September is Pain Awareness Month
You’ve probably read the stats a thousand times:
- 100 Million Americans suffer from chronic pain
- Chronic Pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and costs billions each year in lost productivity
- At any given point 1/5th of American Adult population is affected by back pain
- Back pain the leading cause of disability among Americans under 45
The list goes on…
Why spread awareness of chronic pain?
Chronic Pain is lonely. Sufferers of chronic pain often fall into depression due to the isolation commonly experienced as a result of severe, chronic and acute pain. Patients of chronic pain often miss out on valuable life and family experiences while bed ridden or house bound.
Chronic pain can lead to other health conditions. According to studies adults reporting back pain are three times more likely to be in fair or poor health and more than four times more likely to experience psychological distress than people without low back pain. [Source: American Academy of Pain Medicine]
What can you do?
- Talk. There are a number of support groups for people with chronic pain including the US Pain foundation, search online for a local support group or join a community on facebook,
- Focus on the things you can do and share these things with your friends and family,
- Seek help to alleviate your pain.
Friends and Family of chronic pain sufferers:
- Actively participate in any doctor approved pain reduction techniques. Techniques could include; encouraging exercises and changes in diet. Join your friend or loved one in exercises or stretches that may help relieve pain,
- Spend time doing things they can do; watching movies, writing, or talking about books you’re reading,
- Support your loved one in their decision to seek help.
Help educate others and spread awareness of Chronic Pain by sharing this infographic.
There has been a lot of talk about inflammatory foods recently. Inflammation is a result of pain or injury to the body. Inflammation is your body’s way of providing care and protection to injured areas however, inflammation can be extremely uncomfortable, painful and sometimes debilitating.
If you suffer from regular pain or any chronic pain conditions you may also experience heightened amounts of inflammation as your body attempts to protect itself from further damage.
Signs of inflammation:
- Pain – the inflamed area is painful to the touch.
- Redness – blood rushes to capillaries in an attempt to repair damage
- Immobility – you may have trouble moving around
- Swelling – you expereince a build up of fuild in the damaged area
- Heat – with more blood the temperature of the area increases
Chronic inflammation can have serious consequences including, fibrosis; which is thickening and scarring of connective tissue, or necrosis; which is death of cells or tissues. In addition, inflammation can affect your ability to sleep increasing other risks to your health. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce inflammation however, those experiencing more serious symptoms may wish to seek a personalized course of treatment by consulting a pain specialist.
What dietary changes can I make to help prevent inflammation?
It has been determined that some foods can trigger inflammation and other reports show that an inflamed area can trigger further inflammation in other areas (talk about a catch 22!). To avoid the discomfort, and potential snowball effect inflammation can cause, prevention or elimination of this condition should be a key factor in your pain management routine.
To help you out we’ve compiled a list of inflammatory foods to avoid and a few anti-inflammatory foods which may be worth including in your diet.
Avoid these inflammatory foods:
- Beer and Wine – Alcohol in general is reported to be inflammatory
- Fried and Processed Foods – that means fries, cheesburgers, wings
- Sugars and Refined Carbs – white breads, sweets/candy
- Trans Fats
- MSG – check your local Chinese Take Out is MSG Free!
- Dairy – the type of protein found in dairy products has been linked to irritation of joint tissue
- Gluten – found in breads and wheat products can also cause all-over pain [Source: http://online.wsj.com]
- Aspartame – said to cause headaches [Source: http://www.neurology.org]
Seek to increase these anti-inflammatory foods:
- Lean (preferrable natural or organic) meats and protein
- Spices such as ginger, curry, and turmeric
- Whole grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat
- Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or fish oil supplements and walnuts.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables!
Reminder: As with any diet plan you should consult your doctor before making any major changes.
Treating Chronic Cervicogenic Headaches
“Chronic” headaches are defined as the occurrence of headache symptoms 15 or more times in a given month. Depending on the origin and root cause of the pain Newbridge can offer several solutions which are outlined below.
Diagnosing Cervicogenic Headaches
Excessive amounts of stress to the neck and spine are the most common causes of cervicogenic headaches, symptoms include a steady, non-throbbing pain to the back and base of the skull. The pain can also sometimes extend down to the neck and between the shoulder blades, occasionally pain is experienced behind the brows and the forehead.
