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What is Whiplash and what’s the best way to treat it?

What is whiplash?guy in pain
Whiplash is a common complaint for anyone unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic accident. According to the NHS website, it is caused when:
The vigorous movement of the head overstretches and damages the tendons and ligaments in the neck.”

Other causes of whiplash may include:

  • A sudden blow to the head (for example, during contact sports such as rugby);
  • A slip or a fall;
  • Being struck on the head by a heavy object.

Although whiplash is not a life threatening injury, it can be an extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable experience for the patient. In the worse case scenario, whiplash may even lead to a prolonged period of disability: whilst most victims are soon on the road to recovery, others may experience symptoms for much longer.

What are the symptoms?
It is important to note that the symptoms of whiplash may not appear immediately following the original trauma. In fact, it can take between 6-12 hours for them to develop, with the pain and stiffness continuing to worsen over the following days Medicenenet.com lists the common symptoms of whiplash as follows:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headache
  • Shoulder pain and stiffness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Jaw pain
  • Arm pain and/or weakness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Back pain

More severe symptoms, in chronic cases, may include:

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Drug dependency
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome
  • Sleep disturbance (insomnia)

How is it diagnosed?
Whiplash can be diagnosed by a GP or hospital Dr following an initial examination. Tests aren’t usually required, but the Dr will want to know how the injury occurred, in addition to as much information as possible about the symptoms. He/she may also:
examine your neck for signs of muscle spasms and tenderness and assess the range of movement in your neck.”

If the Dr suspects that a more serious injury may have occurred, the patient may also be sent for scans or x-rays:

“The most important first step is to make sure there is no major injury to the neck, head or the rest of the body requiring immediate treatment.”

What is the treatment?
The good news is that, in most cases of whiplash, the symptoms should begin to either improve on their own, or with some basic treatment. GP’s will assess individuals on a case-by-case basis for the best course of action, which may include:

  • Advising the patient to move his/her neck, rather than keeping it still with a brace or collar. The NHS website explains that:
    Your neck may be painful but keeping it mobile from an early stage will improve its functionality and speed up your recovery”
  • Taking painkillers (for example, paracetamol or ibuprofen for milder pain; or stronger ones, such as codeine, may be prescribed in more severe cases)
  • Depending upon the severity of the symptoms, there is also a chance that the Dr may recommend physiotherapy

You can read more about how whiplash is treated, including in the instance that the patient begins to develop any psychological symptoms, here.

Chronic whiplash
Whilst most cases of whiplash should clear up without any lasting damage, in some patients the symptoms may be severe or longer lasting (up to 6 months or more). In this instance, the injury may impact upon the individual’s ability to work or enjoy leisure time: potentially causing anxiety and depression as a result. Where chronic whiplash is diagnosed, a GP may recommend a more intensive treatment programme, or even referral to a specialist.

Do remember that it is imperative that you see your GP if you are suffering from any chronic neck pains that are affecting your ability to work or carry out everyday tasks. 

Have you ever suffered from whiplash, or suspected that you may have done? What treatment/s did you receive and how long did it take for your condition to improve?

 

How to Cope with Chronic Pain

Whether you have lived with chroniYoung woman meditating on a wooden jettyc pain for years, or have only recently begun to suffer with it, we thought you might be interested to discover three tried-and-tested techniques for pain relief.

We hope that at least one of them both inspires you and helps you to manage your pain.

  • Relaxation
    Relaxation techniques focus on slow, controlled, deep breathing that may take your attention away from the pain you are feeling, as well as helping to:
    release tension from muscles and relieve pain.”
    The three major relaxation techniques are as follow:
    • Autogenic relaxation
      Reducing stress through a combination of body awareness and visual imagery;
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
      Focusing on tensing and relaxing groups of muscles;
    • Visualization
      Using visual imagery to take the mind to a calm and peaceful place. Each of the senses may be called upon to add a richer sense of the relaxing space you would like your mind to travel to.

