Pain Management Las Vegas | Nevada Comprehensive Pain Center

CALL US! 702.476.9999

Author Archive for Brett J

It’s Time To Overcome The Stigmas About Mental Health

Mental illness continues to be a difficult subject–for its high rates of occurrence and the stigmas that are attached to it. Some estimates show that up to one in four people suffer from a mental illness. This can include conditions like depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. For those with chronic pain, those numbers can be far higher. However, being diagnosed with a mental condition can have a stigmatizing effect from family members, friends, and even coworkers. Here’s why it’s time to overcome the stigmas related to mental health.

“The mentally ill frighten and embarrass us. And so we marginalize the people who most need our acceptance. What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close

How to overcome stigma

Many people do not understand mental illnesses and, therefore, tread lightly around a person with one or exclude people with them from activities. This makes it more difficult for people to come out and talk about their mental health, or even find help for an illness.

Many organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), are making an effort to fight the stigma about mental illness.

NAMI’s StigmaFree campaign harnesses the power of many to help fight the incorrect or, even, offensive portrayals of mentally ill people in the media. By organizing across national, state, and local lines, NAMI hopes to find those places where stigmatizing messages spread. They ask people to assess the stigma they unconsciously feel and are projecting on others.

Most importantly, people with mental illnesses must have access to help. Many people with a mental illness don’t get treatment for their condition. Treatment may include time with a good therapist, sessions through an online therapy system, supportive sessions with family and friends, medication, membership in a support group, and lifestyle modifications.

Chronic pain is often related to the incidence of chronic depression in many patients. It is important, therefore, to open up to your doctor if you have depressive thoughts. He or she can refer you to local therapists or support groups that can help improve your mental health.

Do you, or somebody you know, suffer from a mental illness? How has treatment helped? 

If you are experiencing deep despair and suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255) immediately, at any time, for help.

5 Ways You Can De-Stress Your Home

Chronic stress can rapidly affect your health. The tensed muscles from stress can lead to increased pain, while the burden of chronic stress can lead to larger mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. However, you can make some simple changes right now to destress your home. This can help you find reduced levels of stress both at home and when you go out into the world.

Declutter to destress your home

You probably already know how stressful it can be to walk into a home that is cluttered and unorganized. The franticness of an unorganized home may lead to more stress when you’re unable to find things or just add to a general feeling of disarray and chaos.

Many home organizers recommend that everything has its place, and everything is in its place. Hit up local organizing stores, like Ikea, or even dollar stores to find affordable organizing solutions.

Consider your lighting

Sunshine is naturally lifting and can enhance your overall mood. Make sure to allow in lots of light during the day with big open windows or frequent walks. While bright natural light is key during the day, you’ll find deep relaxation by incorporating restful, dimmer lights for nighttime.

Dimmed lights, lights with heavy shades, candles, or table-top lamps are all best to use as you transition closer to sleep.

Use color to set the mood

How does your favorite spa feel? More importantly, what does it look like? You’ll notice that many spas rely on soft, cool neutrals to encourage relaxation and ease. Mimic these similar feelings in your own home by painting your walls, especially those in the bedroom, in cool neutrals like blue or green.

Bring nature into your home

Freshly cut flowers, low maintenance soft green succulents, and organic centerpieces can all help you feel like your home is connected to the larger outdoor world.

Live plants can also release oxygen into the air, thus leading to even greater levels of relaxation.

Surround yourself with love

Fill your walls with photos of loved family members to turn towards in times of stress. Find handmade artwork or textiles that you love and incorporate those throughout your home. Also try to find scents or sounds that you love to create a calm home.

Do you find relaxation when you come home? How could you further destress your home?

How Does Radiofrequency Ablation For Lower Back Pain Work?

Has your doctor or pain specialist suggested radiofrequency ablation to help alleviate your lower back pain? Many pain specialists are recommending radiofrequency ablation for patients due to the high success rate and measurable results. Here’s what you should know about radiofrequency ablation for lower back pain.

How does radiofrequency ablation for lower back pain work?

Before you schedule your next appointment it is a good idea to understand what radiofrequency ablation for lower back pain is and how it can really help you. 

First, what is radiofrequency ablation? The procedure has a long history and has been used effectively since 1931. It is a non-surgical treatment that disrupts the nerve functions in the affected area to stop painful sensation experienced by the patient. It can be done as an outpatient procedure with only local anesthetic. 

A pain specialist uses an electrical current to create a localized heat that deadens the nerves and reduces the sensation of pain in the patient. To do this, an electrode is inserted into the affected area with a small needle-like tube using fluoroscopic assistance to determine the right placement.

