “on average” pain medications (morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone) than those that supplement their diet.  And those also low in Vitamin D also have higher measures of body fat which place them in the obesity category.

Where does this vitamin come from?  It comes from sun exposure and a few natural occurring foods you consume:  E.g., tuna, salmon, mackerel, cod liver oil, mushrooms.  Small amounts can be found in beef liver and egg yolk.  Of course, there is fortified vitamin D in the American diet, i.e., milk, cheese, ice cream, breakfast cereals, orange juice, yogurt, margarine, etc.  Apparently, it is very difficult for many to get “enough” Vitamin D nutrient in the daily diet, unless you get adequate (1hour) sun exposure daily. Of course, natural exposure to the sun’s benefits is dependent upon season, weather conditions, geography and not always considered healthy for those that receive too much exposure.

Vitamin D is essential to propagate calcium absorption for healthy bones and bone growth.  And low levels of this Vitamin for too long can result in bone surface softening (osteomalacia), where this condition causes pain.  And the area of the body that seems to suffer greatest for lack of this nutrient and most prone to pain is the lower back.  For those that suffer from fibromyalgia, bone and joint pain, phenomenal pain relief can be experienced through vitamin D supplementation.

Researchers state a daily 1000IU/day to grow healthy strong bones for children and adults that suffer from chronic pain could experience significant pain relief at a 2000IU/day regiment.  Also the health risk with “D” supplementation has a highly favorable safety profile when used simultaneously with prescription drugs.  This supplementation simply doesn’t interact with many types of drugs unless one uses extremely high doses of Vitamin D (e.g., 50,000IU and over).  Since vitamin D also promotes a healthy nervous system, those that suffer with radiating neuropathic pain can also experience better pain alleviation, movement function and greater quality of life experiences.

If you are self paying for your pain prescriptions, also keep this in mind.  A daily 2000IU/day for Vitamin D can cost as little as $.07-.10/day.  This could be your safe, cost effective ticket to alleviating chronic pain in a way where other prescriptions have failed and without breaking the bank.  Although there is no guarantee this will be a complete substitute for your pain relief program, it is likely it would help alleviate your pain and do no harm.  However, it is always prudent to ask your physician about vitamin D supplementation for pain relief.  I will tell you that physiatrists (pain specialists) will advise you to supplement with 2000IU/day for chronic pain alleviation.  If your lab results show lower than 50-70 nonograms/milliliter; a vitamin D supplement for natural pain relief will most likely help you relieve pain.

Since there are so many natural chronic pain relief supplements to choose from, listed below are the top candidates for further research and dietary pain supplement consideration.

Anti-Inflammatory plants and herbs – If you’re not big on NSAID medicines because of the possible long-term side effects (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex)… Try turmeric, green tea, ginger, rosemary, cat’s & devil claw, and willow bark.  The apparent winner of all the natural anti-inflammatory I’ve listed appears to be the turmeric.  Significant pain relief for those that suffer from osteoarthritis and back pain (Leopold & Edwards, T., M.D.).  Turmeric can be purchased as a capsule supplement.  Patients using blood thinners should first check with their physicians if a turmeric pain supplement would be right for them.

Magnesium – This is a tough supplement to get in daily quantities because most of us don’t eat enough of the following foods:  Soy products, peas, beans, whole grains, bananas, dried apricots and avocados, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, etc.  It appears magnesium supplementation can help those that suffer with fibromyalgia and migraines.  What depletes magnesium levels in the body? Alcohol.  Chronic pain patients may well benefit with this additive in their diet.

Fish Oil – Not only does omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties to relieve chronic pain, it can also help with many other conditions, i.e., depression, asthma, cardiovascular problems, autoimmune (rheumatoid arthritis), back pain, some nerve pain and headaches (Rakel, David P., MD, founder and director of the University of Wisconsin’s Integrative Medicine in Madison).  The effects of fish oil can be boosted by combining with other natural supplementation from this list.  However, Dr. Rakel advises you consult with your doctor.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – There appears to be scientific controversy over migraine pain relief with Vitamin B2 use.  Dr. Rakel thinks it’s safe to try for a period of 8 weeks considering its safety rating.  However, consult your treating physician for frequency, dose and duration of use.

