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Newsletter Archives > ChiroPlanet.com Monthly Health Newsletter: July 2010 Health Newsletter

July 2010 Health Newsletter


Current Articles

» "Mind-body" Therapy Shows Promise For Fibromyalgia
» Glucosamine Doesn’t Appear To Lessen Low Back Pain
» October is National Chiropractic Health Month, but ACA Asks: Why Weight?

"Mind-body" Therapy Shows Promise For Fibromyalgia

A form of 'mind-body' therapy that focuses on the role of emotions in physical pain may offer some relief to people with fibromyalgia, a small clinical trial suggests.

The study, of 45 women with fibromyalgia, found that those who learned a technique called "affective self-awareness" were more likely to show a significant reduction in their pain over six months. Overall, 46 percent of the women had a 30-percent or greater reduction in their pain severity, as measured by a standard pain-rating scale.

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome marked by widespread pain -- including discomfort at specific "tender points" in the body -- along with symptoms such as fatigue, irritable bowel and sleep problems. It is estimated to affect up to 5 million U.S. adults, most commonly middle-aged women.

The precise cause of fibromyalgia is unknown -- there are no physical signs, such as inflammation and tissue damage in the painful area -- but some researchers believe the disorder involves problems in how the brain processes pain signals.

Standard treatments include painkillers, antidepressants, cognitive- behavioral therapy and exercise therapy. However, many people with fibromyalgia find that their symptoms -- pain, in particular -- persist despite treatment.

Part of that, according to the researchers on the new study, may be because standard treatments do not specifically address the role psychological stress and emotions can play in triggering people's pain.

That is not to say that the pain people with fibromyalgia feel is "all in their head," stressed Dr. Howard Schubiner, of St. John Health/ Providence Hospital and Medical Centers in Southfield, Michigan.

"The pain is very real," Schubiner said in an interview. But, he explained, pain and emotions are "connected in the brain," and emotional factors may act to trigger "learned nerve pathways" that give rise to pain.

Past studies have found that compared with people without fibromyalgia, those with the disorder have higher rates of stressful life events, such as childhood abuse, marital problems and high levels of job stress. There is also evidence that they are relatively less aware of their own emotions and more reluctant to express their feelings, particularly anger.

For the new study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Schubiner and his colleagues tested the effects of affective self-awareness -- a technique Schubiner developed and uses in treating certain chronic-pain conditions -- on fibromyalgia.

They randomly assigned 45 women with the condition to either undergo the therapy or go on a wait-list for treatment, serving as a control group. Women in the treatment group each had a one-on-one consultation, then attended three group meetings to learn the affective self-awareness techniques so that they could carry them out on their own.

The therapy involves an educational component where patients learn about the emotion-pain connection. They learn specific techniques -- including mindfulness meditation and "expressive" writing -- for recognizing and dealing with the emotions that may be contributing to their pain. Patients are also encouraged to get back to any exercise or other activities that they have been avoiding due to pain.

Schubiner's team found that six months later, 46 percent of the treatment group had at least a 30-percent reduction in their pain ratings compared with scores at the outset. And 21 percent had a 50-percent or greater reduction.
None of the women in the control group had a comparable improvement.

The study is only the first clinical trial to test affective self-awareness for fibromyalgia, and it had a number of limitations, including its small size. In addition, the control group received no active therapy to serve as a comparison.

That is important because it is possible for patients to benefit from simply receiving attention from a healthcare provider, or being part of small-group sessions with other people suffering from the same condition, for example.

Schubiner also acknowledged that this general "model" for understanding and addressing fibromyalgia pain is controversial.

He said that he and his colleagues have applied for funding to conduct a larger clinical trial comparing affective self-awareness with standard cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Affective self-awareness and cognitive-behavioral therapy have similarities, according to Schubiner. Both, for example, try to show patients that they have the power to improve their own health.

A key difference, Schubiner said, is that affective self-awareness asks people to "directly engage" the emotions that may be helping to drive their symptoms.