Once it is in place, the physician will use a high frequency electrical current to destroy the affected nerves with a continuous current or with pulsed radiation for shorter bursts followed by breaks. While pain relief may last longer with continuous current radiofrequency ablation (up to two years), the risk of complications is increased which is why many physicians prefer pulsed radiofrequency. 

Heat from the electrical impulse is what disrupts the nerve sensors in your lower back or other affected area to reduce pain.

What should I expect after a procedure? 

Radiofrequency ablation can be done in an outpatient setting and it is a very precise and repeatable process. Immediately following the procedure, patients are monitored for possible side effects. Soreness and weakness are common so it is best to rest and recuperate fully before returning to normal activities. It may still take up to a month for these affected nerves to completely die off.

It is important to have a comfort level about the procedure before you arrive. Talk with your pain specialist about the steps involved and what to expect and make a point to ask any further questions that you may have about the procedure. 

Have you considered radiofrequency ablation to help your back pain?

This Is Why Getting Better Sleep Is Crucial To Good Health And Less Pain

Researchers have called insufficient sleep a “public health epidemic.” Here’s how to ensure you’re getting better sleep in order to improve your overall health and pain levels.

Why is getting better sleep so important? 

While many people insist that they can get by on five hours of sleep and five cups of coffee, researchers note that people need an average of eight hours of sleep in order to truly feel rested and to perform at their best. As researcher, Dr. Sandhya Kumar, writes, “I would say the importance of sleep is definitely underestimated by the general public.”

Dr. Kumar goes on to suggest that quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity of sleep. Kumar writes about coffee:

“There are people who, for example, say that they can drink coffee and don’t have trouble sleeping, but that’s not true. They may not have trouble falling asleep but the quality of their sleep is not what they need. They don’t have the deep sleep that is the most restful, or they have trouble waking up.”

Kumar goes on to note that alcohol can have the same detrimental effects on sleep quality.

Quality sleep is important, because it can help prevent a number of behavior and health problems. If you’ve ever been cranky after a night of bad sleep, you understand the behavioral part. However, bad sleep can also cause you to:

  • Become depressed more easily
  • Do poorly at school or work
  • Make bad decisions

Poor sleep may also increase a person’s risk for high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.

How to start getting better sleep 

If you’re worried about the amount of quality of sleep that you’re getting, consider following some of the tips provided over at the Better Sleep Council and the Sleep Education website, with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. On both websites, they provide advice on dealing with specific sleeping disorders, treatment methods for getting better sleep, and how sleep can affect different groups of people.

The researchers in the study also suggest that you talk to your doctor if you have trouble sleeping. Your primary care physician should be your first stop, but you may be referred to a sleep specialist who can more accurately diagnose specific sleep conditions. Even a few nights of bad sleep should be enough to get you to your doctor. As Dr. Kumar writes:

“Even a relatively short-term difficulty with sleeping can develop into a chronic problem if not addressed, and not sleeping properly can have many other health consequences.” 

Do you find that you have trouble sleeping? Are there certain habits that seem to help (or hinder) your sleep? How does it affect your pain levels?

How To Live A Full Life With Back Pain

Back pain is a serious issue facing so many of us, but there are ways to life a full life with back pain.

What causes back pain?

There are risk factors that make us more disposed towards back pain, and our anatomy lends itself to pain in certain areas of the back.

But the specific conditions that cause you pain, such as herniated discs, spinal deformities, or osteoarthritis, can also provide a clue to the eventual treatment and relief for your specific experience of back pain.

Back pain treatments

When discussing your back pain with your pain doctor, talk about the benefits and risks for each of the following minimally invasive treatments:

  • Pharmacological treatments
  • Intrathecal pump implants
  • Nerve blocks
  • Sacroiliac or trigger point injections
  • Chiropractic care
  • Lysis of adhesions for those who suffer from post-surgery pain

Complementary therapies

While these and more advanced treatment plans, such as surgery, can help you reduce and relieve your back, there are also life changes that can help you manage your pain.

You can begin to try positive thinking practices, yoga, or other low impact exercises as all of these have been shown to reduce and help people manage their back pain. In order to help you integrate these new routines into your daily life, mobile apps can also provide tracking and measurement systems for the long-term management and care for your back pain.

At the beginning, though, the most important step is to talk to a pain doctor about your condition. They can help determine the cause of the pain and then provide resources for interventional and lifestyle techniques that can help you minimize your back pain and allow you to live a full life.

