Fibromyalgia: The In’s, the Out’s and the Details

August 29, 2014:  Traci Patterson – Owner, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

Fibromyalgia affects approximately 1 out of every 50 people. Experts say many more people are suffering from it because they go undiagnosed.  At this time, there is no test for fibromyalgia.  The diagnosis is made through exclusion of other diagnosis, syndromes or diseases.

 

Who Gets Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is far more common in women than in men.  Some interesting studies show that women have approximately seven times less serotonin in the brain.  That may explain why fibromyalgia syndrome, or FMS, is more common in women.

Another theory states that fibromyalgia is caused by biochemical changes in the body and may be related to hormonal change.  In addition, some (but not all) people with fibromyalgia have low levels of human growth hormone, which may contribute to the muscle pain.

Some have even speculated that lower levels of a brain neuro transmitter called serotonin leads to lower pain thresholds or an increased sensitivity to pain.  Serotonin is associated with a calming, anxiety-reducing reaction.  The lower pain threshold in fibromyalgia patients may be caused by a reduced effectiveness of the body’s natural endorphin painkillers and the increased presence of a chemical called, “substance P”.  Substance P amplifies pain signals.

There have been some studies that link fibromyalgia to sudden trauma to the brain and spinal cord.  Keep in mind, theories about what causes fibromyalgia are merely speculative.

 

What Are the Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia?

Risk factors are distinct characteristics researchers have identified that may increase your chances of getting certain illnesses.  While researchers have identified some common risk factors for fibromyalgia, there are still many people with the disease who have none of these traits.  Also, some women have fibromyalgia with certain diseases, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, erythematosus (SLE), and other autoimmune disease.  Yet, others have fibromyalgia without any underlying diseases.

Possible risk factors for fibromyalgia include:

  • Gender (females are more susceptible)
  • Genetic disposition (may be inherited)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor physical conditioning
  • Surgery
  • Trauma to the brain or spinal cord (after an injury, accident, illness or emotional stress)

 

Why Fibromyalgia Can Be a Challenge to Diagnose:

There are a number of reasons why diagnosis fibromyalgia can be difficult.  Let’s start with the following:

 

Doctors often need to rule out other conditions first.

Fibromyalgia can mimic other conditions.  Seemingly unrelated symptoms may lead your doctor to suspect other diseases or syndromes.  Doctors often test for other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), Lyme disease, and mononucleosis before reaching a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

 

Blood tests and X-rays can’t be used to diagnose fibromyalgia.

Since there are no tests, at this time, that can determine whether or not you have fibromyalgia, your doctor needs to rely solely on your symptoms.  And these symptoms often vary from person to person and from day to day.  It’s important to tell your doctor about your symptoms so her or she can understand the pain you’re feeling.

 

Not all doctors have diagnosed and/or treated fibromyalgia before.

Although fibromyalgia is not a rare condition, some doctors are more experienced with it than others.  So, it is important to find a doctor with the experience in making the fibromyalgia diagnosis and treating the condition.  Rheumatologist, neurologists, and pain management specialists frequently diagnose and treat fibromyalgia.

 

Guidelines to help YOU, and your doctor diagnose fibromyalgia:

There are guidelines that can be very helpful in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology published the following criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia:

  • Widespread pain above and below the waist, on both the right and left sides of your body, and in the axial skeleton (your skull, spine, rib cage, and the bones in your throat and ears) for at least 3 months.
  • Tenderness or pain in 11 of the 18 “tender points” on your body

Based on these guidelines, your doctor may perform a tender point exam.  Your doctor will do this by applying pressure to these 18 points and counting how many you find tender.

In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology published a new set of preliminary guidelines.  These guidelines include a widespread pain index that assesses the number of painful body regions, and a scale that assesses the severity of symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, comprehension problems, and others in the body. 

By using one or both of these sets of guidelines, along with tests to rule out other possible conditions, it is possible for your doctor to make a fibromyalgia diagnosis.  So, if you think you may have fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor about what steps you can take towards an accurate diagnosis.

 

What Are the Treatment Options for Fibromyalgia?

Exercise

At least some (gentle) exercise and stretching is a very important part in controlling fibromyalgia.  It helps balance blood sugar, improves circulation, and can slow the potential nerve damage resulting from this condition.  Swimming or riding a stationary bike may be preferable to running because they are low impact exercises.  Yoga is also a great option.

 

Diet

Diet is crucial when addressing fibromyalgia.  Alcohol and tobacco should be eliminated at all costs. Other harmful foods to be avoided include; processed foods, foods with processed sugar, fast foods, junk foods, sugary drinks and sodas of all types, and foods containing trans-fatty acids. Products sprayed with pesticide should also be avoided.

