Part two of a two-part series
One (hundred million) too many Americans suffer from chronic pain. And one too many do so in silence. Some have even described it as an invisible illness because the person suffering often looks fine on the outside. However the pain can scream loudly on the inside and can cause tremendous suffering and disability.
Let’s face it, it’s difficult to do two things well at once. Try counting backwards from 100 while writing the alphabet — difficult or impossible. Engaging in knitting, listening to music, gardening, crossword puzzles, reading, and other activities can help divert our brain from processing pain.
There is a Chinese Adage that states: “If you know the art of breathing you have the strength, wisdom, and courage of ten tigers.”
There are a number of breathing techniques that can help divert your pain. By focusing on the breath, quieting our mind, and repeating a word or phrase, the body can be made to relax. The best part about it is that we can do it anywhere. I am tiger, hear me breathe.
Keep it Moving
Physical and Occupational Therapy
is not limited to narcotics. There are a number of other medications that work well to ease pain, including seizure and depression drugs.
When appropriate, our doctors may custom tailor a combination of medications to achieve the best results.
In some situations, going under the knife can, literally, help with chronic pain (joint pain may be relieved with hip and knee replacements; back pain with epidural injections, surgery, or spinal cord stimulators). Speak with your doctor to see if this is a viable option for you.
Chronic pain can cause tremendous suffering. Unfortuantely, this can lead some to go down the path of drinking and drug abuse to allay their pain. In addition to causing numerous problems, alcohol and narcotics should never be taken together; the combination can kill.
Inserting hair-thin needles can alleviate suffering from chronic pain possibly by affecting neurotransmitters, hormone levels, the immune system, or the nerves themselves. Studies have shown that it can relieve pain by about 50 percent. When administered by a trained practitioner, the complications and potential adverse effects are very low.
Join a Support Group
It helps to talk to someone who “gets it.” Speaking with others who are experiencing chronic pain can provide a forum for sharing personal experiences, providing and receiving sympathetic support, learning about resources, and establishing social networks.
Vital signs describe the most basic bodily functions: heart beat, blood pressure, breathing rate, and temperature. They are vital to life. Pain has recently been named the “5th vital sign” in order to elevate it to the same level and urge proper treatment. After all, pain relief is a basic human right that demands compassion and respect. Speak up and seek help. We do not need to suffer in silence.
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Dr. Nina Radcliff is dedicated to her profession, her patients and her community, at large. She is passionate about sharing truths for healthy, balanced living as well as wise preventive health measures.
She completed medical school and residency training at UCLA and has served on the medical faculty at The University of Pennsylvania. She
is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists where she serves on committees for Young
Physicians and Communications. Author of more than 200 textbook chapters, research articles, medical opinions and reviews; she is often called upon by media to speak on medical, fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle topics impacting our lives, today.