Category Archives: Pain Relief

Severe Headaches: Migraines and How to Treat Them

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Migraines are severe headaches that affect over 30 million Americans per year. Marked by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound, migraines are debilitating and disruptive, sometimes with little or no relief for days at a time. Understanding their progression, potential triggers and effective treatments can greatly help those suffering to combat migraines and regain control of their lives.

Characteristics of Migraines

As far as severe headaches go, migraines are in a category of their own. Generally manifesting in childhood, what starts as a localized headache in one area of the head turns into throbbing, pulsating pain that causes nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, mood swings, fatigue and even sinus pain and congestion. They are exhausting and debilitating and, for many who suffer, can last anywhere from two to four days.

Migraines follow a four-stage pattern:

  1. The first stage is known as the prodromal stage, and it starts one to two days before the migraine comes on. The individual may notice being thirstier than usual, craving specific foods, yawning more often than usual and going to the bathroom more. He or she may also become irritable and tired.
  2. In the second stage, the aura stage, the visual disturbances that accompany migraines begin to pop up. The individual may experience flickering of lights, areas where he or she appears to lose vision, and has difficulty focusing. He or she may also notice difficulty concentrating or speaking and may feel some numbness or tingling throughout the body.
  3. The third stage, the actual attack, is when the headache begins. Usually starting above the eyes and moving to one side of the head (although sometimes it can cover the entire head), the headache becomes more intense, often throbbing and pulsating. During this stage, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness and worsening of symptoms during physical activity may also occur.
  4. The last stage is the postdrome stage, the period after the headache when the individual is exhausted, fatigued, lacking in energy and sluggish.

Migraine Headache Relief

Being aware of migraine triggers may go a long way in helping patients prevent migraine attacks. Some common triggers for these severe headaches include:

  • Specific types of foods, especially those containing MSG, caffeine, nitrates or alcohol
  • Missing meals
  • Stress
  • Environmental factors
  • Lack of or too much sleep

Migraine headaches are treated in several ways, depending on history of migraines, severity of symptoms and efficacy of previous treatment. Medication is one of the go-to primary treatments for migraines –from over-the-counter migraine formulas of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine, to prescription medications that work to constrict blood vessels and block pain pathways in the brain. In some cases, anti-depressants, opioids and even beta blockers are used to treat migraine headaches. There are also alternative treatment therapies that have proven effective in easing migraine symptoms. These include acupuncture, massage therapy and biofeedback.

If you are suffering from migraines or persistent headaches, contact MISI today at 877-504-9759 to schedule a consultation with one of our migraine specialists.

Pain Relief Struggles: How Do Vices Affect My Orthopedic Health?

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Pain relief from orthopedic conditions greatly depends on the body’s physical condition as a whole. This is why vices can have lasting negative effects on musculoskeletal health. But how exactly do these vices such as smoking, drinking, overeating or leading a sedentary lifestyle affect the way a person heals from orthopedic conditions?

How does smoking affect orthopedic health?

Smoking has been linked to a number of cancers, emphysema, heart disease, diabetes and strokes, among other illnesses. Smoking also increases the risk for osteoporosis as it weakens bones, reducing their blood supply and slowing their absorption of calcium. In addition, it breaks down the estrogen that bones need to stay strong and slows down the production of bone-forming cells. All together it amounts to weak and brittle bones. Based on this information, it is no surprise that studies have found that elderly smokers have a 30-40% greater chance of breaking their hip.

However, the consequences of smoking on orthopedic health don’t just apply in your golden years. Smokers, who are athletic in nature, are affected by shortness of breath and in turn, decreased oxygen delivery to the muscles. In addition, smoking weakens the muscles and joints, increasing the risk for bursitis, arthritis, tendinitis, injury, fractures and tears in tendons and ligaments.

How does drinking affect orthopedic health?

It was once believed that only alcoholics were at a greater risk for health consequences, but now it’s believed that binge drinkers are also susceptible. Alcohol has long been associated with liver disease, pancreatic cancer, heart problems and more. It has also been associated with orthopedic health conditions such as an increase in bone fractures, ultimately slowing down the process of bone healing, making those fractures more difficult from which to recover.