The nervous system can be negatively impacted by sweeteners and additives contained in diet soda and processed foods such as MSG and aspartame, etc. Individuals suffering from fibromyalgia should have a balanced intake of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

 

Nutrition

In addition to proper diet and exercise, clinical studies have shown time and again that vitamins and herbs can be very effective at preventing and even reversing signs of fibromyalgia.

B vitamins can be very effective at helping to control fibromyalgia but in most cases you get what you pay for. All forms of vitamins are not the same. In fact, there are 4 different forms of vitamin B12 alone. Most supplements use the cheapest available form of ingredients and since there is very little government oversight in the supplement industry, it is hard to know that what you are getting will be the best form to fight fibromyalgia.

Along with B vitamins, you should also consider vitamin D and a powerful anti-oxidant such as alpha lipoic acid.

 

Medication

In recent years 3 medications have been approved specifically for the treatment of fibromyalgia; pregabalin (Lyrica®), duloxetine (Cymbalta®) and milnacipran (Savella®).  Unfortunately, most of these medications come with a host of unwanted side effects. 

People experience fibromyalgia differently, so fibromyalgia medicines don’t produce the same results in everyone. Often doctors prescribe non-narcotic pain relievers (tramadol), low doses of antidepressants (tricyclic antidepressants/serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or benzodiazepines.

Please consult your physician for an appropriate medication for you or your loved one.

Hypnosis

Working with a certified hypnotist that also holds a certification in ‘Pain Management’ has proven to be a great ‘Drug-free’ alternative treatment option for fibromyalgia patients.  A good program should include methods such as imagery, cell memory, bio-feedback, light-sound therapy, EMT, and other somatic therapies.  And learning self-hypnosis too.  This combination has allowed fibromyalgia patients to regain their lives, to go from an average pain level of 9-10/10 and take it down to a 0/10. 

 

Although they state there is no cure for fibromyalgia, or once you have it you will always have it… It is important to realize there are treatment options available.  Traditional trained physicians will most likely push for medications, but it is important to weigh out the side effects.  Look at all of your options if you or a love one is diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  Know your options! 

If you would like more information on ‘Drug-free’ treatment options for fibromyalgia via hypnosis please contact Advanced Pathways Hypnosis.  We are known for our compassionate pain management program in treating fibromyalgia, chronic pain, neuropathic pain and other health and wellness issues.

 

1.714.717.6633   |   Info@AdvancedPathways.com   |   http://www.AdvancedPathways.com  

 

 

 

Arachnoiditis: Yes It Is A, True, Medical Condition

August 24, 2014:  Traci Patterson – Owner, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

What is Arachnoiditis, History, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

What is Arachnoiditis

Arachnoiditis is inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the membranes known as meninges that surround and protect the nerves of the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord which contains the cerebrospinal fluid. The arachnoid can become inflamed because of adverse reactions to chemicals, infection from bacteria or viruses, as the result of direct injury to the spine, chronic compression of spinal nerves, complications from spinal surgery or other invasive spinal procedures, or the accidental intrathecal injection of steroids intended for the epidural space.[1][2] Inflammation can sometimes lead to the formation of scar tissue and adhesion that can make the spinal nerves “stick” together. This can be extremely painful, especially in last stage adhesive arachnoiditis.

The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) divides arachnoiditis in the following way:

  • Adhesive Arachnoiditis
  • Arachnoiditis Ossificans
  • Neoplastic Arachnoiditis
  • Optochiacmatic Arachnoiditis
  •  
  • Postmyelographic Arachnoiditis
  • Rhinosinusogenic Cerebral Arachnoiditis
  • Spinal Ossifying Arachnoiditis
  • Cerebral Arachnoiditis  

History

There have been medical findings of typical lesions of spinal tuberculosis linked to arachnoiditis, in the spines of some Egyptian mummies dating back to over 5,000 years ago.  In the last two decades there has been an increase in the number a patients being referred for various treatments such as myelograms, ganglion blocks, sympathetic blocks, epidurals, other injections into the spine to help with pain or even laminectomies.  But, for some people these procedures can lead to a debilitating diagnosis of arachnoiditis. 

Symptoms 

Arachnoid inflammation can lead to many painful and debilitating symptoms. Chronic pain is common, including neuralgia.  Numbness and tingling of the extremities is frequent in patients due to spinal cord involvement. Bowel, bladder, and sexual functioning can be affected if the lower part of the spinal cord is affected. While arachnoiditis has no consistent pattern of symptoms, it frequently affects the nerves that supply the legs and lower back. Many sufferers find themselves unable to sit for long (or even short) periods of time, often due to severe pain as well as efferent neurological symptoms, such as difficulties controlling limbs. This is particularly problematic for patients who have trouble standing or walking for long periods, as wheelchairs don’t help them. Some sufferers benefit from relatively new inventions, such as the Segway or less expensive alternatives. Standing wheelchairs are also available, although often expensive and limited compared to these alternatives. However, standing endurance and vibration tolerance should be considered before selecting a motorized assistance device.

