Category Archives: Chronic Pain

Resolve Inter-Vertebral Back Pain Once and For All

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If you have back pain from an inter-vertebral disc injury, there are pain alleviation treatments that can be applied to heal sooner than later. Unfortunately, too many who suffer inter-vertebral disc injuries believe the only way to alleviate the pain is through pharmaceuticals and surgery. I’m here to tell you, long term drug use and surgery is not the only solution. There are other treatment options under a doctor’s care that may avoid surgery.

If you have compromised a vertebral disc space, one way to alleviate the pain may be surgical intervention. However, to understand the inter-vertebral compromise and severity of internal damage and best treatment course, It is first necessary to define and differentiate between a torn, herniated, slipped or ruptured disc or some other insidious cause of pain. Through this understanding it is easier to decide on a pain management and medical treatment plan that is right for you.

A torn disc is defined as a rupture in the exterior layer of an inter-vertebral disc between the vertebrae. Rupturing means the jellylike interior of a disc seeps through the tear and enters the spinal canal. A herniated, or ruptured disc is often referred to as a slipped disc, whereas the discs in the back have been compromised between articulating vertebrae. The disc function is to act as a soft and spongy cushion between each vertebra to protect the bone as movement occurs. If a disc happens to herniate beyond a bulge and ruptures, surgery often follows. A slipped disc is a very painful event and difficult to pain manage without proper treatment. In many cases, if treated appropriately – natural healing occurs and surgery is not needed.

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How does a vertebra disc slip? If enough pressure is applied to the center of the disc it can cause disc trauma by way of slipping one way or the other off center of vertebral alignment. When this happens, pressure is then pushed against one or more spinal nerves that become pinched and swell underlying tissue which cause varying levels of pain. Other painful conditions and symptoms that often result from a slipped disc: weakness, tingling or numbness in the neck and arms and/or legs, etc.

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There is multiple back pain alleviation treatment applications that include non-invasive back pain relief products and techniques and don’t further aggravate compromised nerve endings. If you now experience a chronic back pain condition and all non-surgical treatment applications have failed – surgery may be necessary… which may or may not make you pain free… because of post-surgery soft tissue damage that aggravates nerve endings. Therefore surgery should be the last option to resolve back pain. If you’re having a tough time making a decision on how to manage your back pain or determine if surgery is right for you… ask your primary physician to refer you to a physiatrist [doctor that specializes in pain management], concurrent with an orthopedic back surgeon.

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Physiatrists are medical doctors that specialize in the whole-body, mind and spirit [encompassing being] and offer other holistic and alternative pain alleviation treatment and therapy options to remove acute and chronic pain, whereas surgery may not be needed.

It must be recognized each person has a varying level of pain threshold and/or pain tolerance. Meaning one pain management program may be tolerated by one client but not the other – even when injuries are similar. For example, patient 1 may be able to tolerate a higher level of pain when beginning a pain management program compared to patient 2 – Even when both patience shares a similar pain and lifestyle story. But patient 2 ends up opting for surgery because of intolerable chronic pain before and after therapy. Pain sensitivities and threshold and treatment therapy options in my opinion are best managed by a referring physiatrist to other pain management specialists.

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If a physiatrist recommends acupuncture at any juncture within the pain management process, I do have personal experience with this treatment. Japanese and Chinese acupuncture removed 75% of my pain – whereas nothing else worked for me outside of medication.

I have multiple intravertebral disc injuries that have resulted in more than one referral to surgery over the last 30 years. To date, I have not had one back surgery and am nearly pain free. I can only share my personal experience and how acupuncture worked for me and may work for you.

I’ve experienced both Japanese and Chinese acupuncture [yes, they are different in technique]. It was the Chinese acupuncture that worked best for me. The Japanese acupuncture was a painful process because of my pain intolerance to it… . Regardless, I tolerated 12 sessions. The treatment was highly successful at rerouting nerve pain and eliminating it. After 6 months of Japanense acupuncture treatment, I opted for Chinese acupuncture [less pain aggravation during needle insert] to finish off the total treatment course. It is more likely than not your health insurance covers this form of pain therapy treatment.

