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More Than a Feeling: New approaches to treating complex regional pain syndrome are helping redefine

June 15th, 2009 (05:38 pm)

From the desk of thematrix777: This is a story of people who live their everyday life with CRPS (RSD).  I am re-printing this story in hopes it will give someone else the will to keep trying...

No matter how bleak your life may feel at this very moment, if you give up and surrender, "IT" WINS..."IT" can be your  constant pain, your CRPS, your RSD or any other condition that keeps you from improving your quality of life. 

I am not just another person trying to perk you up. Most of you know my story. I suffer with you. I cry, scream, and I ask GOD "Why Me"?.  I have RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), neuropathy, cervical and lumbar issues that are inoperable in addition to many other "minor" aches and pains that come just from living.

Are you looking for an excuse to give up or are you a winner? I have plenty of reasons (or excuses) to give up. I have a whole list of them just in case you don't have enough of your own. lol 

But I won't! give in to them.  I decide how to live my life, not my illnesses. Do I need help? Yes, I do require help, but I am not embarrassed or ashamed to ask when I need it. However, I try to do it myself first,  If I can't do it, then I ask for help.

Are you a quitter? Do you want a life? How hard are you willing to work for it? If you not willing to work and I mean WORK HARD, don't waste your time reading this article. This story is for winners..........................

No one is promising a magic cure. In fact, there is no cure for my RSD. it is chronic, progressive and very painful. But your mind is a powerful weapon if you learn how to use it to your advantage.

I choose to live my life with dignity, self-worth and enjoy every day of my life that GOD gives me.

“I don’t let the pain define who I am anymore,” Max Sokolnicki

Max Sokolnicki knows all too well how the pain of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) can take over your life. Sokolnicki, 52, of Chesterfield Township, MI, used to be a project manager in a technical
training firm in the automotive industry before a botched hip replacement surgery in 2002 damaged his sciatic nerve and triggered.

Today the former soccer player and coach is unemployed, lives on disability, and uses a cane or wheelchair to get around. The pain is centered in his right foot, he says, which feels as if it is surrounded by a block of ice and is often so cold that it burns. That’s only part of the sensation, however; the other
part feels like “some kind of small animal chewing at my foot as someone tries to peel my skin back.” While he has found some relief with neurostimulation, he says he is never pain free.

Molly Skipper, who also suffers from CRPS, spent her 16th birthday bedridden, rocking back and forth in pain, terrified that doctors were going to amputate her leg. All because a few months before she’d slipped and fallen, banging her left knee on the handle of a kitchen cabinet.

It’s an injury that in most people would have resulted in nothing more than a bruise and some minor discomfort. But for Molly and thousands like her, a bump, fracture, or surgical procedure can turn into intense, unrelenting pain that sends them careening from doctor to doctor in search of relief.
These people have a condition called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), previously known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) or causalgia (from the Greek words for “heat” and “pain”).

Relatively rare—it affects an estimated 26 out of every 100,000 people—CRPS is up to four times more common in women and affects people of all ages, including children as young as three.

Traditionally, anesthesiologists and other pain specialists have treated CRPS. But it is first and foremost a neurological condition, according to Anne Louise Oaklander, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston and an expert on the disease.

Her research has begun to unravel the specific neurological mechanisms that may be at work in CRPS. Thus, she says, more neurologists need to be trained to diagnose and treat this devastating
condition as a neurological condition, not a pain condition.

“Having the pain reformulated as a neurologic problem opens the door to the kind of approaches neurologists are expert at,” she says. “Not just giving pain medication but curing
the underlying problem.”

The primary symptom of CRPS is pain out of proportion to the initial injury that continues long after the trauma heals. The pain More Than a Feeling.  New approaches to treating complex regional pain
syndrome are helping redefine “mystery pain.”


n addition to hypersensitivity to touch and ongoing pain, patients with CRPS may have one or more of the following. (No two patients are the same, however, making diagnosis difficult.)
  • Swelling. The leg or arm may swell so much that that the skin appears tight and shiny and may even begin to break down.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Change in skin color. The area may turn red, blue, or purple.
  • Change in skin temperature. The area may become very hot or very cold, depending on blood flow.