It is critical that patients realize that arachnoiditis symptoms vary greatly, and not all sufferers experience all symptoms. Consequently—while typically significantly life-altering—the outcome, especially with physical therapy, appropriate psychotherapy, and medication, may be better than many patients fear when they first hear the diagnosis.

Causes

The usual causes of spinal arachnoiditis are:

  1. Infections like tuberculosis, AIDS, fungus and meningococcus can lead to arachnoiditis, but this is NOT always the case.
  1. Dyes used for myelograms like pantopaque, metrizamide, omnipaque, etc.
  1. Blood entering the spinal sac, (i.e. from subarachnoid hemorrhage, epidural blood patches, bleeding from anticoagulants, etc.)
  1. Spinal surgery, (the most common cause today) is mostly from a tear in the dura which allows blood to enter the cerebrospinal fluid. The other direct cause if from a spinal cord or nerve root injury during surgery.
  1. Irritant compounds injected into the sac such as hypertonic saline, phenol, methotrexate, hyaluronidase, papain, etc.
  1. Preservatives contained in some medications injected into the spine such as polyethylene glycol, benzylic alcohol, para-aminobenzoic acid, etc.
  1. Traumatic injury to the spinal cord or the brain may result in bleeding into the cerebrospinal fluid, nerve tissue damage or avulsion. Even needle punctures causing paresthesia on the nerve roots or the spinal cord (from epidural, spinal anesthesia or other nerve blocks) may cause arachnoiditis.

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, there is no cure for arachnoiditis. 

Arachnoiditis is difficult to treat. Treatment is limited to alleviation of pain and other symptoms.  In the acute inflammatory phase, the administration of systemic and intraspinal corticosteroids may prevent the evolution into the chronic phase.  

Once the proliferative phase starts, any intervention may exacerbate that pain path mechanism.  Therefore, invasive procedures have to be selected if the risk/benefit ratio is favorable.  Surgical intervention generally has a poor outcome, and only provides temporary relief. Steriod injections, administered either intrathecally or epidurally have been linked as a cause of the disease, therefore they are generally discouraged as a treatment and may even worsen the condition.

Doctors have different views about this disease so seeking a second opinion may be wise.  A variety of new therapeutic agents and interventional modalities are being proposed mostly for the symptomatic treatment of arachnoiditis.  At this juncture it is critical to decrease pain levels and decrease the inflammation to increase the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.  This can be done via ketamine infusions and other medications to decrease inflammation.  The use of ketamine in an infusion does require the patient to undergo ‘boosts’ to keep their pain and inflammation under control.  Another ‘drug-free’ way to treat arachnoiditis is with hypnosis.  Yes, hypnosis is a very effective way to control pain, reduce inflammation, control stress/anxiety, improve sleep and other side effects of arachnoiditis.  (It is essential to see someone that holds a certification in pain management, in addition to a certified/credentialed in hypnosis.)

However, the most important therapy is prevention, since most of these cases are iatrogenically caused.  Education of physicians, nurses, and technicians regarding the numerous causes of this disease is an essential initial step, followed by the information to the public in general, and to patients with spinal disease in particular, so as to warn them against accepting questionably effective procedures in desperation to have their pain relieved and to procure competent and responsible physicians in their care.  Once an injurious event takes place, prompt action to define the precise diagnosis and to institute a treatment plan is urgent. There is no place for hesitation since there is only a short window of opportunity during which chances to reverse the process are feasible. Once the proliferative phase begins, there is only symptomatic treatment.

If you would like more information on ‘Drug-free’ treatment options for Arachnoiditis please contact, Traci, at Advanced Pathways Hypnosis.

714.717.6633   |   Traci@AdvancedPathways.com   |   http://www.AdvancedPathways.com

 

 

References

  1. PDR US-FDA 2010 DataSheet | Depo-Medrol | Pfizer
  2. DA Nelson, WM Landau | Intraspinal Steroids: History, Efficacy, Accidentality, and Controversy with review of United States Food & Drug Administration Reports | Neurosurgery/Psychiatry Review | 2001

Quinolone-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Quinolone-induced peripheral neuropathy is a real potential.  Quinolone is a broad spectrum antibiotic that works by interrupting the molecules in bacteria.  The majority of people in the US will know these medications by such names as:  Levofloxacin, Cipro, or Levaquin.  If you have recently taken a medication within this classification and have started suffering with neuropathy I urge you to get in touch with your physician.    

