Monthly Archives: November 2012

Men vs. Women on Pain: Who Hurts More?

224195_432357016819117_1843924346_nWomen feel pain more intensely than men, according to a new study of 11,000 men and women who were patients at the Stanford Hospital and Clinics.

 

Researchers analyzed electronic medical records of patients’ reports of pain across a range of different diseases, and found a distinct gender-driven difference in how much discomfort patients say they felt. The study included 47 disorders — from cancer to back conditions and infectious diseases — and more than 161,000 patient-reported pain scores. The patients were all asked by nurses or other health personnel to rate their pain on an 11-point scale, with 0 representing “no pain” and 11 signifying the “worst pain imaginable.”

Not surprisingly, most responses clustered around either the two extremes of very little pain or extreme pain or the middle score of 5. But overall, women were more likely to indicate higher pain levels than men, says lead author Dr. Atul Butte, chief of systems medicine in the department of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. And that was true across almost all of the different diseases. “That was the most surprising finding,” says Butte. “We completely wouldn’t have expected such a difference across almost all disorders, where women were reporting a whole pain point higher on the 0-to-10 scale than men.”

Of course, self-reports can’t account for the fact that people may define tolerable and intolerable pain in vastly different ways, says Butte, but the fact that a gender difference emerged from such a large number of patients suggests that the effect is real.

What accounts for the gender gap? Hormones may explain some of the difference — studies have shown that estrogen in women can help dampen the activity of pain receptors, helping them to tolerate higher levels of pain. That means, however, that they may become more sensitive to pain during low-estrogen parts of the menstrual cycle.

There may also be explanations that have nothing to do with biology. Men, for example, may feel compelled by cultural stereotypes to be tough, and therefore report feeling less pain than they really do —especially when asked by the mostly female nursing staff.

Still, even if non-biological factors are influencing how much pain men and women report, Butte says the difference is worth noting. “The reasons may be biological or they may not be, but we should still be aware of the bias that patients have in reporting pain,” he says. He is hoping to continue the research by following up these results with surveys of patients’ ratings after they were treated for pain. That may help doctors to better address the real pain patients may be feeling.

Arthritis and How Massage Can Help

Arthritis produces inflammation which causes extreme joint pain.

Although there are over 100 types, osteo and rheumatoid are the most common.

Osteo is a degenerative disease which often effects weight-bearing joints like hips and knees.

Rheumatoid is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation primarily in the hands and feet, but can also cause pain in other joints of the body.

 

 

How does massage help?

Massage therapy is used to ease symptoms of inflammation and improve quality of life by helping to increase circulation to the joints, which increases flexibility and movement.

It can also help decrease pain, muscle aches or stiffness and provide deep relaxation, allowing for rest and deeper sleep during the night, which can provide better days for work.

A massage therapist familiar with joint pain issues and the benefits of massage understands the physiology of the joint. The massage concentrates on joints, but the overall goal is relaxation, which can help reduce symptoms also.

Some therapists include essential oils to help relax the mind and relieve muscle soreness and joint pain.

Some therapists recommend (and some even sell) Biofreeze Pain Relieving Roll On Gel which is well known for relieving the pain and stiffness of arthritis. It gives long-lasting relief and can be used up to 4 times per day.

Massage techniques, Clinical Massage, are used to stretch the muscles and restore flexibility, but they also encourages the body to release endorphins, our body’s natural mood enhancers and pain killers.

Due to stress and other lifestyle factors, hormone balance in the body can get out of kilter and result in unhealthy consequences. Joint disorders, illness, poor immune system, and other diseases can be some of those consequences.

Massage therapy is a “non-drug” therapy that can relieve the pain, increase ease of movement and improve range of motion. Discomfort can be greatly reduced by gentle kneading and stretching of the muscles around the joint.

 

How much does it cost?

A bodywork session will typically cost S$100, depending on which therapist you choose and where they are located.

This is a great video about hand massage for joint pain:

This book, Condition-Specific Massage Therapy  teaches how to massage clients with joint pain, as well as many other medical conditions. It discusses safety precautions and treatment goals for all different types of medical problems.

