Health and Fitness

Winter Weather Causing You Pain? Simple At-Home Massage Techniques Can Keep Bodies Feeling Strong All Winter Long

With a season of record-breaking snowfalls and eight weeks of winter to go, Washingtonians have become all too familiar with the icy sidewalks, the sore muscles, and the coughs and colds that come along with winter weather. But for those feeling the effects of a recent fall or tighter joints due to a lack of exercise, therapeutic massage - including simple tips you can do at home - can offer much-needed relief. "We tend to be less active in the cold weather months, catch more colds and flus, and get depressed more easily. Massage is proven to help with all these winter ailments, " says Winston Moore, massage therapist and the Regional Operations Manager for Massage Envy, which has 19 locations in the Baltimore/Washington, DC area. "Massage increases circulation, boosts the immune system and causes your body to release more stress-fighting hormones. With winter not even half over, we can all use that right about now, " adds Moore. Massage Envy reports a significant increase in clients with aches and pains, and many are weather-related.

FDA Cautions Drug Makers About Potential Abuse

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration "this week released a draft of voluntary guidelines to assist drug makers in figuring out which compounds should be placed under the Controlled Substances Act. The law regulates the handling, record-keeping and dispensing of drugs deemed to be dangerous or addictive if misused -- in some cases imposing criminal penalties for misuse. The guidelines urge researchers to look beyond traditional indicators such as whether a compound is addictive and consider other characteristics that could lead to abuse." One example of a drug that could be more tightly restricted is the anesthetic propofol, part of the "cocktail of drugs that caused the death" of Michael Jackson (Zajac, 1/28). This information was reprinted from with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at kaiserhealthnews.

New Treatment For Chronic Pain Condition

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have discovered that treating the immune system of patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS) leads to a significant reduction in pain. CRPS is an unexplained chronic pain condition that usually develops after an injury or trauma to a limb, and continues after the injury has healed. CPRS I - formerly called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy - can arise after any type of injury. CRPS II, previously called causalgia (a term coined in the American Civil War when it was first diagnosed), follows partial damage to a nerve. In some cases the pain can be so severe that patients request amputation, only to find that the pain returns in the stump. CRPS pain can improve within one year after the injury, but if it is still unchanged after 12 months (longstanding CRPS), then it will often not improve at all. Longstanding CRPS affects about 1 in 5, 000 people in the UK. The team at the Pain Research Institute discovered that a single, low dose infusion of intravenous immunoglobin (IVIG) significantly reduced pain in just under 50 per cent of patients treated, with few adverse effects.

FOCUS Project Sees The Way To Mistake-Free Cardiac Surgery

Is it possible for cardiac surgery teams to completely eliminate medical errors? That's the goal of an ambitious project-called the "Flawless Operative Cardiovascular Unified Systems" (FOCUS) initiative-being undertaken by the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists (SCA). An introduction and update on the FOCUS initiative appears in a special article in the February 2010 issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, the official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) and the SCA. "Preventing humans from making mistakes may be nearly impossible, but the SCA FOCUS initiative is predicated on the strong belief that making an error-free medical environment can be achieved, " comments Dr. Steven L. Shafer of Columbia University, Editor-in-Chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia. FOCUS Initiative Takes Scientific Approach to Learning How Errors Occur Human error in the course of delivering medical care is a significant source of patient injury, contributing billions of dollars to annual health care costs.

In Chronic Pain Patients, Higher Opioid Dose Linked To Overdose Risk

More and more Americans with chronic pain not caused by cancer are taking medically prescribed opioids like Oxycontin ( oxycodone ) and Vicodin (hydrocodone). The January 19 Annals of Internal Medicine features the first study to explore the risk of overdose in patients prescribed opioids for chronic noncancer pain in general health care. The study links risk of fatal and nonfatal opioid overdose to prescription use - strongly associating the risk with the prescribed dose. A team led by Michael Von Korff, ScD, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute, studied nearly 10, 000 patients who received multiple opioid prescriptions for common chronic pain conditions like back pain and osteoarthritis. Patients who received higher opioid doses were 9 times more likely to overdose than were those receiving low doses. Still, most of the overdoses occurred among patients receiving low to medium doses, because prescriptions at those levels were much more common. More than 8 million U.

