Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Persistent pain estimated in 19 percent of U.S. Adults — ScienceDaily

Persistent pain estimated in 19 percent of U.S. Adults — ScienceDaily.

Date:
October 27, 2014
Source:
American Pain Society
Summary:
39 million people in the United States, or 19 percent have persistent pain, and the incidence varies according to age and gender, a new study reports. The authors noted that persistent pain correlated with other indices of health-related quality of life, such as anxiety, depression and fatigue. Individuals with those conditions were far more likely to report persistent pain.
Excerpt from the news story:

n 2011, the Institute of Medicine reported that 100 million Americans have chronic pain. The authors explained that the disparity between the estimated pain incidence in their study and what the IOM reported is attributable almost entirely to differences in operational definitions of persistent pain.

In the 2010 NHIS, an estimated 60 percent of adults reported lower back pain in the past three months, and all of them would have been described in the IOM report as having chronic pain. However, only 42 percent of the NHIS study respondents with back pain described their pain as frequent or daily and lasting more than three months.

From a public health perspective the difference is significant. Those with persistent pain have high rates of work disability, fatigue, anxiety and depression. They also are at higher risk for long-term exposure to and dependency on pain medications.

The authors concluded that measuring pain persistence has policy implications because persistent pain is an indicator of an unmet medical need for pain management in the general population, as well as a risk factor for anxiety and depression.

November 3, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[Free ebook] Pain: Considering Complementary Approaches

PainBookCover

 

From the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Pain is the most common reason for seeking medical care. It is also a common reason why people turn to complementary health approaches.

We have collected our information on pain into an eBook you can download to your computer or mobile device.

If you have a Web-enabled device:

 

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The Problem of Pain: When Best Medical Advice Doesn’t Equal Patient Satisfaction

From the 4 April 2014 post by Karen Sibert, MD at The Health Care Blog


The problem of pain, from the viewpoint of British novelist and theologian C. S. Lewis, is how to reconcile the reality of suffering with belief in a just and benevolent God.

The American physician’s problem with pain is less cosmic and more concrete. For physicians today in nearly every specialty, the problem of pain is how to treat it responsibly, stay on the good side of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and still score high marks in patient satisfaction surveys.

If a physician recommends conservative treatment measures for pain–such as ibuprofen and physical therapy–the patient may be unhappy with the treatment plan. If the physician prescribes controlled drugs too readily, he or she may come under fire for irresponsible prescription practices that addict patients to powerful pain medications such as Vicodin and OxyContin.

….

 

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May 3, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Article] Pain sensitivity may be influenced by lifestyle, environment, twin study suggests

One way to address the growing heroin epidemic? Address lifestyle and environment components.
Certainly would be a public health way to stem folks dependence on substances that can often diminish quality of life and death.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 6.48.46 AM

From the 4 January 2014 Science Daily article (read the entire article at this link)

Researchers have discovered that sensitivity to pain could be altered by a person’s lifestyle and environment throughout their lifetime. The study is the first to find that pain sensitivity, previously thought to be relatively inflexible, can change as a result of genes being switched on or off by lifestyle and environmental factors — a process called epigenetics, which chemically alters the expression of genes.

Related articles

 

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February 5, 2014 Posted by | environmental health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Living with chronic pain: The daily struggle with a ‘new self’

Finding it easy to empathize with these patients because of a short term musculoskeletal condition.
Hoping that health care providers will be able to find ways to treat all who experience this chronic  condition without  interference from the government.

From the 3 December 2013 University of Warwick  press release via EurekAlert

People who suffer with chronic musculoskeletal pain face a daily struggle with their sense of self and find it difficult to prove the legitimacy of their condition.

A new study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme, systematically searches for, and makes sense of, the growing body of qualitative research on musculoskeletal pain to help understand the experiences of patients suffering from chronic pain.

