PAIN

100 million is the estimated number of Americans who live with chronic pain. 

 

Special nerve endings in our body can distinguish pain signals from other signals.  These nerve endings send messages to our spinal cord.  That’s why you yank your hand from the fire without thinking, “That’s hot.” – Your cerebral cortex thinks about the pain and decides what to do. (WebMD July/Aug 2018p.76,77)

Your nerves, spine and brain constantly message each other to determine how you feel the pain.  – Your limbic system responds with emotion: anger, fear, frustration, or even relief.

Your brainstem controls your automonic functions (functions in your body that occur without you thinking about them) like breathing and heart rate that can change in response to pain. It’s a feedback system in your body designed to keep you healthy.

People who deal with chronic pain show actual heightened activity between a certain network of brain regions and the insula, a “receiving station” for sensory input (Arthritis Today Sept./Oct. 2018) according to Neil Basu, PhD, senior lecturer and acedemic rheumatologist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.  These changes are referred to as “pro-pain” effects.  These changes stem from alterations in the central nervous system (CNS) – the brain and spinal cord – where the pain signals are processed.

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Brain Signals  Pexels.com

Pain is designed to be a defense mechanism for our body.  It tells us that something is wrong.  Something needs our attention.  Something needs to be fixed – but there is no doubt that pain causes stress.  Stress causes our body to release hormones designed to protect us from short term stress – such as a bear trying to attack our family.  Obviously, neither long term pain or long term stress is good for us, our physchological health or our body’s general well being.

You probably have some kind of pain every day says Xavier Jimenex, M.D. director of the chronic pain rehabiliation program at Cleveland Clinic – back pain, headache, and neck pain, in that order.  In fact, one in 10 American adults has been uncomfortable continuously for the past 3 months, according to a 2015 report.  And – wouldn’t you know it? – women tend to feel pain more often, longer and with a greater intensity than men, says Stanford University pain psychologist Beth Darnall, Ph,D. “That’s partly because sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone pay a role in how we experience pain,” she says. (Good Housekeeping Aug./2018 p.85)

There are options for pain relief.  Some are “natural” others are “manufactured.”

The standard American diet tends to include lots of unprocessed carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and processed foods.  Intake of these foods increases cytokines which will boost inflammation and make you susceptible to chronic pain says Robert E. Sorge, Ph.D., a psyhologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Lack of sleep will impact your pain.  When you suffer from migrains, acid reflus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions your lack of sleep increases the inflammation in your body and that will boost how much pain you feel explains Thomas Roth, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Your view of your pain can affect the intensity of your pain.  When you focus all of your attention and energy on how much your pain hurts it can tell your brain that the pain’s intensity is overwhelming your ability to deal with it.  You therefore become anxious and feel helpless to deal with not only the pain but your ability to relieve the pain.

So, flip your thoughts and create new experiences around your pain.  I am not suggesting that you ignore your pain signals, I’m just saying that thinking differently about an expeirnce, including pain, can lead you into exploring new pathway which will send a different signal about your pain to your brain. (Good Housekeeping Aug. 2018)

Obviously, intense and/or chronic pain needs attention.  That may come in the form of prescribed medication, long term physical therapy, intense exercise or a prescribed alternate relaxation method.  There are a handful of products available today that can assist you in dealing with your pain.  One is joining a medical clinical trial program.  Clinical trials are the heart of medical advances and the success of these trials hinges on the participation of people like you. (RA Today Vol. 10, Issue 2)

The news surrounding opioid addiction has been in the forefront of the media.  

In 2016. more than 214 million prescriptions were written and filled for opioids.  83% of prescription opioid-related deaths are unintended/accidental.  However, prescriptions opioids can be helpful in managing chronic pain.  An opioid overdose emergency occurs when there are so many opioid molecules in the brain that they overwhelm the brain receptors and block the body’s drive to breathe – this is life threatening. (Adapt Pharma 2018) An article in Brain & Life (Aug/Sept 2018 p.23) suggests that medical providers should prescribe pain relief medication for immediate relief and not extended-release or long-acting.  The re-evaluation for patient care should occur within 4 weeks and then again at 3 months.

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YOU’RE IN CHARGE  Pexels.com

Whatever path you choose for your pain relief make sure that it fits your needs and it works to relieve the intensity and inflammation that accompanies chronic pain.  Also pay attention to your pain signals – they are telling your that something in your body isn’t working as it should – it needs attention.  Remember, you are in charge of you! 