The Mayo Clinic list the following benefits that may be experienced through practicing relaxation techniques, suggesting that they can reduce stress symptoms by:

    • Slowing your heart rate
    • Lowering blood pressure
    • Slowing your breathing rate
    • Reducing activity of stress hormones
    • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
    • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
    • Improving concentration and mood
    • Lowering fatigue
    • Reducing anger and frustration
    • Boosting confidence to handle problems
  • Gentle exercise
    We have said it before, and we’ll say it again… gentle exercise might be the last thing that you feel like doing when suffering from chronic pain, but it may be just the thing to help! According to an article in health.org:
    “Several people found that exercise relieved their pain through the release of endorphins, natural pain relieving chemicals. Others did not experience noticeable pain relief but felt that they were physically fitter, had more strength and had reduced their weight by being more active.”
    Talk to your GP or physiotherapist about different options to try, including:

    • Yoga
    • Walking
    • Tai chi
    • Pilates
    • Aerobics
  • Distraction
    Distraction techniques can move your focus away from thinking about pain, and concentrate it upon positive thoughts instead. The Pain Management Network have produced a helpful guide about some of the techniques that you might consider using, including:

    • Listening to music
    • Drawing/doodling
    • Reading
    • Puzzles
    • Imagination walks

One of our favourite distraction techniques relates to a recent trend for adult colouring books, such as Johanna Basford’s bestselling and beautifully illustrated ‘Secret Garden’.

Take a course
If none of the above options appeal, you may also consider taking a course to discover how to better manage your pain. The NHS offers free self management courses for anybody that lives with long-term chronic conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis. The aim of these courses is for patients to:
“to develop new skills to manage their condition (and any related pain) better on a day-to-day basis. Many people who have been on a self management course say they take fewer painkillers afterwards.”
You can find out more about the course and programmes on offer by self management UK here.

Have you experimented with any of the above techniques in order to manage the symptoms of chronic pain? Did you notice any benefits? Do you have recommendations for other techniques to try? We always love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

How to help friends and relatives suffering from chronic pain

Woman helping with the ironingWatching a loved one suffering from chronic pain can be a challenging experience. One of the difficulties expressed by people in this position is knowing what support they can provide.

With this in mind, we have undertaken a little research to find examples of some of the nicest gestures friends and family members have done to help a loved one affected by a chronic pain illness (such as fibromyalgia).
We thought we’d share a few of our favourite examples with you…

  • Offer to accompany your friend to a hospital appointment
    We all know that attending a hospital appointment can be a pretty unpleasant experience. The wait, in itself, may be particularly daunting: leaving you with time on your hands to build up worry, or negatively reflect upon the meeting ahead. Why not check with your loved one to see if they have an upcoming appointment and, if you can make yourself available, offer to take them along and wait with them. The fact that you have even offered will let them know how important they are to you!
  • Educate yourself
    By educating yourself about the symptoms and treatments of chronic pain, you can better support your friend or partner as they learn to cope with their illness. Whilst you can’t provide a cure for their chronic pain condition, you can let them know that you understand a little of what they might be going through. There are plenty of great resources on the internet that will provide you with some helpful information to get started. Here are just a few:

  • Show support through your dietary choiceshealthy food
    If your loved one has been told to avoid certain foods (that might cause a flare in symptoms), a nice gesture might be to offer to prepare a special meal that takes any of his/her dietary requirements into account.
  • Help out with the household chores
    Anybody that suffers with chronic pain will know that even seemingly simple household chores can become a real cause for consternation. As Nina McLean, a 31-year-old midwife in Melbourne (Australia) explains:
    “When I was in heaps of pain, the thought of changing fitted sheets and sorting out the buttons or snaps on a duvet cover made me turn cold.”
    Why not ask your friend/partner if there are any chores around the house that they could do with a pair of helping hands with. Even scheduling in a couple of hours could potentially make a world of difference to them.
  • Give the gift of warmth
    Applying warmth to achy joints can have a really soothing effect, so heat pads or a hot water bottle are great gift ideas for anybody suffering from chronic pain. Along similar lines, a beautiful warm blanket would make another thoughtful gift: etsy has a particularly gorgeous selection.
    You can check out some other great gift ideas here.