Another difference is that, right now, only a small number of healthcare providers practice affective self-awareness, according to Schubiner.

Some components of the technique, such as teachings in mindfulness meditation, are more widely available. But whether those practices in isolation would help fibromyalgia patients' pain is not clear.

Author: Reuters
Source: Journal of General Internal Medicine, online June 8, 2010.
Copyright: Reuters 2010


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Glucosamine Doesn’t Appear To Lessen Low Back Pain

With 80 percent of the population experiencing back pain sometime during their life, it would be nice if taking a natural supplement would be the cure. New research shows that supplementing with glucosamine, while potentially beneficial to the joints, doesn’t appear to be the silver bullet for low back pain. When Norwegian researchers randomly gave a group of 250 patients with chronic low back pain either glucosamine or a sugar pill for 6 months, there was little difference in pain outcomes. At both 6 and 12 months, there was no significant difference between those receiving the glucosamine or those receiving the sugar pill. And while glucosamine may still possess other benefits including success in certain cases of knee osteoarthritis, its ability to specifically lessen lower back pain does not appear to be one of them. If you’re suffering from back pain, don’t give up hope. Consult your local licensed doctor of chiropractic today to discover other safe and natural alternatives to reducing and eliminating your back pain.

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: Reuters. July 7, 2010.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2010


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October is National Chiropractic Health Month, but ACA Asks: Why Weight?

National Chiropractic Health Month, sponsored by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), is a nationwide observance held each October. This year's theme—"Why Weight? Get Healthy!"—and activities will focus on how doctors of chiropractic can play an important role in preventing and treating obesity.



More than 60 percent of adults in the United States are either overweight or obese, according to CDC statistics, and obesity is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and some types of cancer. However, many people don't know that even modest weight loss, such as 5 to 10 percent of a person's total body weight, could improve blood pressure as well as blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. That's only 10 to 20 pounds for a person who weighs 200 pounds.



Yet losing weight can be a struggle, and many people wonder where to begin. The answer for some may be in the office of a doctor of chiropractic (DC). Consultation with a DC is particularly important when you consider that the effects of obesity on the musculoskeletal system—osteoarthritis, back pain, neck pain and joint pain—often cause overweight and obese people to avoid physical activity and exercise when they need it most. DCs also counsel their patients on good nutrition and offer dietary and lifestyle advice in addition to expert structural care.



"If you're carrying more weight than the load-bearing structures of your body—spine, legs, etc.—can handle, there's going to be pain, loss of movement and degeneration in the joints," explains James Powell, DC, a member of ACA's Wellness Committee. "Particularly if you're carrying most of your weight in your abdomen, the low back and the spine will need to work harder to hold you upright. This adds extra stress and tension on your muscles, which in turn creates stiffness."



Each year in October, ACA and its members raise public awareness of chiropractic care by observing National Chiropractic Month. Starting this year, the association will celebrate National Chiropractic Health Month in an effort to promote a broader understanding of chiropractic's approach to patient care—as natural, whole-body, patient-centered health care.



"National Chiropractic Health Month is an important opportunity to educate the public on the general health benefits of chiropractic care, which include so much more than simply the expert hands-on care that DCs are so well known for," said ACA President Rick McMichael, DC. "Doctors of Chiropractic focus on changing patients' habits—postural, physical activity, nutritional, etc.—to promote health and wellness, short-term and long-term. Patients are tired of quick fixes that don't produce lasting weight loss and better health; and they are always delighted to discover how doctors of chiropractic promote total health and wellness over a lifetime."



For more information about National Chiropractic Health Month, visit www.acatoday.org/NCHM. The American Chiropractic Association, based in Arlington, Va., is the largest professional association in the United States representing doctors of chiropractic. ACA promotes the highest standards of ethics and patient care, contributing to the health and well-being of millions of chiropractic patients.

Author: American Chiropractic Association
Source: Acatoday.com. July 6, 2010.
Copyright: American Chiropractic Association 2010


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