Muscle changes, such as tremors, weakness, joint stiffness, or inability to control movement. This is likely related to dysfunction of nerves in the spinal cord that control movement. typically occurs in the hands, arms, legs, or feet, but can occur anywhere in the body. Left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body, most commonly the “mirror limb” opposite the one where the damage first occurred.

The pain is sometimes described as “burning,” and may be so bad that patients thrust the affected limb into buckets of ice or drape it in wet, cool cloths to stem the sensation.

Others, however, can’t tolerate any cold and find their pain worsens in the winter. Over the years, doctors have used numerous tests to definitively diagnose CRPS, including X-rays, bone scans, MRI, thermography (which measures heat), and electromyogram (which measures nerve conduction).

Sometimes these tests can help; but just as often, they can all be negative even in someone with CRPS. Plus, the testing itself can be extremely painful to someone with the condition. Basically, then, CRPS is diagnosed based on the patient’s description of the symptoms, a comprehensive medical and
physical history, and the exclusion of other conditions. That’s one reason the condition remains significantly under-diagnosed even by neurologists and pain specialists, says Joshua Prager, M.D., who directs the Center for the Rehabilitation of Pain Syndrome at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In fact, a survey by the support group American RSDHope (rsdhope.org) found that people with CRPS often see five or more doctors before receiving a diagnosis. Patients are often told they are depressed, anxious, or have some other psychiatric condition; suspected of trying to get drugs; or accused of “malingering,” says Dr. Oaklander.

The reality, however, is that the pain itself typically causes mental health issues. The RSDHope survey found that 67 percent of people with CRPS had considered suicide. The best option to ensure you get the correct diagnosis, says Dr. Oaklander, is to see a peripheral nerve specialist, a common neurology subspecialty.


Every time you touch something hot, bang your shin, or get a paper cut, the communication network of your body switches into high gear. The pain signal travels along axons, fiber-like extensions from neurons that function like individual wires in a large fiber optic cable. The axons use special chemicals called neuropeptides to transmit the pain signal to nearby neurons. Eventually, the signal reaches the spinal cord and shoots up to the brain where it is “read.” All in a split second, of course.

Axons come in all lengths, some longer than your leg. Until recently, researchers focused on large axons, the kind covered in fatty sheathing called myelin (hence the name, “myelinated fibers.”) As the tools used to observe nerve fibers have improved, researchers have been able to identify very tiny axonal fibers in peripheral nerves like those in the arms and legs.

More recently, Dr. Oaklander and others examined skin biopsies from patients with CRPS and found significant damage to these small-fiber axons. In some cases, they found, even the slightest injury to these fibers can cause misfiring and the  release of excess neuropeptides. Essentially, the nerve fibers
become stuck in the “on” position and burn out, leading to the numbness and loss of sensation people with CRPS often describe in the originally injured area. What appears to happen next is that other nearby fibers step in and also begin overfiring, says Dr. Oaklander. The result is hypersensitivity and chronic pain.
Dr. Oaklander’s finding of small-fiber axonal damage is important  because it helps convince clinicians that CRPS is a real neurological condition. It also helps patients get approval for disability benefits or even certain medications, something that is difficult if no clear cause for the pain can be seen. “So being
able to show damage with an objective test is critical,” says Dr. Oaklander.

Functional MRI studies, which image blood flow to different parts of the brain in response to various stimuli, also show underlying changes in people with CRPS. A study published in November 2008 in the journal Neuron found significant alterations in the white matter of the brain, the part that transmits chemical messages between neurons, and shrinkage in the neuronal area, or gray matter. The changes are likely due to the pain itself, says Dr. Oaklander, since other MRI studies find such changes reverse when the pain improves.

One of the earliest written descriptions of CRPS comes from S. Weir Mitchell, a Civil War doctor who was struck by the severe,persistent pain experienced by some soldiers even after their wounds healed—pain that occurred with just the lightest touch.

“He is…nervous and hysterical to such a degree that his relatives suppose him to be partially insane,” Dr. Mitchell wrote of a young man who had been shot at Gettysburg. “It is difficult even to examine him properly on account of his timidity, and his whole appearance exhibits the effects of pain…and want of rest.”