Criteria for diagnosis has been established but its presenting characteristics may be difficult to distinguish from primary headache disorders such as migraine, tension-type headache, or hemicrania continua. Diagnostic workup begins with a careful history overview and physical examination. This is followed by ordering appropriate diagnostic studies including standard radiographs, 3-dimensional CT, MRI, and possibly electromyography; nerve blocks may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Patients experiencing headaches as a result of a cervicogenic component can be treated by performing one of the following: cervical epidural steroid injections, greater and lesser occipital nerve blockade, radiofrequency thermal neurolysis or trigger point injections. These treatments can all be performed at Newbridge Spine’s on-site ASC facilities in Frederick, Waldorf and Prince Frederick. It’s important to note that cervicogenic headaches are not always able to be cured but once properly diagnosed, they are able to be managed effectively.
- Cervical epidural steroid injections relieves pain in the neck, shoulders and arms caused by a pinched nerve or nerves in the cervical spine. Conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or radiculopathy can compress nerves causing inflammation and pain. Medication injected here helps decrease the swelling of these nerves.
- Greater and lesser occipital nerve blockade is an injection of a steroid or other medication around the greater and lesser occipital nerves that are located on the back of the head just above the neck area. The steroid injected reduces the inflammation and swelling of tissue around the occipital nerves. This may in turn reduce pain and other symptoms caused by inflammation or irritation of the nerves and surrounding structures. Typically, headaches over the back of the head, including certain types of tension headaches may respond to occipital nerve block
- Radiofrequency thermal neurolysis uses high frequency radio waves to produce a heat lesion. The lesion created can then inactivate a nerve that is responsible for transmitting pain. This technique is most commonly applied to treat spinal pain caused by facet joint disease. This type of treatment works in the lumbar area for facet joint arthritis, as well as in the cervical neck region where facet pain is caused by arthritis or from whiplash injuries.
- Trigger Point Injections are procedures used to treat painful areas of muscle that contain trigger points, or knots of muscle that form when muscles do not relax. Many times, such knots can be felt under the skin. Trigger points may irritate the nerves around them and cause referred pain, or pain that is felt in another part of the body.
In a study of 520 Chronic Migraine Patients, 80% were not properly diagnosed. A percentage of those cases were the result of a cervicogenic component
Patients presenting with migraines would not be appropriate for care at our center but will be referred to the care of a trusted neurologist for proper treatment.
Newbridge Spine and Pain Center is able to evaluate and treat any patient suffering from chronic headaches. If you believe you may be a candidate for treatment of chronic headaches contact us to schedule a consultation.
When is it time to see a pain specialist for your back and neck pain?
It’s estimated that there are 100 million people in the US suffering from back and neck pain. Many of these patients will seek help from their primary care physician. While some will have success managing their pain at the PCP level many more will not get relief and will continue to struggle daily.
A primary care physician is often your first touch point in treating any health condition that arises, however over the years treating pain has become more complex both from a medical and legal perspective. As such, many primary care doctors are less equipped and less willing to manage pain conditions.
Moreover, patients with persistent pain will benefit from more targeted care from a pain management specialist. It is well documented that Chronic pain left untreated can escalate, contributing to high stress levels, poor sleep, limited daily activity and eventually mental distress and depression.
Pain medicine is a relatively young practice, in existence since 1993 when the American Board of Medical Specialties began granting sub-specialty certification to anesthesiologists. Since then, a number of physicians who practice and consider themselves pain management specialists but few are board certified and even fewer are anesthesiologists. This is important since not all pain physicians treat all pain conditions and a doctors individual skill and training plays a large part in patient outcomes.
If you have been experiencing continued, chronic pain that does not seem to respond to increasing doses of medication, if you have suffered an injury and your pain seems out of proportion to usual pain associated with that injury or if your pain has not subsided despite evidence of clinical healing of an injury it may be time to ask your doctor to refer you to a pain management specialist.
