ANTIDEPRESSANTS FOR CHRONIC LOWER BACK PAIN…

I read an article recently in The Daily Mail Good Health about how antidepressants may reduce chronic lower back pain.

In the journal Pain Medicine, a study led by Fukushima Medical University in Japan, 150 patients were given the antidepressant duloxetine once a day for a year. Their pain levels dropped significantly from the second week onwards. One theory, they say, is that antidepressants raise levels of the brain chemical serotonin in the spinal cord, which reduces the pain.

Serotonin is a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness. The NHS point out how they think serotonin works. It’s thought that SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a messenger chemical that carries signals between nerve cells in the brain). It’s thought to have a good influence on mood, emotion and sleep.

After carrying a message, serotonin is usually reabsorbed by the nerve cells (known as “reuptake”). SSRIs work by blocking (“inhibiting”) reuptake, meaning more serotonin is available to pass further messages between nearby nerve cells.

It would be too simplistic to say that depression and related mental health conditions are caused by low serotonin levels, but a rise in serotonin levels can improve symptoms and make people more responsive to other types of treatment, such as CBT.

I have taken a number of different types of antidepressants for my back pain and they have swapped me around every now and then to try a different one. At the moment I am taking Nortriptyline which I have found the best of all to help me get a more comfortable sleep. The only problem with all these types of medications is that you can soon find them hard to come off if you have taken them for a while, but if they work then that’s all that matters.

 

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A BIG “THANK YOU” TO MY AMAZING PAIN CONSULTANT AT CIRCLE NOTTINGHAM HOSPITAL…

Lee from The Fibro Blogger Directory wrote a post on Facebook asking us all to think about writing a thank you post to a doctor or health person that has looked after us.

I knew straight away that I wanted to thank my Pain Consultant a Dr.Gregory Hobbs at Circle Nottingham Hospital, Queens Medical, Nottingham.

Dr. Hobbs has been looking after me for over 10 years now. I was sent to see him after a previous injection I’d had went a bit wrong and I needed resuscitating. It left me quite traumatised and anxious about having any further injections but Dr. Hobbs slowly introduced me initially to acupuncture and dry needling, and then onto trigger point injections and then facet joint injections to name a few. All to help ease my pain.

Whenever I had a flare up he would fit me in and would always go above and beyond to find a way to help calm things down. In all the years he has treated me I have had the same great care and concern from him and his team at Circle Nottingham Hospital.

I saw him only a couple of weeks ago for some more injections and told him that I would soon be moving to Brighton, a long way from Nottingham and I was obviously quite anxious about who I would see and what sort of treatment they will offer me. He soon wrote down the name of a pain consultant in Brighton whom he said would give me the same sort of treatments he gives me.

Thank you once again to the amazing NHS, Dr. Hobbs and his team at Circle Nottingham Hospital.

ANOTHER EXHAUSTING WEEK AT AN NHS HOSPITAL…

As many of my readers will have read I have been back and forth to support my elderly (93 years young) Dad in his local NHS Hospital in Manchester.

3 weeks ago we underwent quite a gruelling 17-hour wait to get Dad a bed for his problem with postural hypotension.

Fast forward to three weeks on and Dad is still in hospital but now in a much worse state. I arrived last Sunday afternoon after a chat on the phone with him left me feeling he was rather mixed up. He seemed a tad confused but otherwise settled but I decided I would arrive at the hospital first thing on the Monday morning so that I could have a chat with his consultant.

I arrived just before 9am on Monday and could hear my Dad shouting from the end of the corridor that he needed the police to find me as he could not contact me and would not take any medication until they had found me. When I reached him he was in a very anxious and confused state and was convinced that he was being held against his will. He immediately tried to get up when I arrived and then collapsed straight away which I found traumatic and upsetting.

Eventually, we calmed him down and I was taken into a side room to have a chat with his consultant and doctor. They explained that he was definitely anxious and that they were going to look into his collapses as a possible seizure or epileptic fit and take some blood to look for anything else that might be going on. He was so bad that I could not leave his side as he was so frightened that I was leaving him for good.

