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Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain (11)

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The purpose of this piece is not to make fun of those whose comments are off the mark; most people have good intentions. I've written it partly because I hope it will make those of us with health difficulties feel less alone and partly because I hope it will help others understand how to communicate with us better. Each of the following comments has been made to me at least once since I became ill in 2001.


Labels matter. We quickly form judgments based on them. If we hear someone called lazy, the label "lazy person" attaches in our mind even though we may not have even met the person. The same is true for labels given to many medical conditions. If the label for an illness uses language such as "fatigue," we abstract from our experience and think we know what it's like to suffer from it.

Some medical disorders have been named after the researcher who discovered or described them in the medical literature (Alzheimer's). Others were named after a famous patient (Lou Gerig's disease). The result: instant legitimacy.

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 01:18


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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ME? 1. My pain - My pain is not your pain. It is not caused by inflammation. Taking your arthritis medication will not help me. I can not work my pain out or shake it off. It is not even a pain that stays put. Today it is in my shoulder, but tomorrow it may be in my foot or gone. My pain is believed to be caused by improper signals sent to the brain, possibly due to sleep disorders. It is not well understood, but it is real.

Friday, 23 December 2011 14:21

Managing chronic pain in the workplace

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Chronic conditions have become the norm in the workplace and, according to the World Health Organization, chronic disease is expected to account for 89% of all deaths in Canada. But what can plan sponsors do to keep employees healthy and engaged?

Chronic Neck PainThough chronic pain has become a more medically-recognized condition, whether as a complication of another diagnosis or an unexplained phenomenon existing by itself, one frontier remains: How do people with chronic pain and their partners maintain a healthy, exciting sex life?

Tuesday, 08 November 2011 12:37

Wrenching Decisions

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My co-worker lay in a hospital bed, probably dying. He collapsed in a heap the other day while at his desk. I’ve known and worked with this kind, gentle man for ten years, and his sense of humor was wry and hilarious. He always lifted my spirit and made a bad day tolerable. 

He has so many medical problems it could fill a notebook. He took the bullet and came bouncing back every single time. You’d see him gone for months or weeks at a time than he’d be back at it. I asked him why he didn’t go on disability because he certainly would qualify but that man worked through his personal physical HELL to get his daughters through college. He was unselfish to a fault.


Sunday, 02 October 2011 15:49

Chronic pain: The silent epidemic explained

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Back PainBy: Monami K. Thakur

Across the globe, chronic pain is a silent epidemic that affects millions every year, occurring as a result of disorders, disease or accidents.
Due to the complexity of the nature of this form of pain, researchers have often tried to decipher the social, medical and economic impacts on human life. As such, the medical approach for treating chronic pain is multidimensional - taking into account both the physical and psychological impacts of the pain. For understanding the paradigms of chronic pain, it is vital to know certain factors like risk groups, causes, treatment options and prognosis. Here's a 360 degree view on the condition to help you deal with it in a better manner.
Sunday, 18 September 2011 10:42

The Pain of Addiction

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Pot, cocaine and methamphetamines aren’t the drugs that have local law enforcement most worried these days.

The new drug of choice is more insidious — prescription painkillers meant to help treat people suffering from real, chronic pain.


AP photo

Local authorities blame the medications for an increase in every type of crime, from simple burglaries to home invasions and homicides. Officers say most of the inmates in the Sevier County Jail are there because of pill problems.

“Ninety percent of the people we bring in now, the first thing out of their mouths is, ‘Man I’ve got a pill problem,’” said Capt. Jeff McCarter, leader of the criminal investigation division. Inmates say the same; in fact one inmate said 95 percent of the suspects in the women’s dorm of the minimum security facility are there because of a pill problem.

The street crimes unit, which focuses on drug investigations, has seen prescription drugs come to dominate the black market more than other illicit drugs. It started with pills like Hyrdocodone, a prescription painkiller, as well as abuse of Xanax, a muscle relaxant. But when Oxycontin became more widely prescribed, it became the drug of choice.

It became clear early that Oxycontin was dangerous. Derived from opiates, it’s essentially synthetic heroin and quickly got the nickname of “hillbilly heroin.” Addicts have told detectives it’s actually harder to kick than “black tar” heroin, an illicit form of the drug made for abuse.

Roxicodone, a similar pill, shows up the most these days, an officer said.

“That is what we see almost all the time now is Roxi,” said Capt. Randy Parton, who runs the street crimes unit. “We don’t hardly see Hydrocodone anymore, or Xanax or Valium unless it’s with Roxi.” Law enforcement officers do what it can to keep the drugs off the street, but it’s difficult. Unlike banned substances like pot, cocaine or traditional heroin, prescription medicines don’t start out in the hands of a criminal. They’re manufactured legally, and are supposed to be prescribed by doctors and distributed by pharmacists.

But addicts will look for ways to get additional prescriptions or reuse prescriptions, and dealers search for ways to obtain the pills. And while most doctors and pharmacists are ethical, there are some willing to abuse their positions. There are also those willing to open pain clinics that are really nothing more than dope dispensers — drug dealers posting as legitimate businesses created to help patients dealing with chronic pain.