I must state upfront, I did not have a ruptured disc. I have had herniated, bulging and slipped discs. I have also suffered a broken back through military service and have degenerative disc disease. The degenerative process causes a slow ooze of the inner gel out of disc through time. This gel loss puts pressure on spinal nerves by way of narrowing of disc thickness, or space between vertebrae (cushion narrowing) as well as bulging disc pain that flares up occasionally. Although my back condition is aggravating and varies in pain acutely, it is manageable through exercise. I am free of pain killers and only use anti-inflammatories when necessary.

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Acupuncture did wonders for me in terms of rerouting compromised disc and nerve pain. When I do slip and/or aggravate those discs infrequently… , the pain is less severe and can be managed without pain killing medication. Typically, I rest for a day should this occur and then continue walking daily and perform strength building exercises on alternate days. If pain increases beyond an acceptable pain threshold and becomes chronic, I would seek another course of Chinese acupuncture to alleviate the pain. My goal is to avoid surgery. To date, I have been successful at achieving that goal.

For the remainder of my life, I’ll have to manage back pain through a combination of exercise and other noninvasive therapy strategies after back aggravation. Fortunately, my pain is manageable with little physician intervention. Does this mean I will never need back surgery? No, it does not. Currently, I am managing an acceptable level of pain and sustain good physical fitness and functionality and I’m thankful for my good fortune.

Inter-vertebra disc pain may heal “substantially” on its own if you isolate and tolerate a minimal amount of pain during physical therapy and other pain alleviation treatment practises. If you have chronic and unrelenting pain, you may need surgery as a corrective healing course. Your physicians can help you determine what medical and pain management treatment course is right for you.

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If your back pain is more acute than chronic… and your physician recommends physical therapy and medication – take that advise and accept and work through the treatment course. However, requesting referrals for pain killers as a long-term or permanent solution to alleviate pain does not address the real problem… especially if there is a treatment course you can take without more pills and surgery.

If surgery cannot be avoided, I would only accept the advisement of a physiatrist working with an orthopedic back specialist where both recommend surgical intervention as the best course of action to live the lifestyle you need, want and deserve.

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET2021 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Choose One of Six Habit Changes to Lose Body Fat

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Below there are 6 healthy habit changes anyone can apply to begin losing excess body fat weight. Once aware of the unhealthy habits causing the excess body weight…, to reverse the course requires acknowledgement of the unhealthy habit and changing it. Thereafter the unhealthy body fat will come off naturally without increasing health risk.

Identify the Unhealthy Habit Keeping You Overweight and Unfit and then make change.

Last Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight Failed You know why you failed your weight loss program. You did not resolve or change the habit(s) and behavior(s) keeping you overweight. Consuming more than one needs is often caused by daily stress at work and/or within the home environment, and/or unhealthy relationship(s), and/or sedentary habits. Also caused by bad behavioral and addictive food selection. Once you target the cause of your stress, anxiety, addiction, obsession and/or depression… remove yourself from the unhealthy environment, or relationship, or situation or obsession.

Thereafter, personal goals like weight loss and healthy fitness levels become easier to achieve and sustain long-term.

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Pain Factor All pain is causally related to mental and physical illness, disease and/or injury. And with pain comes more sedentary activities and often increased food consumption and associated weight gain. It is for this reason, if you can not manage the pain, it is advised to see a pain specialist.

Request a referral to see a physiatrist [pain management specialist]. A physiatrist specializes in all pain modalities and treats the patient holistically. Don not let pain keep you in a sedentary and out-of-control weight gain hurt locker.

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Party on Some carry the end of year festivities into the New Year. This behavior can last for months, or the entire year. This perpetual party habit will not help you lose weight. First and foremost, you must understand this is occurring and break the habit. A referral to see a behavioral therapist can help target the cause of unhealthy eating and drinking habit or bad behavior(s) and help you change it if you do not have the will power to do it on your own.

