Sunday, December 25, 2011

MIND EXERCISE FOR DEPRESSION AND PAIN


It is easy to fall in the path of depression when we have chronic pain. How can one be struggling with all daily chores, not being able to work or perform any duty of interest and not be depressed? Difficulty with sleeping, family issues, sleep disturbances and many more are among challenges we have when we deal with chronic pain. So if it is a natural path to get depression with chronic pain, then how can we change the course and find some peace? Here is an exercise that has worked for me and I would like to share it with you. There are many others that we can talk about later but this one comes first in my list: Pick up a pen and paper each day and write five things that you like about your life. It can be things that seem simple or ordinary but you like them. In my case, the fact that I am still alive is one because I know there are many who would have liked to be alive today and are not. If you have only one good family member, relative, friend or pet mark it down. If you were good in your life for anything and you experienced the feel of being there, or anything else you liked or like right now, mark it down and then read them. Do this each day and I promise you in a few weeks you will see that your outlook to life has changed. Your brain gets used to focusing on the positive points and you pass by negativity without being affected by it.
Let us try it together this time.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

SPINE PAIN - NECK PAIN - BACK PAIN

Spine is a complex organ. Our spine is made of different elements like vertebrae, disks, ligaments, nerves, spinal cord and vessels. Different problems can happen to any of these elements and cause injury or degenerative changes. Each of these elements when injured or degenerated can cause pain. People have different genetic backgrounds and live in different environments. As a result of these different variables people can develop degenerative changes at different ages. 
Pain itself is a complex phenomena. In acute phase, it may correspond with the location of injury or degenerative changes but when it becomes chronic, the location of pain may not directly correspond to the origin of it. So finding the source of pain can be difficult at times and needs patience while the investigations continue. 
After taking a thorough history and physical examination we gather enough information to know what investigation needs to be done. Then we have a group of structural and functional tests to find the source of pain. Structural tests show the structure of our spine. These are tests like X-Ray, CT Scan, MRI, etc. In these tests we can find the location of injury or degenerative changes in spine. The functional tests show how the organ works and if the function is impaired or not. Electromyography and Nerve conduction velocity test are among these functional tests that can show us if there is any nerve damage. In some cases, we have to use some diagnostic injections to block specific nerves and find out if they are causing the pain or not. These injections are done under guidance of some sort of imaging like ultrasound or X-Ray to make it as precise as possible. By combining all this information we can locate the source of pain. Locating the source of pain is essential in planning the proper treatment. We will talk about different types of treatment for SPINE PAIN later.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

WHAT SHOULD WE EAT WHEN WE HAVE CHRONIC PAIN? WHAT IS THE PROPER DIET?

Is there such a thing as ANTI-INFLAMMATORY food? What should we eat and what do we have to avoid? In order to understand this subject we have to first know what the inflammation is. When a tissue is injured by any of different possible causes a myriad of changes happen. The local circulation to the tissue increases and many local inflammatory tissue chemicals will be released to start the inflammatory process. As a result pain, swelling and redness start to happen. These are the signs that show us there is inflammation in an area of our body. The food that we eat can affect the environment of our intestine and affect the function of our different systems. It is demonstrated that high saturated fats, processed food and refined carbohydrates can induce inflammation.
FOODS TO AVOID: High fatty food, all that we call junk food, highly processed food, sugar, trans fats and saturated fats, sugary sodas, candy, carbohydrate and fat rich desserts, white bread, potatoes and fatty red meat and fried food.
FOODS TO EAT: An Anti-Inflammatory diet can include the following: fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, salads without rich dressings, vegetable oils, Omega-3 from fish sources, lean poultry protein, flax seed, canola oil, olive oil, soy, soy products like tofu and soy milk, low fat or fat free milk, legumes, seeds and nuts, oatmeal, walnut and berries. Eat more steam cooked dishes, stir-fried and scrambled food instead of fried food. Drink lots of water, vegetable fruit juices, herbal tea and green tea.
This list is just to give an idea and in no way is considered to be comprehensive. It can be considered as a good first step in the right direction. Enjoy your Healthy Anti-inflammatory food.

Friday, December 16, 2011

IS MEDITATION FOR ME?


I hear this question every day from my patients. Many would think that because their mind is running all the time and their head is full of different troubles, meditation is not for them. The fact is, meditation is for all of us. The busier our mind is, the more important is to practice meditation. It is normal to have difficulty with trying to calm a busy mind.

If an average 40 years old person is trying to concentrate and bring the mind to the present moment, it is normal to have difficulty with it at the beginning because the mind has been used to be all over the place for forty years. The sole act of trying to concentrate has some positive effects and with practice it becomes easier to concentrate.

The important point is not to be disappointed and give up as soon as the trail of thoughts start to come in when we are trying to empty our mind in meditation. Just remember that this is normal. It is perfectly normal for ideas to come into our concentrated mind. Just let them come in and go out. Do not get frustrated or angry. Don't paint your thought as good or bad. Allow yourself some time, however long it may seem, to get used to the practice of meditation.

One thing is certain: MEDITATION IS FOR YOU, MEDITATION IS FOR ALL OF US. For patients who are using meditation to improve their condition, like pain or depression, it is important to concentrate on concentration itself and not on the healing goals. If the meditating state is achieved, the healing will follow.
So let us all use meditation and benefit from its effects.