Until recently, parts of Florida were infamous for these types of clinics, and Parton said local officials are aware of dealers or users organizing group trips down there to obtain the drug.

In the last few months, Florida lawmakers cracked down with new laws aimed at stopping that practice. Unfortunately, the result has been the rise of more pain clinics in East Tennessee, and sometimes desperate measures by addicts who are having a harder time getting their drugs.

Robberies at pharmacies have increased, and people who have Oxycontin in their homes have become targets for home invasion robberies.

Law enforcement officials can’t stay around pharmacies all the time, but they’re aware of the issue and are working with pharmacists to keep them secure, Sheriff Ron Seals said.

They’re keeping their eyes on pain clinics when they open in Sevier County as well. Local government can’t just stop clinics from opening, and some are legitimate businesses serving a real need for people in chronic pain. But Parton said they watch new clinics when they open, and it doesn’t take long to know.

“I can tell you in a couple of days if it’s a real clinic or not,” he said.

Building a case can take longer, but Parton and Seals said they’ll do what it takes to push illicit clinics out of the community.

Home invasions are on the rise in Sevier County, too, and officers said almost all the incidents they’ve seen have related to drugs. People can learn that there are prescription drugs like Roxi in a home a number of ways, but most of the time they say it happens because someone has shared or sold drugs they have at home.

Many of the people selling the drugs don’t set out to go into the drug trade. They get a legitimate prescription for one of the painkillers, and perhaps they don’t use up the prescription because they recover from the pain or they’re just reluctant to use the pills themselves.

Then, one way or another, they find out how much the pills are worth. For a person on a fixed income, that can seem like a windfall. In the tough economic times, the temptation is there for even more people.

And suddenly they find themselves dealing drugs — holding on to a commodity that their customers believe they need to survive, along with large amounts of cash they really can’t put in a bank.

It’s a dangerous situation, and it’s one of the biggest reasons the area has seen an increase in home invasion robberies. The person dealing out of their home has put a bullseye on it for anyone looking to quickly score drugs and cash. “They know (the dealer) has money and dope,” McCarter said.

Enforcing the laws against individual users can be difficult, too. Officers have to catch them making an illicit buy or show they’re misusing a prescription drug.

It’s equally frustrating to see otherwise decent people driven to crime by a drug they might have started using at the recommendation of a doctor. Officers know many of the people who start out taking the painkillers aren’t necessarily looking for a high. Doctors prescribe the drugs for chronic pain; Oxycontin was intended for treatment of patients suffering terminal cancer among others.

But people who start abusing them have a hard time stopping. It might start out with a narcotic rush, but it quickly starts having a psychological and physical effect. Once they’re hooked, addicts start to feel like they can’t function without it. And as their tolerance grows, they start needing larger doses to get their fix.

A single pill isn’t designed to give that rush. They’re meant to give a gradual, time-controlled release so a patient doesn’t get too much at once.

Soon, they’re grinding the pills and snorting them, which allows it to reach the bloodstream more quickly.

Eventually, they will start cooking it down and injecting it. “They just chase that first high, which they’ll never, ever get again,” McCarter said.

That, in turn, leads to another problem they’re seeing more and more often: overdoses. “That’s why we have a lot of the DOAs (dead on arrivals) out here now,” Parton said. “A lot of them are by overdoses.”

Pill addiction leads to most of the other crime they’re seeing; as McCarter said, a lot of the burglaries, thefts and similar crimes are being committed by junkies looking to pay for their next high.

One dealer recently convicted in circuit court was found to be in possession of stolen property from several recently burglaries; officers said that his customers had been trading the hot merchandise for drugs. Suspects arrested on theft and other charges regularly tell officers they were committing the crimes to get high.

And many of their crimes go unreported, because they take from the people closest to them: their friends and family.

“I’ve never seen a drug that caused such a social impact as these pills,” Parton said.

By: Jeff Farrell.

You can contact him here:

Originally published on The Mountain Press

Sunday, 12 June 2011 08:46

Curing vs Healing - Which Do You Choose?

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Stair InjuryBy Trisha Torrey, Guide
Among my travels this week was the invitation to participate as a speaker for a program called "Conquering Catastrophe" put together by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. Yes. Lawyers. A discussion about how to get on with your professional life as a lawyer if you suffer a catastrophic event.  
Saturday, 25 September 2010 13:45

When You May Need Neck Surgery to Get Better

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Neck PainWhen you hear the expression “pain in the neck” you often don’t associate it with an actual pain that is found in the neck. However, when you truly experience a pain in the neck, it can be extremely painful and be a sign of a more serious issue that may require surgery. Neck surgery isn’t used for every neck pain, naturally, but can be the most ideal and effective measure for various conditions, as well as injuries. Considering that nearly 50% of the entire U.S. population is suffering from some sort of neck, arm, or shoulder pain associated with some sort of neck condition, there are definitely many people that require the use of neck surgery in order to recover fully or to a point of better use.

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