How does overeating and a sedentary lifestyle affect orthopedic health?

Smoking and drinking aren’t the only vices harmful to bone and spine health. If you’re seeking chronic pain relief and you live an inactive lifestyle, or you find yourself eating more than you should and gaining weight, it’s important to understand the correlation between those vices and your health. Weight issues coupled with a lack of exercise can greatly increase the risk of back pain. Inactivity combined with extra weight puts pressure and strain on your joints and spine, putting you at a greater risk for sciatica, herniated discs and pinched nerves.

These vices negatively affect bone and spine health, making chronic pain relief more difficult to achieve. Cutting out harmful vices such as smoking and drinking as well as getting into an active lifestyle will empower you to regain control of your orthopedic health. Take back your health and find your way to lasting pain relief!

Pain Relief Mysteries: Does Weather Really Affect Pain?

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Can bad weather make pain relief impossible? You may have come across someone who declared his sinus headache or joint pain was an indicator bad weather was imminent. According to many doctors, when the weather takes a turn for the worse, or rain is on the horizon, patients are able to predict the changes with relative accuracy.

Theories about Weather

While research has been conducted, the current results are too mixed to definitively prove or disprove these claims.

One theory correlates barometric air pressure to chronic pain. Barometric air pressure is how “heavy” or “thick” the air feels. When the pressure is high, it presses against our bodies and prevents joints and tissue from expanding. When the pressure drops, which happens before a storm or wet weather conditions, the lack of pressure on our joints and tissues allows them to become inflamed more easily.

Another theory asserts that nerves become more sensitive due to injury, swelling, scarring or adhesions. As a result, it may appear that changes in weather, or cold weather have a negative effect on chronic pain.

The Truth about Chronic Pain

Whatever the real reasons, sometimes patients erroneously believe that moving to warmer climates may provide them with some chronic pain relief. While a warmer climate may be helpful, the root cause of their chronic pain won’t go away. It’s important for patients to learn how to manage their chronic pain effectively, regardless of weather.

Following a pain management plan that works for the patient is an important part of pain relief. Remaining active is another crucial piece of chronic pain relief. Being mindful of their emotional or mental state and tackling issues of depression or anxiety, in time can be extremely helpful in maintaining a good frame of mind so pain can be properly managed. These are just some of the many steps you can take for pain relief, regardless of the weather changes!

Chronic Pain Relief: The Psychological Effects of Pain

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More than 100 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain often not only affects the body but also the mind and emotions of a patient as well. These emotions have a big impact on how a patient finds chronic pain relief.

An individual who battles physical pain every day has many mental and emotional obstacles to overcome.  For instance, people who suffer from chronic pain are more likely to suffer from depression. The frustration, anger, hopelessness, anxiety and sadness that accompany chronic pain can be too much for someone to handle, leaving them drained of energy and feeling defeated. Long-term pain can put stress on the brain and cause cognitive issues such as low mood, exhaustion, and concentration and memory difficulties, no matter what the underlying pain condition is.

Chronic pain and its psychological effects

Chronic pain and its psychological effects have the ability to reduce a patient’s quality of life. In some cases, the psychological effects of pain can outlive the physical pain itself and become the major health disorder. For instance, under-managed chronic pain may lead to:

  • Increased stress
  • Depressed mood
  • Insomnia and exhaustion
  • Decreased memory and concentration

A chronic pain management program should contain aspects that encourage a sound mental and emotional wellness component. Over time, cognitive strategies and lifestyle changes can improve the psychological effects of chronic pain. There are no easy solutions, but here are some simple treatment options that can help provide pain relief:

  • Meditation and relaxation techniques can reduce muscle tension caused by pain.
  • Regular physical activity, including strengthening and flexibility exercises, can improve pain threshold.
  • Healthy eating can reduce painful symptoms such as inflammation. Research suggest that certain foods help reduce pain more than others.
  • Staying socially active and keeping positive people around you can improve mental stability and decrease likeliness of depression and low mood.

These activities can improve psychological health, reduce stress, improve sleep and increase confidence, happiness and self-esteem. Pain relief isn’t just about treating physical ailments. In order to truly understand and alleviate the burden of chronic pain, the mind needs to be treated as well.

