Category Archives: Pain Medicine

This tag is for all blog posts which discuss topics related to the master or certificate program in Pain Medicine.

person standing on a scale

Is It Easier to Lose Weight After Reducing Chronic Pain?

person standing on a scale

We have known for a while now that there are links between chronic pain and obesity. Many people who are obese tend to experience chronic pain, and those who have chronic pain may experience more obesity. The two conditions can influence each other, so researchers set out to determine if obese patients could successfully lose weight once they had chronic pain relief.

The results of their study were published in the June 2021 issue of the Journal of Pain Research [1]. The study investigated whether or not patients who are obese and have chronic pain will lose weight once the pain is diminished. The researchers used data from obese patients who were in the Swedish Quality Registry for Pain Rehabilitation. 

The 224 patients, all of whom met the 30 and over BMI requirement, were all assessed for such information as weight, height, pain intensity, how physically active they were, the amount of psychological distress they had, and how their health-related quality of life was. The assessment was taken before they received pain relief treatment, as well as at the 12-month follow-up.

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Participants in the study were all given interdisciplinary multimodal pain rehabilitation (IMMPR). Once they received the treatment, they were split into three groups, based on the level of their pain after receiving the treatment. The groups included those who had at least a 30% reduction in pain, those with less than 30% reduction in pain, and those who reported that they had no pain relief at all.

The researchers report that the pain reduction following IMMPR was significant. When it came to weight loss, they considered at least a 5% reduction in weight to be significant. They found that there were a significant number of patients in the three groups who met the criteria for losing a significant amount of weight. There were also a lot of improvements in the other areas that were assessed, including being physically active and psychological distress.

Overall, they report that one out of every five patients in the study experienced what they considered a significant weight loss after they had IMMPR. This is promising news for those who are obese and experience chronic pain. Being able to reduce the pain intensity may help people successfully achieve a significant amount of weight loss. Those working with chronic pain patients who are obese will want to consider this in managing their care.

 

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Sources:

  1. Journal of Pain Research. Lose Pain, Lose Weight, Lose Both: A Cohort Study of Patients with Chronic Pain and Obesity. June 2021. 
Person pouring out pills from prescription pill bottle into hand

Does Discontinuing Long-Term Opioid Therapy Relieve Pain?

Person pouring out pills from prescription pill bottle into hand

This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain by Dr. Steven Richeimer, Director Pain Medicine Master and Certificate.

Many of the people who take opioids regularly to help with their chronic pain may cringe at the thought of discontinuing their usage. They may fear that the pain intensity would become worse, which keeps them from even wanting to try transitioning away from taking opioids or going to intermittent use. Researchers wanted to put this issue to the test so they could see what happened when those using long-term opioid therapy transitioned to something else, or discontinued therapy all together.

The findings of their research were published in the June 2021 issue of the Journal of Pain [1]. For the cohort study, they had over 30,000 veterans who fit the criteria to participate in the study. Some of the participants were to transition away from using the long-term opioid therapy altogether, while others would replace it with using the opioid therapy intermittently, rather than using it ongoing.

Those who participated in the study were on long-term opioid therapy for their chronic pain. When the study began, the researchers took the participants’ pain assessments, using a numeric rating scale. They then followed up with them every 90 days after they transitioned to repeat the assessment.

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What they found was that pain scores were lower during the follow-up period for both groups that transitioned away from the long-term opioid therapy. Those who switched to intermittent opioid therapy and those who discontinued the opioid therapy altogether both reported that they experienced less pain. Meanwhile, those participants who continued with the long-term opioid therapy did not have any reduction in the amount of pain they reported having.

Those who fear transitioning away from long-term opioid therapy should find hope in the results that this study shares. The researchers found the opposite to be true, that if you transition away from them, either by discontinuing their usage altogether or switching to using them intermittently, there’s a good chance that the chronic pain intensity will reduce as well.

Long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain can be problematic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, up to 29% of those who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them [2]. In 2019, there were around 50,000 people in the U.S. who died from opioid-involved overdoses. In response to the opioid crisis, U.S. health authorities are focusing on five efforts, which include advancing better practices for pain management.

 

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Sources

  1. Journal of Pain. Association Between Pain Intensity and Discontinuing Opioid Therapy or Transitioning to Intermittent Opioid Therapy.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioid Overdose Crisis.

