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I know it’s cliché , but you have got to try to take control of your pain, says the authoritative Nursing Times

managepainNow, I’m not in the business of promoting books or products of any kind on this blog, but this is one to seriously consider taking a look at—not just another “manage your pain” book, okay?  Bear with me.

First of all, it fares high praise from the prestigious magazine for nurses in the United Kingdome, NursingTimes.net.  The magazine, and their sister website publish original nursing research and a variety of clinical articles for nurses—and patients on occasion. 

Manage you pain.  Practical and positive ways of adapting to chronic pain by Dr. Michael Nicholas, Dr. Allan Molloy, Lois Tonkin and Lee Beeston was reviewed by Helen Simkins, clinical nurse manager, St. Giles Walsall Hospice.  What’s the book like?  Well you can sample it on Amazon, of course, but Nursing Times deems it a guide “that looks at the causes of chronic pain and provides practical solutions for people to implement into their lives, to help reduce the discomfort that they encounter.”  Now, I’ve heard all this before.

Personally, I’m still not impressed, just based on the rhetoric.  I’ve heard it all before, and took a great deal of it to heart with petty improvement.  But, this silver lining review came from such an authoritative source I had my suspicions in check:

This title allows people who suffer from chronic pain,alternative methods of addressing it. The way the book is set out enables manageable chunks of information to be digested and provides a framework for incorporating practical steps into your everyday life. It provides a message of hope for chronic pain sufferers that they can continue their day-to-day lives and regain the control that they felt they had lost.

The book provides alternative and the many holistic ways of addressing the debilitating pain.  In short, Dr. Michael Nicholas et. al provide some meaningful suggestions for taking control of your chronic pain.  Perhaps even I will check it out.

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Is Marijuana an effective treatment for Fibromyalgia?

weedAnyone who suffers from fibromyalgia syndrome knows that it’s painfully frustrating to treat.  Many of these folks resort to alternative therapy and some find medicinal marijuana to be a very effective way to ease many of the most persistent and virulent symptoms.

The June 21 edition of the journal Arthritis Care & Research includes a study that states about 10 percent of fibromyalgia patients use marijuana to relieve symptoms such as pain, fatigue and insomnia.  The article noted that traditional drug treatments for fibromyalgia have a low or partial efficacy which leads some patients to self medicate with marijuana, either legally or illegally depending on the state of residence.

I know the issue of medical marijuana is vast and complex due to its controversial nature, so I don’t wish to get into the politics here.  I am interested in determining whether people think it works or not.  And if so, what might be the risks and side effects.

The findings of the journal article raise several questions for me.  For example, the study revealed that marijuana use was associated with mental illness, opioid drug seeking behavior, and unemployment.  Now, having myself exhibited some of these things at one time or another during my lifetime, I believe any of these factors can cause any of the others.  The simplest case-in-point would be that chronic pain frequently causes clinical depression and vice versa.  Furthermore, depression can cause unemployment or drug seeking behavior and so on.  What do you think about this issue?

The study concluded by cautioning against the use of “illicit” drugs until more research is done (would this include medicinal marijuana or not since it it legal in 12 states or so?):  “While self-medicating with cannabinoids may provide some pain relief to fibromyalgia patients, we caution against general use of illicit drugs until health and psychosocial issues risks are confirmed.”  Clearly these are sophisticated experts but the researchers have probably never suffered from chronic pain, i.e., the complex relationship between depression and chronic pain is not noted or elaborated on.  Judging from their recommendations they seem to view these symptoms as compartmentalized factors albeit somewhat related.

In general, I would argue that marijuana does not cause mental illness simply because these test subjects would probably have not begun using had they not been seeking relief from chronic pain.  I believe that the depression they noted in subjects was caused by the chronic pain.  But that’s just conjecture based on personal experience coming from me.  What do you think?

Memphis residents take control of chronic pain with a holistic approach to pain management

GoldFlwr3I wanted to share this article from June 4 by a Memphis newspaper because it introduces a completely different paradigm of pain management than traditional western models, and seems to be having a lot of success.  There are so many great quotations in the article that I encourage everyone to take a look if you have a moment.

To summarize, this piece takes the angle of Debbie Nichols who suffers from chronic arthritis pain and had little luck when she sought medical treatment.  She gave yoga a try, then her yoga instructor urged her to incorporate massage therapy into her treatment plan.  She had tremendous success with the two treatments working in tandem.

“I am in no way pain free, but when I have pain, now I know what to do with it.  Now I know that when I’m not doing well, I know what I’m doing wrong and I can stop doing that and do something more productive.”

Yoga instructor, Leah Bray Nichols, and licensed massage therapist and massage instructor, Lorrie Garcia, began sharing clients and had so much positive feedback that they collaborated to create a free panel discussion on pain management.  The panel added a meditation teacher and an art therapist.

“We were getting clients who had had every test under the sun, seen all kinds of doctors and specialists, and couldn’t find a solution to what was causing their pain. We would start to work with these clients, helping them become more aware of where their pain was, their postural holding patterns and the emotional ties it has, so that they were able to undo the patterns themselves,” said Garcia.  “We were getting feedback that they had never heard about the kind of work we were doing and that they never knew it was possible to do the work themselves.”

I don’t know about you but I can definitely relate to having “every test under the sun” and seeing “all kinds of specialists” only to come up with nothing very concrete.  Sometimes this is one of the most frustrating things about chronic pain.  We’re programmed to think that everything has a cause, especially within the paradigm of western medicine, but sometimes pain is just pain.

This multifaceted holistic approach sound very promising.  I think the most important work being done here is allowing the patient to take charge of their pain.

“You have to treat the whole person. It’s about the full picture–mind, body and spirit.  A lot of times you are dealing with emotional pain, which physical pain can result from. And physical injury can cause depression and anxiety. The things we hold in our bodies, like stress, can cause a tremendous amount of pain.”

I think every community should have a program like this.  Has anyone ever heard of one of these or tried something similar?