Although this adverse event is considered rare, a 2013 Drug Safety Communication[2] from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautioned providers to recognize this side effect.  The potential for the development of peripheral neuropathy has been recognized since the mid-1990s.[3,4] It can occur within the first several hours of medication use, and most cases occur during the first week on the quinolone.  The most common initial symptom is paresthesia, which for many patients is the only symptom.  Some people, unfortunately, will also experience substantial pain.  Permanent neuropathy may occur.

Quinolones have many other side effects, and there have been lawsuits in the United States over some of them.  Most clinicians are aware of concerns about tendinopathy with quinolones and the risk for tendon rupture.[5] Tendinitis is most likely to occur in the Achilles tendon, although the hand and shoulder are also commonly involved.  A smaller percentage of affected patients may progress to tendon rupture.  This catastrophic event can occur within hours of commencing treatment and weeks to months after discontinuing the drug.  A black-box warning regarding the risk for tendinitis and tendon rupture was added in 2008.[6]

An important clinical pearl: Risk for tendinopathy is far greater in older patients and those taking concomitant corticosteroids. The risk for tendon rupture (odds ratio, 3.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-6.3) and, specifically, rupture of the Achilles tendon (odds ratio, 43.2; 95% confidence interval, 5.5-341.1) is substantially increased in patients taking a quinolone plus steroids.[7] If use of a quinolone and steroids together is warranted, the patient must be informed about this potential and educated to recognize its onset, discontinue the medication immediately if symptoms occur, and notify the prescriber.  Patients should also avoid exercise and use of the affected area at the first sign of tendon pain, swelling, or inflammation.

Other adverse effects of quinolones are important to note.  Central nervous system side effects, such as insomnia, headache, dizziness, and confusion, are common.[8] There is also an increased risk for ventricular arrhythmia secondary to a prolonged QT interval, a side effect most noted with moxifloxacin.[9]

Recent research has investigated the association of quinolones with retinal detachment.  One study[10] found that current, recent, or past use of an oral fluoroquinolone was associated with a 4.5 relative risk for retinal detachment. A more recent study[11] published in JAMA in November 2013 concluded that oral fluoroquinolone use was not associated with increased risk for retinal detachment.  The investigators emphasized that their study’s limited power did not allow them to rule out a less than 3-fold increase in relative risk, but they did note that any differences in absolute risk were likely to be of minor clinical significance.   Therefore, although the jury is out on risk for retinal detachment, that possibility must be kept in mind for a patient taking a quinolone who experiences visual changes.

Is the risk for peripheral neuropathy important to recognize, or any of the other risks?  The recent FDA letter provides a warning that must be taken seriously.  It is quite interesting that Australia has banned the use of Quinolones for the above mentioned reasons, yet we continue to allow their continued use here in the US.

 Any risk with any medication that a patient takes must be taken into account and weighed out accordingly with benefits and reason for it being prescribed.

Ultimately the physician is responsibility to prescribe a safe medication with the fewest side effects possible to their patients.  Yes, this may take a bit more time and knowing what the top medications are for a specific diagnosis but this is what the patients are depending on their doctor for.  They also need to know that ‘statins’ can also lead to neuropathy in rare cases, but it does happen.  (We’ll leave that for another story.)  It is time for the patient(s), their loved ones or care takers to get educated on what is prescribed; the potential side effects and they need to be willing to ask for an alternate medication if they are not comfortable with what they are given.  I am a firm believer that the patient, their loved ones or care taker needs to be an active participant in their care.

If you have neuropathic pain and are seeking a ‘Drug-free’ alternative treatment please contact, Traci, at Advanced Pathways Hypnosis for a FREE consultation. Compassionate pain management is just a step away!

1.714.717.6633    |    Traci@AdvancedPathways.com    |    www.AdvancedPathways.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

  1. ….
  2. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA requires label changes to warn of risk for possibly permanent nerve damage from antibacterial fluoroquinolone drugs taken by mouth or by injection. August 15, 2013. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm365050.htm Accessed July 30, 2014.
  3. Hedenmalm K, Spigset O. Peripheral sensory disturbances related to treatment with fluoroquinolones. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1996;37:831-837.
  4. Cohen JS. Peripheral neuropathy associated with fluoroquinolones. Ann Pharmacother. 2001;35:1540-1547. Abstract
  5. Lewis T, Cook J. Fluoroquinolones and tendinopathy: a guide for athletes and sports clinicians and a systematic review of the literature. J Athl Train. 2014;49:422-427. Abstract
  6. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA requests boxed warnings on fluoroquinolone antimicrobial drugs. Seeks to strengthen warnings concerning increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture. July 8, 2008. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2008/ucm116919.htm Accessed July 30, 2014.
  7. Giovanni C, Zambon A, Bertu L, et al. Evidence of tendinitis provoked by fluoroquinolone treatment. Drug Saf. 2006;29:889-896. Abstract
  8. Oliphant CM, Green GM. Quinolones: a comprehensive review. Am Fam Physician. 2002;65:455-464. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0201/p455.pdf Accessed July 30, 2014.
  9. Gatifloxacin and moxifloxacin: two new fluoroquinolones. Med Lett Drugs Ther. 2000;42:15-17. Abstract
  10. Etminan M, Forooghian F, Brophy JM, Bird ST, Maberley D. Oral fluoroquinolones and the risk of retinal detachment. JAMA. 2012;307:1414-1419. Abstract
  11. Pasternak B, Svanström H, Melbye M, Hviid A. Association between oral fluoroquinolone use and retinal detachment. JAMA. 2013;310:2184-2190. Abstract

