Sunday, January 8, 2017

Handling Chronic Pain

This is likely to be a sleeper issue - one that will simmer for a long time, without hitting the headlines.

The issue of opiate abuse is, of course, a perennial favorite for the media, legislatures, and various advocates (for the addicted, for law & order, for morality police, etc.). That abuse usually centers on those individuals whose addiction makes them incapable of employment, care of minor children, or full participation in American Life.

Elder addiction?

Eh, not so important.

But, in fact, many of the elderly do become addicted to various painkillers, not just for diseases such as cancer, but also for back pain, joint pain, and other ills that disproportionately affect older Americans.

I generally try to avoid medicated pain relief. I do so not just because of the possibility of addiction, but also because of the high risk of liver damage - even for such meds as Ibuprofen, Aspirin, and Tylenol.

One med that I've been using on a daily basis is Mobic, or Melexicam. It's for the joint issues I have - meniscus damage, arthritis in toe, knee, and hip. With it, I function with very little impairment. Without it, I am in pain, and my mobility is severely limited.

On occasion, more is needed. In small doses, for a a short time, I have used Naproxen. If more is needed, that's when I turn to my TENS unit.

TENS units are designed to provide electrical stimulation to aching areas, and, by doing so, interrupt the pain signals that are over-active. These units can range from the one that Shaq promotes in TV ads - Smart Relief.

These units are relatively small, and deliver a mild stimulation - not enough for serious pain. What you might want to do is use them to test out whether the method of pain relief works for you before committing to a more expensive unit. Cost is about $30, depending where you buy it.

The one I use is the Hidow AcuXPD-S - cost ranges from $250-500. Believe me, it's worth it. Today, I woke up with an aching shoulder. I put on the unit, and I am good to go.

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