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That One Person…

By the time you’re 2 years old, your environment has already influenced your developing brain. The message that both early stress and loving tactile interaction affects a child’s brain is nothing new (DiscoverMagazine.com5/2018). When you feed your precious newborn hold them and look into their eyes – don’t lay them on the couch and prop up the bottle with a baby blanket, it’s important!

baby wearing white and yellow shirt

HAPPY BABIES Pexels.com

Developmental research shows that having one or more caring adults in a child’s life increases the likelihood that they will flourish, and become productive adults themselves. (Scales, P.C., Developmental assets: Amer. J.of Comm. Psy., 20(4),445-461.

Obviously, “That One Person” in a child’s life makes a difference.  Having a positive adult influencing a child increases the likelihood that the child will:

  • stay calm and controlled when faced with a challenge
  • show interest and curiosity in learning new things
  • care about doing well in school
  • complete assigned homework
  • play sports or participate in some type of organized club
  • participate in volunteer work or community service (Research Brief 12/2013 Child Trends – #2013-54)

This means that when a child has “That One Person” in their life who believes that they are special, that child has a greater likelihood of positive outcomes and a reduced likelihood of negative outcomes in both their family and social environment.  To translate this into everyday terms: the child will volunteer, exercise, stay calm, show interest in learning, be less sad and be less likely to be bullied.

You as a parent, of course, are  UNIQUELY “That One Person.” When your newborn is awake during those first few months, spend the time walking or singing to them; research reveals that these interactions wire baby’s brain for language and communication. You don’t even need to stop your daily activities.  Put your baby in a sling and kindly narrate your activities.  This advice is given to us by Dr. Lee Beers, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Children’s National Health Center in Washington, DC.

3.8 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2017 and a new baby is born in the U.S. every 8 seconds. (WebMD.com Jan/Feb2019). If you are attentive to your child’s cues they will naturally fall into step with the positive motivations.

people looking at laptop computer

COMPUTER LITERACY Pexels.com

However, even if you aren’t a new parent there are many opportunities to be “That One Person.”  One is to become digitally literate.  Keep up with the latest technology and guide your children’s use of it – this will reduce the risk of their victimization.  Kids who face online cruelty report loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety.  Nearly 9 in 10 teenagers have seen some sort of cruelty between their peers on social media (WebMD.com Jan/Feb 2019).

Mentors are “That One Person.” If you are a grandparent, a clergy member, a school teacher, a librarian, a social worker, a medical provider, a first responder, a scout leader, a cook at school, a bus driver, a mailperson, a cashier, a bank teller, a school peer-advisor, a caring adult then you are “That One Person” who can make a difference in a child’s life.  You are a mentor-like adult.  When the big scientific “they” examine the association between having a caring adult and the number of child ‘well-being outcomes’ the “numbers” prove that a greater likelihood of positive outcomes equals a reduced likelihood of negative outcomes.  In other words, having a caring adult in your life equals a better life for the child.

Social Well-Being

20181220_210755Co-hosting with James Kelly the syndicated radio talk show “Aspects of Writing” that is devoted to showcasing writers, authors, illustrators, visual arts, and creative composition gives me an opportunity to meet professionals in these fields.

Recently we were privileged to host 4 distinguished guests who offered an exciting glimpse into the arena of creative writing and graphic design. These award winning creators share their unique talents with not only the general public but individual children.

You may often spot them at your local library sharing a precious moment reading to a young child or talking about the alluring illustration that adorns the front of a childhood mystery novel.  These writers and illustrators are well known in their field and respected by their peers and could spend their time in any number of ways.  However, they opt to read at your local public library or come to a local radio talk show so that their professionalism can be spread out into a wide circle.  They want their message for the love of writing and illustration to awaken in everyone the adventures that lurks within the pages of a book or the laptop in your hands.  They want you to feel, experience, absorb and remember the unique sensation that is possible from reading a good book.

Social Well-being is evident as these writers and illustrators willingly share their talent with the public.

As you pick up a book your eye focuses on the cover art.  The purpose of the illustration is to not capture your attention but to intice you to purchase the book or download the ebook. Whether you are someone who likes to feel the physical book in your hand or use an electric devise to read a story you still are induced by the opening line of the story and any illustration within the book.   So the next time you walk by a shelf of books think about the author and illustrator who made that precious book possible and spread a little Social Well-Being…

pink green and blue abstract painting

Illustrations Pexels.comIll