 

Group of four people dancing outside

Treat Chronic Headache Pain With Mindfulness-Based Dancing

Group of four people dancing outside

Chronic headache pain is something millions of people experience. It’s a condition that reduces quality of life and leaves people scrambling for answers as they look for ways to find relief. One of the last places they would likely look is to the dance floor, but new research suggests that it may be a good option to consider. We have known for a long time that dancing tends to make people happy, but now there is light being shed on the idea that it may also help alleviate chronic headache pain.

Researchers put mindfulness-based dancing to the test and reported the results of their study in the April 2021 issue of the journal Frontiers in Psychology [1]. The study included 29 patients who have chronic headache pain. They were randomly put into either the group to receive mindfulness-based dance therapy or a group to receive what the researchers referred to as treatment as usual. 

The participants who were in the dance therapy program were offered 10 sessions of mindfulness-based dancing over the course of five weeks. They gathered data regarding how they were feeling before the study began and once it was over, and they did a 16-week follow-up to see how they were doing with the chronic headache pain at that point.

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What they found was that those who participated in the mindfulness-based dancing therapy had a significant reduction in pain intensity, as well as in depression. Those who had been engaging in the dance therapy not only reduced the pain they were living with, but they felt happier overall. These results were even maintained at the 16-week follow up.

This study provides hope for those who have chronic headache pain. Adding dancing to your life may be the ticket to help reduce pain, improve mood, and ultimately increase quality of life. Mindfulness-based dance therapy is an affordable option for those who want to give it a try and see if it helps with their condition or overall quality of life.

Mindfulness-based dance therapy is considered a mind-body therapy, which are things that people can do that help to enhance the mind’s interactions with the body. Using mindfulness in dancing would include focusing on the body and breath during the dancing. Engaging in it just twice a week on average helped those in the study, and it may help you, too.

If you’d like to give mindfulness-based dancing therapy a try, contact some dance places, community centers, and physical therapy offices in your area to inquire about where it may be offered. If they don’t offer it yet, maybe they will once they hear of this research.

 

Sources:

  1. Frontiers in Psychology. The Development of Mindfulness-Based Dance Movement Therapy Intervention for Chronic Pain. April 2021. 

 

USC’s Online Degree in Pain Medicine

Pain Medicine online degrees provide education to a wide variety of health professionals. Consider enrolling in our online, competency-based certificate or master’s program today!

 

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Doctor kinesiology tape on patient

Kinesiology Taping Can Reduce Chronic Low Back Pain

Doctor kinesiology taping patient to reduce pain

Many people are familiar with kinesiology taping. This is the use of special tape to help address areas on the body that have pain or injury. Athletes have been taping particular areas of their body where there is pain for decades.

This leads to the question: what about helping people who suffer from chronic low back pain? Researchers set out to explore whether or not taping would help those with chronic low back pain.

The results of their research are published in the May 2021 issue of the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders [1]. To conduct the study, they recruited 110 patients who have chronic low back pain. They had half of them use taping therapy, referred to as Medi-Taping, and the other half were given the standard treatment of patient education and physiotherapy. The new Medi-Taping treatment option has been devised for those who have pelvis obliquity, which is a misalignment of the pelvis where one hip is higher than the other.

The study was conducted over a three-week treatment period, with measurements taken at the beginning and end, as well as at the two-month follow-up point. Patients reported the measurement of low back pain, as well as their level of disability. 

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What the study showed was that both groups benefited from the treatment that they received. However, those who had used the taping method had a slightly better improvement. The researchers found no significant difference between the end point and follow-up. One of the most important aspects of this study is that participants who used the Medi-Taping therapy reported that their health-related quality of life was significantly higher.

Those who suffer from chronic low back pain may benefit from using the Medi-Taping method of addressing their pelvis obliquity. Since the 1970s, people have been using kinesiology taping as a way to address specific conditions, including pain, sore muscles, muscle fatigue, and more. It’s an affordable treatment option, which makes it a low-risk investment for those who want to give it a try and see if it will bring about relief. 

While a physical therapist or other pain management professional may show you how to use the taping method from the start, it’s often something that you can repeat on your own at home. Considering the tape would be going on your back, you would likely need someone to help you with the tape placement. 

