What-does-my-chronic-back-pain-mean

What Does Chronic Back Pain Mean?

Chronic back pain is back pain that continues for at least 12 weeks, sometimes even after the initial injury or cause of the back pain has been treated. Somewhere around 20 percent of people with acute low back pain will go on to develop chronic back pain.

It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and an extremely common source of people seeking medical treatment or missing time at work. The goal of chronic pain treatment is to identify what is causing the pain.

What are the symptoms of chronic back pain?

The symptoms of chronic back pain are pretty simple – it’s mostly reported as muscle pain or shooting, burning sensations. The pain sometimes will radiate down the legs or worsen with twisting and turning of the torso.

Other symptoms may include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Substance abuse
  • Problems in your personal or professional relationships
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

What causes chronic back pain?

Back pain is often the result of an injury or surgery, but if it is acute pain it will go away on its own with time. If your pain has any of the following characteristics, it may be chronic pain:

  • If it persists more than a few weeks
  • If it is severe and does not improve with rest
  • If it spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
  • If it causes weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs
  • If it is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
  • If it causes new bowel or bladder problems
  • If it is accompanied by a fever
  • If it follows a fall, blow to your back, or other injuries

Conditions often linked to chronic back pain include the following:

  • Muscle or ligament strain
  • Bulging or ruptured disks
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis

What are the risk factors for chronic pain?

  • Older age
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity
  • Excessive weight or obesity
  • Improper lifting
  • Certain conditions like depression or anxiety
  • Smoking

How do you treat chronic back pain?

Lifestyle Changes

Once chronic back pain kicks in, the body tenses up. Try to take deep breaths and imagine the breath reaching the part of your body that is in pain. Other stress management techniques (like yoga or meditation) may help as well.

If you spend too much time relaxing, staying put in your comfort zone, you run a risk of only worsening your pain in time. It may sound counter-intuitive, but not moving in an attempt to avoid triggering your pain only makes your muscles weaker over time.

You don’t have to literally climb up a mountain or go too far outside your comfort zone, but you should challenge yourself to be active. Remember to set realistic goals for yourself and manage your expectations throughout the treatment process.

One of the hardest parts of chronic back pain can be the social isolation associated with it. Fight back against this by building a social support network of friends and family, joining a support group, or booking sessions with a physical therapist.

Medication

There is no shame in seeking out treatment for any sort of health condition, covering anything from the flu, depression, or something like chronic back pain.

In fact, the field of chronic back pain treatment is currently undergoing many advancements thanks to innovative new treatments like ketamine infusion therapy that promise exciting results for those suffering from chronic back pain.

If you or a loved one are experiencing chronic pain, contact us today to find out if this innovative new treatment option is right for you.

how-can-i-get-diagnosed-with-ptsd

How To Get Diagnosed With PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that a person may develop after going through (or witnessing) something traumatic. PTSD is often marked by symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and even intrusive thoughts about the initial traumatic event.

Most people will have difficulty coping with the reality of something traumatic they have recently gone through. These feelings will go away on their own with time in most cases, but if the symptoms get worse and last longer, you may be instead suffering from PTSD.

How to get diagnosed with PTSD

Your healthcare provider can perform several different tests or examinations to determine if what you are suffering from is indeed PTSD.

Per the Mayo Clinic, PTSD can be diagnosed through these tests:

  • A physical exam
  • A psychological evaluation
  • A comparison of your symptoms with the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

Before you schedule an appointment, it would be wise to learn more about the symptoms of PTSD and similar mental health disorders.

The symptoms of PTSD

Although, in most cases, symptoms first show within a month of the original traumatic event, they may sometimes not appear until years after the event. These symptoms make it hard to carry out your normal life and will interfere with your personal and professional tasks and activities.

The symptoms of PTSD can be divided into four categories, although these symptoms are not mutually exclusive and tend to vary between cases.

Intrusive Memories

  • Consistent and unwanted memories of the initial event
  • Flashbacks to the event
  • Unpleasant nightmares of the event
  • Emotional or physical distress to things that remind you of the event

Avoidance

  • Avoidance of thoughts or conversations about the traumatic event
  • Avoidance of people, things, or places that remind you of the events

Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood

  • Thinking negatively about yourself and the world
  • Hopelessness
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Difficulty maintaining your close relationships
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of interest in hobbies
  • Feeling emotionally numb

Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions

  • Being easily startled
  • Being on guard all the time
  • Self-destructive behavior (like substance abuse)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disruptions in sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Feelings of guilt and shame

The causes of PTSD

PTSD, like other mental health conditions, is a complicated mix of many of the following factors:

  • Stressful events or traumatic experiences you have lived through
  • A family history of mental health conditions or PTSD
  • Inherited personality features (your temperament)
  • The way your brain and body respond to stress

Risk factors for PTSD can include the following:

  • Intense or ongoing trauma
  • Childhood abuse
  • Exposure to traumatic events through your line of work
  • Other mental health conditions like depression or anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Not having a strong social support system

Ketamine Treatment for PTSD

Research indicates that ketamine can treat PTSD by binding to certain receptors in the brain, increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter glutamate is released. This then sets off a chain reaction that affects thinking and emotional regulation.