A number of concerning themes arose from the study, published today in the Health Services and Delivery Research journal, which highlighted:

  • Patients struggling with the fundamental relationship with their body, and a sense that it is no longer ‘the real me’.
  • A loss of certainty for the future, and being constantly aware of the restrictions of their body.
  • Feeling lost in the health care system; feeling as though there is no answer to their pain.
  • Finding it impossible to ‘prove’ their pain; “if I appear ‘too sick’ or ‘not sick enough’ then no one will believe me”

Kate Seers, Professor of Health Research at Warwick Medical School and Director of the Royal College of Nursing Research Institute, was a collaborator on this study. She explains, “Being able to collate this vast amount of information from patients paints a worrying picture about the experiences they have with chronic non-malignant pain. Our goal has to be to use this information to improve our understanding of their condition and, consequently, the quality of care we can provide.”

“Having patients feel that they have to legitimise their pain, and the sense that doctors might not believe them, is something that should really concern us as health care professionals.”

The study also identified a number of ways in which patients can move forward with their lives.

The key for some people appears to be building a new relationship with the body and redefining what is ‘normal’, rather than trying to maintain the lifestyle before the pain. Developing an understanding of what the body is capable of and becoming confident to make choices can aid the process of living with musculoskeletal pain.

Dr Francine Toye, of Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, explains, “This paper shows there can be value in discussing the condition with other people who are going through the same experience and knowing that you are not alone. Of course you can learn about your condition from various sources, but sharing your experience seems to really help people to move forward.”

###

77 studies of chronic musculoskeletal pain were included in the meta-ethnography, with collaborators from Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, the University of Warwick, Glasgow Caledonian University, Leeds Metropolitan University, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences and the University of Calgary.

 

 

December 4, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] Torture permanently damages normal perception of pain

From the Tel Aviv University press release as reported at the 5 November 2013

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
5-Nov-2013

 
Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University 

Torture permanently damages normal perception of pain

Tel Aviv University researchers study the long-term effects of torture on the human pain system

Israeli soldiers captured during the 1973 Yom Kippur War were subjected to brutal torture in Egypt and Syria. Held alone in tiny, filthy spaces for weeks or months, sometimes handcuffed and blindfolded, they suffered severe beatings, burns, electric shocks, starvation, and worse. And rather than receiving treatment, additional torture was inflicted on existing wounds.

Forty years later, research by Prof. Ruth Defrin of the Department of Physical Therapy in the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University shows that the ex-prisoners of war (POWs), continue to suffer from dysfunctional pain perception and regulation, likely as a result of their torture. The study — conducted in collaboration with Prof. Zahava Solomon and Prof. Karni Ginzburg of TAU’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work and Prof. Mario Mikulincer of the School of Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya — was published in the European Journal of Pain.

“The human body’s pain system can either inhibit or excite pain. It’s two sides of the same coin,” says Prof. Defrin. “Usually, when it does more of one, it does less of the other. But in Israeli ex-POWs, torture appears to have caused dysfunction in both directions. Our findings emphasize that tissue damage can have long-term systemic effects and needs to be treated immediately.”

A painful legacy

The study focused on 104 combat veterans of the Yom Kippur War. Sixty of the men were taken prisoner during the war, and 44 of them were not. In the study, all were put through a battery of psychophysical pain tests — applying a heating device to one arm, submerging the other arm in a hot water bath, and pressing a nylon fiber into a middle finger. They also filled out psychological questionnaires.

The ex-POWs exhibited diminished pain inhibition (the degree to which the body eases one pain in response to another) and heightened pain excitation (the degree to which repeated exposure to the same sensation heightens the resulting pain). Based on these novel findings, the researchers conclude that the torture survivors’ bodies now regulate pain in a dysfunctional way.

It is not entirely clear whether the dysfunction is the result of years of chronic pain or of the original torture itself. But the ex-POWs exhibited worse pain regulation than the non-POW chronic pain sufferers in the study. And a statistical analysis of the test data also suggested that being tortured had a direct effect on their ability to regulate pain.

Head games

The researchers say non-physical torture may have also contributed to the ex-POWs’ chronic pain. Among other forms of oppression and humiliation, the ex-POWs were not allowed to use the toilet, cursed at and threatened, told demoralizing misinformation about their loved ones, and exposed to mock executions. In the later stages of captivity, most of the POWs were transferred to a group cell, where social isolation was replaced by intense friction, crowding, and loss of privacy.

“We think psychological torture also affects the physiological pain system,” says Prof. Defrin. “We still have to fully analyze the data, but preliminary analysis suggests there is a connection.”