Becoming a caregiver
If you want to provide more in depth support for someone you know who is in pain PartnersAgainstPain.com have put together some excellent resources that you might find useful.

“Taking an active role in helping to manage a loved one’s pain may help you feel more useful and worry less.”

Do you care for a loved one who suffers with a chronic pain condition? What tips can you share that have really made a difference to your friend or partner’s quality of life?

 

10 Daily Habits to Reduce Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain can be tough Workoutat the best of times, but staying positive and
keeping active can be a great way to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle, as well as helping to beat the blues. Here are ten great tips that we found to get you started

  • Tip #1 – Keep fit!
    Whilst exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing when you are suffering from chronic pain, it may be exactly the thing you need! Even gentle daily exercise can help to release endorphins (the brain’s feel good chemicals), boosting your mood and helping you maintain a positive outlook on life. Exercise can also help to keep you toned, flexible and strong: all important qualities when it comes to managing your symptoms.
    Why not consult your GP or physio, and try to work out an exercise plan that will work for you?
  • Tip #2 – Avoid alcohol
    Although it can be tempting to reach for the alcohol when you are feeling stressed out or in pain, alcohol acts as a stimulant. This means that whilst it may help you to get off to sleep; it promotes shallow sleep, reducing your ability to get that good night’s rest that you are likely in need of.
    According to Paul Chelminski, Assistant Professor of Medicene (University of North Carolina):
    “Alcohol has no direct pain-relieving properties. There is a strong relationship between chronic pain and anxiety and depressionSo in general, we should not encourage a perception that alcohol relieves pain because, in fact, it puts patients at higher risk for complication from their pain medications.”
  • Tip #3 – Cut out the cigarettes
    Like alcohol, cigarettes can act as a crutch that we reach for during anxious moments. We don’t need to tell you about the negative effects of smoking on your health, and the fact that it is likely to cause a worsening of your symptoms in the long run.
    However, quitting is easier said than done, right? Don’t give up on giving up just yet! There is lots of help available to support you along the way, and we’ve put some info together here, which we hope you find useful.
  • Tip #4 – Eat healthily
    Eating a well-balanced diet can have positive effects on both your health and mental outlook. Although there is no firm evidence to suggest that a particular diet can improve your symptoms, some people do claim that they feel better if they avoid certain foods.
    You can find out more about how your diet may help to control your fibromyalgia symptoms here. Do remember to first consult your GP or nutritionist before making any significant changes to your diet.
  • Tip #5 – Keep a pain journal
    Keeping a diary of how your pain levels are affected each day can be a useful way of tracking your symptoms, and finding links between aspects of your lifestyle that may improve/worsen your condition. webmd.com recommends keeping a record of your pain score (from 1 to 10), with a note of which activities you did each day. Take the journal with you next time you see your GP, and discuss any of your thoughts and findings.
  • Tip #6 – Relax!
    Take time out for yourself each day to give your body a chance to rejuvenate. Whether its sharing a dinner with friends; going for a massage, or putting your feet up to watch a movie: a well-balanced lifestyle should involve making enough time to do the things that make you feel relaxed and happy. Don’t forget that learning to relax may also include not being afraid to say no to the things that you don’t feel up to doing. Not feeling well enough to attend that party at the weekend? A good friend will totally understand, so try not to give yourself additional stress by worrying about letting other people down.
  • Tip #7 – Try meditationFotolia_67340426_XS
    Taking time out to mediate each day can be the perfect way to ease your stresses. In addition, as meditation helps to relax you, you might discover that it also helps with pain relief. Find out more about different meditation techniques here.
    Considering enrolling in a meditation class? meetup.com can be a really great way to find one local to you
  • Tip #8 – Take up a hobby
    Sometimes if we focus on thinking about pain too much, it can (arguably) contribute to the experience of it. Taking up a new hobby may be a good way to distract your self from your aches and pains, and give you a focus to look forward to each week. You can read more about some great fibro-friendly hobbies in this article, by the Fibromyalgia Network.
  • Tip #9 – Educate yourself when it comes to your medication
    Do you understand how your prescribed medication works, and what its side effects might be? Keeping informed about your course of treatment, and any adverse reactions that you may be having with it, can be a great way to maintain a control over your illness. If you don’t feel like a particular tablet is having a positive effect, perhaps you can explain to your GP why you think this, and discuss any other possibilities that may be available to you.
  • Tip #10 – Remember you are not alone
    Dealing with a chronic pain illness can be an extremely isolating experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from trusted friends and family members. Support groups and online forums can also be a great way to connect with others who may be going through similar issues as you. It’s really important to remember that there is always help out there if you reach out for it.
    Discover a fibromyalgia support group near you by following this link.