According to a study performed in 2006, reports indicate that massage can help reduce the pain and frequency of muscle spasms due to joint issues,

but massage also helps your body to produce endorphins which lower pain symptoms and decrease depression, sometimes associated with joint disorders.

Another study also performed in 2006 at The Touch Research Institute in Miami, showed that regular massage decreased symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. It also showed patients had a better ability to grip and better movement.

Again, the more regular you can get massage, the better. Starting with one session per week is great. Then, after a month or so, move to once every two weeks to get the most benefits from massage therapy for your joints and pain level.

Be sure to ask if the massage therapist has experience working with patients who have joint disorders. Some deep tissue massage techniques could be detrimental to arthritis.

 

 

Hip Flexor Strain

A strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon, a band of tissue that connects muscle to bone. The tendon may be inflamed. Inflammation of a tendon is called tendonitis. The hip flexor muscles allow you to lift your knee and bend at the waist.

How does it occur?

Hip flexor strain occurs from overuse of the muscles that help you flex your knee or do high kicks. This injury occurs in bicyclists, athletes who jump or run with high knee kicks, athletes like soccer players who do forceful kicking activities, and people who practice the martial arts.

What are the symptoms?

You have pain in the upper groin region where the thigh meets the pelvis.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your hip and thigh. You will have tenderness at the muscle and tendon.

How is it treated?

To treat this condition:

Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.
You could also do ice massage. To do this, first freeze water in a Styrofoam cup, then peel the top of the cup away to expose the ice. Hold the bottom of the cup and rub the ice over the area for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this several times a day while you have pain.
Take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
Follow your provider’s instructions for doing exercises to help you recover.
After you recover from your acute injury, use moist heat for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before you do warm-up and stretching exercises. Do not use heat if you have swelling.
While you are recovering from your injury, you will need to change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse. For example, you may need to swim instead of bicycling or running.

How long will the effects last?

The length of recovery depends on many factors such as your age, health, and if you have had a previous hip flexor injury. Recovery time also depends on the severity of the injury. A mild hip flexor strain may recover within a few weeks, whereas a severe injury may take 6 weeks or longer to recover. You need to stop doing the activities that cause pain until the hip has healed. If you continue doing activities that cause pain, your symptoms will return and it will take longer to recover.

When can I return to my normal activities?

Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to your activities depends on how soon your hip recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury has occurred. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better. The goal is to return to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury.

You may safely return to your activities when, starting from the top of the list and progressing to the end, each of the following is true:

You have full range of motion in the leg on the injured side compared to the leg on the uninjured side.
You have full strength of the leg on the injured side compared to the leg on the uninjured side.
You can walk straight ahead without pain or limping.
How can I prevent a hip flexor strain?

Hip flexor strains are best prevented by warming up properly and doing stretching exercises before your activity. If you are a bicyclist make sure your seat is raised to the proper height.

Benefits of Massage (Infographic)

Did you know that a massage can alleviate back pain, reduce stress, and eliminate toxins? These are just a few of the interesting facts in this infographic.

What do you think?

What is Paresthesia?

Paresthesia refers to a burning or prickling sensation that is usually felt in the hands, arms, legs, or feet, but can also occur in other parts of the body. The sensation, which happens without warning, is usually painless and described as tingling or numbness, skin crawling, or itching.

Most people have experienced temporary paresthesia — a feeling of “pins and needles” — at some time in their lives when they have sat with legs crossed for too long, or fallen asleep with an arm crooked under their head. It happens when sustained pressure is placed on a nerve. The feeling quickly goes away once the pressure is relieved.

Chronic paresthesia is often a symptom of an underlying neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage.

Paresthesia can be caused by disorders affecting the central nervous system, such as stroke and transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes), multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, and encephalitis. A tumor or vascular lesion pressed up against the brain or spinal cord can also cause paresthesia. Nerve entrapment syndromes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can damage peripheral nerves and cause paresthesia accompanied by pain. Diagnostic evaluation is based on determining the underlying condition causing the paresthetic sensations.

(Info from National Institute of Neurological Disorders)

CranioSacral Therapy

What are your thoughts on CranioSacral Therapy?