Tell us your story in the comments. How has back pain affected your life? How do you manage to live a full life even with back pain? 

What Are The Health Risk Factors of Obesity and Overweight?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overweight and obesity refer to excessive fat accumulation that impacts health. Overweight is defined as a person with a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or greater. Though there can be some deviations from the standard BMI, it is normally a good measure of overall body weight as compared to height. Some body builders, for instance, may seem to have a higher BMI while actually being at a normal body fat rate. Knowing your BMI is important because it can help you avoid certain health risk factors of obesity and overweight.

What are risk factors of obesity and overweight?

Many of the first-world noncommunicable diseases are largely affected by obesity and overweight in individuals. Consider that 44% of diabetes cases are attributed to excess weight. 23% of ischaemic heart disease conditions are also attributed to these conditions. The WHO notes that “overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths.”

In particular, health risk factors of obesity and overweight include:

  • Cardiovascular diseases, which refer to a range of heart conditions that can impact the heart leading to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, or high blood pressure
  • Diabetes, a metabolic disorder when the body is unable to produce enough insulin to manage glucose levels in the blood, that can also lead to skin or foot problems and hypertension
  • Musculoskeletal disorders, such as osteoarthritis, that cause pain and stiffness within the body’s joints
  • Certain cancers, including endometrial, kidney, breast, and colon cancers
  • Breathing problems due to the increased stress on the lungs, including sleep apnea or asthma

Obesity and overweight have also been associated with pregnancy complications, psychological disorders like depression, surgical risks, menstrual irregularities, and incontinence.

What you can do

While these health risk factors of obesity and overweight do paint a grim picture, there are ways you can reduce your own risk in order to live a more healthful life.

Talk to your doctor first to see if there are any health conditions, medications, or other factors that may be influencing your weight. You can also talk to your doctor. They can help you manage your weight, especially if you are overweight or obese.

For more information about the global incidence of overweight and obesity, as well as strategies for reducing your risk, visit the World Health Organization’s fact sheet on the topic. 

Which Vitamins Are Helpful For Relieving Pain Symptoms?

Whenever we think about treatment for pain we tend to only consider medications, therapy, exercise, and other similar resources. However, one of the most effective treatments may be adding the proper vitamins to your diet to help treat your pain and allow you to find more balance in your day to day life. Here’s some vitamins for pain you can try.

Vitamins for pain

Consider these four vitamins for managing your pain symptoms. Always talk to your doctor before adding any new vitamin or supplement to your routine. They could interact with any existing medications you’re on.

1. Vitamin D

Several medical studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D can increase the symptoms of chronic pain.

In fact, a study in 2009 at the Mayo Clinic demonstrated that patients with low vitamin D levels were taking drugs to manage their chronic pain twice as much patients with more normal levels in their system. While increasing vitamin D may not be a quick fix, restoring proper levels is a key factor in a healthy lifestyle.

2. Vitamin B

If lower back pain is your primary concern, adding vitamin B to your diet may be helpful.

In fact, taking vitamin B supplements can provide almost immediate relief of your symptoms on a temporary basis. A combination of B1, B6, and B12 appear to be the most effective. High doses of vitamin B do not have negative side effects like some medications.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids

Found primarily in fish oil supplements, omega-3s have been shown to help reduce inflammation caused by conditions such as arthritis. Not only do they control some painful symptoms but they can also alleviate fatigue.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our body’s optimal health so taking fish oil supplements can aid in relieving your pain and boosting your overall health.

4. Niacin

Also known as vitamin B3, niacin can help improve cholesterol levels. Fish, peanuts, and chicken are common sources of niacin. If you aren’t getting enough niacin in your diet, you may consider supplements if suggested by your doctor. The right balance of niacin in your body can relieve pain and stiffness caused by conditions such as arthritis.

Adding vitamins for pain into your diet is a good way to maintain your health in a positive way. Pain management is an important process and natural supplements can help make things a little easier when used effectively and appropriately.

Have you used vitamins to help manage your chronic pain? Need expert help in managing your pain? Contact us today!

How Do Lumbar Facet Joint Nerve Blocks Help With Back Pain?

Depending on the source and type of your back pain you may have discussed and considered the possibility of a lumbar facet joint nerve block with your pain specialist. What is this procedure and what are the benefits? Moreso, what are the potential benefits to your condition and overall health?

What is a lumbar facet joint nerve block?

A lumbar facet joint nerve block is the injection of an anesthetic into the joints in the vertebrae that make up the lower spine.

The procedure is most often recommended for patients dealing with pain related to osteoarthritis in this area, but it may also be useful for other conditions. It may also be used as a diagnostic method to determine if the pain is centered on these small joints, or as a way to relieve pain.