Fast foods after the Holidays – Too many Americans consume fast foods especially during the Holidays and End of Sports Season. Here lies the crux for much of Americas diabetes and obesity problems. Processed foods, especially those you find in colorful and attractive packaging almost always contain chemical substances known to cause unhealthy weight gain. When looking at labels, it is those food ingredients you can not pronounce or recognize… they are food chemical additives, preservatives and taste intensifiers that are also known to cause illness and disease and out-of-control weight gain. Choose more whole foods and avoid processed foods as much as possible.

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Learn how to differentiate between healthy and processed foods through food label ingredient awareness. Organic, or mostly organic products on the other hand such as meat from the butcher, fruits and vegetables and desserts from a store baker who displays those consumables ready to eat within days is often a better food selection. This is not to say, those products are not free of unhealthy weight gaining food ingredients and chemicals. But one thing is almost sure, those foods have not been chemically processed to sit on a shelf for 6-12 months. Buy fresh whole foods as often as possible and stay away from highly processed foods to reduce total body fat weight and sustain good health.

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Love of Baking I know the kids love your homemade cookies, cakes and pies. Remember moderation with deserts. Too much sugar, fat and salt is not good for anyone, even children with fast metabolisms. Try serving healthier desserts, i.e., fresh fruits, jello, pudding and peanut, oatmeal and pumpkin treats, etc.

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Empty Nester’s Bake for an Army – Regardless of season, there are many who continue to cook for an entire family after the children have left home. Modify home recipes for one or two to reduce leftovers and temptation to eat more than an average serving size.

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Once you make healthier lifestyle choices – your fitness levels and health and well-being will also improve as you achieve ideal body weight. Learn how author Marc Woodard’s Ageless MirrorAthlete book, “Overweight and Unfit No More” and how it can help you achieve your weight loss goals naturally and live the lifestyle you need, want and deserve now!

Learn how to live the lifestyle you need, want and deserve now!

Good health to you and your family!

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET2019-21 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Effectively Treat Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) and Fibromyalgia

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Updated 7/8/2020 by Marc Woodard

Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) is a common problem that presents a major challenge to health-care providers because of its complex natural history, unclear etiology, and poor response to therapy. CPS is a poorly defined condition [Google 2020]. Whereas fibromyalgia has specific physical and hormonal markers that likely confirm the diagnosis and treatment can significantly alleviate chronic pain.

If you have no history of illness, disease or injury and have unexplainable and medically unsubstantiated pain, you may likely be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. What’s the difference between the two? Fibromyalgia is a neurosensory disorder where one feels widespread pain throughout the body, but most specifically; joint and muscle stiffness and pain with fatigue. CPS appears to manifest after ill-health, or injury has been treated and chronic pain continues on for years.

“Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters).”…

During the early years of fibromyalgia medical diagnosis, it was thought the pain originated from the brain; and the body’s oversensitivity to pain was somewhat of a mystery between the brain-body connections. Today, there appears to be medical consensus on likely cause of fibromyolgia pain. “Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals” [MayoClinic 1998-20].

Ageless MirrorAthlete also covers pain management… through holistic healing mind, body and spirit modalities and principles leading to fit healthy lifestyle change.

It is now understood a cause of fibromyalgia stems from environmental factors, genetics, lifestyle, injury, illness and disease which influence the brain’s neurochemical balance and can become unbalanced. For some, these imbalances appear to be caused by environmental stressors, which triggers anxiety and depression. Mood changes, change brain chemicals… whereas brain chemical imbalances are known to cause bodily pain.

Unlike fibromyalgia which is becoming less of a mystery than it was 10 years ago… i.e., “Doctors don’t know exactly what causes CPS. It often starts with an injury or painful condition such as: Arthritis and other joint problems, Back pain, Headaches, Muscle strains and sprains, Repetitive stress injuries, e.g., when the same movement over and over puts strain on a body part” [Web MD 2005-20].

CPS can also be diagnosed as a like-fibromyalgia condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body [whereas I believe, pain depression can also change brain chemical balance]. Illness and disease and injury are also suspected triggers of CPS, e.g., “Nerve damage, Lyme disease, Broken bones, Cancer, Acid reflux or ulcers, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Endometriosis, when tissue in the uterus grows outside of it, Surgery” [Web MD 2005-20]. For those diagnosed with CPS, it is much harder for medical specialists to explain the long term pain story after symptoms have been adequately treated and physical therapy is complete; and brain chemical(s) are in balance.

