Tag Archives: chronic pain syndrome

Your Questions About Chronic Pain and Management

Questions__Comments Concerns

Chronic pain and its management are complicated topics, both for sufferers and those who care for them. Thank you for your feedback on the previous post and appreciating the spirit in which the information was provided. There were many interesting questions presented, and I’d like to address two topics raised in some detail.

You don’t have to be a drug seeker to be drug addicted.
drptnt2
Here’s a point many chronic pain patients don’t think about that emergency room (ER) staffs have to. Even if you’re not a drug seeker, you can still be physiologically addicted to drugs. Of course your ER physician cares about your mental intent, but s/he has to be cognizant of the possibility or reality that your body might be addicted. One reason this is especially relevant is the development of tolerance, which is an important sign of addiction.

Specifically, tolerance is the phenomenon by which those physiologically addicted to a substance don’t get the same effect by giving what had previously been an effective dose.

So what? This means over time you will require increasing amounts to get an effective amount of relief (i.e. equivalent to previous effects).

So… as a patient suffering from pain, you’re focusing on the fact that you’re not relieved of your pain. Your ER staff is focused on the reality that increasing amounts of certain pain medications (i.e. narcotics) come with increasing amounts of side effects, more notably respiratory depression, meaning a high enough dose can knock out your ability to breath and will kill you. This is a major reason why there are limits as to the amounts and frequency of what will be given to you in an ER setting. Once you’ve been given a certain amount, many physicians will simple stop giving additional amounts regardless as to how you feel – unless we are able to specifically discuss your cases with your primary or pain management physician, who may explain your circumstance and help decide if additionally amounts are needed. This also explains why you’re more likely to get “better” treatment during regular business hours than in the middle of the night; those conversations with other members of the team are important.

The allergy vs. adverse drug reaction question:
Drug-Infographic-Small

In a previous post, I commented on patients equating preference or side effects with allergies, and several readers have asked for clarification (e.g. “Why isn’t that side effect the same as an allergy?). An example that relates to pain is some patients’ preference of various narcotics. For some, morphine routinely makes many people itch. This is an expected side effect and is not the same as an allergic reaction. Morphine also makes some patients feel “bleh,” especially when compared with such medicinal options as Dilaudid or Demerol which are more “happy drugs.”

Even so, these drugs have different effects that would make a physician choose one over the other. For example, morphine is actually a drug of choice for pain exacerbations associated with sickle cell anemia due to its effects at the cellular level, so in many cases, physician will prefer to use morphine despite patient preference. In any event, your job is simply to have the conversation with your physician. Don’t claim an allergy if one doesn’t exist; simply discuss the reasons why one medication seems to work better than the other. You likely will find a much more receptive audience taking this approach.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Chronic Pain – What You and Your Physicians Can Do To Really Help

The notion of a pain awareness month is an odd thing; probably even more so to those suffering from chronic pain. Typically the idea with these periods of recognizing diseases and conditions is to create sensitivity among the general public toward one’s condition. In this and the next Straight, No Chaser, we will not only do that but will build upon that and provide those sufferers of chronic pain some better tools to make those emergency room visits more productive.
chronic-pain
I’d begin by asking you to get more in touch with your “you sensitivity” and learn to differentiate between different types of pain. It’s important for you to know the difference.

  • Clearly there’s acute pain from injury. You break a jaw or twist an ankle, you’re going to hurt.
  • There’s acute exacerbations of pain from disease. You have sickle cell anemia? Cancer? Lupus? Sciatica or other low back pain? Arthritis? Migraines? You will have acute flare ups.

Then there’s chronic pain. Remember, sometimes pain happens without injury or disease. Pain is simply a signal communicated from your body to you through your brain. Acute pain is normal and is meant to alert you to somehow protect yourself or get help. Chronic pain is different. Those signals coming from your nervous system can be sporadic or haphazard, and they may be more reflective of dysfunction within the nervous system than a disease or injury. It can even be psychogenic (due to matters of your mind). Regardless of the cause, chronic pain is well, a pain.