Most people who undergo a lumbar facet joint nerve block report little pain during the procedure. Typically it is described as a stinging or burning at the injection site. However, every patient is different and the procedure will not be the same for everyone.

What are its benefits?

Benefits for lumbar facet joint nerve blocks include:

  • 50% of patients who received this treatment reported significant improvement in their symptoms
  • Pain relief can last for several months which can aid in physical therapy
  • The procedure can be performed up to three times in one year

There are some potential risks to know before you schedule this procedure. Patients with certain other conditions should make sure their pain specialist is aware of their medical background if the procedure is recommended. These can influence how or if nerve blocks will work for you. Other potential risks include bleeding, infection, allergic reaction, headaches, and in some rare cases, even nerve damage. Talk to your doctor about your risk assessment.

Do you believe that lumbar facet joint nerve blocks can help treat your chronic lower back pain? Get in touch today to learn more about your pain management treatment options. 

Rediscovering The Mind With TED Talks

A key to understanding why migraines and head pain are so misunderstood is by realizing just how complicated our brains really are. Our human brains–the foundation of how we experience pain and memory–are vastly complex. Of course, realizing this in a theoretical way is much different than actually understanding it in a literal way. Thankfully, a collection of TED talks helps us better understand the immensity of our brains. From a stroke that caused a brain scientist to realize her true self to brain disorders that allow us to learn more about the normal operations of the brain, these videos help us rediscover our minds.

Vilayanur Ramachandran’s “3 clues to understanding your brain

Ramachandran, a neurologist, studies brain disorders in order to discover our deeper processes at work. In this talk, he discusses three mental disorders–Capgras delusion, phantom limb pain, and synesthesia.

With his discussion of phantom limb pain, in particular, we can begin to appreciate the complex circuitry in the mind that drives pain in the body. He shows how he uses mirror boxes to treat this pain disorder by actually “tricking” the mind to stop the pain.

Jill Taylor’s “My stroke of insight

Taylor realized an opportunity for research and study exactly when she was having a massive stroke. Through her basic understanding of the mind as a brain scientist, Taylor was actually able to watch as the “layers” of her mind peeled away during the stroke.

From the onset of headache pain to disengagement to unconsciousness, Taylor walks us all through the immensity of the mind by cataloging her own journey with it. It’s one of the most fascinating TED talks you’ll ever watch.

“How Does My Brain Work?” playlist

If those two TED talks whetted your appetite for learning more about the mind, there’s more. TED compiles more videos that attempt to explore how and why our minds work in this playlist.

From a neuroscientist, you’ll hear about the real reasons for brains. A pediatrician explains how childhood trauma can affect our health throughout our lifetimes. A psychologist attempts to understand the origins of pleasure and pain. For an in-depth look into the mind, a team of researchers is constructing a map of our brains.

What questions do you have about the mind? 

Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For TMD Work?

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD, also known as TMJ) affect the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. This joint offers a full range of motion for daily activities including chewing or talking. There are multiple causes of TMD, which can include grinding or clenching the teeth, dislocation of the jaw, or even arthritis. For those who suffer from severe cases, it can lead to TMJ migraines and ear pain. Researchers are now suggesting that cognitive behavioral therapy for TMD could help pain sufferers.

How to treat TMD

The American Pain Society suggest several treatments for TMD. Patients were often prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs to treat this pain. However, a study by the University Of Connecticut Health Center suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be effective in treating TMD.

The researchers discovered that many patients whose TMD was non-responsive to traditional treatments also suffered from symptoms of depression. These patients did not possess typical coping methods and, in spite of not presenting a joint pathology indicative of TMD, they still experienced the pain in their face.

The authors hypothesized that certain CBT treatment-related outcomes might be predictive of treatment non-response. These include:

  • Lower retention in treatment
  • Less adaptive changes in coping and self efficacy
  • Pain catastrophizing

Cognitive behavioral therapy treatments focus on the patients’ thoughts and feelings about certain situations in their lives. Then, it teaches them effective coping mechanisms for moving forward. The idea is to change negative behaviors that result from negative feelings into positive behaviors. Patients do this by actively changing the patient’s thought patterns.

Nonresponsive TMD patients may have success alleviating and eliminating their painful condition by engaging in behaviors that change the way they think about the pain they are experiencing. If the researchers’ findings are correct, this could change how healthcare professionals handle a number of similar conditions.

Do you think that some forms of TMD can be caused by depression and treated with cognitive behavioral therapy?