CranioSacral Therapy:
Info from the Upledger Institute International

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dy

sfunction and improve whole-body health and performance. It was pioneered and developed by Osteopathic Physician John E. Upledger after years of clinical testing and research at Michigan State Universitywhere he served as professor of biomechanics.Using a soft touch which is generally no greater than 5 grams – about the weight of a nickel – practitioners release restrictions in the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system. CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and it’s effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction.

How does CranioSacral Therapy Work?

Few structures have as much influence over the body’s ability to function properly as the brain and spinal cord that make up the central nervous system. And, the central nervous system is heavily influenced by the craniosacral system – the membranes and fluid that surround, protect and nourish the brain and spinal cord.

Every day your body endures stresses and strains that it must work to compensate for. Unfortunately, these changes often cause body tissues to tighten and distort the craniosacral system. These distortions can then cause tension to form around the brain and spinal cord resulting in restrictions. This can create a barrier to the healthy performance of the central nervous system, and potentially every other system it interacts with.

Fortunately, such restrictions can be detected and corrected using simple methods of touch. With a light touch, the CST practitioner uses his or her hands to evaluate the craniosacral system by gently feeling various locations of the body to test for the ease of motion and rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid pulsing around the brain and spinal cord. Soft-touch techniques are then used to release restrictions in any tissues influencing the craniosacral system.

By normalizing the environment around the brain and spinal cord and enhancing the body’s ability to self-correct, CranioSacral Therapy is able to alleviate a wide variety of dysfunctions, from chronic pain and sports injuries to stroke and neurological impairment.

Fact Or Fiction

DID YOU KNOW the heart can create enough pressure to pump blood a whopping 30ft (9m) from a severed artery?

 

FACT OR FICTION: Your personality, decisions, memories, and intelligence are found in your heart, not your brain.

………

FICTION! (Of course!)

However, the belief in ancient Egypt was that the heart, not the brain, held a person’s intelligence and personality. During mummification, all internal organs were removed and placed into sacred jars, while the heart remained in the body to be weighed in the afterlife.

The brain was removed in a much less delicate manner and discarded—a rod was inserted into the nostril and removed all brain matter through the nasal cavity. It also wasn’t uncommon for the brain to just be left in the body, where it would shrink and disintegrate.

Currently, science places a person’s intelligence and personality in the frontal lobe of the brain.

FACT OR FICTION?

Our eyes are made of fire and water, and vision is the visualization of what is reflected in the gleam of the eye.

………..

FICTION! (Of course)

However, Alcmaeon of Croton, an ancient Greek science philosopher, believed this was fact!

In reality, the lenses in the eyes focus light to form an image on the retinas. The optic nerve and its connection to the occipital lobe allow us to see things and interpret them.

Alcmaeon didn’t perform any dissections in order to prove his theory, but Aristotle dissected the eyes of animals and discovered poiroi, or channels (i.e., nerves), that linked to the brain.

DID YOU KNOW signals can travel throughout your nervous system as fast as 268mph (431kmh)? That’s faster than the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, the fastest street-legal car in the world!

Finger Dislocation

What is a finger dislocation?
A finger dislocation is when the bones in a finger joint are moved out of place so that the joint no longer works properly.

How does it occur?

A dislocation usually occurs from a blow such as a ball striking the tip of the finger. A hard fall onto a finger or getting a finger caught in an object may also dislocate the finger.

What are the symptoms?

A dislocation causes pain and swelling right away. The finger looks crooked. Usually you are unable to bend or straighten the dislocated joint.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your finger. An X-ray will be taken to check if there is also a break in your finger.

How is it treated?

Your healthcare provider will realign the dislocated bones. Your finger may be placed in a protective splint for several weeks or taped to the finger next to it (called buddy taped).

To treat this condition:

Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.
Raise your hand on a pillow when you sit or lie down.
Take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
Follow your provider’s instructions for doing exercises to help you recover.
How long will it last?

Your finger may be swollen with decreased flexibility and strength for many weeks. Sometimes the joint swelling may take weeks or months to go away, and in some cases may be permanent. It is important to keep doing finger exercises during and even after you return to your normal activities. These exercises help strengthen your finger and improve range of motion.