Factors to consider when selecting a physician and pain management practice are:
1. Are the physicians Board Certified in Pain Management?
2. Do they have a good reputation?
3. Can they see me quickly?
4. Are they able to treat a wide range of conditions?
5. Will I be able to be treated at the same place or will I be sent out to other facilities?
6. If a procedure is the most appropriate course of treatment and I’m nervous can I be offered sedation?
If you need further information or would like to schedule an appointment for an initial consultation, contact us or submit the form (right) and one of our associates will contact you.
Your Chronic Pain may be impacting your spouse’s sleep
Your chronic pain may be impacting your spouse more than you think.
A new study by the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain suggests that those experiencing chronic pain are not the only ones to sufferer from it’s effects.
The journal hypothesized that while chronic pain “has been linked to poorer psychosocial well-being in the spouse” it may also be true that greater amounts of daily pain, specifically in the case of patients with arthritic pain, results in “poorer sleep for the spouse that evening.”
A 22 day diary assessment and interviews were conducted to assess 138 osteoarthritis patients and their spouses concluding that on days when a patient experienced increased levels of pain their spouse’s overall quality of sleep that night was poorer and the spouse woke “feeling less refreshed after sleep.”
Surprisingly the effects on spouse sleep were not a result of disturbances in the patients sleep.
The study suggested that due to a deterioration in the quality of a spouse’s sleep the patient’s chronic pain may increase health risks for their spouse. Researcher Lynn M. Martire, Ph.D., of Penn State University, said; “Compromised sleep caused by exposure to a loved one’s suffering may be one pathway to spousal caregivers’ increased risk for health problems, including cardiovascular disease.”
If you or your spouse are experiencing chronic pain and would like to learn more about your options for treatment – call your nearest Newbridge Spine & Pain Center or contact us using the online form.
[Source: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.2013.05.020, journals.elsevier.com]
Backpacks contribute to back pain in young children
With children heading back to school this week Newbridge Spine & Pain reminds parents and children of the physical costs of heavy back packs. Back packs are designed to efficiently distribute weight across shoulders and back but back pain may arise when backpacks get overloaded or are not positioned correctly.
Studies out of the UK advise that a growing number of children are suffering from back pain due to heavy school bags.
You & your child can help prevent back pain by following these simple suggestions:
- Carry your backpack on both shoulders instead of one.
- Don’t carry around unnecessary books; only take what you need for each day
- Use lockers as often as possible: make a habit of storing unused items in lockers
- When possible; limit backpack weight to 10-15% of your child’s body weight.
[Source: Dailymail.co.uk, spine-health.com]
Newbridge Spine & Pain Centers are now performing Kyphoplasty procedures.
While nonsurgical pain management can help relieve the pain caused by spinal fracture, it doesn’t repair the fractured vertebra or address spinal deformity.
Kyphoplasty is not a new procedure, however, Dr Gonchigar and our board certified team of physicians at Newbridge Spine & Pain Center have determined that the benefits of this procedure are immense thus we are now performing kyphoplasty for qualifying patients in our ASC (ambulatory surgical centers).
Our patients have been very pleased with the sometimes immediate pain relief experienced following the kyphoplasty procedure. In fact, treatment with balloon kyphoplasty can reduce, and may eliminate your back pain. It may also restore vertebral body height and correct angular deformity.
How does it work?
The balloon kyphoplasty procedure is minimally invasive and has a low complication rate. During the procedure, orthopedic balloons are used to gently elevate the fractured vertebra in an attempt to return it to the correct position. The procedure takes up to one hour per fracture level treated. It can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on your overall state of health as determined by the physician based on the medical necessity.
Benefits of Kyphoplasty:
- Relieves Back Pain
- Stabilizes the Fracture
- Corrects Angular Deformity
- Restores Vertebral Body Height
- Creates Cavity for Cement
Welcome to our new website!
We have redesigned our website to create a user friendly & convenient space to communicate with us, find educational resources, and enable easier access to necessary documentation such as our New Patient Packet & New Patient Handbook.
We’re always adding new articles and will constantly be updating content on our site in the aim of helping our patients manage their chronic pain and understand the procedures and treatments we provide.
As always we welcome feedback and love to get your testimonials. Please use the contact us form or email us with your feedback/ comments or testimonials.
We look forward to helping you live pain free!