 

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American Friends of Tel Aviv University supports Israel’s leading, most comprehensive and most sought-after center of higher learning, Tel Aviv University (TAU). Rooted in a pan-disciplinary approach to education, TAU is internationally recognized for the scope and groundbreaking nature of its research and scholarship — attracting world-class faculty and consistently producing cutting-edge work with profound implications for the future. TAU is independently ranked 116th among the world’s top universities and #1 in Israel. It joins a handful of elite international universities that rank among the best producers of successful startups.

 

 

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry | , , , , | Leave a comment

Docs Feel Pressure to Give Addicts Opioids

[Registration needed to view this article; no charges]

By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today,Published: October 24, 2012

A push to treat chronic pain and financial disincentives for treating addiction may pressure clinicians into prescribing opioids for patients who are already addicted, a researcher suggested.

Over the past decade, there’s been a perfect storm of changing clinician attitudes toward pain treatment and patient attitudes towards suffering, combined with a lack of compensation for time-consuming clinic visits such as addiction counseling, Anna Lembke, MD, of Stanford University, wrote in a perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine.

That may be leading doctors to write scripts for pain pills even if they know those patients are abusing their medications, Lembke wrote.

“Treatment of pain is held up as the holy grail of compassionate medical care,” she wrote, and clinicians have, over the last decade, felt more compelled to deliver treatment.

They also have the additional pressure of consumer ratings sites, because patients who are dissatisfied may turn around and leave a less-than-favorable review online. Lembke cites the example of one colleague who will occasionally bite the bullet: “Sometimes I just have to do the right thing and refuse to prescribe them, even if I know they’re going to go on Yelp and give me a bad rating,” the colleague told her…

Related Resources

October 26, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Studies explore new approaches to treating pain

Hippocrates stares down at the UCSF doctors, c...

Hippocrates stares down at the UCSF doctors, continually reminding them to stick to his oath.

From the 14 Novemer 2011 Eureka news alert

Research includes drug and non-drug interventions

Washington — Scientists are discovering promising approaches to treating pain, one of the most common and debilitating neurological complaints, according to research released today at Neuroscience 2011, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. Studies show that “mirror box therapy” can help reduce arthritis-related pain, and that a new opioid-like drug may be able to relieve acute pain without the euphoric effects that can lead to dependency. Additional research also identifies the possible neurobiological source of common side effects of morphine.

Specifically, today’s new findings show that:

  • Two of morphine’s most common side effects, itch and headache, may be due to the drug’s activation of immune cells in the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord (Julie Wieseler, PhD, abstract 178.12, see summary attached).
  • A visual feedback technique called mirror box therapy can help alleviate hand pain in patients with arthritis (Laura Case, abstract 72.03, see summary attached).
  • In an animal study, a novel drug relieves acute pain without the dangerous side effects associated with opioid painkillers such as morphine (Stephen Harrison, PhD, abstract 178.10, see summary attached).

Other recent findings discussed show:

  • A gene therapy treatment reduced pain in 10 people in a Phase I clinical trial that tested for treatment safety (David Fink, MD, see attached speaker’s summary).
  • A naturally occurring protein that supports the survival and growth of neurons in the brain and spinal cord may be a potential therapeutic intervention to prevent chronic pain following spinal cord injuries, according to animal research (Ching-Yi Lin, PhD, see attached speaker’s summary).

“Pain is one of the most intransigent and difficult symptoms to treat,” said Allan I. Basbaum, PhD, FRS, of the University of California, San Francisco, press conference moderator and expert on the neurobiology of pain. “These studies and others are helping us better understand the complex neural pathways involved in pain and the long-term consequences of injury. With this, researchers will be better poised to develop approaches to alleviate pain and aid in recovery from injuries.”

 

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This research was supported by national funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as private and philanthropic organizations. Dr. Basbaum has consulted with Nektar Therapeutics, Inc., but was not involved in research presented today.

View full release at www.sfn.org/newsroom.