The following two days were much the same which as you can imagine we’re totally and utterly exhausting. Dad even phoned me at 6.30 am one morning to say he was locked in a police cell and I must go down straight away to get him out. I have never seen my Dad like this before ever. It was like seeing your Dad as his usual compos mentis self one minute then suffering a severe head injury the next. By Thursday it was found that he was also suffering from a severe infection which could contribute to his confusion but until we got this sorted there was no way they could say 100% that this was the problem.

My sister arrived Wednesday afternoon and was as shocked as I was seeing our Dad in this state. The worst part is that his nights are so fretful that he refuses to take any medication or food or fluid until we arrive in the mornings as he does not trust anyone around him. To say that I have found this week the most exhausting week I have ever had is, to put it mildly, I felt as though I could fall asleep standing up.

We decided yesterday that I definitely needed to come home which is a drive of two and a half hours and get some rest or my health would go downhill fast. I arrived last night and slept fairly well although a little restless and slept for nearly three hours this afternoon. My sister went to the hospital early this morning to find Dad in the same state as before refusing everything but Dad’s Doctor explained that if a patient refuses to have his medication or food and drink they have to adhere to the patient’s wishes. I personally think that this has to be an unrealistic method of treating patients with confusion or even dementia as surely the patient will then just get worse and end up staying in the hospital longer.

After a couple of hours, my sister managed to persuade Dad to take all his medication and eat talking to him initially like a child but then as he came around like we would normally talk to Dad and try to explain to him that if he wants to get out of hospital he must eat, drink and take any medication the staff give to him. It’s early days at the moment for us as this set back with an infection means his initial problem has been put on the back boiler but I can honestly say that I have never felt or been through anything as exhausting as this week has been. To top it all a letter came in the post today to say I had to pay £60 for driving in a bus lane in Manchester while picking up my daughter from the station !!!!! I can only hope that next week will be a little better, for Dad’s sake.

MY FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF HOW THE NHS IS STRUGGLING…

Like most Brits, I am a true advocate of our amazing NHS. Where else can you just arrive and get treated so well? But as recent news suggests the NHS are under so much pressure that it’s difficult to make ends meet, which is something I have experienced first hand over the last two weeks.

My 93-year-old Dad suffers from postural hypotensions where his blood pressure drops when he stands up but recently it has gone much worse and he had a few falls and collapses in one day so he was taken to hospital last Monday evening. My sister rang to say she had called the Ambulance at around 5.30pm so I jumped in my car and went straight to Manchester.

The paramedics arrived at 9.30p and felt it was necessary for him to go to hospital. We both followed and were soon seen by the triage nurse who then put us into one of the many side rooms. It was decided that he needed to be admitted after some concerns with some bloods that had come back and they wanted to do some more tests.

17 hours later after sitting with Dad throughout the night they finally found a bed for him. By then he had already got some bed sores from lying on the trolly for so long. How we manged to get through the night without even a drink I have no idea but we could not have left Dad in such a vulnerable situation.

After being admitted we saw a team of Doctors who seemed to think that we were barking up the wrong tree and that it could possibly be seizures that he was having. More tests and scans were ordered and we were told that he would probably be in for a few days.

We visited as much as was allowed and he had the numerous tests and scans but then it was decided that maybe it was postural hypotension and that they needed to change his tablets. On top of this, my Dad is insulin dependant and his sugar had been going crazy for over a week which the GP said it was probably the weather that was the contributing factor yet while being under the care of the staff his sugar went from very low to off the scale.

Last Friday I went to see him and found his bed empty and no-one knew where he was ( my heart was beating so hard I could feel it) and eventually I found out they had moved him but no one had bothered to phone either myself or my sister to tell us where he had gone. Being moved onto a new ward on a Friday meant nothing was done over the weekend and in fact, an agency nurse asked my Dad to get up for a shower where he collapsed yet again as he should never have been left on his own.

They were told to check his blood sugar every four hours but that didn’t happen which resulted in it being off the scale it was so high. They were told to check his blood pressure standing and sitting every time he got up and yet this was not done once over the weekend.