When Molly Skipper was in the midst of her CRPS episode, she was lucky if she averaged four hours of sleep a week. Her pain began about a week after she fell, just as she started her dream job at a newspaper in Meridian, MS. Within a few days she was on crutches. Then she couldn’t walk at all. “I couldn’t touch my leg, it was so painful,” she recalls. She saw numerous doctors, including a psychiatrist. Initially, the doctors thought she was imagining the pain. They came to believe it was real, however, when she was still in agony even after five nerve blocks, a procedure in which a local anesthetic is injected near the nerve. At one point she was taking 13 different medications and still found no relief. Doctors told her she would never walk again.

Finally, in the spring of 2006, her father’s coworker learned about Dr. Oaklander and her practice at Massachusetts General Hospital. Molly’s mother, Leslie Doolittle, called the doctor’s office and left a message. Dr. Oaklander returned the call on a Saturday morning and, after listening to a description of Molly’s condition, said, “I think I can help your daughter.” Molly’s mother burst into tears.

Continued in Part 2 which will go through the Molly's therapy at the hospital as well as meeting a few other patients along the way.

"Where there is a will, there is a way."

thematrix777 [userpic]

Retired physician with a disability fights for the right to get around on a Segway‏

March 31st, 2009 (06:48 am)
Tags: ,

Blade Staff Writer

Dr. Patrick McNamara gets out of his silver minivan and hobbles a few steps, leaning heavily on a homemade wooden cane. There is pain in every awkward movement the 51-year-old makes - until he pops open the trunk and grins.

"In a moment, I will no longer be handicapped," he declares.

The next thing you know, he's zipping around the parking lot like Willy Wonka - he's still holding the cane - using a Segway to run circles around an observer. He continues to show off inside a nearby supermarket, gliding around with ease, pushing a shopping cart, and exhibiting no trace of the nerve ailment that leaves him in severe pain most of the time.

"I'm not disabled when I'm on this," says Dr. McNamara, who has complex regional pain syndrome and retired from internal medicine three years ago. "It's such a completely rehumanizing experience."

That's what interests the Sylvania Township man most. Sometimes the solution is flashy and high-tech, like the Segway he uses to get around. At other times, it's as old-school as the canes that he makes from scratch in his basement workshop.

It all began when Dr. McNamara injured his back while exercising and found that he had trouble walking even a short distance due to the extreme pain. He investigated all sorts of help: scooters, wheelchairs, hiking sticks, metal canes, but each had its own problem.

"The devices that you use to get around kind of mark you," he says. Consider aluminum canes, for example. "They're ugly, they're cold, they're uncomfortable," he says. "They mark you as someone sick or disabled."

Then he tried a Segway and everything changed.

When the two-wheeled device was unveiled in 2001, it was envisioned as a way to transform car-clogged cities, not as a tool for people with impaired mobility. But that hasn't stopped Jerry Kerr, president of Disability Rights Advocates For Technology in St. Louis, from calling it "one of the greatest things ever designed for people with disabilities." Mr. Kerr said there are thousands of people who have difficulty walking who use Segways, which move forward simply based on the user leaning in that direction.

Karen A. Whalen, owner of Segway of Ohio: Toledo, says people with disabilities make up about 30 percent of her sales. (Most of the rest come from police and security companies.)

"It really gives them back their lives," she says. "They just get this huge smile."

It's a smile that's seen often on Dr. McNamara's face when he talks about how the invention revolutionized his life, allowing him to go to the store or join his family for his son's baseball games. It also keeps him at eye-level, unlike a wheelchair, which he finds painful.

These days, Dr. McNamara doesn't leave home without his Segway. He keeps it ready to go in the back of his van where, once it's turned on, he can easily roll it down a pair of portable tracks.

"The Segway is, I think, an idea whose time has come for disabled people," Dr. McNamara says.

While federal buildings under the jurisdiction of the U.S. General Services Administration allow Segway use by people with disabilities, not everyone else does, sometimes citing safety concerns. Nationally, the spotlight is on Walt Disney, which prohibits people from bringing personal Segways into its parks.

Locally, it became a kind of quest for Dr. McNamara to make the city more Segway-friendly for the disabled and to raise awareness. He said he hasn't had any trouble at private businesses and worked with the Ability Center of Greater Toledo to gain access to the Metroparks of the Toledo Area.