Spinal Cord Stimulators – Adverse Effects and Possible Paralysis

08/10/2014 – Traci Patterson, Owner, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

In April 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an analysis of adverse events associated with spinal cord stimulators:

 

.When Spine Implants Cause Paralysis, Who Is to Blame?

 

These events were submitted to the FDA or were obtained from medical malpractice law suits. “In many cases, the injuries occurred after patients’ spinal cords were punctured or compressed by the stimulator electrodes….The FDA’s database contains 58 unique reports of paralysis with report or event dates from 2013, compared with 48 in the prior year.” The spinal cord stimulators were made by various companies.

 

“Researchers at Duke University medical center recently found that nearly one in every 100 spinal stimulator patients experienced some degree of spinal cord or spinal nerve root damage, said Shivanand P. Lad, a Duke Neurosurgeon and the study’s lead researcher. The study, based on insurance claim records of 12,300 stimulator patients has been submitted for presentation at an upcoming medical meeting.”

.

“A 2011 study based on adverse event reports submitted by device makers found the rate of paralysis or motor weakness in patients implanted with a commonly used type of stimulator was considerably lower, at around 3.8 per 1000, with about 60% of patients eventually experiencing complete or partial recovery.”

.

Medtronic updated its product label in February to note “that scar tissue can form around device electrodes and cause nerve damage, including progressive quadriparesis, or gradual weakening of all four limbs.”

.

“Medtronic estimates that as many as 50,000 people in the U.S. are implanted with spinal stimulators each year from all device makers.”

.

“Stimulators cost between $20,000 and $60,000 each and have estimated global sales of $1.5 billion annually….”

.

The FDA “cautions that the agency’s database cannot be used to ascertain comprehensive rates of adverse events because the events are under reported and often contain incomplete or incorrect information.”

.

The article describes a man with 40 years of back pain who had a spinal cord stimulator implanted at the University of Texas Southwestern Hospital, Dallas. He complained of numbness in his legs. A blood clot was removed on an urgent basis, but damage was irreversible. He was paralyzed from the waist down and left in a wheelchair.

.

Spinal cord stimulators (abbreviated SCS) can cause many more problems that paralysis. They can cause pain, tethering of the cord, scarring of the battery pack that can slide across the back, infection that may cause death, and many other complications. Electrodes may not always be able to be removed and remain permanently scarred into the cord. Deeply troubling is that an MRI can never be done again even if the patient has cancer or stroke.  This information has been reported by various physicians including Dr. Sajben.

 

As a patient that was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and got to the point of what I called, ‘no return’.  Meaning my pain management doctor and other doctors had nothing more to offer me other than a Spinal Cord Stimulator or that is all they knew to offer me shall we say, so I moved forward with it (having a Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted) back in 2010.  In hind sight I will state that it was the worst mistake that I made in the treatment of my condition and this is why.  This is a look at what I wrote to a physician doing a study on spinal cord stimulators in 2011 after I had a very successful trial!

 

I currently have a Medtronic SCS it was implanted early 2010 and I ended up having swelling in my Lt (affected) foot/ankle every time I would charge the “re-chargeable battery”. No one at Medtronic could figure out the issue. I turned into their “human lab rat”. After several months of this I was told to switch from a rechargeable battery to a non-rechargeable battery. Thus another operation… which I did. After this surgery (I have a paddle with 16 electrodes) all 8 electrodes on the Lt side that used to supply stimulation to my Lt foot/ankle now hit my pelvic area – thus I can no longer utilize these electrodes. And out of the 8 electrodes on the Rt 2 are providing stimulation to my Lt foot and the other 6 are hitting the wrong areas. In addition to this I have had continual instances where I am getting a very sharp pain/ sharp twinge (like a jolt) around where the electrodes area. When this happens if I turn off the SCS the pain immediately stops. I’ve been on a conference call with a Senior Engineer of Medtronic and a local Rep in person with me to do reprogramming… The Engineer only wanted to know if the electrodes were putting out stimulation. He didn’t want to know what the amperage was at before I could feel it or in what part of the body the stimulation was felt. These should have been critical pieces of information. All he wanted to state was that the electrodes were working. As for the Sharp Pain / Sharp Twinges that continue to occur in the electrode area their Senior Engineer has no idea what is causing this. He asked me to run an experiment the next time it happened – I did exactly what he wanted and reported back the findings. I have yet to hear back from Medtronic. They do not want to back up their product and they are not willing to admit that there is a problem. Although I have 2 doctors including a Neurosurgeon that feel there is some type of fault in their product or that it is faulty. Hopefully this gives you some additional information you were seeking. Please feel free to email me if you would like to discuss further. I am continuing my uphill battle with Medtronic.