There are many established conditions that cause chronic pain, such as the following:

chronicpain-circle3

Maybe the point of this post isn’t to tell those of you who suffer from chronic pain things you don’t already know as much as it is to organize your thoughts and approach to your pain. After all, it’s not like there are cures for chronic pain besides eliminating the underlying condition (which reminds me to remind you not to fall for the many medical scams promising instant and permanent relief to these medical conditions). The first step really is to help you appreciate the need for becoming better sensitized to your condition.

Many patients with chronic pain suffer horrible outcomes because they become desensitized to pain, learn to ignore it, and misinterpret a new, unrelated pain condition (maybe with a few similarities), failing to get evaluated before it is too late.

If you suffer from chronic pain, it’s key to know the things you can do to improve your quality of life. Strengthening your mind to reduce stress and avoid fixating on your medical condition is very important. Learning to relax actually is treatment; your body has pain-reducing chemicals, including those that directly treat pain and promote healing, and others that prevent release of internal pain producers. Find someone with whom you can discuss relaxation and stress reduction.

chronicpain2

Engage the fight to get better within your physical limitations.

  • Exercise remains key. Depending on your situation, walking, running, biking and/or swimming can dramatically improve your situation. Be advised that the extremes (not exercising at all or doing so too much) can actually worsen the situation.
  • Stretching and strengthening similarly produce benefits to those with chronic pain. This should sound like a good reason to become involved with a personal trainer or have a physical therapist.
  • Regular sleep and avoidance of nicotine (stop smoking!) will also help.

Your physician may discuss multiple other possible treatment modalities, such as the following:

  • Acupuncture
  • Behavioral therapy can reduce your pain and decrease your stress through methods that help you relax, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga. Give it a try. It works for many people.
  • Brain stimulation therapy
  • Local electrical stimulation
  • Occupational therapy teaches you how to perform routine activities of daily living in a way that reduces your pain and/or avoids reinjuring yourself.
  • Osteopathic manipulation therapy (OMT)
  • Psychotherapy

Regarding medication, for many people use of medication (especially narcotics) becomes a crutch and a slippery slope. Over the counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are quite effective for many causes of pain. Use of narcotics should be measured and part of an overall plan, not a tool for a quick fix or to get you out of your doctor’s face. It is part of reality that even if you are not a drug-seeking patient, with enough exposure to narcotics you will develop tolerance (less effectiveness at the same dose) and become addicted. You should want to avoid this fate.

The pain, mental duress and reduction in quality of life associated with chronic pain can be lessened with you learning how to approach and understand your pain, taking appropriate steps to reduce things you do to exacerbate the pain, increasing the things you do to lessen the pain, and working with your health care team to provide you with appropriate support and treatment.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgi

Previously, Straight, No Chaser has discussed the frustration of uncertainty some patients have with having symptoms and not being given a diagnosis (much less a cure). Imagine if that uncertainty arose in the context of excruciating pain lasting for what seems like all day. There was a time when this was the case to a much greater extent, and then several medical conditions gained recognition and/or prominence. Some of these include chronic pain syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ syndrome), endometriosis, inflammatory bowel disorder, vaginismus, vulvodynia and still other conditions. Today’s Straight, No Chaser addresses one such condition, fibromyalgia.