Glucosamine sulfate – The best data on joint pain alleviation comes from glucosamine supplementation.  The data is very good on osteoarthritis pain alleviation in the knee and slowing the progression of the disease.  And supplementation with chondroitin combined could provide additional benefits.

Bromelain – This is an enzyme that is derived from the pineapple plant.  These enzymes appear to reduce inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis.  There appears to be a mystery on how this enzyme gets absorbed through the stomach lining.  The mystery is the stomach acid should neutralize the benefits of this enzyme.  More research is needed to understand how the delivery system transports the benefits of this enzyme through the digestive system.

Capsaicin – Topical capsaicin is derived from chili peppers.  The soothing effects when applied to skin for all types of pain relief include:  Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, shingles, osteoarthritis, diabetic neuropathy.  And like many of the other natural pain relievers, may offer relief for fibromyalgia and headache pain.

Alpha-lipoic acid – Like acetyl-L-carnitine (a nutrient that seems to ease and regenerate damaged nerves and restore sensitivity over time due to nerve pain from diabetes).  Alpha-lipoic acid appears to help for those that suffer with diabetic neuropathy.  Not only do scientific studies show pain reduction, but also the slowing of the neuropathic condition.  This in fact could protect the nerves from further damage.  Another benefit for people with diabetes is that Alpha-lipoic acid may enhance insulin sensitivity and help those that suffer nerve damage from cancer treatment.

References:

MNT Medical News Today, Vitamin D a Surprising Champion of Back Pain Relief, 25 June 2008, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/112633.php

R. Morgan Griffen, WebbMD, Natural Pain Relief: Chronic Pain Supplements, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/chronic-pain-relief?page=1

Anderson, Bryan, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Researchers Link Vitamin D and Chronic Pain Relief, March 20, 2009, http://newsblog.mayoclinic.org/2009/03/20/mayo-clinic-researchers-link-vitamin-d-and-chronic-pain-relief/

Evert, Alison, MedlinePluse, Magnesium in diet. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002423.htm

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2011 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

 





Familiar Supplements that Relieves Chronic Pain

23 11 2011

The Golden Years Don’t Have to Be Painful

It is now known through scientific studies there is a correlation between low levels of vitamin D in the body and pain.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States.  And they also show through research that a significant amount of pain patients lack Vitamin D in their diet.  This research also concludes on the average, pain patients with low Vitamin D levels use twice as much “on average” pain medications (morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone) than those that supplement their diet.  And those also low in Vitamin D also have higher measures of body fat which place them in the obesity category.

Where does this vitamin come from?  It comes from sun exposure and a few natural occurring foods you consume:  E.g., tuna, salmon, mackerel, cod liver oil, mushrooms.  Small amounts can be found in beef liver and egg yolk.  Of course, there is fortified vitamin D in the American diet, i.e., milk, cheese, ice cream, breakfast cereals, orange juice, yogurt, margarine, etc.  Apparently, it is very difficult for many to get “enough” Vitamin D nutrient in the daily diet, unless you get adequate (1hour) sun exposure daily. Of course, natural exposure to the sun’s benefits is dependent upon season, weather conditions, geography and not always considered healthy for those that receive too much exposure.

Vitamin D is essential to propagate calcium absorption for healthy bones and bone growth.  And low levels of this Vitamin for too long can result in bone surface softening (osteomalacia), where this condition causes pain.  And the area of the body that seems to suffer greatest for lack of this nutrient and most prone to pain is the lower back.  For those that suffer from fibromyalgia, bone and joint pain, phenomenal pain relief can be experienced through vitamin D supplementation.