 

 

November 16, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

Upcoming Launch of Online Module on Safe Use of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine)

The American Pain Foundation will soon be launching a PainSafe (Safety & Access For Everyone) module on CAM and pain. This module, created with materials and assistance from NCCAM, aims to educate and empower both consumers and health care professionals.
www.painsafe.org

October 19, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

Better chronic pain management

From the 15 August Eureka news item

Pain care management needs to be improved, with health care professionals committing to improve care as well as a retooling of the health care system to help people who are suffering, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/site/embargo/cmaj111065.pdf.

According to a recent analysis, chronic pain affects people of all ages, with an estimated 500,000 Canadians aged 12 to 44 years, 38% of seniors in long-term care institutions and 27% of seniors living at home experiencing regular pain.

“Experts agree that much can be done now with newer analgesics, nonpharmacologic techniques such as nerve blocks and physical therapies, as well as spiritual and supportive care,” write Drs. Noni MacDonald, Ken Flegel, Paul Hébert and Matthew Stanbrook. “Availability of quality care for pain is the major problem. Health professionals have not mounted a response commensurate with the magnitude of the problem.”

The authors argue for a broad strategy to help increase pain management expertise, including education, technology, and supported self-care and lay coaching.

 

 

August 16, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | 1 Comment

To Help Doctors and Patients, Researchers Are Developing a ‘Vocabulary of Pain’

From the 26 July 2011 Science Daily article

All over the world, patients with chronic pain struggle to express how they feel to the doctors and health-care providers who are trying to understand and treat them.

Now, a University at Buffalo psychiatrist is attempting to help patients suffering from chronic pain and their doctors by drawing on ontology, the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of being or existence.

The research will be discussed during a tutorial he will give at the International Conference on Biomedical Ontology, sponsored by UB, that will be held in Buffalo July 26-30.

“Pain research is very difficult because nothing allows the physician to see the patient’s pain directly,” says Werner Ceusters, MD, professor of psychiatry in UB’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and principal investigator on a new National Institutes of Health grant, An Ontology for Pain and Related Disability, Mental Health and Quality of Life.

“The patient has to describe what he or she is feeling.”

Read the article

July 27, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Counterbalance Interactive Library provides views on complex issues

The Counterbalance Interactive Library*** offers  new views on complex issues from science, ethics, philosophy, and religion. Here you’ll find extensive resources on the evolution/creation controversy, biomedical ethical challenges, and much more.

A sampling of health and medical related topic sets

From the About page

About Counterbalance Foundation

Counterbalance is a non-profit educational organization working to promote counterbalanced perspectives on complex issues.  It is our hope that individuals, the academic community, and society as a whole will benefit from a struggle toward integrated and counterbalanced views.

Counterbalance provides design, consulting, and technical services. It is our intention to use our considerable experience in these areas to serve as a catalyst by.

  • Helping make existing multidisciplinary research work accessible to a wider audience, principally though the use of interactive technologies.
  • Helping collaboration within, and among research groups by providing on-line technology services, such as the shared Meta-Library andAutoReference tools.

Our services are used by PBS Online, The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, the AAAS, Science and Religion Forum (UK), and others.

Counterbalance is funded by donations and the Adrian M. Wyard Charitable Trust.

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Librarian Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossing The Line: What Constitutes Torture?

From the 12 April 2011 Medical News Today article

Torture. The United Nations defines it as the “infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” But how severe is severe? That judgment determines whether or not the law classifies an interrogation practice as torture.

Now, a study published in an upcoming issue ofPsychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, condemns this method of classification as essentially flawed.

[For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here ]

The reason: The people estimating the severity of pain aren’t experiencing that pain-so they underestimate it.

As a result, many acts of torture are not classified-or prohibited-as torture, say authors, Loran F. Nordgren of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Mary-Hunter Morris of Harvard Law School, and George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University.

The researchers were moved to undertake the study by their alarm at the Bush Administration’s defense of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” such as stresspostures and waterboarding. In court and the media, officials minimized the psychological and physical distress caused by these techniques-and insisted they were not torture.

In this denial, the authors saw a perfect demonstration of a psychological phenomenon called the “empathy gap,” says Loewenstein: “People in one affective state”-hunger, anger, pain-“cannot appreciate or predict another one.” If you’re warm, you can’t imagine the misery of being cold; if you’re rested, sleep deprivation doesn’t seem so bad…

…The study’s conclusion: “The legal standard for evaluating torture is psychologically untenable.”