 Fibromyalgia_pain

The symptoms of fibromyalgia include muscle pain and fatigue. This pain may take one of several typical forms, including headaches, painful menstrual periods and – most interestingly – “tender points.” Tender points are specific places on the body that hurt when you apply pressure. These can occur most anywhere but usually involve the extremities, neck, back, hips and shoulders. Other symptoms include numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, difficulty sleeping and morning stiffness. In some cases a condition called “fibro fog” occurs, in which clouding of thinking and memory occurs. It shouldn’t be a surprise that these other symptoms often result in clinical depression.
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is a condition, not a disease that we can attach to a specific cause. However, there are several diseases to which fibromyalgia has been linked. In short, many stressful life conditions and events can serve as triggers for this disorder. Some of the more notable conditions and triggers include ankylosing spondylitis (aka spinal arthritis), motor vehicle crashes, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (aka lupus). So many such triggers exists that now over 5 million Americans have been labeled with the diagnosis. Interesting, 80-90% of those so diagnosed are women, most during middle age.
Given the absence of an identified cause, treatment is mostly symptomatic, attempting to address the pain and other things that disrupt one’s activities of daily living. More importantly, once affected, you need to implement the lifestyle changes that have been shown to help, including improving diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, changing one’s work and home environments, and taking medications as prescribed.
I would be remiss (and not very Straight, No Chaser), if I didn’t address the controversies surrounding fibromyalgia. Given the absence of a defined cause, many patients suffering from fibromyalgia and similar disorders are often perceived to be drug seeking, particularly in emergency departments. It is very frustrating for physicians to care for patients they can’t “fix.” Although drug-seeking patients do exist, multiple medical studies have shown that inadequate treatment of pain remains one of the great faux pas of medicine. It is an equal disservice to give in to a patient’s request for pain medication as a routine matter without the benefit of a full evaluation. There are many defined medical conditions that present with pain. More deliberate and vigorous evaluations can not only put a more definitive name to the pain but can lead to better outcomes for those patients.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Your Questions About Chronic Pain and Management

Questions__Comments Concerns

Chronic pain and its management are complicated topics, both for sufferers and those who care for them. Thank you for your feedback on the previous post and appreciating the spirit in which the information was provided. There were many interesting questions presented, and I’d like to address two topics raised in some detail.
You don’t have to be a drug seeker to be drug addicted.
drptnt2
Here’s a point many chronic pain patients don’t think about that emergency room (ER) staffs have to. Even if you’re not a drug seeker, you can still be physiologically addicted to drugs. Of course your ER physician cares about your mental intent, but s/he has to be cognizant of the possibility or reality that your body might be addicted. One reason this is especially relevant is the development of tolerance, which is an important sign of addiction.
Specifically, tolerance is the phenomenon by which those physiologically addicted to a substance don’t get the same effect by giving what had previously been an effective dose. So what? This means over time you will require increasing amounts to get an effective amount of relief (i.e. equivalent to previous effects).
So… as a patient suffering from pain, you’re focusing on the fact that you’re not relieved of your pain. Your ER staff is focused on the reality that increasing amounts of certain pain medications (i.e. narcotics) come with increasing amounts of side effects, more notably respiratory depression, meaning a high enough dose can knock out your ability to breath and will kill you. This is a major reason why there are limits as to the amounts and frequency of what will be given to you in an ER setting. Once you’ve been given a certain amount, many physicians will simple stop giving additional amounts regardless as to how you feel – unless we are able to specifically discuss your cases with your primary or pain management physician, who may explain your circumstance and help decide if additionally amounts are needed. This also explains why you’re more likely to get “better” treatment during regular business hours than in the middle of the night; those conversations with other members of the team are important.
The allergy vs. adverse drug reaction question:
Drug-Infographic-Small
In a previous post, I commented on patients equating preference or side effects with allergies, and several readers have asked for clarification (e.g. “Why isn’t that side effect the same as an allergy?). An example that relates to pain is some patients’ preference of various narcotics. For some, morphine routinely makes many people itch. This is an expected side effect and is not the same as an allergic reaction. Morphine also makes some patients feel “bleh,” especially when compared with such medicinal options as Dilaudid or Demerol which are more “happy drugs.”
Even so, these drugs have different effects that would make a physician choose one over the other. For example, morphine is actually a drug of choice for pain exacerbations associated with sickle cell anemia due to its effects at the cellular level, so in many cases, physician will prefer to use morphine despite patient preference. In any event, your job is simply to have the conversation with your physician. Don’t claim an allergy if one doesn’t exist; simply discuss the reasons why one medication seems to work better than the other. You likely will find a much more receptive audience taking this approach.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgi

Previously, Straight, No Chaser has discussed the frustration of uncertainty some patients have with having symptoms and not being given a diagnosis (much less a cure). Imagine if that uncertainty arose in the context of excruciating pain lasting for what seems like all day. There was a time when this was the case to a much greater extent, and then several medical conditions gained recognition and/or prominence. Some of these include chronic pain syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ syndrome), endometriosis, inflammatory bowel disorder, vaginismus, vulvodynia and still other conditions. Today’s Straight, No Chaser addresses one such condition, fibromyalgia.