Researchers state a daily 1000IU/day to grow healthy strong bones for children and adults that suffer from chronic pain could experience significant pain relief at a 2000IU/day regiment.  Also the health risk with “D” supplementation has a highly favorable safety profile when used simultaneously with prescription drugs.  This supplementation simply doesn’t interact with many types of drugs unless one uses extremely high doses of Vitamin D (e.g., 50,000IU and over).  Since vitamin D also promotes a healthy nervous system, those that suffer with radiating neuropathic pain can also experience better pain alleviation, movement function and greater quality of life experiences.

If you are self paying for your pain prescriptions, also keep this in mind.  A daily 2000IU/day for Vitamin D can cost as little as $.07-.10/day.  This could be your safe, cost effective ticket to alleviating chronic pain in a way where other prescriptions have failed and without breaking the bank.  Although there is no guarantee this will be a complete substitute for your pain relief program, it is likely it would help alleviate your pain and do no harm.  However, it is always prudent to ask your physician about vitamin D supplementation for pain relief.  I will tell you that physiatrists (pain specialists) will advise you to supplement with 2000IU/day for chronic pain alleviation.  If your lab results show lower than 50-70 nonograms/milliliter; a vitamin D supplement for natural pain relief will most likely help you relieve pain.

Since there are so many natural chronic pain relief supplements to choose from, listed below are the top candidates for further research and dietary pain supplement consideration.

Anti-Inflammatory plants and herbs – If you’re not big on NSAID medicines because of the possible long-term side effects (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex)… Try turmeric, green tea, ginger, rosemary, cat’s & devil claw, and willow bark.  The apparent winner of all the natural anti-inflammatory I’ve listed appears to be the turmeric.  Significant pain relief for those that suffer from osteoarthritis and back pain (Leopold & Edwards, T., M.D.).  Turmeric can be purchased as a capsule supplement.  Patients using blood thinners should first check with their physicians if a turmeric pain supplement would be right for them.

Magnesium – This is a tough supplement to get in daily quantities because most of us don’t eat enough of the following foods:  Soy products, peas, beans, whole grains, bananas, dried apricots and avocados, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, etc.  It appears magnesium supplementation can help those that suffer with fibromyalgia and migraines.  What depletes magnesium levels in the body? Alcohol.  Chronic pain patients may well benefit with this additive in their diet.

Fish Oil – Not only does omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties to relieve chronic pain, it can also help with many other conditions, i.e., depression, asthma, cardiovascular problems, autoimmune (rheumatoid arthritis), back pain, some nerve pain and headaches (Rakel, David P., MD, founder and director of the University of Wisconsin’s Integrative Medicine in Madison).  The effects of fish oil can be boosted by combining with other natural supplementation from this list.  However, Dr. Rakel advises you consult with your doctor.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – There appears to be scientific controversy over migraine pain relief with Vitamin B2 use.  Dr. Rakel thinks it’s safe to try for a period of 8 weeks considering its safety rating.  However, consult your treating physician for frequency, dose and duration of use.

Glucosamine sulfate – The best data on joint pain alleviation comes from glucosamine supplementation.  The data is very good on osteoarthritis pain alleviation in the knee and slowing the progression of the disease.  And supplementation with chondroitin combined could provide additional benefits.

Bromelain – This is an enzyme that is derived from the pineapple plant.  These enzymes appear to reduce inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis.  There appears to be a mystery on how this enzyme gets absorbed through the stomach lining.  The mystery is the stomach acid should neutralize the benefits of this enzyme.  More research is needed to understand how the delivery system transports the benefits of this enzyme through the digestive system.

Capsaicin – Topical capsaicin is derived from chili peppers.  The soothing effects when applied to skin for all types of pain relief include:  Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, shingles, osteoarthritis, diabetic neuropathy.  And like many of the other natural pain relievers, may offer relief for fibromyalgia and headache pain.

