September is an interesting month, with dozens of different daily, weekly, and monthly observances at the beginning of the school year and Fall. At Holistic Pain, there were a few in particular that we wanted to highlight and spread the word about in order to raise awareness.
Pain Awareness Month
Central to our core mission is pain awareness and treatment research. Pain Awareness Month was established by the American Chronic Pain Association to to raise awareness of chronic pain in the media and the public.
Event organizers also aim to:
- Reduce some of the stigma surrounding chronic pain
- Promote effective treatments for patients dealing with chronic pain
- Help healthcare professionals, patients, and families better understand the challenges of chronic pain
- Create educational tools to make public outreach easier
- Work with local leaders to make chronic pain a noted public health issue
To help with their mission, we put together some of our own blogs about the topic of pain awareness.
One of the most crucial at-home remedies for pain management is exercise. It helps us improve physically as well as mentally. It can help reduce pain and strengthen the muscles to prevent future flare-ups. However, we know how difficult it can be to start up an exercise program when you suffer from a chronic pain condition. Because of this, we put together a list of the five exercises that work best for chronic pain patients. These exercises are low impact, easy to do for beginners, and allow the participant to move at their own pace.
We noted in the post that:
“The best way to treat any chronic pain condition is to recognize that your entire body is connected. It is also reliant on a positive mental outlook and your mood can affect your physical experiences. If you are looking for a holistic approach to treating your pain you may want to consider ways to add physical exercise into your everyday life.”
On the cutting-edge side of pain research and treatment development, we took a look at the potential for using regenerative medicine for chronic pain. As we discussed in that article, researchers are beginning to study implications for stem cell therapy for spinal cord injuries and platelet rich protein injections for arthritis.
To spread pain awareness, we also took an in-depth look at a sometimes misunderstood pain condition: chronic fatigue syndrome.
As we noted in our introductory post:
“Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a complex condition that can be debilitating. It is characterized by extreme fatigue that is not improved by resting and, in fact, can even be worsened by mental or physical activity. Symptoms affect multiple systems in the body that can include weakness, muscle pain, poor memory or concentration, and insomnia. All of these symptoms can result in a decreased desire to participate in daily activities.”
In addition to discussing the risk factors and symptoms of the conditions, we also took a look at possible treatments. Since it’s a misunderstood condition with few FDA approved treatments, many chronic fatigue syndrome patients turn to alternative therapies for treatment. While these may not cure the condition, they can help alleviate symptoms in order to restore a better quality of life.
Some of these treatments include:
While alternative treatments are increasingly used by patients now, recent research is helping us better diagnose and treat chronic fatigue syndrome. In our post about this recent research, we looked at two studies addressing the condition. Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies are using functional PET imaging to aid in chronic fatigue syndrome diagnoses. Meanwhile, researchers at Emory University and the CDC are finding clues for diagnosing and treating the condition in brain imaging scans done on chronic fatigue syndrome patients.
Active Aging Week
Another September observance is Active Aging Week, from the 21st to the 27th. Three posts touched on this important topic. The introductory post noted that:
“Aging is a complicated process that is quite different for every individual. Not everyone will experience long term, chronic conditions and those that do can do something to mitigate the pain and reduce discomfort. Staying active can help reduce the risk or symptoms of a number of degenerative conditions. Active Aging Week was established to bring attention to some of these subjects and how they affect us as we age.”
In order to promote healthy exercise at any age, our “How Much Should I Exercise?” post broke down exercise recommendations according to the guidelines put forth from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in their Physical Activity Guidelines of 2008. For older adults and those with chronic conditions, the exercise recommendations were largely the same, with a few caveats.
The guidelines noted that older adults and those with chronic conditions should:
- Be as physically active as possible according to their ability–whether that’s 10 minutes a day or 150 a week–as any activity is better than no activity
- Do exercises that maintain or improve balance, or otherwise target a specific area of weakness
- Determine the appropriate level of activity while consulting with their primary healthcare doctor
Another post linked to Active Aging Week listed healthy supplements that can be used specifically by older adults to promote healthy aging. These supplements include:
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- S-Adenosyl methionine
- Fish oil
- Vitamin D
General September observances
We touched on a few more observances this month, including:
In all, the observances this month helped create a sense of reflection during one of the busiest months of the year. While pain awareness will always be central to what we do at Holistic Pain, so too do we recognize the importance of active aging, physical therapy, and charity for patient’s well-being.
What was your favorite post this month on the blog? Was there a specific pain awareness blog you enjoyed?
Image by Randi Hausken via Flickr