I have spoken with Medtronic as recently as yesterday and they cannot explain the continual sharp pain/sharp twinge that I continue to get where the paddle that holds the electrodes is placed. The “Patient Relations Rep” that has been assigned to me, (at one point she tried to tell me she was from their “Legal Department” and she was later introduced by a team member as a “Patient Relations Representative”), doesn’t feel this is a big issue. She told me yesterday that this is “just medicine” and sometime they can get it right and other times it just doesn’t work out… The Senior Engineer at their company cannot figure out what the problem is, so he just wants to reset the “INS”. I asked exactly what the “INS” was and the Patient Relations Rep couldn’t answer that question. I have already had my system reset numerous times (too many to count) and reprogrammed numerous times.

The trial was approximately $25,000; the hospital expenses alone and cost for the SCS implant were over $150,000 and the secondary surgery to replace the rechargeable battery with a non-rechargeable battery was approximately $53,000. This is all for a system the now has 2 out of 16 electrodes that hit the correct area, creates an intermittent sharp pain/sharp twinge in the spinal area where the electrodes/paddle is placed, and they aren’t sure how to resolve this issue. But I was told yesterday that their system was working properly by their rep.”

 

Here is what happened after the above referenced correspondence / issues:

 

I did have the Medtronic SCS explanted. Medtronic could NEVER explain why their unit was having issues and I even released it to their lab for processing.

My pain management doctor, neurologist and neurosurgeon all told me they had nothing more to offer me accept to try a different type of SCS, so I was convinced to have a ‘Boston Scientific’ SCS implanted as a replacement. This was the end of 2011.  This particular SCS was only in for a couple of months and I began to have issues with the stimulation that was being delivered. I had their top reps working with me. I also had some other odd sensations happening that I was very aware of. Thus, I had my Neurosurgeon do some searching online to see if there were any write-up on scar tissue build up due to ‘Spinal Cord Stimulators’.  The reason we looked into this area was because I kept loosing signal strength and the ability to control the stimulation. He had never heard of any issues and had never seen any literature on this problem, but he was willing to do the research. I knew I was in trouble when I received a person email back from my Neurosurgeon within 24 hours of my request for information… He found 2 articles in medical journals about scar tissue from Spinal Cord Stimulators causing paralysis in patients. We then did what imaging we could do as no MRI was possible with a SCS. We found that I was within this category after just a few months!

Please keep in mind that the surgery to input the SCS(s) in my back also caused my CRPS to move into my back. This was a huge issue for me. Now on top of that I had to go through yet another surgery to have the SCS removed immediately to prevent paralysis from my waist down.

I was never told about any possibility of build-up of scar tissue around my Dura. I was never told about a possible complication of paralysis. I asked if I needed to be concerned about my CRPS moving into my back with the implant of the SCS and I was told, “NO”… Yet, it happened.

I personally sent in information to the FDA regarding my case with the SCS(s), my Neurosurgeon wrote up a case study on me (with my permission), my Neurologist submitted a report to the FDA regarding my issues with both Medtronic and Boston Scientific and we all tried to do our part to get the information out there.

As a patient, if you have issues like this happen to you, you need to be willing to report it so that others can be aware of it. Otherwise the DME companies (i.e. Medtronic, Boston Scientific, etc…) will not release the information unless they are pressured.

Now you may be saying that this is just one patient and this is just a fluke.  No, it isn’t.  Look at the statistics that are just starting to come out.  The interesting thing is that I have spoken with my own pain management doctor recently about the use of ‘Spinal Cord Stimulators and to inquire about his outlook on them since he went through this with me.  My pain management doctor is also a professor at well-known medical university in Southern Californian in addition to having his own practice.  Our recent conversation has outlaid several things in his opinion.  First of all he feels many pain management doctors and/or surgeons or pushing the spinal cord stimulators as they are, ‘quick and easy’ in their eyes.  He feels that the physicians need to be very selective with the patients and it is the physicians’ responsibility to know the possible outcomes (i.e. side effects of the implantation of a foreign device in your body) and not just the possible complications from a basic surgery.