Which of these ten tips have you found most helpful? Do you have any more to add to the list?

Scientists Identify neural mechanism responsible for chronic pain

woman in painScientists from the University of Berne (Switzerland) have recently made an exciting breakthrough that may pave the way for a new treatment for chronic pain. Publishing their study in the scientific journal Neuron, the researchers have identified a cellular mechanism that they believe contributes to the development of chronic pain.

Lead author of the study, Thomas Nevian, of the Department of Physiology, suggests that despite the high numbers of chronic pain sufferers, adequate treatment strategies are missing in many cases, explaining that:

“The constant perception of pain severely influences the quality of life of the patients and represents an extraordinary emotional burden…” and that: “understanding the development of chronic pain is of outmost importance for neuroscience research.”

What has the research revealed?

In discussing their findings Nevian, and his fellow researcher Mirko Santello, describe a region in the brain known as Gyrus Cinguli which is, according to sciencedaily.com associated with the: “emotional aspects of pain”, and “pain memory”. It is within the neurons of this part of the brain that the key to the team’s discovery can be found.

Here’s the science:

“Pain is perceived by electrical impulses in the neurons. Therefore, the two researchers were searching for changes in the electrical properties of neurons in the limbic system. They found that neurons were more excitable in the Gyrus Cinguli. This was attributable to a down regulation of a specific ion channel, a protein in the cell membrane that determines the electrical properties of the cell. This led to an increased number of nerve impulses in these cells and thus to an increased perception of pain.”

The next part of the team’s research involved an investigation of how they might treat pain sensitivity. They found that if they activated a receptor that was sensitive to serotonin, they could restore a normal function to the neuron. This, in turn, has the effect of reducing the perception of pain:

“It has been known for some time that serotonin can modulate pain perception and the function of some drugs is based on this,” Thomas Nevian says. “Nevertheless, what is new in our study now is that we were able to identify a specific subtype of serotonin receptor that reduced the perception of pain more efficiently. This is an important result, which might help to treat chronic pain more efficiently in the future.”

How does this research affect fibromyalgia patients?

As with most scientific breakthroughs, the results of the Berne team’s research will take a little while to filter down onto the market: so it will be some time before fibromyalgia patients are able to benefit from any drugs that are designed on the basis of these results.

The good news is that the more research that is done in this field, the closer we are coming to finding a reliable solution to treating chronic pain. Now wouldn’t that be something!

Which pain management solutions have you found most effective in the treatment of your fibromyalgia symptoms? Share your experiences!

 

Does Smoking Make Chronic Pain Worse?

SmokingIf you suffer from fibromyalgia and happen to be a smoker, then you are probably more than used to hearing negative things about your smoking habit. Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, smoking really isn’t doing you any favours. As Bruce Vrooman, MD, a specialist in Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Pain Management explains:

“While some patients appreciate the short-term, nicotine-induced relief of a cigarette, it may actually worsen their pain over time”

How does smoking affect chronic pain?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, smoking can affect the symptoms of chronic pain in the following ways:

  • The nicotine in tobacco releases chemicals into your body like dopamine – giving off a “reward” sensation. This is one of the reasons that smoking can be so addictive;
  • The chemicals in tobacco also inhibit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the tissues and bones. As blood flow is already limited to some areas of the body, such as the discs in the spine, degeneration can occur: sometimes resulting in lower back pain and osteoporosis;
  • Smoking is often connected to fatigue and slower healing.  This can have a negative impact upon conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Studies (that focus upon the links between smoking and fibromyalgia) show that smoking can also have the following negative effects:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Increased tender points
  • Depression (women only)

Further clinical evidence

Over the years, researchers have been exploring the links between smoking and chronic pain and have all come to the same conclusion… it’s time to stop!