Alpha-lipoic acid – Like acetyl-L-carnitine (a nutrient that seems to ease and regenerate damaged nerves and restore sensitivity over time due to nerve pain from diabetes).  Alpha-lipoic acid appears to help for those that suffer with diabetic neuropathy.  Not only do scientific studies show pain reduction, but also the slowing of the neuropathic condition.  This in fact could protect the nerves from further damage.  Another benefit for people with diabetes is that Alpha-lipoic acid may enhance insulin sensitivity and help those that suffer nerve damage from cancer treatment.

References:

MNT Medical News Today, Vitamin D a Surprising Champion of Back Pain Relief, 25 June 2008, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/112633.php

R. Morgan Griffen, WebbMD, Natural Pain Relief: Chronic Pain Supplements, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/chronic-pain-relief?page=1

Anderson, Bryan, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Researchers Link Vitamin D and Chronic Pain Relief, March 20, 2009, http://newsblog.mayoclinic.org/2009/03/20/mayo-clinic-researchers-link-vitamin-d-and-chronic-pain-relief/

Evert, Alison, MedlinePluse, Magnesium in diet. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002423.htm

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2011 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

 





Why a Physiatrist Offers the Best Rehabilitative Course

23 06 2011
Korean War Memorial Honors Korean Veterans

The practice of physiatry is approximately 50 years old.  So how is it many pain and immobility challenged patients have never heard of this medical specialty?

    Good question, I guess it’s possible this specialty could be considered the gold standard of rehabilitative medical treatment.  And available to pain and immobility suffers once other medical treatment has been exhausted.

    If you don’t already know about the discipline of physiatry, I will now fill you in on what this specialization can offer a chronic pain and immobility challenged patient that requires rehabilitative services.

   A physiatrist is a medical doctor that deals with muscular-skeletal, neurological, acute and chronic pain and rehabilitative therapy.  They are also referred to as a doctor of osteopathy who specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R); using noninvasive diagnosis, treatment and management of disease through “physical” means (Physical therapy and medications).

    They can perform all types of specialized tests that range from nerve and spine imaging to determine severity of nerve damage (e.g. electromyography, nerve conduction) to evaluate various nerve disease/disorders, etc.  They also specialize and work with patients that have a history in degenerative back and neck disease problems.  To include, but not limited to:  Rehabilitative treatment with sports and work injuries; and those diagnosed with arthritis, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, myofascial pain and spinal cord injuries.

    There are approximately 6000 physiatrists to date that specialize and focus on bad backs and the relationship to other parts of the body that also become affected.  For many patients that suffer from back pain and distal radiating pain to other body parts a direct connection to the pain origin can be substantiated and treated.  Radiating or distal pain from the origin pain source can take years to diagnose correctly and can be very challenging for many physicians.  In other words, so challenging primary physicians may take a subjective “shot in the dark” in referring a patient to a medical specialist that may, or may not be of immediate help.

    Sometimes these “shot in the dark” referrals may not pan out.  For me this was the case.  And I suspect there are many of you like me that had the same experience of visiting a lot of specialists and the end result was temporary physical therapy sessions, shots and more pills.  And only until a significant amount of time passed while working through a medical “status quo” policy driven health maintenance organization, did I finally get the treatment I needed.  And this occurred after I learned how to properly advocate and self refer to specialists that could treat me relative to my unique pain issues.

    It is my personal experience many of my medical referrals throughout the years to determine my pain origins were a waste of resources and time that lacked relative treatment.  I believe in my case, I should have been first referred to a physiatrist to determine the best rehabilitative course.  And it is also my belief that if this would have been the case, much of my pain and suffering would have been alleviated five years ago.  And to be honest, I’m not sure what the long-term impact will be on my health as a result of untimely and irrelevant treatment.

    Let’s now take a look at what the physiatrist’s educational requirements are so you can better understand their specialty background and how they as a “direct” referral source to other specialists may help you.

    Physiatrists go through 4 years of medical school and 4 years of residency training (1st year – internal medicine/general practice; next 3 years emphasize specialty training; fellowships for additional specialization in sports medicine, brain injury (stroke), spinal cord, pain management and pediatric medicine.