This means, in a more common language, that the brain reacts to ketamine infusions in a way that triggers hormones that help the brain create more positive emotions. Unlike other treatments, ketamine can provide this relief within hours or days of the first infusion, although it is most successful as a series of infusions.

If you or a loved one are struggling with PTSD, contact us today to find out if this innovative new treatment option is right for you.

when-does-pain-become-chronic

When Does Pain Become Chronic?

Pain, while far from pleasant, is a very necessary part of human existence. It is, in fact, an important biological warning sign. After all, it is the body’s way of telling us that something may be wrong. In some cases, however, this pain sticks around long after the initial injury has healed. If this sounds familiar to you, you may be suffering from chronic pain.

It may be difficult to tell the difference between normal pain and chronic pain, especially if you have not suffered from chronic pain before in the past. Continue reading to learn more about when pain becomes officially considered chronic.

When does pain become chronic?

Chronic pain is any pain that lasts for a period of at least six months. Unlike normal (or “acute”) pain, chronic pain probably will require treatment from a healthcare professional to find relief. Chronic pain is often the result of an underlying condition or injury, but may still be present even after it has healed.

Some researchers estimate that nearly one in every four adults in the United States suffers from some form of chronic pain.

Some of the more common causes of chronic pain include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Cancer
  • Nerve pain (neuropathy)
  • Back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis

What is acute pain?

Acute pain is normal pain, the most common type of pain. Unlike chronic pain, it is the result of a condition or injury and will heal in time with the original injury. Acute pain has a fast onset and often heals just as fast as it came on. It can be treated with over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen, or other treatments, like physical therapy.

Common causes of acute pain include the following:

  • Surgery
  • Dental work
  • Cuts or burns
  • Broken bones
  • Labor and childbirth

How do you treat chronic pain?

The chief concern of chronic pain treatment is to reduce your pain enough to give you the opportunity to return to normal life.

Since chronic pain is not an actual condition, but is instead more akin to symptoms themselves, treatment for chronic pain must be personalized to each individual and their symptoms.

Ketamine for Chronic Pain Treatment

Ketamine was first approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic, but it has also found significant use as a pain reliever over the years, with many organizations now recommending it for the treatment of chronic pain conditions.

Research into ketamine infusions for treating pain is still ongoing, but it is generally believed that ketamine helps to foster connections between synapses and restore damaged nerve connections, essentially “rewiring” the brain. Ketamine infusions may be particularly effective at not only treating the pain symptoms of Chronic Pain Syndrome, but also the additional depression and anxiety symptoms.

The recent FDA approval of Spravato (a ketamine-based nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression), as well as the development of new psychedelics research centers by John Hopkins, may indicate a shift in the chronic pain treatment industry, providing innovative new options like ketamine infusion to those who experience persistent and treatment-resistant chronic pain.

Contact us today to learn if this innovative new treatment is right for you.

what-to-do-for-anxiety

What To Do For Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural part of the human experience – it is your body’s way of warning you that there may be danger. An anxiety disorder, however, is a more serious mental health condition where these feelings of nervousness go above and beyond the body’s natural response to urgency and disrupt your daily life.

Most people will experience anxiety regularly, and up to 40 million adults in the United States experience an anxiety disorder every year.

There is hope, fortunately, for even the worst cases of anxiety disorder thanks to treatment options and general lifestyle changes. There is no one treatment that works for everyone, but anyone can find relief with the right treatment plan.

What To Do For Anxiety

Physical Activity

Your physical health is very important to your mental health. You can support your mental health by getting at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 times a week.

Sleep Schedule

You should aim for around 8 hours of sleep a night. If getting to sleep is a struggle, try spending less time in front of electronics or adapting a consistent sleep schedule.

Avoid Certain Substances

Substances like caffeine and alcohol may be easy to turn to during times of significant stress, but these substances will only make your anxiety worse with extended use.

Treatment

Anxiety is like any other health condition – there should be no shame in seeking out treatment, and there are plenty of options that may help you find relief.