Getting his Segway into One Government Center proved more difficult. In 2007, Dr. McNamara tried to use his Segway there and was not allowed to in an incident he called humiliating.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission found probable cause that he was denied access to a place of public accommodation due to his disability in violation of state discrimination law.

"We essentially didn't see that this was all that different from a motorized wheelchair," says spokesman Brandi Martin.

In November, more than a year after the original incident, the Ohio Building Authority, which owns the building, put in effect a new policy regarding Segway use on the same day Dr. McNamara filed a federal lawsuit against it. He has since received a settlement from the OBA.

Dr. McNamara's claim against the other defendant in the lawsuit, Reuben Management, which manages One Government Center, has not been resolved. Lisa L. Nagel, an attorney for Reuben Management, says it enforced existing policy and provided a wheelchair as a reasonable accommodation.

Nationally, access issues don't seem to be widespread. A bigger roadblock is price. Segways start at more than $5,000 and are not covered by health insurance, putting them out of reach for many.

"The Segway was not designed as a mobility device and has not been approved by the FDA as a medical device so we are not allowed to market it as a medical device," says Carol Valianti, a spokesman for Segway Inc.

Fortunately, Dr. McNamara has found lower-tech and less expensive ways to help humanize those with disabilities. After all, the Segway can help him in the grocery store but he still needs something to get him around the house. So he bought some tools a year ago and learned to make wooden canes from scratch.

"It kind of gives me a purpose in life," he says. "I get to make something that's not only comfortable and useful, but also beautiful."

Working downstairs, a stack of wood nearby, he shaves the wood with purpose and molds a cane handle until it conforms perfectly to his hand. The result is something elegant and distinguished.

"I wanted something that was comfortable and attractive and doesn't say, 'sick person,'" he says.

Already Dr. McNamara has donated about a dozen of his creations to the Ability Center and more are in the works. The Ability Center plans to loan them out for a nominal fee.

"I can't practice medicine any longer," he says, "but I have found another way to be helpful to others."


For more information:
Contact Ryan E. Smith at:
or 419-724-6103

From the desk of the matrix777

This article is terrific! I never thought of a Segway for getting around. I have an electric chair thing, a Jazzy, and it's fine but boy this would be better. I haven't got ramps yet for my chair, so it stays home and I depend on my husband for stability. I only have to walk a few steps into the doctors office but that's enough without my chair.

Oh, well, maybe some day.................

thematrix777 [userpic]

Professional Fee

March 31st, 2009 (01:55 am)

Why do professionals charge a consultation massive fee for their services?

As a consultant, they pay me for my knowledge; my brain not my brawn.....

How many years did I invest in education? Many...

I've accumulated massive experience doing these applications year after year, over and over again.

If your company had a person with that background, they wouldn't need a "consultant". They would do it themselves.' But they don't.

Hence, the high consultant fees.

I have spend a lot of money over the years just getting the kind of expertise you need to fulfill your requirements.

That's why consultants don't come cheap!

read more | digg story

thematrix777 [userpic]

Playing with my new Instinct/All done with it

February 21st, 2009 (05:14 pm)

On to better things! No more phone talk....I'm looking at a new pain therapy called Deep Brain Stimulation for my RSD. It looks promising. Can anyone give me feedback?

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thematrix777 [userpic]

Playing with my new Instinct

January 10th, 2009 (03:46 pm)

I love the touch screen and the talking to do stuff. With my handicap, it's perfect! Just a lot of setup to do.

Mobile post sent by thematrix777 using Utterlireply-count Replies.

thematrix777 [userpic]

Overview of the Decade of Pain

January 5th, 2009 (07:20 pm)

  An Expert Interview With Joshua P. Prager, MD, MS

Joshua P. Prager, MD, MS
Author Information

Editor's Note:

The American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) 24th Annual Meeting took place
from February 12 to 16, 2008, in Orlando, Florida. During this meeting,
new information about the diagnosis, treatment, and management of acute
pain, chronic pain, and breakthrough pain (BTP) was presented. Darlene
Field, PhD, Medscape Neurology & Neurosurgery Scientific Director,
discussed the highlights of the "Decade of Pain" keynote address with
Joshua P. Prager, MD, MS, Director, Center for the Rehabilitation of
Pain Syndromes (CRPS), and Immediate Past President, North American
Neuromodulation Society (NANS) . Dr. Prager delivered the "Decade of
Pain" lecture at the 2007 annual meeting of the AAPM.