 Fibromyalgia_pain

The symptoms of fibromyalgia include muscle pain and fatigue. This pain may take one of several typical forms, including headaches, painful menstrual periods and – most interestingly – “tender points.” Tender points are specific places on the body that hurt when you apply pressure. These can occur most anywhere but usually involve the extremities, neck, back, hips and shoulders. Other symptoms include numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, difficulty sleeping and morning stiffness. In some cases a condition called “fibro fog” occurs, in which clouding of thinking and memory occurs. It shouldn’t be a surprise that these other symptoms often result in clinical depression.
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is a condition, not a disease that we can attach to a specific cause. However, there are several diseases to which fibromyalgia has been linked. In short, many stressful life conditions and events can serve as triggers for this disorder. Some of the more notable conditions and triggers include ankylosing spondylitis (aka spinal arthritis), motor vehicle crashes, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (aka lupus). So many such triggers exists that now over 5 million Americans have been labeled with the diagnosis. Interesting, 80-90% of those so diagnosed are women, most during middle age.
Given the absence of an identified cause, treatment is mostly symptomatic, attempting to address the pain and other things that disrupt one’s activities of daily living. More importantly, once affected, you need to implement the lifestyle changes that have been shown to help, including improving diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, changing one’s work and home environments, and taking medications as prescribed.
I would be remiss (and not very Straight, No Chaser), if I didn’t address the controversies surrounding fibromyalgia. Given the absence of a defined cause, many patients suffering from fibromyalgia and similar disorders are often perceived to be drug seeking, particularly in emergency departments. It is very frustrating for physicians to care for patients they can’t “fix.” Although drug-seeking patients do exist, multiple medical studies have shown that inadequate treatment of pain remains one of the great faux pas of medicine. It is an equal disservice to give in to a patient’s request for pain medication as a routine matter without the benefit of a full evaluation. There are many defined medical conditions that present with pain. More deliberate and vigorous evaluations can not only put a more definitive name to the pain but can lead to better outcomes for those patients.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Your Questions About Chronic Pain and Management

Questions__Comments Concerns

Chronic pain and its management are complicated topics, both for sufferers and those who care for them. Thank you for your feedback on the previous post and appreciating the spirit in which the information was provided. There were many interesting questions presented, and I’d like to address two topics raised in some detail.
You don’t have to be a drug seeker to be drug addicted.
drptnt2
Here’s a point many chronic pain patients don’t think about that emergency room (ER) staffs have to. Even if you’re not a drug seeker, you can still be physiologically addicted to drugs. Of course your ER physician cares about your mental intent, but s/he has to be cognizant of the possibility or reality that your body might be addicted. One reason this is especially relevant is the development of tolerance, which is an important sign of addiction.
Specifically, tolerance is the phenomenon by which those physiologically addicted to a substance don’t get the same effect by giving what had previously been an effective dose. So what? This means over time you will require increasing amounts to get an effective amount of relief (i.e. equivalent to previous effects).
So… as a patient suffering from pain, you’re focusing on the fact that you’re not relieved of your pain. Your ER staff is focused on the reality that increasing amounts of certain pain medications (i.e. narcotics) come with increasing amounts of side effects, more notably respiratory depression, meaning a high enough dose can knock out your ability to breath and will kill you. This is a major reason why there are limits as to the amounts and frequency of what will be given to you in an ER setting. Once you’ve been given a certain amount, many physicians will simple stop giving additional amounts regardless as to how you feel – unless we are able to specifically discuss your cases with your primary or pain management physician, who may explain your circumstance and help decide if additionally amounts are needed. This also explains why you’re more likely to get “better” treatment during regular business hours than in the middle of the night; those conversations with other members of the team are important.
The allergy vs. adverse drug reaction question:
Drug-Infographic-Small
In a previous post, I commented on patients equating preference or side effects with allergies, and several readers have asked for clarification (e.g. “Why isn’t that side effect the same as an allergy?). An example that relates to pain is some patients’ preference of various narcotics. For some, morphine routinely makes many people itch. This is an expected side effect and is not the same as an allergic reaction. Morphine also makes some patients feel “bleh,” especially when compared with such medicinal options as Dilaudid or Demerol which are more “happy drugs.”
Even so, these drugs have different effects that would make a physician choose one over the other. For example, morphine is actually a drug of choice for pain exacerbations associated with sickle cell anemia due to its effects at the cellular level, so in many cases, physician will prefer to use morphine despite patient preference. In any event, your job is simply to have the conversation with your physician. Don’t claim an allergy if one doesn’t exist; simply discuss the reasons why one medication seems to work better than the other. You likely will find a much more receptive audience taking this approach.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Your Questions About Chronic Pain and Management

