Thursday, May 18, 2017

Treating the whole suffering person, not just the pain

I have chronic knee pain, ooo, ouch, I count every step, I talk myself through outings involving long limps, I mean, walks. But I don't want knee replacements. I have just had too bad luck with surgeries, it's as simple as that.

So I take Tylenol--carefully rationed. No more than four a day and only on bad pain days. Did you know pain can vary from day to day? It can.

I have a close relative who got into the pain med cycle--opiate dependence, if you will. It has not been good.

The American Pain Society has said for decades that you must treat the whole person, not just the pain.

Holistic medicine expert David Katz, MD, at Yale (a guy I have interviewed) urges multi-pronged approaches to pain.

Katz recommends medical, social, psychological and lifestyle factors be considered for each patient.

For instance, the doctor can look at your sleep habits. Pain can cause sleep problems. People who sleep less also have less energy, move around less, and gain weight--which can lead to more pain.

Just the exercise from sleeping more and better can improve pain.

What you are looking for is more vitality, a greater sense of well being. Sleep can be a start.

I have slept badly all my life. A few hours at a time. Now, with age making me need more pit stops in the night, this is emphasized. Even that is usually OK--but if I worry and can't sleep, mind racing, I will have terrible knee pain the next day.

So there is a link.

However, I think all this improvement of lifestyle is limited when it comes to pain. The nerves are wired to warn you when you do something the body does not "like"--each and every time you do it.

Those nerves will fire no matter how chirpy you feel.

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