So what can be done? First, overcompensate. “Knowing that we tend to be biased toward not counting torture as torture, we should define torture very liberally, very inclusively,” says Loewenstein. And don’t trust empathy. “This is an area where we can’t rely on our emotional system to guide us. We have to use our intellect.”

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

MRI Shows Mind Over Matter May Really Diminish Pain

MRI Shows Mind Over Matter May Really Diminish Pain

From the April 8 Medical News Today item

Focus, zen, meditate and your pain may go away or diminish. A new MRI brain image study shows that just after a short period of meditation, pain intensity is weakened when subjected to unpleasent stimuli such as extreme heat.

The study participants were taught a meditation technique known as focused attention, which involves paying close attention to breathing patterns while acknowledging and letting go of thoughts that distract you.

Fadel Zeidan, PhD, who is a postdoctoral fellow at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, says:

“This is the first study to show that only a little over an hour of meditation training can dramatically reduce both the experience of pain and pain-related brain activation.”…

….Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center News Release

 

April 8, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Relationships With Friends May Hinge On How Well You Know Them

Relationships With Friends May Hinge On How Well You Know Them

From a March 26, 2011 Medical News Today item

How does your best friend feel when people act needy? Or, about people being dishonest? What do they think when others seem uncomfortable in social situations? According to an upcoming study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, if you don’t know – your relationship may pay a price. There are lots of ways to know someone’s personality. You can say “she’s an extrovert” or “she’s usually happy.” You may also know how he or she reacts to different situations and other people’s behavior…
For information on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here.
Or contact me through this blog
Related article

Social Rejection And Physical Pain

[Medical News Today] March 29, 2011 4:00:00 AM EDT Share

Physical pain and intense feelings of social rejection “hurt” in the same way, a new study shows. The study demonstrates that the same regions of the brain that become active in response to painful sensory experiences are activated during intense experiences of social rejection. “These results give new meaning to the idea that social rejection ‘hurts’,” said University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…
Psychological problems experienced during childhood can have a long-lasting impact on an individual’s life course, reducing people’s earnings and decreasing the chances of establishing long-lasting relationships, according to a new study. Analyzing information about large group of British residents followed for five decades from the week of their birth, researchers found that family income was about one-fourth lower on average by age 50 among those who experienced serious psychological problems during childhood than among those who did not experience such problems…

March 29, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cleansing the soul by hurting the flesh: The guilt-reducing effect of pain

Cleansing the soul by hurting the flesh: The guilt-reducing effect of pain

From the March 8, 2011 Science Daily news item

ScienceDaily (Mar. 8, 2011) — Lent in the Christian tradition is a time of sacrifice and penance. It also is a period of purification and enlightenment. Pain purifies. It atones for sin and cleanses the soul. Or at least that’s the idea. Theological questions aside, can self-inflicted pain really alleviate the guilt associated with immoral acts? A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, explores the psychological consequences of experiencing bodily pain.

 

 

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Pain and depression: Is there a link?

From the Mayo Clinic article by Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.

Pain and depression are closely related. Depression can cause pain — and pain can cause depression. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain.

In many people, depression causes unexplained physical symptoms such as back pain or headaches. Sometimes this kind of pain is the first or the only sign of depression.

Pain and the problems it causes can wear you down over time, and may begin to affect your mood. Chronic pain causes a number of problems that can lead to depression, such as trouble sleeping and stress. Disabling pain can cause low self-esteem due to work, legal or financial issues. Depression doesn’t just occur with pain resulting from an injury. It’s also common in people who have pain linked to a health condition such as diabetes or migraines.

To get symptoms of pain and depression under control, you may need separate treatment for each condition. However, some treatments may help with both.

Because of shared chemical messengers in the brain, antidepressant medications can relieve both pain and depression.

Psychological counseling (psychotherapy) can be effective in treating both conditions.

Stress-reduction techniques, meditation, staying active, journaling and other strategies also may help.

Treatment for co-occurring pain and depression may be most effective when it involves a combination of treatments.