  • In 2014, researchers at the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine revealed that smokers are more than 3 times more likely than non-smokers to develop chronic pain. Lead author of the study and a technical scientist at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Bogdan Petre describes how: “Smoking affects the brain…We found that it affects the way the brain responds to back pain and seems to make individuals less resilient to an episode of pain.”
  • In 2012, a team at the University of Rochester conducted a study of more than 5,300 patients who suffered from chronic pain; and the evidence overwhelmingly suggested that those: “who quit or never smoked had less pain than those who continued to smoke.”
  • In 2013, Norwegian researchers surveyed over 10,000 people before concluding that there was a definite link between smoking and chronic pain. Research leader, Dr. Aslak Johansen of the University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, reports:
    “The smokers had the lowest tolerance to pain induced by cold water, followed by the former smokers, and men and women who had never smoked had the highest pain tolerance. These results suggest that nicotine consumption leads to a long-term hyperalgesic effect.”

How do I quit?

You have read the evidence and know the facts, but for the long-term and occasional smoker alike, tobacco is a famously hard habit to quit. So, what’s the best way to go about it?

The first thing to do is focus on the amazing benefits that a smoke-free life can bring you. Your GP can talk you through the options for quitting that may include the following:

  • NHS Stop Smoking Service
    Your local NHS Stop Smoking Service can provide you with one-to-one or group support, expert advice and plenty of encouragement;
  • E-cigarettes
    These electronic devices replicate real cigarettes by producing a vapour that is potentially less harmful than tobacco.  Whilst clinical trials are yet to confirm the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes, they have become an increasingly popular method to quit smoking;
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
    NRT can help ease the withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking, by releasing a controlled amount of nicotine into your body.  NRT can come in a number of different forms, including the following:

    • Skin patches
    • Nasal spray
    • Mouth Spray
    • Inhalators
    • Chewing gum
    • Tablets, strips and lozenges
  • Medications
    For those that find it impossible to quit with other methods, your GP may prescribe one of the following two medications:

It’s important to note that these medications are not suitable for everybody and do come with a risk of side effects. You can do some further reading here.

Has smoking had an adverse affect on your chronic pain symptoms? Have you quit smoking and found that your symptoms have improved? We’d appreciate your thoughts and feedback!

Is chronic pain affecting your relationship?

Family quarrelLiving with a chronic pain condition, such as fibromyalgia, can be difficult enough in itself but, when it comes to relationships, it can also cause additional complications. Aside from the pain associated with fibromyalgia, the illness often has a negative impact upon the patient’s emotional wellbeing.

The combination of these two elements alone can place an understandable strain upon both partners in a relationship. In fact, a study published by the US National Institute of Health concluded that:

“In addition to physical impairments that are well documented among individuals with fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia can result in a substantial negative impact on important relationships with family and close friends.”

Some of the relationship pressures described by those suffering from fibromyalgia include:

  • Feelings of marital instability
  • Marital anger
  • Feelings of withdrawal or hostility
  • Mood swings leading to ill feelings
  • Reduced libido

From the perspective of someone whose partner suffers with a chronic pain illness, the difficulty of watching a loved one go through pain and suffering (as well as feeling the impact of the associated negative emotions) can also be challenging: as a one partner of a fibromyalgia sufferer (known as ctc315 on the related fibromyalgia community chatroom) details:

“My wife is a wonderful, loving woman, but sometimes she just is angry, kind of like a PMS or Menopausal thing. It is a side effect of the Savella and I know this and I make allowances for her disposition. Of course she always apologizes afterwards, but it can be quite challenging.”

On an internet community discussion board relating to the subject of “living with someone with fibromyalgia”, the following fibromyalgia patients summed up a few of the difficulties involved in a relationship where chronic pain plays a factor:

#1 ISSUE: “It’s not that he doesn’t believe me (though that took years) but I still have to ask for each little thing, and that is very draining. It just doesn’t occur to him.”