“CPS can be hard to treat, but it’s not impossible. A mix of treatments like counseling, physical therapy, and relaxation techniques can help relieve your pain and the other symptoms that come with it … The roots of CPS are both physical and mental. Some experts think that people with the condition have a problem with the system of nerves and glands that the body uses to handle stress. That makes them feel pain differently” [Web MD 2005-20].

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 cases that prevent the patient from completely alleviating pain. Think of it this way… ‘A person whose immune system is down… gets a cold and can never completely get rid of it.’ So you’re always in pain. Whereas it does not take much physical, or mental stress to aggravate and exasperate ‘a weakened immune system’ and cause an acute to chronic pain condition to transpire.

The key differences between fibromyalgia versus CPS diagnosis appears to be based on three fibromyalgia markers: Muscle tenderness, joint ache pain, which produce stiffness and fatigue, often coupled with emotional stress that can last years.

Fortunately there are chemical identifiers that can determine a neurosensory interlink between the brain and spinal cord for those diagnosed with fibromyalgia. “Research has found people with fibromyalgia have abnormally low levels of the hormones serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in their brains. Low levels of these hormones may be a key factor in the cause of fibromyalgia, as they’re important in regulating things like: mood” [Google 2020].

“When a physiatrist [pain specialist] substantiates a pain condition through lab tests that identify neurochemical brain imbalances – substantial pain alleviation treatment can be prescribed.”

CPS is often the diagnosis for chronic pain patients for lack of fibromyalgia markers/symptoms and when medical history of illness, disease and/or past injury are a likely cause of increased pain sensitivity after ill-health or injury: E.g., cancer, immune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, herniated disk, sports injury, or car accident with radiating neuropathies, etc… Substantiated by MRI, Cat scan, x-Ray, ultra-sound, blood/urine test, other lab test markers etc.

CPS patients can also have brain chemical imbalances due to chronic pain-depression. When a physiatrist [pain specialist] substantiates a diagnosis through lab tests identifying neurochemical brain imbalances – treatment can be prescribed. However, this does not mean chronic pain can be completely resolved through pain block and elevated mood pharmaceuticals, or other alternative medical treatment regardless of the pain disorder.

Patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia today are taken much more serious than a decade ago. In May 2014 when I first wrote this article, approximately 35% of all Americans had experienced, or have had some form of short/long term chronic pain. And some 50 million had experienced partial to full disability due to chronic pain. Science has come a long way to identify and treat fibromyalgia. However, CPS appears now… in many ways become the unexplained chronic pain Phenomenon after completion of therapy and treatment of an illness, disease or injury… much like fibromyalgia was not long ago. To date ~50 million suffer from chronic pain. That’s 20% of our population. “About 20 million of them have “high-impact chronic pain” — pain severe enough that it frequently limits life or work activities” [Google 2020].

Patients diagnosed with CPS also experience the same internalizing and rationalizing effect of fibromyalgia pain patient. If a patient feels overly inhibited by medication, or under medicated to treat a chronic pain condition, that can lead to unhealthy lifestyle habits and behavioral changes: e.g., relational conflict, unhealthy diet, drinking, smoking, illegal drug use, prescription abuse, out-of-control behavior etc., which often lead to other increased health risk.

If you experience chronic pain, and/or pain depression and anxiety and experiencing a complex pain story and need help, be sure to seek medical treatment by your PCP (Primary Care Provider). Request a referral to pain management specialist [physiatrist]. Especially if you’ve not been diagnosed with CPS or Fibromyalgia and suffer from chronic pain. Get the correct diagnosis and pain alleviation treatment from a pain management specialist you need and deserve now.

Referrals,

The Free Dictionary, by Farlex. Fibromyalgia.

Dellwo, Adrienne. About.com. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. July 2, 2012.

Google 2020

WebMD 2020

Wikipedia. Chronic Pain.

Health Encyclopedia. Diseases and Conditions.

Singh, Manish K. Chronic Pain Syndrome. Medscape.

Woodamarc. Pain Depression Origins. Hubpages.com.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2014-20 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.