Questions__Comments Concerns

Chronic pain and its management are complicated topics, both for sufferers and those who care for them. Thank you for your feedback on the previous post and appreciating the spirit in which the information was provided. There were many interesting questions presented, and I’d like to address two topics raised in some detail.
You don’t have to be a drug seeker to be drug addicted.
drptnt2
Here’s a point many chronic pain patients don’t think about that emergency room (ER) staffs have to. Even if you’re not a drug seeker, you can still be physiologically addicted to drugs. Of course your ER physician cares about your mental intent, but s/he has to be cognizant of the possibility or reality that your body might be addicted. One reason this is especially relevant is the development of tolerance, which is an important sign of addiction.
Specifically, tolerance is the phenomenon by which those physiologically addicted to a substance don’t get the same effect by giving what had previously been an effective dose. So what? This means over time you will require increasing amounts to get an effective amount of relief (i.e. equivalent to previous effects).
So… as a patient suffering from pain, you’re focusing on the fact that you’re not relieved of your pain. Your ER staff is focused on the reality that increasing amounts of certain pain medications (i.e. narcotics) come with increasing amounts of side effects, more notably respiratory depression, meaning a high enough dose can knock out your ability to breath and will kill you. This is a major reason why there are limits as to the amounts and frequency of what will be given to you in an ER setting. Once you’ve been given a certain amount, many physicians will simple stop giving additional amounts regardless as to how you feel – unless we are able to specifically discuss your cases with your primary or pain management physician, who may explain your circumstance and help decide if additionally amounts are needed. This also explains why you’re more likely to get “better” treatment during regular business hours than in the middle of the night; those conversations with other members of the team are important.
The allergy vs. adverse drug reaction question:
Drug-Infographic-Small
In a previous post, I commented on patients equating preference or side effects with allergies, and several readers have asked for clarification (e.g. “Why isn’t that side effect the same as an allergy?). An example that relates to pain is some patients’ preference of various narcotics. For some, morphine routinely makes many people itch. This is an expected side effect and is not the same as an allergic reaction. Morphine also makes some patients feel “bleh,” especially when compared with such medicinal options as Dilaudid or Demerol which are more “happy drugs.”
Even so, these drugs have different effects that would make a physician choose one over the other. For example, morphine is actually a drug of choice for pain exacerbations associated with sickle cell anemia due to its effects at the cellular level, so in many cases, physician will prefer to use morphine despite patient preference. In any event, your job is simply to have the conversation with your physician. Don’t claim an allergy if one doesn’t exist; simply discuss the reasons why one medication seems to work better than the other. You likely will find a much more receptive audience taking this approach.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright, Sterling Initiatives, LLC. 2013-2015