Back Pain Relief: How Does Weight Affect Pain?

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Studies have shown that over one-third of obese Americans suffer from musculoskeletal joint and back pain. While there are many possible reasons for this, experts agree that there is a direct correlation between excess weight and how a person is affected by pain. For many who carry extra weight, back pain relief may be more difficult to achieve.

Excess Weight and Pain Relief

There are many red flags connecting excess weight to issues with pain and pain management.

  • Excess weight, particularly in the midsection of the body, shifts a body’s center of gravity forward and leads to poor posture, creating strain on the back muscles.
  • Overweight patients are also at a greater risk of suffering from conditions such as sciatica, herniated discs and pinched nerves.
  • Damage to the spine, particularly to the discs and vertebrae, can result from carrying extra weight.
  • The strain on the joints from excess weight can lead to a greater risk of osteoarthritis.

Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain, which can make pre-existing pain much worse. Studies show that overweight individuals have a greater risk of complications from back surgery.

Weight Loss for Back Pain Relief

A healthy weight loss regimen is a good place to start when seeking upper or lower back pain relief in overweight individuals. A doctor-supervised weight loss program that includes a well-balanced diet is advisable for patients wanting to achieve weight loss. In overweight patients, losing 10% of their weight can make a difference in relieving pressure from the joints, spine and lower back.

Many people suffering from chronic back pain are under the impression they will be less likely to hurt their back if they limit the amount of activity or exercise they participate in. However, regular activity helps with lower and upper back pain relief as well as other types of chronic pain. Physical activity activates the exchange of nutrients between spinal discs, keeping the spine healthy.

Low-impact activities such as walking or water aerobics are highly effective ways to get started on an exercise regimen. They help to burn calories, aid in weight loss and remain gentle on the joints, spine and lower back. For more information about back pain relief treatment options, visit the Minimally Invasive Spine Relief website.

Orthopedic Conditions: What Causes Joint Pain?

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Joints connect your bones, allowing for flexibility, mobility, and support. Because joints are an essential part of our daily activities, those who suffer from joint pain can experience a wide spectrum of pain throughout the day. Joint pain is one of the most common orthopedic conditions. It is often related to conditions like arthritis; however, there are many non-arthritic causes of joint pain such as gout, sprains and strains.

Common Causes of Joint Pain

As the population ages, joint-related orthopedic conditions become much more commonplace. This is due to the joints and surrounding bones, tendons, and ligaments wearing out or becoming affected by problems like gout, bursitis, tendonitis, and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, which affects approximately 27 million Americans, is also known as degenerative joint disease. This condition occurs when the protective cartilage at the end of the bone has begun to wear out.

In addition to arthritis, those suffering from fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and, in some rare cases, bone cancer, are vulnerable to joint-related pain. Damage to joints and surrounding tissue can cause both short and long term problems, but age appears to be the primary reason for joint pain that requires chronic pain management.

Symptoms and Treatment for Joint Pain

The key symptoms of joint-related pain include joint swelling, redness, tenderness, warmth, stiffness in the joint, weakness, loss of range of motion in the joint, locking of the joint, and limping. These symptoms are often debilitating enough to necessitate help from an orthopedic specialist. One of the hallmark symptoms of arthritis is joint pain, generally caused by inflammation and erosion of the joints and cartilage between the bones.

Treatment options for joint pain depend on the underlying cause of the pain. Due to the variety of orthopedic conditions which can result in joint pain, it’s important for patients to be diagnosed properly in order to proceed with treatment. Treatment for these conditions can be immediate or part of a comprehensive chronic pain management plan. They may include one or more of the following:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Topical creams made specifically for arthritis pain and prescription muscle relaxers.
  • Physical therapy, which can help strengthen muscles around the joints and stabilize them.
  • Steroid injections can alleviate severe instances of joint pain, such as; arthritis, tendinitis, and other chronic conditions.
  • Lifestyle changes, especially exercise and weight loss, can help reduce joint pain in those who are overweight.
  • Other techniques such as heat, ice, rest, and glucosamine supplements can be helpful in reducing the joint-related pain.

Do Hip and Leg Pain Increase With Age?