Used As Prescribed, Opioids Relieve Chronic Pain With Little Addiction Risk

Coping with chronic non-cancer pain is a way of life for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, many older adults, in particular, hesitate to take opioids a kind of narcotic for fear of addiction. However, a new review finds that taking opioids long term is associated with clinically significant pain relief in some patients with a very small risk of addition. "Not every patient has adequate pain relief, though, and side effects are intolerable for others, " said lead review author Meredith Noble. "There is a lack of consensus that opioids are safe and effective for people with chronic severe non-cancer pain, " Noble said. "We wanted to look at studies that treated people for six months or longer, given that chronic pain can go on for years. This review includes studies of individuals on opioids for as long as 48 months." Noble is a senior research analyst at ECRI Institute, one of 14 evidence-based Practice Centers in the country under the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Lighter Sedation For Elderly During Surgery May Reduce Risk Of Confusion, Disorientation After

A common complication following surgery in elderly patients is postoperative delirium, a state of confusion that can lead to long-term health problems and cause some elderly patients to complain that they "never felt the same" again after an operation. But a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests that simply limiting the depth of sedation during procedures could safely cut the risk of postoperative delirium by 50 percent. "Merely by adjusting how a person is sedated can have a profound effect on their postoperative cognitive state, " says study leader Frederick E. Sieber, M.D., an associate professor of anesthesia at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Sieber says propofol, a short-acting anesthetic commonly used to induce anesthesia and keep patients asleep, and similar anesthetics may not behave as the clear "on/off phenomena" they were long thought to be, with effects disappearing as soon as the drugs are withdrawn.

The Brain's Developing Pain Regulatory System Can Be Altered By Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Prenatal alcohol exposure is widely known to impair brain development in exposed offspring. Rodent studies have shown that developmental deficits in newborns related to altered levels of a brain chemical called serotonin (5-HT), leading to subsequent alterations in patterns of neonatal acute pain responses and/or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress reactivity. New findings show a "blunted response" to an acutely painful event - a heel lance - in alcohol-exposed human newborns, indicating that prenatal alcohol exposure may alter the brain's developing pain regulatory system. Results will be published in the April 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "Timing is everything, " said Tim F. Oberlander, a professor in the Division of Developmental Pediatrics at the BC Children's Hospital, the Child and Family Research Institute (CFRI), and the University of British Columbia. "The idea to look at pain responses in newborns with prenatal alcohol exposure came from two places, " he said.

FDA Approves Morphine Sulfate Oral Solution For Relief Of Acute And Chronic Pain

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Morphine Sulfate Oral Solution for the relief of moderate to severe, acute and chronic pain in opioid-tolerant patients. This medicine will be available in 100 milligrams per 5 mL or 20 milligrams per 1 mL. This is the only FDA approved morphine sulfate oral solution available at this concentration. Although the use of this medicine to manage pain has been common practice for many years, this form and concentration of morphine was not FDA approved until now. Today's action is part of the FDA's unapproved drugs initiative. As part of this program, the FDA has worked with the manufacturer of the now-approved product, Roxane Laboratories, to ensure that there is enough drug available for patients. The FDA will also be working with patient organizations and prescribers so that they are aware that an approved product is available, and can notify the FDA if there are any problems with availability. "An important goal of the unapproved drugs initiative is to make sure that marketed drugs meet current FDA standards, " said Douglas Throckmorton, M.

American Pain Society Accepting Applications For Foley Journalist Award Until Feb. 15

As the leading professional society devoted exclusively to pain, pain management and pain research, the American Pain Society sponsors the Kathleen M. Foley Journalist Award to recognize excellence in reporting pain-related topics. The award is designed to honor the work of journalists whose coverage of events, scientific discoveries, patient care, issues and policies contribute to furthering public awareness and understanding of pain and pain-related issues. APS is accepting applications for the 2010 Foley Award, which will be presented at the APS Annual Scientific Meeting in Baltimore, May 6-8. Nominations will be accepted until Feb. 15. Eligibility is limited to work published or broadcast from Jan.1 to Dec. 31, 2009 by journalists who receive at least 50 percent of their income from journalistic activity, either as an employee of an independent media outlet or free-lancer. Entrants are allowed to submit a single article or broadcast piece or a series of stories or columns on specific pain, pain research and pain-management topics.

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