Straight, No Chaser: Your Questions About Chronic Pain and Management

Questions__Comments Concerns

Chronic pain and its management are complicated topics, both for sufferers and those who care for them. Thank you for your feedback on the previous post and appreciating the spirit in which the information was provided. There were many interesting questions presented, and I’d like to address two topics raised in some detail.
You don’t have to be a drug seeker to be drug addicted.
drptnt2
Here’s a point many chronic pain patients don’t think about that emergency room (ER) staffs have to. Even if you’re not a drug seeker, you can still be physiologically addicted to drugs. Of course your ER physician cares about your mental intent, but s/he has to be cognizant of the possibility or reality that your body might be addicted. One reason this is especially relevant is the development of tolerance, which is an important sign of addiction.
Specifically, tolerance is the phenomenon by which those physiologically addicted to a substance don’t get the same effect by giving what had previously been an effective dose. So what? This means over time you will require increasing amounts to get an effective amount of relief (i.e. equivalent to previous effects).
So… as a patient suffering from pain, you’re focusing on the fact that you’re not relieved of your pain. Your ER staff is focused on the reality that increasing amounts of certain pain medications (i.e. narcotics) come with increasing amounts of side effects, more notably respiratory depression, meaning a high enough dose can knock out your ability to breath and will kill you. This is a major reason why there are limits as to the amounts and frequency of what will be given to you in an ER setting. Once you’ve been given a certain amount, many physicians will simple stop giving additional amounts regardless as to how you feel – unless we are able to specifically discuss your cases with your primary or pain management physician, who may explain your circumstance and help decide if additionally amounts are needed. This also explains why you’re more likely to get “better” treatment during regular business hours than in the middle of the night; those conversations with other members of the team are important.
The allergy vs. adverse drug reaction question:
Drug-Infographic-Small
In a previous post, I commented on patients equating preference or side effects with allergies, and several readers have asked for clarification (e.g. “Why isn’t that side effect the same as an allergy?). An example that relates to pain is some patients’ preference of various narcotics. For some, morphine routinely makes many people itch. This is an expected side effect and is not the same as an allergic reaction. Morphine also makes some patients feel “bleh,” especially when compared with such medicinal options as Dilaudid or Demerol which are more “happy drugs.”
Even so, these drugs have different effects that would make a physician choose one over the other. For example, morphine is actually a drug of choice for pain exacerbations associated with sickle cell anemia due to its effects at the cellular level, so in many cases, physician will prefer to use morphine despite patient preference. In any event, your job is simply to have the conversation with your physician. Don’t claim an allergy if one doesn’t exist; simply discuss the reasons why one medication seems to work better than the other. You likely will find a much more receptive audience taking this approach.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Straight, No Chaser: Pain Awareness Month and Your Chronic Pain

Print

 
The notion of a pain awareness month is an odd thing; probably even more so to those suffering from chronic pain. Typically the idea with these periods of recognizing diseases and conditions is to create sensitivity among the general public toward one’s condition. In this and the next Straight, No Chaser, we will not only do that but will build upon that and provide those sufferers of chronic pain some better tools to make those emergency room visits more productive.
chronic-pain
I’d begin by asking you to get more in touch with your “you sensitivity” and learn to differentiate between different types of pain. It’s important for you to know the difference.

  • Clearly there’s acute pain from injury. You break a jaw or twist an ankle, you’re going to hurt.
  • There’s acute exacerbations of pain from disease. You have sickle cell anemia? Cancer? Lupus? Sciatica or other low back pain? Arthritis? Migraines? You will have acute flare ups.

Then there’s chronic pain. Remember, sometimes pain happens without injury or disease. Pain is simply a signal communicated from your body to you through your brain. Acute pain is normal and is meant to alert you to somehow protect yourself or get help. Chronic pain is different. Those signals coming from your nervous system can be sporadic or haphazard, and they may be more reflective of dysfunction within the nervous system than a disease or injury. It can even be psychogenic (due to matters of your mind). Regardless of the cause, chronic pain is well, a pain.
There are many established conditions that cause chronic pain, such as the following:

chronicpain-circle3
Maybe the point of this post isn’t to tell those of you who suffer from chronic pain things you don’t already know as much as it is to organize your thoughts and approach to your pain. After all, it’s not like there are cures for chronic pain besides eliminating the underlying condition (which reminds me to remind you not to fall for the many medical scams promising instant and permanent relief to these medical conditions). The first step really is to help you appreciate the need for becoming better sensitized to your condition. Many patients with chronic pain suffer horrible outcomes because they become desensitized to pain, learn to ignore it, and misinterpret a new, unrelated pain condition (maybe with a few similarities), failing to get evaluated before it is too late.
If you suffer from chronic pain, it’s key to know the things you can do to improve your quality of life. Strengthening your mind to reduce stress and avoid fixating on your medical condition is very important. Learning to relax actually is treatment; your body has pain-reducing chemicals, including those that directly treat pain and promote healing, and others that prevent release of internal pain producers. Find someone with whom you can discuss relaxation and stress reduction.
chronicpain2
Engage the fight to get better within your physical limitations.