If you have pain and depression, get help before your symptoms worsen. You don’t have to be miserable. Getting the right treatment can help you start enjoying life again.

Some related links

Pain (MedlinePlus topic) has links to overviews, latest news, alternative therapies, health check tools, videos, research, and more

Depression (MedlinePlus topic) has links to overviews, latest news, treatments, related issues, and more

Depression (eMedicine Health) includes information on types of depression, causes, treatments, getting help, and much more
American Chronic Pain Association includes a consumer guide to pain medications and treatments, pain management tools

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Zen meditators don’t think about won’t hurt them

From a PsycPost December 8 2010 news item

Buddhist monkZen meditation has many health benefits, including a reduced sensitivity to pain. According to new research from the Université de Montréal, meditators do feel pain but they simply don’t dwell on it as much. These findings, published in the month’s issue of Pain, may have implications for chronic pain sufferers, such as those with arthritis, back pain or cancer.

“Our previous research found that Zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity. The aim of the current study was to determine how they are achieving this,” says senior author Pierre Rainville, researcher at the Université de Montréal and the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal. “Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we demonstrated that although the meditators were aware of the pain, this sensation wasn’t processed in the part of their brains responsible for appraisal, reasoning or memory formation. We think that they feel the sensations, but cut the process short, refraining from interpretation or labeling of the stimuli as painful.”

Training the brain

Rainville and his colleagues compared the response of 13 Zen meditators to 13 non-meditators to a painful heat stimulus. Pain perception was measured and compared with functional MRI data. The most experienced Zen practitioners showed lower pain responses and decreased activity in the brain areas responsible for cognition, emotion and memory (the prefrontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus). In addition, there was a decrease in the communication between a part of the brain that senses the pain and the prefrontal cortex.

“Our findings lead to new insights into mind/brain function,” says first author, Joshua Grant, a doctoral student at the Université de Montréal. “These results challenge current concepts of mental control, which is thought to be achieved by increasing cognitive activity or effort. Instead, we suggest it is possible to self-regulate in a more passive manner, by ‘turning off’ certain areas of the brain, which in this case are normally involved in processing pain.”

“The results suggest that Zen meditators may have a training-related ability to disengage some higher-order brain processes, while still experiencing the stimulus,” says Rainville. “Such an ability could have widespread and profound implications for pain and emotion regulation and cognitive control. This behaviour is consistent with the mindset of Zen and with the notion of mindfulness.”

 

December 10, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

Speak Up: What You Should Know about Pain Management

Excerpts from the Joint Commission Patient Handout

Questions To Ask Your Caregivers
􏰀What pain medicine is being ordered or given to you?
􏰀Can you explain the doses and times that the
medicine needs to be taken?
􏰀What should you do if the medicine makes you sick
to your stomach?
􏰀What can you do if the pain medicine is not working?
􏰀What else can you do to help treat your pain?


Are there other ways to relieve pain?

That will depend on your illness or condition and how
much pain you have. Sometimes pain can be relieved
in other ways. Some other treatments for pain are
listed here
􏰀Acupuncture, which uses small needles to block pain
􏰀Taking your mind off the pain with movies, games
and conversation
􏰀Electrical nerve stimulation, which uses small jolts
of electricity to block pain
􏰀Physical therapy 􏰀Exercise
􏰀Hypnosis 􏰀Heat or cold
􏰀Massage 􏰀Relaxation

The Joint Commissionis an ” independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 18,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States”
Information for the General Public includes Helping You Choose Guides

December 1, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Psychologists identify influence of social interaction on sensitivity to physical pain

From a November 8, 2010 University of Toronto news release

TORONTO, ON – Psychologists at the University of Toronto have shown that the nature of a social interaction has the ability to influence an individual’s sensitivity to physical pain. The discovery could have significant clinical implications for doctor-patient relationships and the general well-being of an individual on a daily basis.

“Dozens of studies over the past several decades have demonstrated the impact of inadequate social connectedness on numerous health outcomes, including cardiovascular health, immune function, post-surgical recovery, and lifespan,” says Terry Borsook, a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at U of T and author of a new study published in PAIN. “Our study is among the first to show in humans that the perception of physical pain can be immediately impacted by the types of social experiences that people have in their everyday lives.”