Different Anxiety Disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Selective Mutism
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder
  • Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder

The Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • A sense of impending doom or urgency
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Avoidance of anxiety triggers

The Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety disorders cannot be traced back to a single cause, but are instead a complicated mixture of environmental and biological factors. In some cases, anxiety disorders are an indicator of an underlying medical condition, but they can also be brought on for seemingly no real reason.

Examples of conditions or medical problems linked to anxiety include some of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems (like hyperthyroidism)
  • Respiratory disorders, such as COPD or Asthma
  • Drug abuse or withdrawal
  • Chronic pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Ketamine Treatment for Anxiety Relief

Exactly how ketamine treats anxiety disorders is still being researched, much like what leads to the development of anxiety. The current understanding is that ketamine binds to receptors in the brain that how much of the neurotransmitter glutamate is released. This will then set off a chain of reactions within the brain that affects thinking and emotional regulation.

To put this in simple terms, the brain reacts to Ketamine in a way that triggers the hormones that help create more positive emotions. This can occur within minutes after a person receives their infusion, but some people may need several treatments before they experience the highest level of benefits.

To learn more about these treatments and if they are right for you, contact us today.

what-are-the-types-of-ocd

What Are The Types Of OCD?

You have a routine of cleaning your prescription eyeglasses before driving and will not sit in the driver’s seat until you are finished. You will only sit in the tenth row, middle seat, of a movie theatre – and never stay for the end credits. These types of practices may indicate obsessive compulsive disorder.

WHAT IS OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental ailment that causes frequent unwanted sensations or thoughts (obsessions) or the desire to repeat a task repeatedly (compulsions). Some people can experience both. An obsessive notion may be that certain colors or numbers are “good” or “bad.” A compulsive habit may be washing your hands seven times after touching a dirty item. Though you may not want to do or think these thoughts, you feel
helpless to stop.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF OCD?

There are infinite types of OCD related to any thought, any subject, any person, any fear, and regularly fixates on important things in a person’s life.

Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory offered this nugget about OCD: “There’s no denying that I have feelings for you that can’t be explained in any other way. I briefly considered that I had a brain parasite, but that seems even more far-fetched. The only conclusion was love.”

What are the types of OCD and do they sound familiar?

Checking – The need to check is compulsion, but the obsession might be to avoid fire, damage, leaks, or harm. Some of the most common include:

  • Reassurance
  • Past memories
  • Door locks and/or windows
  • House/office alarm
  • Gas or electric stove knobs
  • Water taps
  • Car
  • Electrical appliances e.g. hair straighteners

The fear of being dirty and contamination is the obsessional worry, often fear is that contamination might cause harm to one’s self or a loved one. Common types include:

  • Public toilets
  • Chemicals
  • Shaking hands
  • Door Handles
  • Public Telephones
  • Eating in public
  • Staircase banisters
  • Sex
  • Crowds
  • Money
  • Dead skin and clothes
  • Bathroom
  • Teeth Brushing

Mental contamination is a recent topic of research. The emotions of mental contamination have qualities of contact contamination but some distinctive features. Feelings can be induced by times if a person felt mistreated, mentally or physically, through verbal or critical abusive comments.

Hoarding has long been a fixture of OCD where someone cannot get rid of worn-out or useless possessions. Originally a sub-type of OCD, hoarding disorder was reclassified as its own condition in the 2013 publication of DSM-5. However, it does become complicated because some people with OCD will hoard for specific obsessive worries, but they should still be diagnosed as OCD rather than with hoarding disorder.

In the framework of OCD, a rumination is really a train of protracted thinking about a theme or question unproductive and undirected. Unlike obsessional thoughts, these are not offensive and are accepted instead of resisted.

Intrusive thoughts are where someone generally agonizes with obsessional thoughts which are disturbing, repetitive, and frequently repugnant and horrific in nature.

Symmetry and Orderliness. The requirement to have things lined up just ‘right’ is compulsion, the obsessive fear is to make sure things feels ‘just right’ to avoid discomfort or prevent harm.

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH OCD

The International OCD Foundation offers several tips to help you live with OCD:

Always anticipate the unexpected.
Be willing to take risk.
Never seek comfort from one’s self or others.
Always try relentlessly to concur with obsessive thoughts — never question, analyze, or argue with them.
Do not dilly dally trying to stop or not think of your feelings.
Try to not be an all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinker.
Remember that successfully handling your symptoms is only your responsibility.

DIAGNOSIS OF OCD

Diagnosis of OCD follows the path similar to other mental health conditions. The person will see a medical doctor for a physical exam and tests to rule out other health issues. Then, a visit with a mental health specialist happens and may include questionnaires and talking about thoughts and feelings.

TREATMENT

Over the last several years, public and private research has uncovered an intriguing possibility – that ketamine, once used as a battlefield anesthetic in Vietnam, may address chemical imbalances in the brain and improve how neurotransmitters work. This can help someone with OCD manage the symptoms and lead a productive life.