Where are the five year studies that show benefit?  Even with no complications, how long do they continue to relieve pain?  Electrodes move and/or they malfunction. There is little to no federal investment in medications that relieve pain, but these devices are garnering sales of $1.5 billion annually without showing lasting benefit. This is a very big source or income for pain specialists, but what is the gain for patients?  How can we weigh the pros and cons of this money generating device?

So many of chronic pain patients that have failed to get better after basic therapies and trying just a small regiment of medications are given only one choice by their pain management doctors:  spinal cord stimulator.  One choice.  This is a very big business, but where is the five year data?

This is very unfortunate, because physicians and the manufacturers are giving the patients false hope.  They tell the patients that the Spinal Cord Stimulator will help stop their pain.  They never discuss the fact that the CRPS/RSD can move into the back with the implant or surgery.  They never talk about what happens when they can’t get the coverage with the stimulation that they hoped for.  This means that the patient does not get as much relief as previously thought.  They never talk about the fact that this is not a way to get rid of 100% of the pain.  At best it will knock it down by 40% or maybe a bit more, but the longer you have the SCS in those figures go down due to the build-up of scar tissue.

Yes, there are some success stories out there with the SCS or they would not be utilized, but it is critical for every patient to know all of the information prior to making this decision.

At what point will the physician open up their thinking to allow their patients access to additional options for pain management?  There are different options available now!  The more informed the physicians are the better off their patients will be when it comes to their conditions, their health and their outcomes.

If you would like information of alternative treatments for chronic pain, CRPS/RSD, fibromyalgia, cancer pain, PTSD, stress/anxiety reduction or insomnia please contact Traci at Advanced Pathways Hypnosis.  Call today to set up a FREE consultation:

714.717.6633 | Traci@AdvancedPathways.com   |   http://www.AdvancedPathways.com

Chronic Pain: There’s Got To Be a Way Through It

   Over 100 million Americans are currently suffering with some type of chronic pain, and this number continues to grow according to the US Pain Foundation.  

   I love the quote by Michael J. Fox, “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation.  It means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it.”

   Too often chronic pain patients and/or their loved ones get caught up the overwhelming ‘spin cycle’, as I would call it.  Doctor’s appointments, lack of concrete information, overwhelming pain, medications, side effects, exhaustion, insomnia and the ongoing search for answers… to name a few items.  Any of these items or all of them can leave a patient and/or their family searching for information on their condition, possible treatments and ways to get relief, if not a cure or remission.  The problem comes when there is a lack of viable information available to patients, family members and loved ones which at times make us feel resigned to the fact that we may have to just live with chronic pain.

   As patients we have to be willing to ask the hard questions.  We have to be willing to stand up for our rights.  As a patient you also have to be willing to be your own best advocate.  Yes, this is extremely hard when you have chronic pain or any debilitating condition, but if you won’t who will…

   The majority of people rely on their primary physician, surgeon or pain management doctor to convey information to them regarding their condition.  This is a grand idea and I highly recommend speaking with your physician to gain information regarding your diagnosis and prognosis.  Setting a proper treatment plan in place and following it.  Yet, what happens when you’ve taken these steps and you or a loved one is still in pain or still having issues with their diagnosis?  

ac·cept·ance

/ækˈsɛptəns/

noun

1. the act of taking or receiving something offered.

2. favorable reception; approval; favor.

3. the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory.

4. the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable.

   I know all too well that patients and their families are conditioned to accept that they have to live with pain, but as an individual that lived with chronic pain and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) for approximately seven (7) years.  I am here to tell you that you don’t have to ‘resign’ yourself to living with chronic pain the rest of your life because there are ways through it and there is hope.

   When I was diagnosed with CRPS I too had problems finding answers.  I went through my own personal ‘spin cycle’ and had to find a way to wring myself out.  Life without remission was not an option.  I knew in my heart that I had to find a way, with or without my doctors, to regain my life. 

   I went on my own personal quest when my physicians had nothing more to offer me other than to keep me on high levels of pain medications.  I was not willing to wait for the answers.  Instead, I went in pursuit of them. 

   Research turned up many treatments that people spoke of throughout the US and overseas.  I tried most of them, trust me.  I was treated with traditional medicine until my own physicians threw up their hands; I tried hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT); mud packs for pain; ketamine; integrative therapy in Frankfurt, Germany that included stem cell therapy, regional hyperthermia, & much, much more…; and finally found remission through a form of complementary medicine.