Medi-Taping provides one more tool for our chest of options to try to bring about chronic pain relief. Speak with your doctor if you’d like to give this method a try. There’s a good chance, according to the researchers, that you may improve your quality of life if you do.

 

USC’s Online Degree in Pain Medicine

Pain Medicine online degrees provide education to a wide variety of health professionals. Consider enrolling in our online, competency-based certificate or master’s program today!

 

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Sources:

  1. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. Assessment of taping method combined with manual therapy as a treatment of non-specific chronic low back pain. May 2021. 

 

Man hold his face in his hands in guilt

The Impact of Health-Related Guilt and Chronic Pain

Man hold his face in his hands in guilt

Millions of people who suffer from chronic pain also feel guilty about doing so. The guilt that many people who have chronic pain experience is something that has not been looked at much within the medical community, but it is something that impacts people on a daily basis. Those who have health-related guilt may suffer more as a result, becoming a factor that should be identified and addressed.

A study published in the May 2021 issue of the British Journal of Health Psychology looked at health-related guilt in relation to having chronic pain [1]. Researchers conducted a systemic review to gain an understanding of the health-related guilt that was present in those who have chronic pain. To conduct the review, they searched four major databases for papers that had been published on the topic. They ended up using data from a total of 16 studies that have touched on the topic.

 

Themes in Health-Related Guilt Cases

The research turned up three major themes that had been reported on in the previous research. These included the following.

  1. Management of chronic pain
  2. Diagnostic uncertainty or legitimizing pain
  3. How the person impacted others by their action or inaction.

The health-related guilt that many people with chronic pain experience is from coping with the condition and the decrease in quality of life that it often brings about.

 

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Guilt and Chronic Pain Management

The researchers concluded that health-related guilt is an important psychological factor that many people with chronic pain experience, and those who have more pain tend to have more guilt. They suggest that there should be more research conducted on the topic and that the issue should be addressed in helping people to manage chronic pain.

Those who have chronic pain may feel guilty because they are unable to do things they want to do. They may feel that they are letting others down, or they believe they are doing something wrong or intentional. The guilt can lead to more issues, such as depression, making it something that should be addressed.

Those who experience health-related guilt can help to avoid those feelings by engaging in a number of practices, including focusing on what you can do, looking for the positive, practicing gratitude, and forgiving yourself. By not blaming yourself and doing what you can with a good attitude, you may increase your quality of life and avoid the guilty feelings. Those who have difficulty reducing health-related guilt should speak with a therapist who can help them with therapeutic options.

 

Earn an Online Postgraduate Degree in Pain Medicine

Like what you’re learning? Consider enrolling in the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC’s online, competency-based certificate or master’s program in Pain Medicine in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

 

Get More Information

 

 

Sources:

  1. British Journal of Health Psychology. Health-related guilt in chronic primary pain. May 2021.
Women rubbing her eye in pain

Nerve Stimulation in Chronic Ocular Pain Management

 

Women rubbing eye in pain

For those who suffer from chronic ocular pain, it can be debilitating. Not only does it tend to reduce one’s quality of life, but the ongoing pain can be difficult for the medical community to treat. The more tools we obtain to try to help bring about relief, the better off we will be. New research is suggesting that nerve stimulation may hold some of the keys to reducing ongoing pain.

A new study published in the May 2021 issue of the journal Neuromodulation reports the findings of a study conducted in which long-term trigeminal nerve stimulation was used to treat chronic ocular pain [1]. The results offer hope to those who may have the condition, as well as providing another treatment option for the medical community to offer.

In the study, they had 18 people participate who suffered from the condition. Participants were asked to give themselves electronic stimulation therapy at home for a minimum of three months. The electronic stimulation, which targets the sensory trigeminal nerve, was something that was easy for them to administer and report back on. This type of stimulation improves blood flow to the area and increases parasympathetic activity. 

 

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The light electrical stimulation was delivered to specific areas of the face over the course of months, with the participants keeping track of side effects, frequency, duration, and other factors. The researchers obtained data from the participants after six months of engaging in this type of treatment. They found that there was a decrease in the pain intensity, light sensitivity, wind sensitivity, and burning sensation. Those who have ocular pain due to migraines tended to have the biggest reduction in pain.

The researchers concluded that long-term trigeminal nerve stimulation is helpful in reducing chronic ocular pain. The treatment provides gradual and continual improvement over time. This is great news for those who have the condition, as it provides another route to try to seek relief.

