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CAN SPINAL CORD STIMULATORS HELP YOU TAKE FEWER PAINKILLERS?…

The use of electrical stimulation to relieve pain began in ancient times with the placement of torpedo fish directly onto painful body parts. Since then, the application of electrical stimulation to the body for pain relief has become much better and more sophisticated.

An article on the  Neuromodulation website explained the Spinal Cord Stimulator, is a tiny battery-powered transmitter similar to a pacemaker which is fitted for chronic pain is now stopping patients from needing as many painkillers.

Researchers at Jefferson University in the US, monitored 5,000 people with chronic pain and found that one year after having the spine implant fitted, 93% of patients were on lower daily doses of painkilling drugs.

Spinal Cord Stimulators is a type of neurostimulation therapy proven to be effective for many chronic pain sufferers. Recommended by doctors for over 40 years to manage chronic pain in the back, arms and legs, SCS helps mask pain by blocking or changing pain signals before they reach the brain. In spinal cord stimulation, a tiny programmable generator and electrical leads are implanted beneath the skin. Small electrical currents are applied to the areas of the spinal cord involved in pain. For reasons that are not completely understood, these electrical impulses interfere with the transmission of pain signals to the brain and relieve pain without causing the side effects that medications can cause.

A pleasant tingling sensation is substituted for the pain and blocks the brain’s ability to sense pain in the stimulated areas. This is similar to the relief felt by rubbing an area after getting an injury. The electrical impulses can be targeted to specific locations and, as pain changes or improves, stimulation can be adjusted as necessary.

Spine Universe wrote that in 1989, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for chronic pain. Since that time, SCS has become a standard of care for patients with neuropathic chronic back and limb pain (nerve injury with abnormal nerve function producing pain). New technology has allowed for the development of neurostimulators that can allow patients with chronic back pain to reduce or eliminate their need for pain medications and return to comfortable, productive lives.

To make sure the patient will benefit from SCS, a temporary system is implanted and tried for a few days or a week. For the SCS trial, leads are placed beneath the skin and attached to a small generator the patient carries. The generator is similar to a pager or cell phone. If the SCS trial is successful, a complete permanent system with a generator is implanted at another time. The leads for the permanent system can be inserted the same way as in the trial. A small generator is surgically implanted beneath the skin in the upper buttock or abdomen. The wires are then connected, and the entire system is implanted beneath the skin. Nothing is visible on the body.

Nice wrote that a rechargeable spinal stimulator costs in the region of £13,000 – £22,000 so it has to work for you if you are self funding or even if you are insured. Non rechargeable ones are considerably cheaper and start from around £8,000 – £14,000.

Spine Health wrote about the disadvantages and risks of having a stimulator with the potential risks which is  mainly related to the surgical procedures required for a trial period or long-term therapy. One extensive study in the medical literature found 38% of the research participants had device-related problems. The most common complications were unintended movement (also called migration) of the leads, failed connections in leads, and breakage of leads. However serious injuries are rare. 

Advances in SCS technology have allowed people with chronic spine-related pain to reduce or eliminate their need for pain medications and return to comfortable, productive lives. To better understand what you need to know before undergoing SCS, SpineUniverse spoke with Jason M. Highsmith, MD.

Source: Jefferson University, Spine Universe, NeuromodulationNice , Spine Health

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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AROMATHERAPY OILS FOR PAIN…

Eucalyptus oil, it’s not just a beautiful tree and leaf but also great as oil to ease pain, thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits. It can help sore muscles from pain caused by arthritis or Fibromyalgia. Mix one or two drops with either coconut, argan or jojoba oil, then rub in the sore area in a circular motion. You can also blend with peppermint and rosemary oil to create a feel-good muscle rub. Lots of other oils also work well for pain relief.

Lavender is the most famous essential oil for pain relief and relaxation is lavender. It’s also good for your cardiovascular and digestive systems, lowers blood pressure, and helps relieve insomnia.

For relaxation try vanilla. Place a few drops of vanilla extract onto a handkerchief and carry it with you throughout the day. It helps fight infections, reduces inflammation, helps respiratory problems, and can work as an antioxidant.

To help you recharge try peppermint, jasmine, citrus. These scents make you feel more awake. Apparently, even though these scents are pleasant, they act as mild irritants and the effect is similar to that of smelling salts.

Sprinkle a few drops of the essential oil of your choice in a candle diffuser, or dilute two drops in 1 tsp. of avocado or almond oil, then rub it onto the back of your hand.

For pain relief try Green apple. The smell of green apples can reduce the severity and duration of migraine headaches and may have a similar effect on joint pain.

Another way for pain relief is to eat a green apple for a snack or bathe with green apple bath salts.

My love of essential oils goes back about 20+ years. The hospital where I had my first spinal surgeries had a lady that came into the hospital on a weekly basis and gave patients aromatherapy massage if they wished to have it.

She was a quiet small lady whose aura gave a feeling of calm before she even gave you the aromatherapy massage. She would mix the oils at the time you arrived by first finding out what sort of pain you were in. If I go somewhere that sells or uses these oils it takes me straight back to my regular session with my aromatherapist.

Unfortunately, like all of us, she eventually retired and although I still have the odd aromatherapy massage I have yet to have a treatment that reacted in quite the same way.

Sometimes I will use an aromatherapy diffuser scent ring, to fill the room with my favourite oils. Lavender (which also reminds me of my Grandma as she always wore it) mixed with rosemary oil is top of my list.

Storing your oils is important for their lifespan. Try to store your oils in a dark amber glass bottle, this will store it better. If they are stored in a clear or plastic bottle they will deteriorate in about 8 weeks.

Always store away from direct sunlight, in a cool and dark place is best. If stored correctly they could last up to one year.

To make your oils go further, add five to 10% of wheat-germ oil, as it helps to preserve the mixture.

Before you massage ALWAYS do a patch test first to check you are not allergic to it.

Always wash your hands when you have finished the massage.

Many Fibromyalgia forums have written comments on this oil with some having great results and others no so great, but that can be the same with drugs or treatments as it seems pains affect people differently.

Written by the experts, Neals Yard Remedies: Complete Massage – All the techniques, Disciplines & Skills You Need to Massage for Wellness. The book will bring the rejuvenating aromatherapy benefits into your life.

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HOW TO WRITE A PAIN DIARY + FREE PAIN DIARY TO DOWNLOAD…

I am now seeing an Osteopath to help with my pain and he asked me to keep a pain diary for the next three weeks. I have written them in the past but I decided to do a bit more research on it first as I am sure I can add more to it. You know how you feel, but it can help your physicians if you can capture that information.

A pain diary is a written record of how your pain affects your daily life. It helps you to describe in detail how your pain has affected you over time. It also records what medications you took and which helped or did not help with the pain.

It can also help healthcare professionals to understand what makes your pain worse or what helps it. It is an essential tool to get the best help from the team looking after you. I have now put together a Pain Diary which you can download should you wish to use mine. It includes the following….

  • Date
  • Pain Score 0 -10, 10 being your worst pain
  • Describe where your pain is and does it feeling burning, tingling, pulsating, or throbbing.
  • How long did the pain last?
  • What were you doing when the pain started?
  • Describe your mood. Are you depressed, anxious, exhausted or fatigued?
  • What medications did you take?
  • What helped ease the pain?
  • What was the pain score 1 hour after taking medications?
  • Comments

I think this just about sums it all up. If you think that I could add something else to this list then please pop in into the comments section. It is important it is not too long but at the same time self explanatory on what you are feeling. You could add food in your comments section as some foods can aggravate certain conditions as does the weather.