We are now midweek into his second week and although he is not getting worse he is struggling with his bedsores and walking and has collapsed again when walking to the toilet on his own. They have told my Dad, to never walk without a nurse but he explained to us that it is easier said than done as a nurse never comes to him when he asks for one.

I know I am far from alone in realizing the stress the NHS is under but to see how my 93-year-old Dad is being treated has been quite frightening and unnerving, to say the least. I sat from 9.15am until 1.30 so that I could actually meet and talk to the Doctor who was looking after my Dad and when I did eventually see him there was nothing on his notes about his high sugar readings and that no blood pressure had been taken over the day. I am hoping Dad can come home soon as they say hospitals are not the best places to stay when you are old but I have a feeling if he does come home soon we could soon be back to square one again.

HYDROTHERAPY AS A TREATMENT FOR OSTEOARTHRITIS, BACK PAIN AND FIBROMYALGIA…

 

Research has shown that if you suffer from fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis pain in the knee or hip, then aerobic and stretching exercises in warm water can help to relieve it.

There are three categories of exercises called hydrotherapy: hot water, cold water, and alternating hot and cold water. Hot water is known for stimulating the immune system and is also good for increasing your circulation. Cold water constricts blood vessels and is effective in reducing inflammation.

Using both hot and cold has been found to improve circulation. It was found that water heated to between 32 degrees C to 36 degrees C slightly reduces osteoarthritis pain over three months. They say that hydrotherapy changes lives and has been proven to be a highlyeffective form of natural therapy which works by stimulating the endorphins, which in turn helps you to control pain and alleviate tension.

The hydro bath works by releasing millions of large bubbles, which relax your muscular tension and helps reduce swollen joints, giving you increased mobility and more importantly lessens your pain.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms says that Hydrotherapy is actually one of the oldest types of health treatments in existence today. It still occupies a major place in medicinal treatment throughout China, Japan, and Europe. Believed to have healing properties, water has long been used to treat various illnesses, ranging from gout to depression. The use of thermal spas and baths was introduced by the Romans in the fourth century BC and since then has risen in popularity. Various forms of hydrotherapy are now used in countries all over the world.

Hydrotherapy appears to be particularly effective for those suffering from fibromyalgia. In particular, hydrotherapy techniques help to:

  • reduce muscle pain
  • improve sleep disorders
  • increase mobility
  • reduce stiffness

A variety of studies involving fibromyalgia patients and hydrotherapy have been performed. In one study, fibromyalgia patients were given therapeutic whirlpool baths twice a week for six weeks. Upon conclusion of the study, the patients involved had better muscle and joint function, reduced pain symptoms, and improved sleep quality.

Hydroptherapy UK says the only side effects are as with any water-based activity, caution should be exercised to remain safe from drowning. Almost all hydrotherapy is carried out in pools more shallow than the height of the person using it.

Patients should drink sufficient amounts of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.

The buoyancy of the water can make some activity seem easier, while it is actually working muscles very hard. Patients should get used to how their body feels after a session in order to gauge appropriate levels of activity (i.e. not “overdoing” it).

The warmth of the water may make a person feel dizzy.

If the hydrotherapy is taking place in a chlorinated pool, the patient should shower immediately after to avoid irritation to their skin.

Arthritis Research has an article on how you can access hydrotherapy through the NHS. They say that hydrotherapy sessions are available on the NHS, and most hospitals have access to hydrotherapy pools. Any member of the healthcare team should be able to refer you to an NHS physiotherapist if they think you might benefit from hydrotherapy. In some parts of the UK you can also refer yourself to a physiotherapist, who’ll assess whether hydrotherapy would be suitable for you. Check with your GP or call your local rheumatology department to find out if an NHS physiotherapist in your area will accept self-referrals.

They also say that scientific studies have shown that hydrotherapy can improve strength and general fitness in people with various types of arthritis. The exercises can be tailored to your individual needs, so you can start slowly and gradually build up your strength and flexibility.

The extra support that the water provides may make you feel like you can do more exercise than normal, so be careful not to overdo it. The exercise and the warmth of the water may make you feel tired after treatment, but this is quite normal. In general, hydrotherapy is one of the safest treatments for arthritis and back pain.