Pain Management

Two Thumbs Up for Computerized Pain Assessment Tool

Pain is a very difficult thing to measure. There's no lab test that can put it into an absolute number like a white blood cell count. Yet with 50 million chronic pain sufferers in the United States alone, there's got to be a better way to measure pain than the visual analog scale (VAS). Using this scale, patients assign a number from zero to 10 to rate their pain (zero is no pain, 10 is the worst pain).




What is nonneuropathic pain? That's what the doctor says I have. Even though it's been explained to me, I just can't remember what it is and I don't want to have to ask again. It would be the third time I've forgotten and asked. Maybe if I see it in writing, it will stick with me.

Very simply, nonneuropathic pain is pain that is NOT coming from damaged or irritated nerves. Neuropathic pain -- neuro for nerve and pathic suggest something IS pathologic or wrong with the nerve.




My doctor gave me a series of questions to answer to help her identify the source of my pain. The questionnaire was called the McGill Pain Questionnaire. Afterwards, she sat down with me and explained how some of my pain is worse than it seems because of certain emotions like fear and anger. I tend to agree with her but how does a simple set of questions like this give that kind of information? I don't remember any questions about how I feel.

The McGill Pain Questionnaire, also known as McGill pain index, is a scale of rating pain developed at the McGill University in Montreal, Canada. It was shown to be a valid and reliable tool to investigate pain and has been in use since 1971. There are many subsections to the questionnaire to help the examiner or health care professional get to the bottom of what hurts, how much it hurts, and potentially, why it hurts.




Good News For Pain Sufferers

Good news for pain sufferers! Health care professionals have an improved tool to use when assessing your pain and helping you to find ways to manage your pain. A very well-known pain researcher from McGill University in Canada, Dr. Ronald Melzack continues to improve his famous McGill Pain Questionnaire.




I need a spinal stimulator for pain control. Would it be cheaper to go to Canada and get it? I've heard the cost of health care there is much less than in the U.S.

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS), also called neurostimulation are used to help relieve chronic neuropathic (nerve) pain. A stimulator is implanted into the patient's body, which then sends out impulses to interrupt the pain signals and prevent them from reaching the brain.




Reporting on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome From Start to Finish

Every illness, disease, or medical condition has what we call a natural history. The natural history describes what typically happens for that patient with a particular problem. Natural history may include how quickly the disease advances or progresses. It also includes what signs and symptoms develop at each stage. Prognosis and what to expect at different time points of disease are also part of the natural history.




Is it true that more women than men get complex regional pain syndrome after an injury? That's what my doctor told me. I don't know why but I don't really want to believe it. It makes me feel somehow kind of inferior as a woman. There's got to be more to it than that.

Complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS is a painful condition that affects the arm and hand or leg and foot. It usually occurs after trauma of some sort, including car accidents, falls, assault, lifting heavy objects, and surgery.




Do you know of anyone who has ever been cured from complex regional pain syndrome? I noticed when I went on vacation to Hawaii my symptoms were much much better. Maybe a condo in Honolulu is really all the cure I need. But seriously, what can you tell me about the cure rate?

Every illness, disease, or medical condition has what we call a natural history. The natural history describes what typically happens for that patient with a particular problem. Natural history may include how quickly the disease advances or progresses. It also includes what signs and symptoms develop at each stage. Prognosis and what to expect at different time points of disease are also part of the natural history.




I developed a problem in my arm after shoulder surgery called complex regional pain syndrome. I vaguely remember my mother having something like this after a heart attack years and years ago. Is it an inherited trait of some kind in our family? I do have two daughters I'm concerned about.

Scientists continue to unravel the mystery of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). CRPS is a condition that develops after surgery or some other type of trauma. The patient develops exquisite pain and/or tenderness usually of one extremity (arm or leg). Symptoms of sweating, hair growth, swelling, and changes in skin color and temperature develop in that extremity. Changes in the nail growth and strength are also common symptoms of CRPS.




I have been treated for severe pain from complex regional pain syndrome with a special pump that delivers a drug called baclofen to the spinal cord. Everything was going really well, and then all of a sudden, I stopped getting the good results I had hoped for. Now my pain is starting to come back. I can't do even the simple things I was doing like pick up a pot of coffee and pour. Have I reached some kind of plateau? Will I continue to get better with a little more time?

Baclofen is a drug that has been used to reduce spasticity by stopping the messages that go from the muscles to the spine. They do this by inhibiting the GABA receptors in the nervous system. The result is to prevent the release of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send and receive signals between a neuron (nerve cell) and the rest of the body.




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