3 Things to Know About Chronic Pain

If you’re like most people with chronic pain, you struggle to help your friends and family understand your condition.

Continue reading to learn 3 little-known facts about chronic pain to help your loved ones understand:

1. Chronic pain is real

Often times, people with chronic pain are treated as if they have made up—or exaggerated—their symptoms. Despite these accusations, chronic pain is real and affects millions of people every day.

Part of the problem is that chronic pain is typically the result of an anatomical problem that is difficult, or perhaps even impossible, to diagnose with standard medical tests. Additionally, pain cannot be diagnosed in the same manner as a broken bone or torn muscle.

Despite these drawbacks, there is widespread acceptance in the medical community of the reality and prevalence of chronic pain.

2. Chronic pain is lonely

Many people with chronic pain feel isolated, and it is not hard to figure out why this is the case. For example, imagine that all of your friends are planning to spend the afternoon doing a physical activity, like hiking, but you have to stay behind because of your chronic back pain.

Instead of treatment suggestions, or an email regarding the latest “miracle cure,” what people with chronic pain really need is empathy. To learn how to learn how to talk to your loved ones about chronic pain, click here.

3. Chronic pain can lead to sleep-related problems

Nearly two-thirds of people with chronic pain suffer from a sleep disorder. This is a major problem, as a lack of sleep can make chronic pain worse—which can result in a frustrating cycle of pain and sleeplessness.

This means that people with chronic pain likely suffer from lack of sleep and struggle with incessant pain.

To learn some simple tips to minimize chronic pain at bed time, click here.

We hope that you will take the time to share the above facts with your friends and family. Of course, no single list can explain everything about chronic pain—but the more your loved ones know about chronic pain the more likely they are to sympathize with your condition.

Interested in more information on how to manage your chronic pain? Contact us today at 844-939-7246!

What is a Slipped Disc?

If you have an issue with one or more of your spinal discs, you’ve likely heard the term “slipped disc.”

This term is sometimes used interchangeably with bulging disc and herniated disc, but there is no consensus in regards to its precise definition. To help clear things up, let’s look how the term “slipped disc” may be used when it comes to problems with your spinal discs.

Slipped disc as a synonym for herniated disc

On occasion, slipped disc may be used as a synonym for a herniated disc. This can cause confusion, as your spinal discs are firmly attached to your vertebrae—and they do not slip or move. Instead, it is the gel-like material inside your disc that “slips” out.

Each of your discs is comprised of a sturdy outer ring called the annulus fibrosus. This ring protects the gel-like interior, which is referred to as the nucleus pulposus. As a result of factors like aging and wear-and-tear, the annulus fibrosus may crack or tear—and in turn the nucleus pulpous may herniate, or slip out.

In addition to a slipped disc, a herniated disc may also be referred to by the term “ruptured disc.”

Slipped disc and micromotion instability

As a result of the natural aging process, your discs degenerate over time. This happens to everyone, though not to the same degree—and not everyone will experience symptoms.

If the annulus fibrosus, or the tough outer ring of your spinal disc, wears down, it may not be as effective in inhibiting motion in your spin

The symptoms that result from a degenerated disc are referred to as degenerative disc disease.

The importance of a correct diagnosis

Ultimately, what is important is not the term that is used—but rather identifying the cause of your symptoms. For example, if you have a herniated disc, the disc space is not the source of your pain. Instead, the gel-like material inside your disc is likely irritating or compressing a nearby nerve root.

If you think you may have an issue with one of your spinal discs, contact us today at 844-939-7246!

Am I a Good Candidate for a Sympathetic Ganglion Block?

What is a Sympathetic Ganglion Block?

A Sympathetic Ganglion Block is a type of nerve block used to treat severe or chronic pain. A ganglion, the affected bundle of nerves, is injected with anesthetic to halt pain. These nerves help the body react to stress and are responsible for the fight-or-flight response.

A stellate ganglion, part of the sympathetic nervous system, transmits signals to the upper body, including the face, neck, arms and chest area.  

A lumbar ganglion, on the other hand, sends signals to parts of the lower body, such as the leg or lower back. Damage to any part of the ganglion nerves can result in pain in one or more of these regions. 

Sympathetic Ganglion Blocks are used to inject medication to numb the nerve and interrupt the pain signals it sends to the brain. They can be used in a diagnostic capacity to determine whether the source of the discomfort is due to damage to the ganglion nerves, as well as to effectively treat pain.

The Sympathetic Ganglion Block Procedure

This procedure takes place in a doctor office and is completed in 30 minutes on average. Usually, a local anesthetic or mild sedative is provided. Recovery time is very short and most patients return to their normal activities very quickly. 

Risks of Sympathetic Ganglion Block

While Sympathetic Ganglion Blocks are common and are considered to be minimally invasive procedures, it should be noted that this procedure does carry a slight risk of complication. These risks may include:

  • Soreness at the injection site

  • Infection

  • Headache

  • Bleeding

After the procedure is completed, pain will be reduced and a small bandage will be applied over the injection spot.

If you suffer from chronic pain, it may be time to explore Sympathetic Ganglion Blocks. At Integrated Pain Solutions we aim to help reduce pain and improve function and overall quality of life.  If you believe that you could be a candidate for a Sympathetic Ganglion Block , please call an IPS provider at 844-939-PAIN (7246). 