#2 ISSUE: “With my gent, he sometimes wants to go, go, go, and doesn’t really understand when I say that I need to stop.”

#3 ISSUE: “I shut him out, I get paranoid he doesn’t believe me, I get upset because I want to do more, then I get angry that I can’t do more. I feel like I’m letting him down by not getting better faster.”

 In summary, two major factors that may place particular stress on a couple, where one partner suffers from fibromyalgia are:

#1 LACK OF SUPPORT: Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose, potentially causing the strain of a lack of support being felt by the sufferer if they don’t feel that their partner is convinced by their symptoms

#2 UNPREDICTABLE SYMPTOMS: The symptoms of fibromyalgia may vary from day to day. This may add additional pressure on the relationship in terms of forward planning for shared time together, as well as the unpredictability of moods and pain levels

In 2010, research was undertaken by the University of Missouri, investigating: “the interactions of married couples that include one spouse who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic widespread pain”. As Christine Proulx, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies explains: “fibromyalgia is very hard on both spouses because their lives are changed dramatically.”

So, if you are in a relationship and suffer from fibromyalgia, what steps can you take to help your partner to understand and support you more effectively?
 We’ve put together the following three tips to help you out:

#1 EDUCATE: Try to inform your partner as much as possible about the nature of your illness. Share relevant articles and websites about fibromyalgia with them, and describe how your own particular symptoms can effect your mood and pain levels

#2 COMMUNICATE: Let your partner know when you are having a particularly tough day and calmly explain why certain tasks may be more difficult/unachievable for you. Try to refrain from taking your pain/frustration out on your partner as we often, unfairly, take things out on those closest to us when we aren’t feeling out best

#3 THINK POSITIVELY: If unavoidable symptoms prevent you from undertaking daily tasks, or a planned day trip, try to remain positive and find a way to work around the issue. For example, calmly explain to your partner the reasons that you cannot keep to the existing plans, and work out if it possible to reschedule for a future date, once the flare has subsided 

It’s important to remember that living with fibromyalgia does not mean the kiss of death for your relationship by any means! Love, respect, patience and making time for fun are all key when it comes to any long-lasting and happy partnership.

Has fibromyalgia affected your relationship? Have you found ways to cope and mend bridges?  Do share your experiences and tips.

Keeping your relationship healthy when suffering from chronic pain

Elderly coupleThe stress and life-changes involved in coping with a chronic pain illness, such as Fibromyalgia, can take their toll on even the most solid relationships. In working through these difficulties it is important for you and your partner to communicate with each other and realise that, whilst chronic pain can magnify a relationship’s imperfections, working together can also make your relationship stronger.

  • Positive communication
    Suffering from a chronic pain illness can be overwhelming at times and you would be forgiven for feeling like a good whinge. Try to remain positive in your communications with your partner on this front.  Fibromyalgia can be a difficult disease for non-sufferers to understand as one day you might feel quite functional, whilst the next can be agonising. Try to share as much information about the illness as possible so that your partner has a clearer idea of what you might be going through.  Internet resources such as the National Fibromyalgia Association’s website can provide a helpful start.
  • Sharing the burden
    If your spouse is suddenly thrust into the role of caregiver, the additional household duties he/she takes on may be a cause for stress or irritation. Work with your partner to figure out a balance within the household that will work for both of you.  For example, are there some chores that you feel more easily able to manage than others, and can any tasks be dropped under the circumstances?
  • Let the good times roll
    Spend as much time as you can with your partner doing things that you both enjoy.  On a good day perhaps you could visit a museum, or take a walk in a nearby park. Maybe you could invite friends over for dinner or a movie night? Spending quality time together is an important aspect of maintaining any strong relationship; and sharing these happy memories can be a bonding experience too.
  • Demonstrate your love
    When you find that times are particularly tough there is nothing like a big hug to ease the worries away. If you are worried that a hug may cause pain, be creative and find another way to show how much you care.  A simple “I love you” might mean the world to your partner when tensions have been running high.
  • Keep fit
    If you were an active person before being diagnosed with a chronic pain illness and are now feeling frustrated by your body’s limitations, remember that measured exercise can be helpful in improving your condition.  Why not spend some time researching a suitable routine that your partner and you can do together.  Health.com have put together some useful ideas to get you started.
  • Get help
    Building up issues without talking them through can easily exacerbate a problem and, if you are finding it difficult to communicate with your partner, there is plenty of help out there. “There is nothing to be ashamed of if you decide you need marriage counselling, want to join a support group, or decide to meet with a therapist” advises communications expert Dr Dede Bonner. Maintaining a healthy relationship means riding out the bad times as well as the good and sometimes we all need a helping hand when the going gets particularly tough.
New Research Suggests a Connection between Chronic Pain Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

