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It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Mind- Body Management of Pain

"What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers."– Matina Horner
This blog is a continuation from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article. Yesterday’s blog depicted various components of the brain as related to pain.  First, I want to add, there is no objective measure to evaluate pain.  As a consequence, we are left with the subjective component which means significant individual differences.  Unfortunately, the medical system is dominated by the managed care gatekeepers, which means having to see your primary care physician regardless of the efficiency.   In all probability, what this means is that getting pain relief is likely getting a prescription for some drug.  Of course, drugs for pain relief have been around for a long time.  And we know from experience, that a drug does not solve or fix the “illness” it simply blocks the neuro pathways going to the brain.
This Wall Street journal article gives some clues as to how to deal with pain other than with drugs and let me add without side effects. Statistically, one third of the American adult population struggles with pain.  The abuse of pain medication-annual deaths due to overdoses has quadrupled to 14,800 between the years 1998 and 2008.  Furthermore, the painkiller Vicodin is now the most prescribed drug in the United States. How about that!
First, the brain is a complex mechanism that perceives, evaluates, and deals with pain.  The following is a mind-body approach to help deal with this condition of pain.  At Stanford University’s Neuroscience and Pain Lab, subjects watched how their own brains reacted in real-time and learned to control their responses by focusing on something distracting instead of the pain.  In other words, you might say something like “yes my foot hurts, but I will not let that stop me.”  As a result, these subjects had more activity in the higher thinking parts of their brains.  And by doing so, they were able to ease their own pain significantly. So, you might consider the use of distraction.  I know I do on my runs.  Often, I am thinking about the subject matter of the blog.  And believe me, that  is quite a distraction especially when I am hurting.
Another way to distract oneself from pain is a technique used   in hypnosis referred to as guided imagery.  This means that when a person is put in a deep state of relaxation or hypnosis the guided imagery technique is used to deepen his relaxed state.  A hypnotherapist might have the individual begin to imagine a scene like being  in the mountains in winter.   Then, in a deepened state of hypnosis or deep relaxation, the individual can be taught to deaden the pain like in anesthesia.  When successful, the individual can learn to numb that painful area when the situation arises.
 Guided imagery has been used for many years, especially by the Russians.  To simplify, let us say you are, downhill skiing, and the hypnotherapist takes you, in your mind, on your competitive ski run putting you through all the paces as if you were   actually doing the event.  As a result, you are practicing your competition in a very relaxed emotional state   so that when you do actually ski you have practiced the ski run in a successful manner many times over and over.
My first encounter with hypnosis was when I was sitting in a study hall at Denby high school.  My buddy Dick Mounts, a cross country runner, first introduced me to hypnosis.  I was intrigued, and much later when in private practice, I took a class on hypnosis. After that class, I used this technique and taught it to numerous patients.  This is a powerful tool when used correctly. I wholeheartedly endorse it.
More about pain and pain management at a later date. I am in no way through with the subject.


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