    Their patient goal is also to treat the whole person’s physical, emotional, psychosocial and vocational goals.  This discipline also falls in line with Mirror Athlete’s principled fit-healthy concepts.  Mirror Athlete is about “ill-health prevention for the encompassing being (mind, body and “soul-spirit”) and is our principled fitness life philosophy.

    For many pain sufferers with chronic pain that have not responded to previous pain management and rehabilitative treatments, access to highly trained physiatrist resources can make a significant difference in increasing mobility and/or alleviating pain. 

    It is true; most of us have access to highly trained medical specialists through our referring physicians.  And it is also true a primary care physician will “usually” not refer you first to a physiatrist “for pain and mobility challenges. 

    You ask why this is.  My answer to you, I honestly don’t know.  The only thing I can think… Maybe it has to do with higher costs of services.  And maybe if you are stabilized and appear to be tolerating your disability, and/or don’t understand, or know you can self refer to see a physiatrist, the HMO policy advices primary physicians to follow a cost effective services protocol otherwise.

    However, I can share with you, if you can get a referral to a neurologist; you’re really in line to get a referral to see a physiatrist from that point if your pain is substantiated and will help with your disability rehabilitative objectives.

    It is surprising to me in the last 7 years; I’ve been referred to at least a half dozen neurologists, none of which led me to a physiatrist for my chronic back/leg pain until recent.  And what is most perplexing, my pain-medical story had not changed significantly through the years.  If I had known about physiatry resources 5 years ago, I would have known to self-refer from a neurologist to a physiatrist knowing what I now know.  Why not 7 years ago?  In my case, I understand now it took two years to determine and substantiate my pain origins.  And I now realize I could have self referred to a physiatrist after I had my second neurologist visit.

    My lesson learned and now passed onto you:  The medical policy and practice “status quo” when dealing with “substantiated” pain and/or immobility, coupled with depression will include pharmaceuticals and other treatment until (a) you reach a certain age.  (b) The pills are now creating other medical health issues.  (c) The risk of other complications is high if continuing the same pain and/or depression management course.  (d) Something substantiated and significant has changed, or has been found through CAT, MRI, x-Ray results and/or lab work and is complicating your pain, or mobility story.  (e) You self refer to see a neurologist from your physician, and then ask for a referral to see a physiatrist from your neurologist.   The later sequence is the best course toward rehabilitative pain alleviation of chronic pain, including range-of-motion and rehabilitative, limited mobility challenges [My experience].

    To treat a patient without considering the entire being is to allow a part of the component being to become ill.  When relative and timely treatment is not balanced, part of our “being” becomes depressed.  And it is also a fact as one will age; without relative and timely treatment, quality living experiences are negatively impacted.

    With the assistance of a physiatrist the patient has access to a team of specialists to assist in customizing a rehabilitative treatment program that incorporates healing for the encompassing being.

    The team of specialist the physiatrist may access to assist your ill-health conditions are: Speech-language pathologists, social workers, nurses, and psychologists, neurologic (brain injury, stroke, and spinal cord injury), physical therapy, occupational and recreation therapists etc.  Other disabling conditions include amputations, complicated multiple trauma and pain, including burns rehabilitative therapy.

    Physiatrists also work with a whole team of specialists to restore independence in mobility, eating, dressing, and hygiene. The physiatrist also provides long-term continuity of care for functional problems that often persist after stroke.  Note: This is not simply a physical therapy program.

     In my opinion, a physiatrist is an encompassing-being, rehabilitative care provider.  And if you have not seen a physiatrist and if you’ve been suffering from chronic pain and/or are mobility challenged, also you have reached the end of your referral solutions; be sure to ask your primary care physician, or neurologist to see a physiatrist.

     A physiatrist referral sooner than later will provide most chronic pain and immobility sufferers pain relief and better quality care and living activity experiences.

 Internet Reference

http://www.spine-health.com/glossary/p/physiatrist

http://www.physiatry.org/Field_Section.cfm

http://www.umassmemorial.org/medicalcenterIP.cfm?id=3081

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2011 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.