When can I return to my normal activities?

Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to your activities depends on how soon your finger recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury happened. The goal is to return to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury.

Your healthcare provider will recommend that your dislocated finger be splinted or “buddy taped” (taped to the finger next to it) for 3 to 6 weeks after your injury. In many cases, you will be able to return to your normal activities as long as you wear your splint or have your finger taped.

How to position your car seat for driving:

How to position your car seat for driving:

1. Starting position:
Lower the seat completely.
Slide the seat away from the steering wheel completely.
Recline the back rest to about 30 degrees from vertical.

Lower the seat cushion at the front edge.
Place the steering wheel in its highest and most forward position.
Release the lumbar support to its “backed off” position.

2. Raise the seat as high as possible to maximize your vision of the road without causing your head and neck movements to be restricted.

3. Move the seat forward until you can easily depress the clutch and accelerator pedals. You may also need to raise the seat to allow good pedal control.

4. Tilt the seat cushion up or down to support your thighs along the length of the cushion.

5. Adjust the back rest so that it supports the full length of your back, right up to your shoulders.

6. Adjust the lumbar support to fit the curve of your lower back. There should be even pressure along your spine, with no gaps. If your vehicle doesn’t have a lumbar support you may need to use a lumbar cushion. Your physiotherapist can help you choose a cushion with a good shape for your spine.

7. Lower the steering wheel and move it towards you for easy reach. When your hands are positioned at “ten o’clock and two o’clock” your elbows should be slightly flexed. Check that you can still see the display panel and that your legs are clear of the wheel when you use the pedals.

8. Adjust your head rest so that the top of the rest is level with the top of your head. In the event of an accident, this will minimize whiplash injury.

9. Adjust the mirrors so that you can use them without straining your neck or body.

Check that the overall position does not strain any part of your body. If your vehicle has a seat position memory function, set it so that you can easily repeat your position of comfort each time you switch drivers.

Note: Cloth seat covers are best for preventing slipping into slouched positions.

Bone Chips in the Elbow (Osteochondritis Dissecans)

Bone chips in the elbow are small pieces of bone or cartilage that have come loose and float around in the elbow joint. The pieces of bone and cartilage usually come from the upper arm bone. (Cartilage is tough, smooth tissue that lines and cushions the surface of the joints.)

The medical term for this condition is osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow. Sometimes the chips are called loose bodies.

What is the cause?
The chips usually result from an injury to the elbow or from a lack of blood supply to the bone. Gymnasts and athletes whose sport involves a lot of throwing may also get bone chips in the elbow.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may include:
Your elbow hurts when you move it and sometimes it may lock in place.
You may hear a clicking sound when you move your elbow.
You may feel something inside the joint.
Your elbow may be swollen and you may not be able to completely straighten your arm.
How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, review your medical history, and examine your elbow. Tests you may have include:

X-ray
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to take pictures from different angles to show thin cross sections of the body
How is it treated?

You will need to rest your elbow and avoid sports and activities that cause pain until the symptoms are gone. To lessen swelling and pain in the first day or two, your healthcare provider will probably tell you to:

Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth, on the painful area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time.
Take an anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
Sometimes surgery is needed to remove large fragments and repair the joint surface. Small bone chips or cartilage fragments that don’t affect elbow motion and don’t get painful again may not need to be removed.

How can I take care of myself?
Follow your treatment plan.
Rest your elbow until the pain goes away. This may take up to a few weeks.
Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening symptoms.
When can I return to my normal activities?

Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to your activities depends on how soon your elbow recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your elbow started bothering you. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better. The goal is for you to be able to get back to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If you do this too soon you may worsen your injury.

You may go back to your activities when:
You can forcefully grip things, such as a bat or golf club, or do activities such as working at a keyboard, without pain in your elbow.
You don’t have any swelling around your elbow and it is as strong as your other elbow.
Your injured elbow is as strong as your other elbow.
You have full range of motion of your elbow.
How can I help prevent bone chips in the elbow?

Bone chips are usually caused by injuries to the elbow that are not easily prevented.

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