In the study, healthy participants rated the intensity and unpleasantness of painful stimuli before and after engaging in a structured interaction with a trained actor who was instructed to be either warm and friendly or indifferent throughout the exchange. Participants who experienced the indifferent social exchange reported less sensitivity to pain after the interaction when compared to that measured before the exchange. Participants exposed to the positive social interaction, however, exhibited no change in pain sensitivity….

….

“If such everyday mildly unpleasant encounters are enough to provoke pain inhibition, then this suggests that many people may be exposed to chronic fight-or-flight responses, which can have many negative implications for health. This would be the case especially for people who are sensitive to social exclusion, such as those who feel lonely or fear rejection”

Borsook says that the results also have important clinical implications when it comes to seeing your doctor. “Health practitioners who are aloof, lack understanding, or are generally unresponsive to patients may provoke an analgesic response resulting in underestimated reports of pain, with insufficient pain control measures being a possible consequence.”

The findings are presented in a paper titled “Mildly negative social encounters reduce physical pain sensitivity“, published in the November issue of PAIN, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Editor Flahiff’s note: Click here to for ways to get this article for free or low cost

 

November 9, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Summaries for Patients” and other plain language summaries help patients and others understand medical studies and guidelines

Heard or read about research on a medical topic but not sure if the news is reliable? Looking for trusted information on a treatment or drug carefully reviewed by experts? Do scientific articles seem to contain good information, but they are hard to understand?

Not sure where to go next?  You are not alone.

These plain language summaries are great places to start for medical and health information that has been rewritten for those of us who are not scientists or health care professionals. Much of the information is free, and often there are great links to reliable Web pages for additional information.

                    These summaries will help you
    • Discover how researchers did the published study and what they found, including
      • What the problem was and why it is studied
      • Who was studied and why the study was done
      • What the scientists found and what the limits of the study were
    • Find overviews about clinical guidelines -official recommendations for doctors in treating patients
To locate a specific summary

These summaries are provided to help patients or their caregivers more fully understand  research results. They also provide links  to the full text of  many research articles.
Some full text articles are free. Others require a reduce-fee payment (much less than ordering from the publisher!).
(Always check to see if you can get the article for free or at even lower cost from your area public, medical, or academic library – most libraries will try to help anyone who contacts them directly)

Cochrane Summariesbeta

Independent high-quality evidence for health care decision making

  • Cochrane Collaboration provides well researched reviews of the strongest evidence available about healthcare interventions (as drugs, medical tests,  and medical procedures).  Every available treatment/test has not yet been reviewed. However each review is conducted in depth by experts.            

              To find plain language  and audio summaries of Cochrane Reviews

    • Go to the Cochrane Reviews Home page and scroll down to Browse Free Summaries
    • Click on a topic OR scroll down and click on All Summaries
    • The All Summaries page will allow you to
      • Search by entering words and short phrases (as headache, multiple sclerosis drugs, asthma acupuncture
      • Browse by Health Topics (left column)
      • Include only these in the search results
        • Podcasts – audio summaries
        • PEARLS – guidance and advice for real time decisions

Related Blog Items 


Cannot find a plain language summary with the above resources?

Consider asking a reference librarian for help at your local public, academic, or hospital library. Many academic and hospital libraries provide at least limited reference service to the public.
Call or email them for information about their services.

You may also contact me at jmflahiff@msncom.  I will do my best to reply within 48 hours.


November 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Women Experience More Chronic Pain Than Men

They are also more likely to have multiple painful conditions at the same time, expert says

Among the variables between the sexes are hormonal and genetic factors.

Also…

“Women tend to focus on the emotional aspects of pain,” ….. “Men tend to focus on the physical sensations they experience. Women who concentrate on the emotional aspects of their pain may actually experience more pain as a result, possibly because the emotions associated with pain are negative.”

Among other things, Kelly [Jennifer Kelly, of the Atlanta Center for Behavioral Medicine] encouraged practitioners to allow patients, especially women, to take an active role in their treatment, to provide psychological support and to offer relaxation techniques and biofeedback.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about chronic pain.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

   

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