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Interesting Article on Pain
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The latest issue of Time has an interesting, informative article on pain.

Some points of interest (ouch!):

>Chronic pain is a normally adaptive process gone awry.

>Doctors are usually stymied by chronic pain, often not even assessing the level of pain as they do blood pressure, pulse, temperature. The VA is very good about this. No matter what the patient's presenting complaint, the medical person will ask the patient for his/her perceived level of pain.

>Whole body systems are invoved when it comes to chronic pain. A brain in chronic pain looks and acts differently from a normal brain. Circuits are haywire (if you've ever clipped the wire holding compressed bundles of hay, you have a very good visual of haywire--it goes "sprong"!).

>Chronic pain is a disease, not just a symptom.

>Most studies of chronic pain are based on fibromyalgia, generally affecting women. [and I suspect that they would be taken more seriously were the pain studies done on chronic pain in men]

>Both chemical compounds and neural circuits are involved; genes play a role, too, with differences in the number density and type of pain receptors. [so pain might be alleviated by acupuncture]

>Another clue may come from the brain's natural opiates and how people respond to prescription painkillers--some people crave them, have a stronger liking for them, others not so much.

>Some approaches look at retraining the brain and shutting down the pain alarm system. [meditation might help]

>The more pain the brain feels, the more damage that does to the body. A vicious self-reinforcing circle.

>Pain and depression are intertwined. Treat the depression and you may break the whole cycle.

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