Section: Healthy Aging
Rewiring the Chronic Pain Brain
Pain can be unlearned. It is meant to serve a crucial but temporary role in our lives: to alert us of danger and to influence appropriate action. This is certainly the case when we place our hand on a hot stove: pain signals immediately shoot to our brain and initiate a muscle reflex to remove our hand from the flame before we even become conscious of the source of pain itself. This mechanism evolved to optimize our chances for survival.
A Context for Hope in Evidence-Based Care
As I sit here and ponder the nature of the role that hope plays in daily medical practice, the ever-rational and categorically determined left hemisphere of my brain demands a clinically relevant literature review on the subject. Appropriately, as I realize that there’s at the moment very little to be found, the creative and intuitive right hemisphere plays the role of care-taker to its traditionally less remitting counterpart: reminding my collectively conscious mind that just because we don’t yet understand the mechanism by which some reality exists doesn’t exclude it from existence. Those who feel comfortable speaking (and writing) about the nature of hope in the patient encounter risk sounding non-scientific. The prevailing view, mostly by omission of critical thought, is that accepting what we cannot yet fully explain equates to blind faith. As a clinician who takes to heart the suffering of my patients no matter the brand of faith they subscribe to, I feel it important to explore the subject.
The Pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Nature's Intended Overreaction
Imagine for a moment that your home is on fire, and your local fire department arrives in heroic fashion to save the day. Yet, instead of coming through as saviors, they merely fix the problem by cutting the power to your fire alarm. No more obnoxious noise, no more problem right? The obvious problem, though, is that the fire proceeds to wreak havoc on all of the possessions you hold dear. While the hyperbole of this anecdote flies in the face of everything we find to be logical when it comes to fire safety, the analogy is far from exaggerated in relation to how medicine often addresses chronic pain.
A Pillar of Optimal Health: The Immune System
There is a lot more to immune system function than protection from colds and the flu, and "peak" infection seasons are not the only times when it is active. While flu activity tends to peak between December and March, according to the Centers for Disease Control, annual flu seasons may go as late as May. So, it is important to support our immune systems year-round.
Top Do's and Don'ts of Geriatric Medicine
DO be respectful. Address your patient by Mr. and Ms. unless told otherwise. DON'T dismiss a complaint as being just age. Investigate it as completely as you would for a younger patient.
The Privilege of Working with Our Elders
Yes, treating these patients can be more challenging than your average 2-year-old with an ear infection or 40-year-old with hypertension, but the rewards are manifold. Changes can and do happen with our therapeutics, perhaps not quite as rapidly or intensely, but with tremendous satisfaction on the part of patient and physician. You don’t need a specialty practice to treat elders, just an open heart.
Polypharmacy in Geriatrics
Statistics support the impression that large numbers of medications are being routinely prescribed in our elder patients. In 2010 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in patients over the age of 60 more than 76% of them used two or more prescription drugs and 37% of them used five or more. That reflects a substantial increase in number of patients with five more meds over an eight-year period. More recent data is not yet available, but likely follows a similar trend.
Osteoporosis
May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month. There are simple changes patients can make to better their health and avoid the inconvenient complications in the future.
Mind-Body Integrative Medicine: Treating the Whole Person
As the face of health care continues to change with the increased use and popularity of "natural", "holistic", "alternative", "complementary" medicine, the focus of attention is now moving more towards what is being termed "integrative" medicine.
Homeopathy Primer
Cheating on Your Doc?
Some patients hide their newfound approach to health care from their usual doctor, and some just do not feel it is necessary to come clean, but keeping that secret can be harmful...
Adrenal Fatigue Explained
Questions about fatigue are some of the most common that naturopathic physicians hear from patients. We all become run-down now and then due to the stresses of everyday life and the demands of our busy schedules. Over extended periods this can overburden our bodies, creating a situation that is not so easy to bounce back from.
Healing the Aging Metabolism
As we age, a variety of stressors to our system take a toll on the total count of the very important mitochondria; and as nutritional status declines and disease status increases, the nutritional co-factors that support this entire important process decline as well.
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