Let's Talk About Pain Blog

Pain in Your Hip May Not Be What You Think

You've been experiencing pain in your hip. Because you are (ahem) of a certain age, you have assumed that it must be arthritis. Not so fast.

Hip pain may be caused by many things. While it is true that arthritis can be a common cause of hip pain. Many also experience hip pain as a result of bursitis. They have similar symptoms but different sourches.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage between joints wears down through ordinary use. As the joints deteriorate, bony growths may form. This can aggravate the problem. 

Bursitis occurs when the hip joint bursa, a thin sac on the outside of the joint, becomes inflamed. The inflammation may occur as a result of a hip injury or alternatively by trauma to a nerve, such as a pinched nerve in your back. 

While treatments for the two types of pain can be similar, there are also some differences. Osteoarthritis is commonly treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS. Sometimes steroid injections or other types of new injections, such as PRP, can help. 

Bursitis also responds to these treatments but there are also additional treatments that may be warranted. Modifying strenuous activity and rest and is essential for those with bursitis. Sometimes a physician will recommend aspirating fluid from the bursa. Occasionally the bursa will become septic and the patient will need antibiotic.

Most important, do not self-diagnose your pain. Depending on the source of your pain, you may have options you have not considered. Talk to your doctor about your pain. Don't assume that there is an immediate link between your pain and your age. 

Migraine or Sinus Headache?

 Although I'm always eager to leave the cold months of winter, spring does not excite me. The growing warmth of the days also means a lot of wind. 

 And in New Mexico, March winds do not bring April showers. April means more wind. And wind makes my allergies worse. Like a lot of you, I get sinus pain.

Sinus pain includes facial pain and pressure, congestion, and sometimes, headache. But sinus headaches are a lot more unusual than most people think. In fact, migraine are often commonly misdiagnosed as sinus pain. 

A study of over 30,000 participants found that over 88 percent of self-diagnosed sinus headaches were really migraines. A substantial number of these patients claimed to have never experienced a migraine.

So that means that there are a lot of you out there experiencing migraines that you are treating as sinus headaches. In fact, sinus headaches are rare and usually secondary to a bacterial infection. 

How do you tell the difference?

If you headache originates in your sinuses, you will have some or all of the following symptoms:

thick, discolored nasal discharge,

facial pain or pressure

fever

decreased smell or no smell

foul smelling breath

Migraine symptoms may include some symptoms commonly associated with a sinus headache, such as nasal congestion or watery eyes. They may also include the following: 

Nausea

sensitivity to light and/or noise

moderate to severe headaches

headache worsened by activity

pulsing throbbing pain

vision disturbances

How do you differentiate between the two?  Ask yourself the following questions from the ID Migraine Questionnaire:

1. In the last 3 months, how disabling are your headaches; do they interfere with your ability to function? 

2. Are your headaches every associated with nausea?

3. Are your headaches ever associated with sensitivity to light?

If you answer yes to two of the above questions, there is a 93% probability that you have a migraine. If you answer affirmatively to all three, then you are 98% percent likely to have a migraine. 

If you are experiencing symptoms more commonly associated with migraine pain than sinus pain. Talk to your doctor. Don't try to treat your headache with over-the-counter sinus pain medications. It won't help.

In the meantime, April winds do bring May flowers. We just have to wait. (sigh). 

Afraid of Spiders? Don't Be. They May Be the Next Great Thing For Chronic Pain

Have you ever heard of the Peruvian green velvet tarantula? The poison in its bite may cure your chronic pain. 

Researchers have found that Pro-TX-11, a peptide toxin, in the venom of this tarantula may provide pain relief. The toxin binds with the pain receptor that makes you feel the pain. The prevents a pain signal from making it to your brain. 

The information obtained from this study may lead to new non addictive medications that may better relieve chronic pain. 

So while it is a still a good idea to avoid venomous spiders, maybe we should have a new respect for them. They might hold the key to eliminating your chronic pain. 

Over the Counter Medications like Aspirin and Acetaminophen Are Drugs!

Each year Americans die from overdosing on over the counter medications, including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen sodium. Many assume that because they can buy a medication without a prescription that it is somehow safer.

Like medications you get with a prescription, these medications have serious side effects and can cause death. Some of the side effects of ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (also called NSAIDS) include bleeding in your stomach and intestines and damage to your esophagus, Acetaminophen can cause liver damage and failure. Taking these medications with more than three drinks a day or with certain other medications increases the risk of side effects and overdose.

Pay attention to the warning labels and inserts on these medications. Talk to your doctor about your prescriptions and educate yourself about potential interactions between your medications and NSAIDS. Treat all medications with respect. Often their capacity to help is matched by their potential to hurt. 

Ginger for Pain

Research shows that ginger might be better than ibuprofen for pain. The theory is that ginger relieves inflammation in the body. Inflammation is what causes pain. Arthritis pain, which is medically inflammation of the joints, is particularly responsive to ginger. In many studies of osteoarthritis knee pain scientists have found that ginger effectively relieves that pain. 

Ginger root, the edible part of the ginger plant, has been used for years for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its ability to alleviate stomach upsets. Scientists have discovered that ginger's anti-inflammatory benefits come from gingerols. Pro-inflammatory enzymes, CO-X2 play a role in causing pain. Studies suggest that gingerols inhibit these enzymes. 

Has ginger helped you? Let us know. 

February is Heart Month

One in four Americans dies from heart disease. That is a pretty high statistic. It includes both men and women. 

What is even more frightening is that most people do not know how deadly this preventable disease can be. 

Diet and exercise are the two best ways to protect your heart. Work on eliminating risk factors such as smoking and stress. 

In addition, learn to recognize the signs of a heart attack or stroke. Heart attacks are often preceded by chest discomfort or discomfort in other areas of the body. Prior to a heart attack you may also experience shortness of breath, nausea, cold sweat and lightheadedness. 

Signs of stroke include face drooping, arm weakness and speech difficulty. If anyone shows any of these signs, it's time to call 911.

How are you going to help your heart this month? 

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