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23 Jul 2016

Complementary Medicine – A New Pain Management Alternative?

There are several different causes of chronic pain. From arthritis, to past injuries and accidents, genetic disorders, and more – while the causes may vary, the end result is the same.

More and more people today live with ongoing pain and it is often so consistent or severe it diminishes their quality of life. That’s often when they seek out an Atlanta pain management doctor.

But is a pain management physician who doles out pain meds or medical interventions for pain the only answer?

A holistic approach to pain management attempts to address and reduce pain with more than just medication or medical interventions. It looks at making the complete individual more comfortable physical and mentally. In other words, it is concerned with the patient’s entire well-being.

In relieving chronic pain, holistic pain management treatment also often considers and/or includes physical therapy, nutrition, and sometimes, alternative pain treatment therapies as well.

Some alternative pain management therapies that are becoming more commonplace and less “alternative” are yoga, acupuncture, guided imagery and visualization, chiropractic treatment, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, massage, and more.

Over the last ten years, there has been more and more evidence supporting the effectiveness of many of the alternative treatments for pain, such as those that consider the mind / body relationship and nutritional supplements.

However, now that they are more accepted, additional research needs to be done in order to compare them to traditional pain management.

Subsequently, while more pain management doctors are acknowledging the potential of some of these non-traditional pain treatments non-medicinal pain treatments, not all are ready to integrate them into patient treatment.

Aside from comparative studies, other concerns include availability, quality control, and patient resistance.

What a greater majority of progressive Atlanta pain management physicians are doing, however, is suggesting alternative pain management techniques as a way to augment their own medical treatment.

When alternative medicine is combined with traditional medicine, it’s commonly called “complementary medicine”. For many forward-thinking pain management doctors, this is coming to be the most effective form of long-term pain management.

If you want to see the best results from your pain management treatment and are open to the idea of natural healing for pain, you will want to find a pain management doctor who at least accepts the possibility that alternative therapies may assist with alleviating pain.

If this is something important to you and/or you willing to consider the potential benefit of complementary medicine, at your initial consultation ask your doctor his or her opinion and feelings on the subject. You will want to gauge their response and whether or not this matches with your own ideas and beliefs.

If you and your pain management doctor can work together to adjust any medications and appropriate therapies, blending in a coordinated effort with alternative medicine practitioners and/or methodologies, you will likely get the greatest relief from your ongoing and chronic pain.





07 Aug 2014

Chronic Pain Management: What Is It and What Does A Pain Management Doctor Do?

Chronic pain is no fun.

Chronic pain management is a specialty area of practice that centers on assisting people who have ongoing, often insurable, issues with pain or disease.

Most chronic pain management is multidisciplinary—meaning your treatment plan will often come with multiple angles and quite possibly, multiple physicians and/or a physician and/or counselor. This way, hopefully, a complete plan can be created that addresses all aspects of your pain and pain issues.

Doctors who specialize in pain management also specialize in appropriate use of pain medications. They can help you to choose the proper pain medicine for your disease or illness while minimizing the addictive effects that some medications bring to the table.

A skilled pain management doctor will also have a variety of other treatments they incorporate as well, including biofeedback, nerve stimulation, etc. A good relationship with a good pain doctor can often go a long way to helping you regain your quality of life.

What does a pain management specialist do exactly?

A pain management specialist is a physician who has special education on treating pain and chronic pain condition. This can be comprised of acute pain (an accident; injury), chronic pain (diseases / chronic illnesses that cause pain), cancer, or a combination.

Pain can also be a result of surgery, weight issues or lifestyle. Sometimes, pain will go away by itself. Other times, a physician’s intervention is needed.

What should I look for in a pain management specialist?

First, you need to look for someone who truly specializes in the practice of pain management and understands the risks and responsibility that goes along with treating someone with chronic pain. Then, you need to be sure the doctor’s personality meshes well with your own.

Your doctor should also be invested in and willing to working with any additional professionals who can help to magnify the positive results of your treatment. Make sure to ask if your new doctor has real training or specialization in pain management, check to see what their reputation is in this area (local and online reputation) and how many patients they treat or have treated with your specific issue.

No one should have to deal with pain. But there are a lot of considerations to treating pain, not the least of which is the widespread problem of addiction to – or abuse of – pain medications.

Your pain management specialist will be knowledgeable in proper use of medications, as well as other means – possibly incorporating counseling or mood therapy – of treating pain. They will also be specifically trained in pain management and willing to address a multidisciplinary approach.

If you are able to find all of these qualities in a pain management physician or practice, then you will be well on your way to living a life free of pain or at the very least, much less painful.

30 Jul 2014

Chronic Back Pain: 6 Uncommon Causes

Dealing with Chronic Back Pain?

