Category Archives: pain

Fibromyalgia Phantom Pain Diagnosis and Treatment

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An unexplained pain disorder is commonly labeled as fibromyalgia. The worse thing about unexplained physical pain is the depression that comes with it and not knowing the cause of it and how to effectively alleviate, or remove the pain. In many fibromyalgia cases, mental health prescription drugs are often the treatment course.

Fibromyalgia is not considered a mental illness disorder… however, it is considered a real disorder once medically substantiated through examination and lab protocol diagnosis. It has been medically determined a depressed and anxious mindset and lack of sleep can cause an autoimmune response leading to inflammatory pain-causing symptoms throughout the body. It has long been a practice for medical professionals to prescribe anti-depressants and sleep aid medications useful in treating acute and chronic phantom pain.

Many who suffer from “medically unsubstantiated and undiagnosed pain cause” are three times more likely to suffer from depression and/or anxiety. In the absence of pain causing illness and disease and physical injury, the central nervous system(s) neuro and hormonal chemicals are often found out-of- balance. Body chemical imbalances are found to trigger an inflammatory autoimmune response in many patients. This chemical imbalance and inflammatory response have a direct connection to mood and bodily pain.

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The populace who tends to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia is women between the ages of 35-55. This condition rarely takes a toll on men, the elderly, or children, although it does occur. Women with fibromyalgia in the U.S. represent over 80% of those diagnosed with this condition. The total populace affected by fibromyalgia in the US represents 2% of our population. Fibromyalgia was formally known as fibrositis (a group of disorders characterized by widespread body aches and pains in muscle, connective tissue, joints and bone). Other triggers that can activate the fibromyalgia condition include exposure to dampness, or cold and certain infections. Pain is usually worse in the morning.

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Understanding Fibromyalgia Basics: Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain and stiffness in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Although an exact cause of this condition has not been directly identified, it is thought that a major player to this chronic condition resides within the brains serotonin levels which affects mood. Lower levels of serotonin are known to stimulate depression and with depression psychosomatic illness often occurs. If anyone becomes depressed for a long period of time, the body gets sick and real physical pain is experienced. There seems to be a direct correlation between depression, lack of sleep, restlessness, disturbances in bowel function and super sensitivity with touch, whereas key trigger pain receptors are transmitted via the neurochemical highways from the central nervous system (brain). Fatigue combined with depression can trigger autoimmune infection, and related disease and pain anywhere in the body.

When mental and physical pain episodes go undiagnosed too long and without intervention, unhealthy habits and behavior often ensue, i.e., self-medication, sedentary and addictive drinking habits, etc. Unhealthy lifestyle untreated for long duration will lead to more psychosomatic neuro and hormonal chemical imbalances and pain and illness which can lead to other disease manifestation and cancer.

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If you have unexplainable acute/chronic phantom pain in any muscle, joint, tendons and ligaments, seek a medical opinion and request referral to a physiatrist as soon as possible before symptoms worsen.

Recall, “Fibromyalgia is considered a real disorder once medically substantiated.” However, it remains a challenge for many physicians to diagnose an exact cause of pain and treat effectively in some cases. Why? Unlike rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus there is no swelling, external-internal tissue damage, or joint-muscle deformity. The patient is healthy otherwise but suffers from chronic muscular pain and stiffness without swelling, deformity or bruising.

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When diagnosing fibromyalgia, the most common symptoms doctors look for: headaches, tender point pain, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue etc. Psychological symptoms: depression, sleep disturbances and mood changes. Referred lab findings may medically substantiate the disorder via Elevated levels of Substance P (Chemical Nerve Signal) and Nerve Growth Factor (Found in the spinal fluid) and lower levels of serotonin (Brain Nerve Chemical) from laboratory specimen fluid samples.

“The level of chemical in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) called substance P, which transmits pain impulses to the brain, is three times higher in people with the disease than in those who do not have the condition. This likely causes someone with fibromyalgia to experience pain more intensely” [emedicinehealth WebMD 2021]

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If you experience phantom pain and have not been diagnosed with a substantiated fibromyalgia disorder, read the tips and recommendations below and seek a medical opinion and diagnosis to get the help you need and deserve now.

10 Fibromyalgia Tips and Recommendations
1. See your doctor if you experience any combination of the symptoms listed above, or (a.) Experience chronic body pain for more than 3 months above and below the waist. (b.) Feel pain in at least 11-18 possible tender points when light pressure is applied. (c.) Experiencing depression and thoughts of suicide and/or high levels of anxiety.
2. Get help if a family member exhibits: Panic attacks, hostility, restlessness, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, and physical pain.
3. If prescribed anti-depressants, a family member should watch for adverse character changes that lead to self-medication and unhealthy lifestyle habits to control pain. A two- month watch is recommended when prescribed anti-depressants to combat fibromyalgia.
4. Adverse behavioral risk is more prominent within adults under 24 and children.

5. Apply hot showers-spray localized area, use heating pads, whirlpool, hot compresses, gentle message to alleviate phantom pain.
6. Stretching and relaxation will alleviate stress, and biofeedback (doctor advisement on this one) will help ease contracted muscles causing pain.
7. The following prescription may be provided to ease pain. Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. Cortisone and local anesthetic injections at pain trigger points.
8. Antidepressants per doctor recommendations, e.g., Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI).
9. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these interfere with sleep.
10. Get adequate sleep and general conditioning and exercise, proper nutrition.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2009-21 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

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.