The latest issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest examines psychological interventions for the treatment of chronic pain, including the gap between the evidence of the effectiveness of several psychological interventions and their availability and use in treatment.
Pain is the body’s way of alerting the brain to injury and disease. Without a robust pain response, physical trauma could go unnoticed and untreated. Some people, however, experience chronic pain that lasts long after an injury has healed or has no easily identifiable cause.
Unfortunately, treating chronic pain with over-the-counter and prescription medication has its own health risks, including adverse side effects and addiction. In the latest issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI), a team of researchers explores how psychological interventions can be part of a comprehensive plan to manage chronic pain while reducing the need for surgeries and potentially dangerous medications.
People with dementia may experience increased levels of pain 16 years before their diagnosis, according to new research. The study, funded in part by NIA and published in Pain, is the first to examine the link between pain and dementia over an extended period.
Dementia and chronic pain both cause changes to the brain and can affect a person’s brain health. Although many people who have dementia also have chronic pain, it is unclear whether chronic pain causes or accelerates the onset of dementia, is a symptom of dementia, or is simply associated with dementia because both are caused by some other factor. The new study, led by researchers at Université de Paris, examined the timeline of the association between dementia and self-reported pain by analyzing data from a study that has been gathering data on participants for as many as 27 years.
The researchers used data from the Whitehall II study, a long-term study of health in British government employees. Participants were between the ages of 35 and 55 when they enrolled in the study. Using surveys conducted multiple times over the course of the study, the researchers measured two aspects of participant-reported pain: pain intensity, which is how much bodily pain a participant experiences, and pain interference, which is how much a participant’s pain affects his or her daily activities. They used electronic health records to determine whether (and when) participants were diagnosed with dementia.
Out of 9,046 participants, 567 developed dementia during the period of observation. People who were diagnosed with dementia reported slightly more pain as early as 16 years before their diagnosis, driven mostly by differences in pain interference. These participants reported steadily increasing pain levels relative to those who were never diagnosed with dementia. At the time of diagnosis, people with dementia reported significantly more pain than people without dementia.
The researchers note that, because the brain changes associated with dementia start decades before diagnosis, it is unlikely that pain causes or increases the risk of dementia. Instead, they suggest that chronic pain might be an early symptom of dementia or simply correlated with dementia. Future studies that include data on the cause, type, location, and characteristics of pain and the type and seriousness of a patient’s dementia could help define in more detail the link between dementia and pain.
The living brain is constantly producing regular rhythmic patterns of activity, which can be compared to musical notes. Scientists at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in the U.S., have successfully demonstrated that one particularly prevalent pattern of brain activity, called alpha waves, strongly relates to the body’s susceptibility or resilience to pain.
Alpha waves oscillate between 8-14 Hz, with the peak frequency varying across individuals. The researchers demonstrated how a measurement of an individual’s alpha wave frequency can be used as a reliable pain indicator.
The study, led by graduate student Andrew Furman and published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, suggests that these alpha waves could be used to help clinicians understand how susceptible a patient to experience severe pain post-surgery.
A new study published in JAMA Network Open led by UC San Diego health scientists finds that every month as many as 6.4 million Americans turn to Google to learn about or buy Cannabidiol (CBD), eclipsing or rivaling interest in most other health products or topics . Source: Elevated Science Communications
Touted as a “cure all,” researchers have documented unfounded claims that CBD treats acne, anxiety, opioid addiction, pain, and menstrual problems. You can buy CBD droplets, massage oils, gummies, or even CBD ice cream. But public health leaders have been mostly silent on the subject because they lacked data that demonstrates just how popular CBD is.
In the interest of full disclosure, I use and have posted on, CBD oil for arthritis relief in my hands.
To further appreciate CBD’s exploding popularity the team contrasted search query volumes for CBD against those for other trending health topics, products, or alternative medicines. The image is in the public domain.
Besides the arthritis pain that greatly restrains both hands, I recently underwent oral surgery and had a pain reliever prescribed for after-care. For the most part, I live without taking pain relievers. I use topical solutions like CBD Oil, Australian Dream Cream, Mustard Seed Oil regularly for my hands as well as Chinese exercise balls for flexibility. Nonetheless, pain relievers can be a temporary solution at times. It helps to know what you are putting into your system.
Headache? Have an aspirin. Back hurts? How about some ibuprofen? Feeling feverish? Time for some acetaminophen.
Over-the-counter pain relievers are often the first thing we turn to when we’re injured or under the weather, and for good reason. They can be extremely effective at reducing pain, fever and inflammation.