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The process of aging brings about aches and pains people may not expect. Whether caused by wear and tear on the joints or conditions related to aging, hip and leg pain are common occurrences for those experiencing the pains of getting older.

Many factors increase the chances of leg and hip pain as a person gets older.

Joint and bone conditions.

In addition to those who are overweight, the elderly are at a higher risk of developing debilitating conditions such as arthritis and osteoarthritis, which cause inflammation of the joints and weakening of tissue. Osteoarthritis is one of the main causes of a hip injury.

Knee & Hip Bursitis

Another common condition that emerges with age and causes intense pain in a number of areas including knees and hips, is bursitis. This condition is a direct result of the fluid sacs in the joints becoming inflamed.

Degeneration of tissue.

With aging comes a decrease in joint cartilage, which can also result in leg and hip pain.

Decreased bone density.

As men and women age, they tend to lose bone and muscle density due to hormonal changes of menopause or conditions such as osteoporosis. These changes in bone density can result in increased hip and leg pain, ultimately changing posture and causing other complications.

Spinal herniation.

As aging occurs and spinal discs begin to degenerate, they can often herniate. This may cause pain in the lower back, but it may also affect the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain that radiates into the hip and leg area.

Injury from falls or accidents.

Weakened bones and joints and changes in the spine can affect the way an older person walks or stands. Hip and leg injuries are not uncommon as a person ages, and those injuries can cause chronic pain.

Pain relief from leg and hip pain can be achieved with the right course of treatment. Following a comprehensive clinical assessment that includes imaging and a physical examination, a treatment plan can be determined according to type, severity and cause of the pain. In most cases, pain relief can be achieved with non-surgical treatment methods, including medication, physical therapy and rest.

As aging occurs, it is important to take a special interest in one’s spinal health. This means being mindful of lifting techniques and listening to the body when there is pain or discomfort. Try these leg and hip stretches at home to help alleviate back pain, and to learn more about pain conditions and treatments, visit the MISI pain relief website.

Can Acupuncture Offer Pain Relief?

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Acupuncture has long been recognized as one of the mainstays of alternative medicine, offering patients pain relief through a more holistic method. A practice in traditional Chinese medicine, this technique is said to help balance the flow of energy in the body.

How does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture practitioners believe that a disruption to the flow of energy in the body can cause many ailments, including chronic pain. In order to cure these ailments, it is essential to balance the flow of energy. In acupuncture, very thin needles are placed strategically through the skin and into various “energy flow” points in the body, redirecting the flow of energy and re-balancing the body. Western practitioners believe that acupuncture triggers a boost in the body’s natural pain killers, increasing blood flow and stimulating pain relief.

How is Acupuncture Used for Chronic Pain Relief?

Studies show that primarily, acupuncture helps with post-operative and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, as well as post-operative dental pain. However, used in conjunction with other treatments or as an alternative therapeutic treatment, acupuncture has shown promise in providing pain relief for many acute and chronic conditions. This includes conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, lower back pain, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, myofascial pain, tennis elbow, neck pain and even labor pain.

While studies are still in progress to determine the biological and physiological connections that make acupuncture a potential alternative method for chronic pain relief– there is no doubt that acupuncture can be an effective part of pain relief and management.

Acupuncture Side Effects

It’s important to note that side effects associated with acupuncture are generally due to poor acupuncturist training or poor hygiene. Minor risk associated with acupuncture can include soreness, light bleeding and bruising around the needle placement locations. However, more severe side effects can include organ injury, if the needles are inserted too deeply, or infections. That is why it’s vital to find your state’s certified training requirements and license regulations. While most states regulate acupuncture and require practitioners to undergo certified training to be licensed, some states do not have regulations in place.

Ice or Heat for Back Pain Relief ?

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If you’re one of many back pain sufferers, you’re probably familiar with the use of ice or heat for back pain. Two very common non-pharmaceutical treatments, heat and ice therapies have their own benefits. It’s important to figure out which is the right form of therapy for your condition.

Ice: Shocking the Muscles into Relief

Ice therapy is a common and effective method for reducing swelling and inflammation caused by lower back injuries, muscle sprains and conditions such as arthritis.