  • Exercise remains key. Depending on your situation, walking, running, biking and/or swimming can dramatically improve your situation. Be advised that the extremes (not exercising at all or doing so too much) can actually worsen the situation.
  • Stretching and strengthening similarly produce benefits to those with chronic pain. This should sound like a good reason to become involved with a personal trainer or have a physical therapist.
  • Regular sleep and avoidance of nicotine (stop smoking!) will also help.

Your physician may discuss multiple other possible treatment modalities, such as the following:

  • Acupuncture
  • Behavioral therapy can reduce your pain and decrease your stress through methods that help you relax, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga. Give it a try. It works for many people.
  • Brain stimulation therapy
  • Local electrical stimulation
  • Occupational therapy teaches you how to perform routine activities of daily living in a way that reduces your pain and/or avoids reinjuring yourself.
  • Osteopathic manipulation therapy (OMT)
  • Psychotherapy

Regarding medication, for many people use of medication (especially narcotics) becomes a crutch and a slippery slope. Over the counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are quite effective for many causes of pain. Use of narcotics should be measured and part of an overall plan, not a tool for a quick fix or to get you out of your doctor’s face. It is part of reality that even if you are not a drug-seeking patient, with enough exposure to narcotics you will develop tolerance (less effectiveness at the same dose) and become addicted. You should want to avoid this fate.
The pain, mental duress and reduction in quality of life associated with chronic pain can be lessened with you learning how to approach and understand your pain, taking appropriate steps to reduce things you do to exacerbate the pain, increasing the things you do to lessen the pain, and working with your health care team to provide you with appropriate support and treatment. We at http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and 844-SMA-TALK are here to support your efforts. We welcome your questions.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Straight, No Chaser: Chronic Pain

chronic-pain

If I could talk to you about pain (oh wait, I can), I’d begin by asking you to get more in touch with your “you sensitivity” and learn to differentiate between different types of pain. It’s important for you to know the difference.

  • Clearly there’s acute pain from injury. You break a jaw or twist an ankle, you’re going to hurt.
  • There’s acute exacerbations of pain from disease. You have sickle cell anemia? Cancer? Lupus? Sciatica or other low back pain? Arthritis? Migraines? You will have acute flare ups.

Then there’s chronic pain. Remember, sometimes pain happens without injury or disease. Pain is simply a signal communicated from your body to you through your brain. Acute pain is normal and is meant to alert you to somehow protect yourself or get help. Chronic pain is different. Those signals coming from your nervous system can be sporadic or haphazard, and they may be more reflective of dysfunction within the nervous system than a disease or injury. It can even be psychogenic (due to matters of your mind). Regardless of the cause, chronic pain is well, a pain.
There are many established conditions that cause chronic pain, such as the following:

 chronicpain-circle3

Maybe the point of this post isn’t to tell those of you who suffer from chronic pain things you don’t already know as much as it is to organize your thoughts and approach to your pain. After all, it’s not like there are cures for chronic pain besides eliminating the underlying condition (which reminds me to remind you not to fall for the many medical scams promising instant and permanent relief to these medical conditions). The first step really is to help you appreciate the need for becoming better sensitized to your condition. Many patients with chronic pain suffer horrible outcomes because they become desensitized to pain, learn to ignore it, and misinterpret a new, unrelated pain condition (maybe with a few similarities), failing to get evaluated before it is too late.
If you suffer from chronic pain, it’s key to know the things you can do to improve your quality of life. Strengthening your mind to reduce stress and avoid fixating on your medical condition is very important. Learning to relax actually is treatment; your body has pain-reducing chemicals, including those that directly treat pain and promote healing, and others that prevent release of internal pain producers. Find someone with whom you can discuss relaxation and stress reduction.

 chronicpain2

Engage the fight to get better within your physical limitations.