According to StatPearls, chronic ocular pain involves such symptoms as having a hypersensitivity to light and wind, burning sensations, and the feeling of grittiness in the eye [2]. It can result from injury or disease and affects women more often than it does men. Chronic pain can be mentally challenging, as well as physically. Those who have an early intervention for the condition tend to have better outcomes. 

Those who have chronic ocular pain may want to inquire about long-term trigeminal nerve stimulation to see if it helps provide some relief. 

 

Earn an Online Postgraduate Degree in Pain Medicine

Like what you’re learning? Consider enrolling in the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC’s online, competency-based certificate or master’s program in Pain Medicine in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

 

Get More Information

 

 

Sources:

  1. Neuromodulation. Long-Term Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation as a Treatment for Ocular Pain. May 2021. 
  2. StatPearls. Ocular Neuropathic Pain. February 2021. 
Person holding lighter that lit a cigarette

Does Tobacco Impact Chronic Pain?

Person holding lighter that lit a cigarette

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 out of every 100 adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes, which is around 14% of the adult population. They also report that it is one of the leading causes of preventable disease, disability, and death in the country [1]. Many of those who smoke tobacco also have chronic pain, but they may not be aware of the way the two are connected. So does smoking tobacco impact chronic pain?

Like what you’re learning?  Download a brochure for our online, postgraduate pain medicine certificate or master’s degree program in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

 

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Research Shows the Effect of Tobacco on Chronic Pain

Shared the findings from a narrative review of the literature regarding the complex interaction between smoking and chronic pain [2]. Researchers reviewed the literature on the topic that is available up to this point. Everyone who smokes should be made aware of these findings, making it important for those who have chronic pain to learn about, as well as for those who work in pain management.

The study found that tobacco smoking is a risk factor for chronic pain. This is because it involves the nociceptors, which are sensory end organs found in the skin, joints, viscera, and muscle. The nociceptors respond to something that is found to be a damaging stimuli, which is what a cigarette is.

For example, take someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. That’s 20 times per day that their fingers are coming in contact with stimuli that is damaging the nociceptors. Over time, this ends up leading to chronic pain.

This is a bit of a viscous circle, however, because the tobacco acts as an analgesic. That means when the person smokes, often due to the stress of the pain, they get temporary relief from the pain. They are essentially getting short-term pain relief from the cause of the chronic pain. This makes it more difficult for them to successfully give up smoking.

The researchers suggest that it’s important for those who smoke and have chronic pain to try some holistic therapeutic strategies to try to successfully quit smoking. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that there are holistic approaches that have helped people with their smoking cessation efforts [3].

Holistic Treatments

Smoking is a difficult habit for many people to kick due to the addictive properties in cigarettes. Those who have chronic pain and smoke may want to give serious consideration to trying cessation programs until they are successful, as doing so may bring chronic pain relief.  Thus smoking tobacco does indeed have impact on chronic pain, so think carefully.

 

USC’s Online Degree in Pain Medicine

Pain Medicine online degrees provide education to a wide variety of health professionals. Consider enrolling in our online, competency-based certificate or master’s program today!

 

Get More Information

 

 

Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current cigarette smoking among adults in the United States. March 2021.
  2. La Revue des Maladies Respiratoires. Relation between tobacco smoking and pain. February 2021.
  3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Complimentary health approaches for smoking cessation. January 2021.
Business man grabbing his face in pain while trying to work

How to Manage Chronic Joint Pain in the Workplace

Business man grabbing his face in pain while trying to work

Millions of people suffer from chronic joint pain. Some have chronic knee pain, others have chronic hip pain, and still others have chronic low back pain. This can impede their ability to do their job in a sufficient manner, and may even lead them to miss days at work due to the pain. The good news is that help is on the horizon, and it may be found in a new workplace chronic joint pain program called Joint Pain Advice (JPA).

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Chronic Joint Pain Relief Program

JPA was created to be used as a tool for corporations so they could help their employees who suffer from chronic joint pain find some relief. It also encourages employees in addressing their chronic joint pain while in their workplace. The program includes health and lifestyle information that is given to adults in the workplace. The program was put to the test to see whether or not it would help people in the workplace, and the results were shared in the March 2021 issue of the journal Musculoskeletal Care [1].