Can you discuss some important findings presented at the AAPM meeting
you just attended -- specifically, was any new knowledge shared at the
Decade of Pain lecture given by Dr. Michael Cousins?

Joshua P. Prager, MD, MS:
he keynote lecture at the meeting was given by Dr. Michael Cousins,
who is Professor and department head of Anesthesia and Pain Management,
University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Dr. Cousins made 3 main points
in his lecture. The first point was that pain is a disease in its own
right. The concept of persistent pain as a disease entity leads us
toward new specific treatments aimed at physical, psychological, and
environmental components of the disease, and takes into account the
possibility of a genetic predisposition to experience pain. Dr. Cousins
explained that persistent pain has a prevalence of 1 in 5 in the
general population, and the studies conducted by the Pain Management
Research Institute of Sydney, Australia, indicate that pain leads to an
annual cost of $1.85 billion per million of the population.

The second point made was that the medical community has now recognized
that additional specialty training in pain management is absolutely
necessary. There are too few true pain medicine specialists being
trained, and many patients have limited or no access to effective pain

Dr. Cousins' final main point was that pain management
needs to truly become a fundamental human right. To achieve this goal,
we need parallel initiatives in medicine, law, ethics, and politics.

Medscape: Did Dr. Cousins offer any evidence to lend credence to the fact that pain itself is a disease?

Dr. Prager:
Well we always knew that persistent pain is very different from acute
pain and we can now demonstrate those differences with imaging studies
of the brain. A functional magnetic resonance image (MRI) of a patient
with chronic pain will appear quite different from that of a MRI of a
patient with acute pain. For example, an imaging study just published
last week in the Journal of Neuroscience demonstrated that
chronic pain harms cortical areas, indicating that chronic pain has a
widespread impact on overall brain function (Figure).[1]
Several areas of the brain in patients in chronic pain fail to
deactivate during the attention task compared with healthy patients.

The pictures below are brain fMRI data (right images of the brain are
seen from the head's midline, left images are from the side) showing
the average brain activity during the entire task. Colors illustrate
how much activation (red-yellow) or deactivation (dark/light blue) was
found at each brain location during the attention task. The main result
here is that brain images of patients in chronic pain exhibit a
significantly smaller territory of brain deactivating (ie, in blue)
during the task than healthy individuals. For more information, see
www.chialvo.net. Reprinted with permission from Dante R. Chialvo, MD.

Click to zoom
Figure 1. 

If pain persists despite reasonable efforts to manage it by the patient's
general practitioner and specialists, then consultation with a
board-certified pain medicine specialist is absolutely necessary.
Because pain is a disease, it is important to manage the pain early on
to prevent the pain from becoming a persistent problem, with all of the
attached disease changes that occur.

Medscape: After listening to the Decade of Pain lecture, what do you think is in store for the future of pain management?

Dr. Prager:
As we look toward the future of pain management, the treatment of
persistent pain will be markedly different from how we currently treat
it. Instead of using drugs like morphine that only provide symptom
relief, newer drugs will aim at the disease process. Dr. Cousins
mentioned a new class of drugs in development, subtype selective sodium
channel blockers. Pain-sensing neurons of the peripheral nervous system
express several sodium channel subtypes, and pharmacologic agents that
target the Na 1.8 selective small molecule sodium channel are currently
in development.

Medscape: Was there any discussion of the role of genetics in pain medicine?

Dr. Prager:
Yes, Dr. Cousins presented some really fascinating data that suggest
that genetic analysis of patients may indicate who would be predisposed
to persistent pain, for example after a mastectomy, vs who wouldn't. If
the genetic analysis demonstrates a patient to be at risk for chronic
pain, then more aggressive maneuvers would be necessary related to that
surgery; whereas, somebody whose genetics would not predispose him or
her to persistent pain wouldn't need the same intensity of treatment

Genetic analysis to determine who is prone to
chronic pain vs who is not is a very new concept. It is also very
costly. To do a complete genetic analysis of a patient at this time
costs about a million dollars, which is much less than it used to be.
As a matter of fact, James Watson recently had a genetic analysis
completed on himself, being one of the first ever to take advantage of
the Human Genome Project. Right now we are still a long way from
determining which genes would make someone more susceptible to
experiencing pain than others.

