Emotional Support is Vital for Those Who Suffer with Chronic Pain

Don’t go it alone. Here’s why accepting support from family and friends is so important in treating chronic pain.

Although it may be a shocking idea, your personal support network may be equally as important to your health as your medical treatment team—or any kind of supplemental therapies.

Why? Because the bottom line is that a positive outlook is the best medicine for good health outcomes. If you are feeling contented and supported in your personal relationships, you’ll be much better equipped to cope with pain when it arises.

Unfortunately, many people find it hard to ask for help from their family and friends. We may have heard the message that it was weak or shameful to be dependent on others.

The truth is that when we are able to accept love and support, we’re better equipped to be as independent as possible in our daily lives.

Make a list of people in your life who have helped you in big and small ways in the past, as well as people that would probably be willing to help now if you were to ask.

Now, think about the things that are making your life the most difficult or stressful right now. This list could be anything from a leaky faucet in your kitchen to a pile of medical bills. Just get it all down on paper.

Finally, begin matching the list of stress points with the list of helpers in your life. Who could come over and fix that leaky faucet for you? Who could help you make phone calls to arrange a payment plan for those bills?

You will find that most of the people on your list are grateful for a chance to help you—they just didn’t know what to do that would be truly helpful. And when your stress level decreases (now that the leaky faucet or pile of bills is a thing of the past), your overall health will be optimized. That means chronic pain becomes less of a burden because you’re better able to cope with it.

Building your support network is just one way that you can take control of your own health and overcome chronic pain.

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscribe to our newsletters at http://neuropathydr.com.

Lupus – Not a Cookie Cutter Illness

 

When we hear that someone has lupus, we tend to think of it as one illness…

One illness with a very specific set of symptoms…

In both cases, we would be wrong.

Lupus is a very complex group of illnesses that not only vary by type but also in how they affect individual patients.  No two lupus patients and their symptoms are alike.

The fact is there are several types of lupus[1]:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – the most common type of lupus and what most people are thinking of when they say someone has lupus.
• Life Threatening Lupus – a form of SLE that affects one or more of the patient’s vital organs such as their heart, lungs, kidneys or liver.
Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE) – only affects the skin.
Drug Induced Lupus – caused by medications.  The symptoms are like the symptoms of SLE but will go away once the patient stops taking the particular medication that caused it.
Lupus in Overlap with other Connective Tissue Diseases – this is a type of lupus in which the patient has some other disease that affects the joints and tendons as well like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma, Sjogren’s Syndrome or Vasculitis.

All of these forms of lupus are serious and incurable.  Once you have any of these forms of lupus, you have it for life.  Granted, you will have flares (episodes of active lupus symptoms) and remissions (when you’re symptoms aren’t present or are really mild), but you’re not cured.  The symptoms come and go but the illness always remains.

With all these variables, it can be tough to know if you have lupus or something else.

If have at least four of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor immediately for testing and diagnosis:[2]

• Chest pain when you take a deep breath or if you cough up blood
• Fatigue
• Headaches
• Numbness, tingling, vision problems
• Seizures
• Vision problems
• Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
• Abnormal heart rhythms
• Fever for no apparent reason
• A general feeling of discomfort and ill feeling
• Hair loss
• Sores in your mouth
• Sensitivity to sunlight
• A rash over your cheeks and nose
• Swollen lymph nodes

Many of these symptoms may be caused by the damage lupus does to the peripheral nervous system or peripheral neuropathy.  Because of the effects of lupus on the nervous system, a good place to start for diagnosis and treatment would be a physician well versed in diagnosing and treating nerve diseases and damage, like your local NeuropathyDR® clinician.

Exactly Why Are Lupus and Peripheral Neuropathy So Serious?

Because the peripheral nervous system can be affected by lupus, every system of the body that is regulated by the peripheral nervous system can be damaged.

That means the nerves that control involuntary body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and perspiration.  Your body many not be able to regulate your heart rate or your blood pressure, you might not be able to properly digest your food, or your kidneys can be damaged and you could develop urinary problems.  A little less than 5% of lupus patients develop cranial neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the brain) leading to headaches, vision problems, depression, and even personality disorders.

As if that weren’t enough, lupus can cause serious problems with inflammation.  That can lead to:

• Inflammation of the sac around the heart
• Diseases of the heart valves
• Inflammation of the actual heart muscle
• Inflammation of the tissue around the lungs or pleurisy

Now, imagine having any of these issues and having peripheral neuropathy, too…

Your peripheral nerves aren’t functioning properly and can’t send the proper signals to your brain to let you know you have a problem.

You can see why this could be very serious.

If you have at least four of the above symptoms, call your doctor or your local NeuropathyDR® clinician today.   Early intervention is one of the best ways to minimize the damage caused by lupus and peripheral neuropathy.   While your lupus isn’t curable, a combination of medication and the highly specialized treatment protocol available to you through your NeuropathyDR® clinician to minimize nerve damage can make your life bearable and your symptoms manageable.

For more information on coping with lupus and peripheral neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

Meditation can help your neuropathy and chronic pain.

Looking for a Home Treatment for Chronic Neuropathic Pain? Reasons to Give Meditation a Try

Could Meditation be an Effective Home Treatment for Chronic Neuropathic Pain?

Meditation is a free wellness tool that you can use anytime and anywhere. And it’s not as complicated as you might think.