There were 20 organizations that took part in the study, with nearly 500 participants who received the JPA program information. To provide the information, there is one advisor who is trained from each company, and that person assesses the pain, their musculoskeletal health and function, and receives information about how many days per week the person was physically active for at least 30 minutes.

The JPA program provides participants with strategies they can use to help lessen their chronic joint pain in the workplace. They are given information about living a healthier lifestyle, how to cope with pain, how to set goals, and more. Over the course of the six-month program, they are reviewed three times, and during that meeting, the health messages are reinforced.

 

Program Results

The results of the study showed that when people were given this information in the workplace and followed it, there was significant improvement. Those who participated in it report that they were highly satisfied with the program, activity levels among participants improved, and employee absenteeism was reduced.

Considering employee absenteeism was reduced among employees, it may be a good idea for more organizations to consider implementing the JPA program. Not only did it help employees reduce their chronic pain, but that will lead to improving overall life satisfaction, and make for happier and more productive people in the workplace. Some think that that addressing chronic joint pain while in a workplace could mean their job. This program can be used in all sizes of businesses and can be administered by a health or non-health professional.

 

USC’s Online, Competency-Based Pain Medicine Degree Programs

USC’s online degree program is suitable for health professionals from a wide variety of fields to increase their knowledge in pain medicine. Expand your skills today!

 

Get More Information

 

Sources

  1. Musculoskeletal Care. Delivering NICE Joint Pain Advice in the workplace. March 2021.
Two friends walking with one arm around the other

Can a Short Walk Help Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain?

Two friends walking with one arm around the other

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 2% of the adult population in the country has fibromyalgia [1]. The condition causes widespread chronic pain all over the body. As well as impacting one’s quality of life and sleep, it can cause emotional and mental distress. For those with this type of chronic pain, it’s important to have many tools they can turn to in order to find some relief. One of them is taking a six-minute walk each day.

Like what you’re learning?  Download a brochure for our online, postgraduate pain medicine certificate or master’s degree program in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

 

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New Research Findings

Shared findings from a study conducted in which those with fibromyalgia engaged in a program of exercise and receiving information [2]. They started the study with 75 participants who had fibromyalgia. Each participant was given information regarding the condition and put on a program in which they would walk for six minutes per day for a period of six weeks.

When the program ended at the six-week mark, there were 43 people who were still participating in the program. They found that there was a small-to-moderate improvement. Those who participated for the whole program did have short-term benefits from their efforts.

Six months later, researchers followed up with the participants to see if there was any difference. Of those who finished, there were two who had what is considered a minimal clinically important difference at the six-month mark.

 

Physical Exercise Provides Relief

Prior research backs up this idea that physical exercise can help bring some relief from the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia. In a 2017 study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review, researchers concluded that evidence indicates that aerobic exercise probably provided people with an improved quality of life [3].

Additionally, a study published in the March 2018 issue of the journal BMJ found that engaging in tai chi regularly had helped to improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Those who engaged in it for longer periods of time had the most benefit from it [4].

These studies are good news for those who have chronic pain due to fibromyalgia. By engaging in regular exercise, they can expect to have at least slight improvements in symptoms, and they may experience a better quality of life.

There are plenty of options to choose from, including taking a daily six-minute walk or doing some tai chi to help fibromyalgia. The more options that people have, the more they will be able to find relief from their pain.

 

Sources:

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Fibromyalgia.
  2. Disability and Rehabilitation. The effects of a group exercise and education programme on symptoms and physical fitness in patients with fibromyalgia. March 2021.
  3. Cochrane Database of Systematic Review. Aerobic exercise training for adults with fibromyalgia. June 2017.
  4. BMJ. Effect of tai chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia. March 2018.

 

USC’s Online Degree in Pain Medicine

Pain Medicine online degrees provide education to a wide variety of health professionals. Consider enrolling in our online, competency-based certificate or master’s program today!

 

Get More Information

 

Person driving from the back angle

Effects of Chronic Low Back Pain on Driving

Person driving from the back angle

Most adults around the country take driving for granted. It’s something they do on a regular basis, whether it’s just to go to work or to run errands and do the grocery shopping. But for the millions of people who suffer from chronic low back pain, driving may pose some challenges. This is exactly what researchers set out to explore in a recent study.

Continue reading Effects of Chronic Low Back Pain on Driving