Medscape: Is there anything
else you would like to mention? Particularly, any important take home
messages from Dr. Cousin's lecture?

Dr. Prager: Yes, there were some very compelling data presented from a study done at Kaiser Permanente Northwest that I would like to mention.[2]
In an analysis of 1997 and 1998 data in Salem, Oregon, Kaiser
Permanente Northwest was able to demonstrate that by having a pain
service (a multidisciplinary pain management group) to serve their
community, they were able to reduce emergency room visits by 43%.
Patients with chronic pain who think their pain is discounted by
physicians often overuse medical services like emergency departments to
identify the cause of their pain or to prove to physicians that their
pain is real.

Supported by an educational grant from PriCara,
Division of Ortho-McNeil-JanssenPharmaceuticals Inc., administered by
Ortho-McNeil Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC.

From the desk of the matrix777
This is part 2 in my series on pain.

thematrix777 [userpic]

My Sprint Instinct phone

January 4th, 2009 (08:30 pm)

Can you believe I'm still fooling around with my new phone. It's cool, but every time I touch it, I do something wrong...I didn't know it was so sensitive.

Does anyone out there have the Instinct? Have you had any problems with it so far? Drop me a line. I would sure like some feedback on this. Please join in.

Mobile post sent by thematrix777 using Utterlireply-count Replies.

thematrix777 [userpic]

Lifting The Shadow of Pain Part 1

December 4th, 2008 (07:34 pm)

From the desk of thematrix777:

This is a 2 part post. I am going to be bring you a series of options for pain relief. They are used for RSD, (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy)
but they can be useful for many types of injury.

I chose this first because at my last doctors appointment, he wanted me to have this. I started investigating the Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) and I'll share with you part of what I found. They have approached the subject with me before and I rejected it. Why?

  1. In my case, I'm risking a lot. RSD can be spread faster when you have surgery. Mine spreads fast enough on its own. I don't need a motivator for it.
  2. Surgery is what gave me RSD to begin with. I'm a little gun shy.
  3. The people that I  spoke with it's about 50/50. The biggest complaint was about battery packs and battery life. Most were help, some more than others.
That's about all I can think of at the moment.

So read the article, research for yourself and then everyone has to make their own decision. It's up to you!
By Wayne J. Guglielmo
yne J. Guglielmo
NJ Monthly

Doctors today have more ways to offer relief than ever before. So why are so many people in New Jersey and beyond still suffering?
Weshon Hornsby has returned to his first love-painting. His pictures-lively, colorful, at times oddly whimsical-include portraits of people and animals, still lifes, landscapes, and cityscapes. In Heat Stroke, which depicts a cartoon-like city skyline, the high-rise buildings themselves are wilting under a midday summer sun.

It was not too long ago that Hornsby, a native of Neptune who was raised in Asbury Park, thought he would never be able to paint again. In 2000, while operating a machine that digs trenches for laying electric cables, he herniated a disc in his lower back. His pain after the accident was intense. "Except for doing my physical therapy, I was pretty much bedridden for sixteen to eighteen hours a day," he says.

Hornsby, 37, underwent two unsuccessful back surgeries that probably exacerbated his underlying nerve damage. In 2003, he visited pain-management specialist Scott E. Metzger, who had recently opened a practice in Shrewsbury. Metzger placed Hornsby on a combination of medicines, including a narcotic, an anti-inflammatory, and Methadone, a synthetic opioid. Following a disappointing six-month evaluation, Metzger altered the mix of medicines. The revised treatment relieved some of Horns-by's back pain but did little to alleviate the pain that was radiating down his legs, causing them to shake.

At this point, Metzger referred Hornsby to his new practice partner, Peter S. Staats, an internationally known pain expert and founder of the division of pain medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. (Staats, like Metzger, is among New Jersey Monthly's top doctors.) After tweaking Hornsby's medication regime yet again, Staats decided his patient might be a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation, a procedure requiring simple surgery that uses an electrical current to treat chronic pain.