   I am not here to say that my way is the right way or that it is something that you have to do.   I am not saying it is easy.  What I am saying is, “Never resign yourself to living with chronic pain because there is hope if you’re willing to seeking it…

hope

noun

: the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen : a feeling that something good will happen or be true

: the chance that something good will happen

: someone or something that may be able to provide help : someone or something that gives you a reason for hoping

   Finding hope while dealing with chronic pain or debilitating conditions can be difficult, but is necessary to regain your life.  Don’t allow your hope to be stripped away from you during your time of need.  This is the very time that you need to ‘find your way through it’ and you DO need HOPE!

   If you would like more information on the author, Traci Patterson, or how she got into remission please feel free to contact her. 

Traci@AdvancedPathways.com  |  714.717.6633   

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Chronic Pain Patients and PTSD

What is PTSD and how does it affect chronic pain patients?

Prior to being treated for my CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) in Tennessee, I was unaware that I had PTSD.  That was the furthest thing from my mind and I would have never thought of myself as having PTSD.  But in 2013 when I was diagnosed with PTSD I had been through so many years of chronic pain and everything that came with it that the diagnosis made sense.

I worked with something called, ‘Issue Solution Technique’, to get through my PTSD in addition to other modalities while working to get my CRPS into remission.  I was able to connect the dots to figure out how PTSD became a part of my diagnosis.  This included years of intense pain that was unmanageable due to CRPS, listening to doctor and/or surgeons tell me that it was the worse case of CRPS ever, having doctors give up or not know what else to do, several procedures where anesthesia didn’t work so I was able to feel everything that was happening, other treatments that were so painful that I was left shaking and on the verge of going into shock, etc… In combination this is enough… more than enough to cause PTSD.  In order for me to get past the PTSD I had to let go of the stuff that had happened while going through my journey with CRPS, I had to allow myself to gain perspective, to forgive those that needed forgiveness and to realize that I was worthy.  Then and only then was I able to move on because we all know that chronic pain and CRPS is all encompassing.

PTSD, Post-traumatic stress disorder is a DSM V diagnosis in the mental health world. You have probably heard of it in relationship to war veterans returning home. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that causes the brain to fire in irrational and obsessive patterns after someone has gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involves a threat to his/her life or perceived threat of danger. Chronic pain, whether it is you or someone who is close to you sends off alarms into your central nervous system bringing in hyper-arousal and says, “threat is on board.” In our brain, the very threat of chronic pain memories (i.e. pain, treatments, negative statements by doctors and/or surgeons, traumatic activities associated with this time, etc…) will create the war like environment for PTSD.

Thus what can you do to cope with this threat in healthy ways in order to respond to chronic pain to allow you to manage PTSD symptoms?

First, give yourself a break and acknowledge the truth. Chronic pain is scary and creates rivers and avenues of fear within. Don’t try not to be afraid. Being brave is not the same as not being afraid. Being brave means that you know and understand the risks involved and respond to each risk with positive action, regardless of your level of fear.

Second, get enough rest. (Yes, this is difficult with chronic pain, but try.)  PTSD symptoms are intrusive showing up in nightmares, disruptive sleep, and early morning dread. Discover which tools are going to help you rest. If you need a night -light because the dark is all of sudden too scary buy a soft light positive action night- light. One that makes your face smile when you see its glow in your dark room. Experiment with some night- time organic herbal teas, such as chamomile to see if tea will assist you to sleep. Melatonin can be tried as well. (Check with your physician if you are on a sleep medication.)  If you are in treatment and it is too uncomfortable to sleep lying down, then sleep in a recliner chair or propped up with a bouquet of pillows. Rest is your friend. When you worry, the very biology of worry breaks down your cells.

Third, have an assortment of music at your fingertips. One day you might really want to hear angry heavy metal music blaring through your house because that might be reflecting your inner state and pleasant massage music is just too annoying when you are agitate. Let music reflect outwardly you inner state.  Yet, another day you may decide you want a nice peaceful assortment for calm and relaxation.

Fourth, try finding someone that has a background in PTSD to help you.  There are techniques available such as the one that was available to me, ‘Issue Solution Technique’ (that involves tapping, similar to EFT).  These techniques can help guide you through the process quickly and easily.

Other things that you can do to manage your PTSD symptoms are journaling your feelings, aromatherapy, funny movies, and good friends. Go to support groups, seek counsel from a professional who works with chronic pain patients and PTSD, and read to educate and inform yourself on your condition. It is important that you come to chronic pain well prepared and ready. Knowledge is power. Do not be afraid to learn about just exactly what is going on with you. Of course, it will be scary but the knowledge will help you make the best-informed decisions about your treatment and your life style.

Last, remember never to give up. You are priceless and valuable. Nothing you did caused this to happen to you.   Take comfort, manage your symptoms and keep the hope.

If you would like more information on treating PTSD or chronic pain please contact Advanced Pathways Hypnosis for a free consultation.

Info@AdvancedPathways.com   |  www.AdvancedPathways.com   |   714.717.6633