But because they’re in just about everyone’s medicine cabinet and you don’t need a prescription to buy them, it can be tempting to treat them a little too casually — taking too many, too frequently or for the wrong reasons.
I exercise regularly and I also suffer from severe arthritis of the hands, so the subjects of exercise and painkillers touch me where I live. Following is a very informative write up of painkillers in general and NSAIDs in particular by Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications
“Not long ago, I took ibuprofen after a dental procedure and was amazed at how well it worked. Millions of people have had similar experiences with ibuprofen and related medications (called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs) when used for a number of conditions, including arthritis, back pain, and headache. That’s why NSAIDs are among the most commonly prescribed drugs worldwide.”
“More than a dozen different NSAIDs are available, including naproxen (as in Naprosyn or Aleve), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren) and indomethacin (Indocin). Aspirin is also an NSAID, though it is usually taken in small doses for its blood thinning effects (to prevent heart attack or stroke) rather than for pain.
NSAIDs are fairly safe, but not risk free
“The safety profile of NSAIDs is generally quite good, especially when taken in small doses for short periods of time. That’s why several of them, including ibuprofen and naproxen, are available in low doses over the counter in this country and elsewhere. Continue reading →
I really have to confess ignorance on the subject of opioids. I make it a point to keep my drug use at a bare minimum. Naturally, I have heard of opioid abuse. Who didn’t see those shocking pictures of golf great Tiger Woods the night he tried driving under the influence of opioids?
I recently suffered some severe back pain from hanging my bike on the rack carelessly. I went to the hospital for rehab work, but didn’t take any drugs.
I wanted to report what Harvard has to say on the subject because it offers a lot of information on asking questions of your doctor.
Opioid misuse is now one of most important health problems in the United States, rivaling smoking as a cause of death. Although news reports tend to focus on an opioid crisis among the young, the opioid epidemic is increasingly affecting older people as well. In fact, the rates of hospitalization for opioid overdoses among Medicare recipients quintupled from 1993 through 2012. Although older people are still less likely than younger ones to become addicted or succumb to opioid overdoses, they are more likely to suffer side effects from extended opioid use, including memory and cognition problems and falls.
Do you remember the old ads for Chiffon Margarine a while back that showed Mother Nature trying some and thinking it was real butter. When told it wasn’t she uttered the famous line, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” You can see it on You Tube below
Turns out it’s not nice to blame Mother Nature either.
New research from The George Institute for Global Health has revealed the weather plays no part in the symptoms associated with either back pain or osteoarthritis.
It’s long been thought episodes of both back pain and arthritis can be triggered by changes in the weather, including temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction and precipitation.
Professor Chris Maher, of The George Institute for Global Health, said: “The belief that pain and inclement weather are linked dates back to Roman times. But our research suggests this belief may be based on the fact that people recall events that confirm their preexisting views.
“Human beings are very susceptible so it’s easy to see why we might only take note of pain on the days when it’s cold and rainy outside, but discount the days when they have symptoms but the weather is mild and sunny.” Continue reading →
Pain is your body telling you something is not right. Maybe it’s simply a little ache that quickly goes away, but what if it is excruciating. Some pain signs are serious red flags that need to prompt attention by a medical professional. Carefully consideration of these signs may be the step that is necessary to prevent further deterioration of a manageable condition.
An emergency pain signal, one that should get you moving to an emergency department, is one or more of the following symptoms:
A sudden onset of severe pain that is unrelated to an accident or some other situation that commonly would constitute an accident
Upper abdominal area or chest pain or pressure
Having difficulty in breathing or suffering from shortness of breath that is not normal to your situation Dizziness, fainting, weakness, particularly if the dizziness…
Regular readers know that I have written repeatedly about the importance of happiness in our lives. A couple of the posts include, Why Should I Be Happy?, What is Positive Psychology? You can click on the happiness or kindness tags at the right to read others.
A paper published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health on Psychological Variables that Influence Placebo Responses says that “There is also growing evidence that personality may affect the placebo response. The main personality traits for which there is evidence of an effect are optimism, pessimism, trait anxiety, and neuroticism. Dispositional optimism and pessimism are habitual styles of expecting good or bad outcomes in life and therefore can be regarded as a dispositional bias in expectation. Optimists demonstrate an attentional bias for positive information and, even when faced with negative information, will tend to reframe the information in positive ways. Optimism correlates negatively with trait anxiety and neuroticism and positively with reported use of positive coping strategies in general. Scheier and Carver [another study] suggest that the general positive expectations associated with optimists lead to persistence and striving toward goals in the face of adversity. Optimism may therefore influence the extent to which a patient, given a placebo treatment, persists in the treatment and interprets it positively.” Continue reading →