Do I Need Occipital Nerve Stimulation?

Do I Need Occipital Nerve Stimulation?

If you have had constant headaches throughout your life, you know that most treatments offer little to no help.  Occipital Nerve Stimulation is a surgical procedure that targets one or more of the occipital nerves (greater, lesser, and third occipital nerves) which transmit most of the pain.

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3 Techniques for Coping with Chronic Sciatica

1. Disassociation

As you likely know by now, the location of your sciatica symptoms can vary based on which of your sciatic nerve roots is pinched or irritated. This means it’s possible to experience symptoms in a variety of places, such as your calf, foot, or hamstring (and symptoms may be experienced in multiple locations at once).

Regardless of the location of your symptoms, you may find relief by imagining that a painful part of your body is separated from the rest of your body (a mental practice known as disassociation).

For example, picture your numb foot on the dresser located on the other side of your room. You can then tell your foot (or whichever body part is experiencing symptoms) to stay where it is (as you continue to hold this mental picture in your mind).

When your first start out, you can hold a particular image in your mind for as little, or as long, as you like. If possible, it is also a good idea to locate a dark, secluded room in order to practice the dissociation technique.


2. Biofeedback

Biofeedback refers to the process of using a monitoring machine (often a computer) to retrain physical states in your body that are not normally under voluntary control. Put another way, biofeedback measures a physical process, and then immediately reports the information to the person being monitored so that he or she can learn to consciously influence that physical state.

Biofeedback is used to train people to do such things as lower their heart rate, decrease muscle tension, and lower their blood pressure.

If your sciatica is provoked by muscle tension in your lower back, biofeedback treatment may help bring you relief by training you to reduce the tension and allowing your mind to focus away from your symptoms.

Biofeedback training for muscle tension involves placing electrodes on the skin over the area of the muscle that needs to be retrained. The computer can then measure the amount of muscle electrical activity that is present (this electrical activity is related to the tension in the muscle). On the computer screen, you will be able to see the amount of tension present in the muscle, and then you can slowly learn to decrease it.

3. Enjoy your favorite activity

It might seem too simple, but regularly engaging in your favorite hobby or activity can reduce your perception of your chronic sciatica pain. This is possible because your attention is drawn away from your chronic pain, and instead is placed on the pleasurable task at hand.

You may no longer be able to run a marathon or go mountain biking, but you can likely still engage in simple tasks like writing poetry or reading a good book. Another option is to call a good friend on the phone at least once a week.

As a final word on this technique, we often tell patients that when their pain is at its worst, the last thing you should do is give up on your hobbies. This is not only because engaging in hobbies can reduce your perception of your chronic pain, but it also places you at greater risk for developing depression.

Want some more information on coping with sciatica? Visit our website today! 

Hemp Oil and Sleep

Did you know that over 50 million U.S. adults struggle with a sleep disorder of some kind? This number doesn’t even account for the individuals who experience sleep deprivation and anxiety on a regular basis.

If you are looking for a way to get a better night’s sleep, you may feel as if your options are limited. This is particularly true if you are wary of sleep medications, which often lead to negative side effects.

There is a potential solution for you, however, when it comes to sleeping restfully. Hemp Oil, a compound found naturally in the cannabis plant, can be your answer. Read on for insight into Hemp Oil and sleep!

Hemp Oil has the ability to reduce anxiety, which can be helpful in reducing sleep difficulties and improving sleep quality. Hemp Oil may increase overall sleep amounts, and improve insomnia, according to research. Hemp Oil has also been shown to reduce insomnia in people who suffer from chronic pain.

In smaller doses, Hemp Oil stimulates alertness and reduces daytime sleepiness, which is important for daytime performance and for the strength and consistency of the sleep-wake cycle.

Hemp Oil may also help reduce REM behavior disorder. REM behavior disorder is a condition that causes people to act out physically during dreaming and REM sleep. Typically, during REM, the body is largely paralyzed, a state known as REM atonia. This immobilization keeps sleepers from reacting physically to their dreams. In REM behavior disorder, this paralysis doesn’t occur, leaving people free to move—which can lead to disruptive sleep and to injuring themselves or their sleeping partners. 

Want to learn more about the benefits of  Hemp Oil? Visit our website today!

 

What Is Occipital Nerve Stimulation?

What Is Occipital Nerve Stimulation?

If you have had constant headaches throughout your life, you know that most treatments offer little to no help.  Occipital Nerve Stimulation is a surgical procedure that targets one or more of the occipital nerves (greater, lesser, and third occipital nerves) which transmit most of the pain. In certain headache syndromes, other nerves may be targeted (for example the supraorbital and supratrochlear nerves). During the procedure, a small amount of electrical current is used to suppress these nerves, which helps to mask the pain that you are feeling. This procedure is ordinarily non-destructive and reversible.

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Do I need Neurostimulation?

Do I need Neurostimulation?

Neurostimulation Therapy, or better known as spinal cord stimulation, is a process in which a small electric stimulator, similar to a pacemaker, is implanted along the spinal cord under the skin. This stimulator then sends out electric pulses which can alleviate the area of chronic back pain by making you feel a numb or tingling sensation. 

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