CONCLUSION

Treatment options for OCD and other mental disorders, such as psychotherapy or medication like ketamine, should be talked about honestly and openly with your healthcare provider. No treatment plan should be undertaken unless you have data to make an informed decision about your healthcare, and are comfortable with that choice.

If you or a loved one have questions about the clinical use of ketamine please contact us. There is hope. We can help.

what-is-complex-ptsd

What Is Complex PTSD?

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD, sometimes abbreviated to c-PTSD or CPTSD) is a condition where you experience the symptoms of PTSD along with additional ones, like difficulty controlling your emotions or feeling very hostile or distrustful towards the world. According to some reports it affects more than three percent of Americans. It can affect anyone at any age, emphasizing the need for significant, professional care.

WHAT IS COMPLEX PTSD?

Like PTSD and other mental health disorders, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) has its own unique characteristics. The development of CPTSD usually occurs from a feeling of powerlessness or hopelessness that lasts for an extended time, rather than for the length of one traumatic episode.

Unlike PTSD, people suffering from Complex PTSD may encounter emotional flashbacks. During these episodes, a person will re-live the feelings she or he sensed during the original experience. People suffering from CPTSD often grapple with connection problems and are petrified of abandonment. Children experiencing CPTSD are especially susceptible to this symptom.

SYMPTOMS OF CPTSD

Many symptoms of PTSD and complex PTSD can be similarly treated, with a combination of psychotherapy, group therapy, or ketamine infusion therapy. Long after the trauma or incidents have transpired, people with PTSD or CPTSD may experience symptoms like:

  • Unwanted, recurring, graphic nightmares or flashbacks of the trauma or events
  • A desire to escape triggers that will jog memories of the painful events
  • Feelings of separation from others
  • Anger, fear, guilt, sadness, or shame
  • Twisted ideas about themselves, such as perceptions of unworthiness or low self-esteem

Someone with CPTSD may have reactive symptoms, like trouble concentrating or sleeping, irresponsible behavior or irascible outbursts. In addition, people with CPTSD may experience all these symptoms at a more severe level that includes suicidal thoughts and persistent depression.

THE HISTORY OF COMPLEX PTSD

In 1988, Harvard University’s Dr. Judith Herman concluded that a new diagnosis, Complex PTSD, was needed to explain signs of long-term suffering. The symptoms include:

  • Aggressiveness, sexual acting out, impulsivity, alcohol or drug misuse, and self-destructive behavior
  • Emotional trouble – rage, depression, affect lability, and panic
  • Cognitive issues such as pathological and dissociation shifts in personal identity
  • Tumultuous personal relationships and other interpersonal troubles
  • Unexplained medical symptoms leading to multiple visits to the doctor’s office

Herman’s work led to the discovery that victims of protracted or numerous traumas regularly developed symptoms that were significantly distinct from those linked with traditional PTSD.

HOW TO DIAGNOSE CPTSD

Complex PTSD, which was not added to the DSM-5 until 2013, is diagnosed like other suspected mental health disorders. The person will undergo a physical exam by a medical doctor to rule out any other ailments, then see a mental health provider for a psychological evaluation. During the psych evaluation, the patient will be asked to talk about thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and may be required to complete a questionnaire about previous mental health issues and family history of mental illness. The results of either or both exams are then compared to DSM-5 criteria for CPTSD.

HOW TO TREAT COMPLEX PTSD

Though Complex PTSD is relatively new from a clinical standpoint, the treatment options often closely mirror the care that someone with PTSD or other mental disorders would receive. Most likely, the first option is psychotherapy, group therapy, self-help, hospitalization, or a combination of anything previously mentioned plus medicine to control the symptoms.

DOES MEDICINE WORK?

Some studies have shown that ketamine can be an effective treatment for relieving symptoms of PTSD and CPTSD when administered in small doses via infusion therapy. A ketamine derivative called esketamine was approved in 2019 as a nasal spray for the treatment of depression. The drug has therapeutic value beyond its design as an anesthetic.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you believe you are suffering from PTSD or Complex PTSD, call your doctor or therapist about scheduling a physical or mental health examination. The symptoms are manageable with different therapies including drugs like ketamine, but the condition can lead to other physical and mental health ailments if left untreated.
If you or a loved one have questions about the clinical use of ketamine to help treat the symptoms of PTSD, please contact us today. There is hope. We can help.

Can Depression Be Genetic?

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. The standard symptoms include lack of interest in hobbies, irritability, significant weight gain/loss, change in sleeping pattern, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, trouble concentrating, hopelessness, indecisiveness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

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