A trial run in which a stimulator was inserted through the skin produced positive results. Immediately, Hornsby experienced a roughly 80 percent reduction in his pain, both in the lower back and down his legs, which no longer shook uncontrollably. Prior to the trial, he was not able to sit upright in a chair for more than a half hour before his pain grew so intense he was forced to lie down. After Staats's initial procedure, Hornsby says he could "sit up for three to four hours straight and work on my art." Encouraged beyond his expectation, Staats performed a second procedure to implant the stimulator more permanently.

"Before the treatment, Weshon would come into the office with a grimace on his face," Staats says. "Afterward, you could see his face open up. He was just like a different guy once the shadow of pain was lifted."

Weshon Hornsby's story has a happy ending, one that has altered not only his life, but the lives of his wife and two daughters. Yet despite success stories like his, chronic pain still affects millions of Americans.   

Studies indicate that one in four U.S. adults have endured a day-long bout of pain in the past month or so.

An alarming one in ten pain sufferers-three out of five in the 65-and-older age group-report their pain has lasted a year or more, according to a study released in 2006 by the National Center for Health Statistics. By this measure, more than 800,000 New Jersey residents may be suffering from chronic pain.

Among neurological ailments, headaches at all severity levels are the most common, followed by lower back pain. Not surprisingly, the incidence of severe joint pain increases with age, with women in the government survey reporting such pain more often than men. Other conditions causing pain include arthritis, cancer, diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, spinal cord injuries, and failed back surgery, like Hornsby's.

A big reason pain lingers is that people delay getting help. In a 2004 survey conducted on behalf of the American Chronic Pain Association, nearly half of the people interviewed said they had waited more than a month before talking with a doctor; 30 percent of these said they had waited more than three months. Most people sought help only after their pain had become significantly more severe.

But even proactive pain sufferers sometimes have problems. "People don't always know where to turn," says Will Rowe, CEO of the American Pain Foundation, which advocates on behalf of patients. Pain medicine itself is still a relatively new field. And even some primary care physicians have a limited understanding of the issues and referral sources.

But the situation is improving, thanks in part to greater public awareness of pain generally and to better training of nonspecialists. Still, says Rowe, more needs to be done to educate pain sufferers about where to turn and what treatment options are available to them.

If you are among the thousands of New Jersey residents living with chronic pain, now may be a good time to take action!

PS. This article is from New Jersey, but the same can be applied to just about any state. The American Pain Foundation is a nationwide organization that serves everyone. Please use their services if you need them.

thematrix777 [userpic]

New Program: I'm a Health Maven

December 1st, 2008 (11:25 am)

current mood: happy

I have joined a site called Wellsphere at www.wellsphere.com
and I will be blogging and answering questions regarding my illness, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, as well as other areas mainly in general medicine. I am going to be a "Health Maven" for the program.

This is a well known health website, run by very high qualified, highly trained medical doctors.

Here is part of the press release from the site:

In these difficult economic times, it’s comforting to know there are medical and patient experts out there who care enough to answer health questions online for free. Dr. Geoff Rutledge, MD PhD, Wellsphere’s Chief Medical Information Officer, told reporters today about the new Health Maven Program, which connects volunteer doctors, psychologists, expert-patients, nurses, personal trainers, and other experts with health seekers who are looking for answers. Anyone with access to the Internet can get their health questions and concerns answered quickly and at no cost.

Health mavens are carefully selected, knowledgeable, health experts who are committed to helping others live healthier, happier lives. Hundreds of Health Mavens have volunteered to join the program and answer questions, with new Mavens signing up every day. “We’re witnessing an incredible growth in the number of people using the Internet to find health information” said Wellsphere’s CEO Ron Gutman.

According to an i-Crossing research repot, for the first time in history people with health questions are more likely to turn to the Web for answers than to their doctor. “Recognizing this trend among our users, we assembled the world’s leading network of over 1,800 medical and patient experts to share their experiences and expertise with Wellsphere.com’s almost 3 million monthly visitors. We are humbled by the experience, expertise and genuine care these wonderful individuals share every day with people who come to Wellsphere looking for answers” said Gutman.

So, in addition to my blogs and website I hope to see you soon at Wellspere.

Your Health Maven

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My Life Thinking

November 23rd, 2008 (02:13 pm)

My blog is chosen to be on the Thoughts of the Week. Please check it out.

My Life Thinking

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