Today’s weather: Cloudy with a Chance of Pain
In the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint Lockwood invented a machine to convert water into food and becomes a local hero in his economically unstable town when food fall from the sky like rain. Like Flint’s intention to solve the town’s crisis, British researchers are now hoping to solve the ancient theory that there is an association between pain and weather.
In 400 B.C., the Greek philosopher Hippocrates noted that changes in the weather can affect pain levels. Throughout history, popular culture adapted the belief and coined terms such as “feeling under the weather”. People claimed to be able to forecast storms and rain because they “can feel it in their bones”. In a study report titled “Pain complaint and the weather: weather sensitivity and symptom complaints in chronic pain patients“, author Shutty MS Jr. recalls a Journal of the American Medical Association publication in 1929 that said there was strong evidence that “warm weather is beneficial and barometric pressure changes are detrimental to patients with arthritis.” Continue reading
The question is, how badly does it hurt?
A recent study conducted to evaluate pain measures developed by the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) under the National Institutes of Health help captured the young patient’s perspective of living with chronic pain. The study addressed the different categories of pain experience and language used by children when they talk about chronic pain. In an interview with the Medical Xpress, researchers identified these as:
- Pain behaviour – The child initiates he or she becomes irritable or suffers a lack of appetite (or other behaviour) when in pain.
- Pain interference – The child describes slower movement, such as walking, or lack of energy due to pain interference.
- Pain quality – The child describes pain as sharp, cutting, dull or achy.
The research study was based on the results of individual and focus group interviews with 32 children and with parents of children with chronic pain, such as those affected by juvenile arthritis, sickle cell anemia, and cerebral palsy. Continue reading
Rheumatoid arthritis can increase the chances of depression; depression may worsen RA symptoms, leading to higher disease activity and disability, which in turn can lead to depression. Several studies have indicated that depression in those with rheumatoid arthritis is linked to greater joint pain and other symptoms of RA such as fatigue and sleep disturbances, decreased immune function, and a higher mortality rate. Untreated depression may cause you to be less likely to take care of yourself, less motivated to stick to a treatment plan, more likely to isolate yourself from friends and family and avoid activities you once enjoyed.
It is estimated that people living with RA are twice as likely to suffer from depression. Research shows that approximately 13 to 20 percent of the population currently living with RA are already depressed. A study published in the Rheumatology medical journal states that women living with RA are almost twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts and commit suicide.
“Many people with suicidal thoughts brought on by chronic illness will not come out right and say what they are thinking,” said Thea Barrieau, a SeniorBridge Care Manager. If you are concerned that someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, look out for the following suicidal warning signs and seek help from a medical professional:
- Gathering friends and family “one last time” or “to say goodbye”.
- Verbal or physical signs that allude to an inability to “cope” with the chronic illness, giving up, or a lack of motivation to do everyday and new tasks.
- Skipping medication dosages or trying a new medication regimen.
It’s not your fault you are depressed
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
People who live with chronic pain understand when I say that life often gets in the way of living. They understand that coping on a daily basis with pain sometimes is a full-time profession. We can become so preoccupied with minimizing our various physical challenges that life simply passes us by. Any plans to enjoy the too-short summer are shelved while we minister to limitations imposed by our arthritis and its associated inflammatory conditions. Instead of planning outdoor fun activities, we spend our days looking for ways to be comfortable, or trying to find the balance between moving too much or too little. Continue reading
The Canadian Institute for the Relief of Pain and Disability will be hosting, as part of their Chronic Pain Webinar Series, The Stanford Chronic Pain Self-Management Program (CPSMP): International Perspectives on Thursday, November 20 at 8:30am PST.
The CPSMP is a two-and-a-half hour workshop given once a week, for six weeks, in community settings such as senior centers, churches, libraries and hospitals. The workshop covers the following topics: Continue reading