guy in painA recent study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, has provided more evidence for researchers’ long-held beliefs that there is a connection between post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain syndrome. The belief is that stress, especially stress experienced in childhood, may influence the likelihood of a person developing problems with chronic pain in later life. The new study explores the connection between sensitivity to pain as an adult on top of a stressful childhood, and shows that this second experiencing of stress can further increase that sensitivity to pain. This new research, which has been carried out by the University of California in San Fransisco, may help to explore new ways of treating chronic pain.

The research also highlights concerns that chronic pain syndromes in general could be a complication arising from post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. This area of research is very difficult to study, as those suffering from PTSD have often undergone physical trauma of some kind already. The other concern highlighted was that studies do not normally take into account the early life stress experienced by participants.

Dr. John Levine, of the University of California, San Fransisco, believes that new treatment methods could be developed based on this new information. He said, “While it has been recognized for some time that early life events can shift homeostatic balance, predisposing adults to the development of chronic pain, that this could be mediated by a peripheral mechanism, involving the interaction between immune and neuroendocrine stress axes suggests novel approaches to detecting individuals at risk as well as to treatment of chronic pain.”

Chronic pain syndrome is notoriously challenging to health care providers, due to its complex nature and poor response to medication. It is categorised by constant pain of any kind that is endured for three months or more, and is normally controlled by opiates although they are often not sufficiently effective enough to relieve all of the symptoms. There is evidence to suggest that pain control works best when it is started early as it prevents the condition from worsening, but this study also highlights the clear link between stress and the severity of the condition.

Insurance company have turned down my income protection claim

Dear Brian

I have been turned down on my income protection claim because of a report commissioned by my insurance company from a company doing CPAD (chronic pain abilities determination). The tests were conducted by an osteopath who is also a functional capacity assessor. I have been unable to locate details of any clinical trials on CPAD, have found no evidence that the test has been medically proven nor that a CPAD assessment has been published in a peer reviewed medical journal. Is CPAD medically proven?

Regards

Tony

 

Dear Tony

I have not come across CPAD, but the clue to this is that the osteopath is a functional capacity assessor. The tests that you have had to undergo sound very much like functional capacity assessments.

These assessments are notorious amongst fibromyalgia sufferers. They are often very technical, complex and detailed to the point where the reports are extremely hard to understand. The crucial point is that such assessments have very little relevance to fibromyalgia sufferers. They may well be extremely useful in evaluating functional impairment in those with structural musculo-skeletal damage, but fibromyalgia sufferers will generally have entirely normal musculo-skeletal structures. Their difficulties are the constant symptoms of pain, stiffness and feelings of weakness.

Therefore, fibromyalgia sufferers may well be able to carry out many of the tasks, slowly and in pain as a one-off activity, but that is very unlikely to translate into being able to do these normal daily tasks on a regular and sustained basis. In other words, these types of tests are not a fair reflection of the functional impairment of the fibromyalgia sufferer. It is also true to say that on the day of the assessment the fibromyalgia sufferer may have fewer symptoms than on other days.

My advice is to try to avoid undergoing these assessments wherever possible. Insurers should be told that they are simply not meaningful for fibromyalgia sufferers. If the insurer insists, however, the assessments may have to be done, but it is then always advisable to have a report from a consultant rheumatologist who would be able to comment on your ability to sustain activity and who is a “bigger hitter” than the osteopath or similar who carries out the functional capacity evaluations.

Regards

Brian Barr