It might surprise you to hear that meditation can be an effective home treatment for chronic neuropathic pain. Maybe it doesn’t seem like something that would be an accepted neuropathy treatment, like medications or other traditional approaches to chronic pain.

In fact, there is a type of meditation that is actually considered to be evidence-based. In other words, multiple studies have looked at this method and seen positive results for chronic pain. A program called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has been used in many renowned hospitals and medical centers, incorporating a type of mindfulness meditation that focuses on noticing thoughts and sensations without judgment.

There are books and tapes available about this program, but you don’t even need that kind of specialized training to begin using meditation for wellness on your own. All you need is to understand why mindfulness meditation works with chronic pain.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed this evidence-based program, says that when we have chronic pain, there are two things that make us suffer: the physical pain itself, and our thoughts and emotions about the pain that intensify what we are feeling. Our story about the awfulness or unbearableness of the pain builds a layer of tension around it, like wearing a shirt with a collar that’s too tight.

Meditation lets us change the way we feel ABOUT the pain, so that we can be more relaxed and accepting of it. That way, we can experience peacefulness even when physical pain is present.

Those are the reasons why meditation can be an effective home treatment for chronic neuropathic pain. Soon, we’ll discuss some different ways to meditate and how you can find the method that works best for you.

Meanwhile, please join us for an ongoing discussion at our Facebook page!

HIV/AIDS and Peripheral Neuropathy – An Ever Changing Relationship

If you have HIV/AIDS, at some point in the progression of your disease you’ll probably develop peripheral nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy.

By most estimates, roughly one-third of people with HIV/AIDS experience peripheral neuropathy, especially in advanced cases.

While that may not be surprising, what you should also know is that some forms of peripheral nerve damage like Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) may affect early onset patients.

Your doctor may even be able to tell how far your HIV/AIDS has progressed by diagnosing the type of peripheral neuropathy you’ve developed.  As your disease progresses, your peripheral neuropathy will as well.

Exactly What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

 

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that develops when the peripheral nervous system is damaged by a condition like diabetes, cancer or HIV/AIDS.  When these nerves are damaged, they no longer communicate properly and all the bodily functions they govern are disrupted.

Depending upon which nerves are damaged and the functions they serve, you can develop serious or even life threatening symptoms.

Why Do AIDS Patients Develop Peripheral Neuropathy?

HIV/AIDS patients develop peripheral neuropathy for a number of reasons[1]:

•      The virus can cause neuropathy.

Viruses can attack nerve tissue and severely damage sensory nerves. If those nerves are damaged, you’re going to feel the pain, quickly.

The virus that causes HIV, in particular, can cause extensive damage to the peripheral nerves.  Often, the progression of the disease can actually be tracked according to the specific type of neuropathy the patient develops.  Painful polyneuropathy affecting the feet and hands can be one of first clinical signs of HIV infection.

•      Certain medications can cause peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is a potential side effect of certain medications used to treat HIV/AIDS.  Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI’s) or, in layman’s terms, the “d-drugs” (i.e., Didanosine, Videx, Zalcitabine, Hivid, Stavudine and Zerit) most often cause peripheral neuropathy.

Other drugs, such as those used to treat pneumocystis pneumonia, amoebic dysentery, Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, other cancers, wasting syndrome and severe mouth ulcers can all lead to peripheral neuropathy as well.

•      Opportunistic infections that HIV/AIDS patients are prone to develop are another cause of peripheral neuropathy.

The hepatitis C virus, Varicella zoster virus (shingles), syphilis and tuberculosis are all infections that can lead to problems with the peripheral nervous system.

How Do You Know If You Have Peripheral Neuropathy?

Most HIV/AIDS patients with peripheral neuropathy complain of[2]:

•     Burning

•     Stiffness

•     Prickly feeling in their extremities

•     Tingling

•     Numbness or loss of sensation in the toes and soles of the feet

•     Progressive weakness

•     Dizziness

•     Loss of bladder and bowel control

 

Why Should You Worry About Peripheral Neuropathy?

If your peripheral neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, you could develop

•     Blood pressure problems

•     Heart rate issues

•     Bladder or bowel control issues

•     Difficulty swallowing because your esophagus doesn’t function properly

•     Bloating

•     Heart burn

•     Inability to feel sensation in your hands and feet

Beyond being uncomfortable, any of these conditions can cause serious health issues; some can even be fatal.

Treatment Options for Peripheral Neuropathy

If you have HIV/AIDS and you think you’ve developed peripheral neuropathy, see a specialist immediately.  A good place to start is with your local NeuropathyDR® clinician for a treatment plan specifically designed for you.

You can help your neuropathy specialist treat you and help yourself, too, by:

•     Stop taking the drugs that cause peripheral neuropathy (but never discontinue drug therapy without supervision by your treating physician)

•     Start non-drug treatments to reduce pain like avoiding walking or standing for long periods, wearing looser shoes, and/or soaking your feet in ice water.

•     Make sure you’re eating properly.

•     Take safety precautions to compensate for any loss of sensation in your hands and feet, like testing your bath water with your elbow to make sure it’s not too hot or checking your shoes to make sure you don’t have a small rock or pebble in them before you put them on.

•     Ask about available pain medications if over the counter drugs aren’t helping.

Contact us today for information on the best course of treatment to deal with the pain of peripheral neuropathy caused by HIV/AIDS and taking steps to ensure that you don’t have permanent nerve damage.

For more information on coping with peripheral neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.