  • Exercise remains key. Depending on your situation, walking, running, biking and/or swimming can dramatically improve your situation. Be advised that the extremes (not exercising at all or doing so too much) can actually worsen the situation.
  • Stretching and strengthening similarly produce benefits to those with chronic pain. This should sound like a good reason to become involved with a personal training or have a physical therapist.
  • Regular sleep and avoidance of nicotine (stop smoking!) will also help.

Your physician may discuss multiple other possible treatment modalities, such as the following:

  • Acupuncture
  • Behavioral therapy can reduce your pain and decrease your stress through methods that help you relax, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga. Give it a try. It works for many people.
  • Brain stimulation therapy
  • Local electrical stimulation
  • Occupational therapy teaches you how to perform routine activities of daily living in a way that reduces your pain and/or avoids reinjuring yourself.
  • Osteopathic manipulation therapy (OMT)
  • Psychotherapy

Regarding medication, for many people use of medication (especially narcotics) becomes a crutch and a slippery slope. Over the counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are quite effective for many causes of pain. Use of narcotics should be measured and part of an overall plan, not a tool for a quick fix or to get you out of your doctor’s face. It is part of reality that even if you are not a drug-seeking patient, with enough exposure to narcotics you will develop tolerance (less effectiveness at the same dose) and become addicted. You should want to avoid this fate.
The pain, mental duress and reduction in quality of life associated with chronic pain can be lessened with you learning how to approach and understand your pain, taking appropriate steps to reduce things you do to exacerbate the pain, increasing the things you do to lessen the pain, and working with your health care team to provide you with appropriate support and treatment. We at www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and 844-SMA-TALK are here to support your efforts. We welcome your questions.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Straight, No Chaser: Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgi

Previously, Straight, No Chaser has discussed the frustration of uncertainty some patients have with having symptoms and not being given a diagnosis (much less a cure). Imagine if that uncertainty arose in the context of excruciating pain lasting for what seems like all day. There was a time when this was the case to a much greater extent, and then several medical conditions gained recognition and/or prominence. Some of these include chronic pain syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ syndrome), endometriosis, inflammatory bowel disorder, vaginismus, vulvodynia and still other conditions. Today’s Straight, No Chaser addresses one such condition, fibromyalgia.

 Fibromyalgia_pain

The symptoms of fibromyalgia include muscle pain and fatigue. This pain may take one of several typical forms, including headaches, painful menstrual periods and – most interestingly – “tender points.” Tender points are specific places on the body that hurt when you apply pressure. These can occur most anywhere but usually involve the extremities, neck, back, hips and shoulders. Other symptoms include numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, difficulty sleeping and morning stiffness. In some cases a condition called “fibro fog” occurs, in which clouding of thinking and memory occurs. It shouldn’t be a surprise that these other symptoms often result in clinical depression.
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is a condition, not a disease that we can attach to a specific cause. However, there are several diseases to which fibromyalgia has been linked. In short, many stressful life conditions and events can serve as triggers for this disorder. Some of the more notable conditions and triggers include ankylosing spondylitis (aka spinal arthritis), motor vehicle crashes, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (aka lupus). So many such triggers exists that now over 5 million Americans have been labeled with the diagnosis. Interesting, 80-90% of those so diagnosed are women, most during middle age.
Given the absence of an identified cause, treatment is mostly symptomatic, attempting to address the pain and other things that disrupt one’s activities of daily living. More importantly, once affected, you need to implement the lifestyle changes that have been shown to help, including improving diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, changing one’s work and home environments, and taking medications as prescribed.
I would be remiss (and not very Straight, No Chaser), if I didn’t address the controversies surrounding fibromyalgia. Given the absence of a defined cause, many patients suffering from fibromyalgia and similar disorders are often perceived to be drug seeking, particularly in emergency departments. It is very frustrating for physicians to care for patients they can’t “fix.” Although drug-seeking patients do exist, multiple medical studies have shown that inadequate treatment of pain remains one of the great faux pas of medicine. It is an equal disservice to give in to a patient’s request for pain medication as a routine matter without the benefit of a full evaluation. There are many defined medical conditions that present with pain. More deliberate and vigorous evaluations can not only put a more definitive name to the pain but can lead to better outcomes for those patients.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com(SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.