While your pain management doctor will help you cope with chronic pain, a little prevention can go a long way…

But first… you need to know some surprising causes of back pain that you can potentially eliminate for good.

If you’ve ever had a bout of back pain, you’re not alone: According to the National Institutes of Health, eight out of 10 people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Most of the time, back pain is set off by something totally minor, says Venu Akuthota, MD, director of the Spine Center at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado.

Besides obvious causes (constantly lugging a too-heavy purse, for instance), experts say that everyday habits like hunching over your smartphone can strain your spine and the surrounding muscles over time, causing pain and making you more vulnerable to serious injury. To stop back pain now—and avoid future agony—try targeting these unexpected culprits.

Culprit No. 1: Your Fancy Office Chair

Even an expensive, ergonomic chair can be bad for your back if you sit in it all day without a break. Sitting not only lessens blood flow to the discs that cushion your spine (wearing them out and stressing your back), but it puts 30 percent more pressure on the spine than standing or walking, says New York City chiropractor Todd Sinett, author of The Truth About Back Pain.

Be sure to stretch at your desk and get up every hour to walk around. Don’t assume that built-in lumbar support makes your chair back-friendly—in fact, for many people, lumbar supports don’t make a bit of difference, especially if they aren’t positioned properly (at the base of your spine), says Heidi Prather, a physical-medicine and rehabilitation specialist and associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

No matter what type of chair you sit in, make sure your head is straight (not tilted down) when you’re typing or reading. Avoid slouching and adjust your seat so it tilts back slightly to help alleviate some of the load on your back, Sinett says. And keep your feet planted firmly on the floor.

Culprit No. 2: The Wrong Shoes

When you strut in stilettos, your foot strikes the ground in a toe-forward motion rather than the normal heel-toe gait, stressing your knees, hips, and back, Sinett explains. “Wearing heels also alters the angle of your body so your weight isn’t evenly distributed over the spine,” he says. This instability can set you up for pain and injury radiating from your knees all the way to your back.

Another shoe no-no: the backless kind (even flats and flip-flops), which allow your heel to slide around. Again, the lack of stability distributes your body weight unevenly, putting more pressure on your spine. Your shoe should firmly hold your foot in place to keep you stable and protect your back, says Sinett, who also advises sticking to heels that are less than three inches high.

Culprit No. 3: Your Beloved Smartphone or Tablet

Mobile technology has not been kind to our backs and necks, Prather says. “We’re hovering over laptops, iPads, and smartphones all the time,” she notes. “This head-down position strains the muscles in the neck, and the pain can extend all the way down your spine to your lower back.” Take frequent breaks, and try to look straight ahead—rather than down—while using a laptop, tablet, or phone. You can buy a stand to help hold your laptop or tablet at a more back-friendly height and angle.

Culprit No. 4: Extra Pounds

Carrying even just a few extra inches around your midsection—whether it’s due to belly fat or pregnancy—makes your pelvis tilt forward and out of alignment, as your body works to keep itself balanced. This can cause excessive strain on your lower back, Dr. Akuthota says. He recommends doing this easy stretch several times daily: Tighten your abs (like you’re bracing for a punch in the stomach) to activate core muscles and take a load off the lumbar discs; hold 10 seconds, then release. (Pregnant? Check with your doctor before doing any exercise.)

And if weight gain is your problem, consider making whole grains an essential part of your slim-down plan: A new study from Tufts University found that those who ate three or more servings of whole grains a day had 10 percent less abdominal fat compared with those who ate essentially no whole grains.

Culprit No. 5: The Wrong Bra

Large-breasted women obviously carry significantly more weight in front than those who have smaller breasts. This can lead to hunching and sore neck and back muscles, Sinett says. A bra that offers proper support can actually minimize that forward hunch and relieve pain, while one that doesn’t may exacerbate the problem, as you hunch or strain even more to compensate for uncomfortable straps or a riding-up band.

Research shows that many women wear the wrong size bra, but the right fit can mean the difference between sagging and supported; get fitted by a bra professional. Prather says you may want to try a T-back (a.k.a. racer-back) style. “It gives the body a cue to pull the shoulders back,” she says.

Culprit No. 6: Your Crazy Schedule

Just like the rest of you, your back muscles can tense up when you’re frazzled. Muscles are designed to contract and relax, Sinett explains, but when you’re stressed, they may contract so much that they can eventually start to spasm. Stress also boosts production of the hormone cortisol, which increases inflammation and can lead to achiness, he says.

On top of that, “Chronic stress can affect the way a person perceives pain,” says Alan Hilibrand, MD, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and professor of orthopaedic and neurological surgery at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. “So those who are stressed will often have a harder time managing back pain than those who aren’t.” Lower-impact aerobic exercise (think walking or working out on an elliptical trainer) may help relieve back pain and ease stress—so you can beat the pain for good.