How does cold therapy help? The shock of the cold applied to the injured area causes the veins to contract, giving the muscles room to flex and become less inflamed. Combining ice therapy with heat is a great way to help the area recover faster. Doctors generally recommend ice therapy in three 10-15 minute increments a day for the first few days following an injury.

Heat: Blood and Oxygen Flow

Heat therapy can be a more effective method of lower back pain relief for those suffering from chronic lower back pain and back injuries. When applied, heat relaxes the veins, which has several effects on the injured area:

  1. It improves blood flow so nutrients and oxygen, necessary for the healing of tissue, can get to the injured area faster.
  2. The heat relaxes and soothes the muscles, reducing pain.
  3. The increased flow of oxygen and blood helps the body to eliminate cellular waste so the injured area can heal faster.

Heat is often used in combination with ice therapy for injuries to the lower back. However, it’s also an effective solo treatment for chronic back pain. Moist heat — showers, baths or moist warm towels — often works best for back pain relief, but heating pads and all-day heat packs can help alleviate pain throughout the day. Typical treatment lasts 15-20 minutes.

Long-lasting Pain Relief

Heat and cold therapies can be great for relieving back pain for minor injuries, but if the pain persists, you may need a more effective way to get the upper or lower back pain relief you need. If you’re experiencing chronic pain from arthritis, a degenerative disc or another back condition, talk to your doctor to find the right pain management plan for you.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery | What Does ACGME Fellowship-Trained Mean?

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When severe pain and chronic back problems force you to seek spine surgery, it can be easy to overlook aspects of your surgeon’s training and experience for quick relief. While we know it can be tempting to find any doctor experienced in minimally invasive spine surgery to entrust your back problems to, the truth is something as serious as spine surgery requires someone with the training and expertise to treat those issues safely and effectively. An ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) fellowship-trained spine surgeon is the ideal professional to treat your symptoms.


Why does ACGME fellowship training matter?

Some doctors choose to pursue fellowship training past their residency in order to become more specialized in their area of choice. While it means an additional year of school, that year prepares dedicated surgeons for the challenges of performing potentially life-altering procedures.

As a patient, you may not know that, while any qualified doctor can attempt to treat back pain, a spine surgeon with ACGME fellowship training has the knowledge necessary to not only locate the source of pain, but to treat it with greater accuracy and effectiveness. In fact, once fellowship training is over, in order to ensure their expertise in their chosen specialty, additional board exams are required.

ACGME fellowship-trained doctors are more informed about the latest technology and treatment options for your specific needs. A general practitioner may be able to give you a treatment plan for your pain or injury, but may not know enough about the specific area to identify newer and more effective treatments to implement.


What should you look for in fellowship-trained back doctors?

  • Find a doctor who is board eligible or board certified with ACGME fellowship training in

    spine surgery.

  • Find a doctor you are comfortable with. It doesn’t matter how highly recommended they are, if you do not feel comfortable with a doctor, it will not work. Being uncomfortable may prevent you from asking important questions regarding your condition and treatment.
  • Find a specialist with access to the latest technology and treatments available for your condition.

    Whether you suffer from chronic back pain or herniated discs, it’s important to err on the side of caution and find someone with access to all of the best possible equipment, medication and surgical treatments in the industry. That will give you the greatest chance for a fast recovery.

  • Look for a doctor working in a specialty practice.

    Chances are, if your doctor is fellowship trained in the spinal column and working in a practice specializing in that area, they treat patients with spinal problems exclusively. This means they will have a greater understanding of specific problem areas that you may need help with.

MISI specialists: Your minimally invasive spine surgery awaits

Every spine surgeon at MISI is fellowship-trained with specialties in orthopedic and spine care. They have been handpicked by MISI’s director, whose priority is to give patients access to the most highly qualified, highly educated and highly experienced medical professionals in their field. When you go to MISI in search of an ACGME fellowship-trained spine surgeon, you can rest easy knowing that you will receive only the best and most experienced in minimally invasive spine surgery.

A surgeon with the right level of expertise should treat your debilitating pain. Call MISI today at (855) 339-4481 to set up your appointment with an ACGME fellowship-trained specialist and get yourself on the road to recovery.