Feb 18

Fibromyalgia, according to the Mayo Clinic, is “a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.” Even in 2017, health care professionals don’t know exactly what causes it. The situation is better than it was some years ago, when many doctors believed that the disorder was a figment of the sufferer’s imagination, but the disease remains challenging to diagnose and treat.

Possible Fibromyalgia Causes

Fibromyalgia lowers a patient’s pain threshold, so that what is not painful for healthy people causes a fibromyalgia patient pain. Although doctors don’t know what causes it, some probable causes and influences include:

Genetics: People who have family members with the condition are more likely to contract the disease.

Infections: There are some illness and infections that might precipitate the disease.

Stress: People subject to long-term stress seem to be susceptible to the malady.

Physical or mental trauma: The disorder also strikes people who have undergone trauma and those who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Depression: Depressed patients seem to be at higher risk of the disease.


Pain is a major symptom of the disease, especially the tender or trigger points that are found in pairs at the neck, upper chest, elbows, knees, back and hips. These are points that cause pain even when they’re gently touched, and the pain can be debilitating. But trigger points aren’t the only symptoms. Patients also suffer painful muscles, overall stiffness in their joints, aching bones, and tingling and numbness in their extremities. Other symptoms include incessant fatigue even after a night of sleep, sleeping problems such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Other bodily symptoms might include constipation with irritable bowel syndrome and headache. The patient may be especially sensitive to light and sound.

The condition impairs memory and cognitive functioning and can lead to a condition called “fibro fog.” The patient can walk into a room and forget what they’ve come for. They may have problems speaking, concentrating, or remembering things that should be easy for them to recall. The majority of sufferers are women.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

Diagnosing fibromyalgia is largely a process of elimination, as the symptoms are nonspecific. This means they might be the symptoms of many other diseases. Only after other diseases are ruled out is a diagnosis of fibromyalgia reached.

Healthcare professionals recognize 19 trigger points in patients with fibromyalgia. Until recently, a diagnosis of the disease required the patient to have at least seven of these paired trigger points. Now, the doctor asks the patient if they’ve had widespread pain that seems to have no underlying cause for at least three months.

To rule out autoimmune diseases such as lupus, the doctor gives the patient a blood test called FM/a. This discloses markers released by the immune systems of people with the disorder. The doctor also gives the patient a physical exam and evaluates the patient’s other symptoms before making a diagnosis.


Some non-medical treatments for the condition include alternative therapies such as acupuncture to reduce pain and promote relaxation. Lifestyle changes may also be effective, including practicing yoga; avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy foods that can interfere with sleep; taking a warm bath before going to bed; and sleeping in a cool room.

For care of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions in the Boise area, contact Pain Care Clinic of Idaho. We offer medical acupuncture, Scrambler Therapy®, InterX Therapyand other modern and traditional treatments and lifestyle guidance for chronic and acute pain.

Feb 11

One of the most common psychiatric problems associated with chronic pain is depression. While depression can affect people of any medical profile, those with chronic pain are at a high risk of becoming depressed. In fact, chronic pain sufferers are three times more likely to develop psychiatric problems than individuals who are not dealing with long-term pain.

Medication is a common treatment for depression, but it can have serious side effects, including addiction and loss of energy and mental acuity. The high cost of many medications is, of course, another serious downside.

Luckily, not all solutions are pharmaceutical ones, and some effective alternate treatments are low-cost and natural. Regular cardiovascular exercise, meditation, dietary changes, acupuncture, and journaling can all help alleviate depression. While no one treatment is effective for everyone, natural treatments lack the negative side effects of medication, so there is little risk in trying a natural treatment before trying medication. It may be all you need.

Jogging for Joy

The physical benefits of cardiovascular exercise are better known than the mental health benefits. This situation is changing as more and more research on the mental health benefits of exercise is published.

Exercise can be as effective as medication for people with mild to moderate depression. Not only can it reduce or eliminate depression; it can also help prevent relapse. People who exercise regularly are less likely to become depressed again, possibly because they feel empowered to regulate their mental health.

Meditation and Inner Peace

Thanks to the brain’s ability to change itself at any age, meditation can alter the structure of key brain regions. These brain changes can lead to reduced depression and anxiety.

There are many different forms of meditation, but mindfulness meditation is the best researched, and an increasing number of medical professionals are being educated about its benefits. If mindfulness meditation alone is not successful in treating depression, it can be combined with aerobic exercise for greater effectiveness.

You Are What You Eat

Sometimes all you need to do to change your mood is to change your diet. What you eat has a big impact on how you feel. People who eat low-quality diets tend to have more problems with depression than those who eat mostly healthy foods.

Cut down on your junk food intake. Read the labels on the packaged food you buy and monitor your sugar consumption. Eat whole grains, veggies, and brain-healthy foods like salmon. It shouldn’t be a surprise that when your body feels better, you feel better.

The Acupuncture Approach

While skeptics decry its use, recent research suggests acupuncture is an effective drug-free treatment for depression. From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, physical and mental health problems are the result of blocked chi (roughly translated as “life force”) in the human body. No one is really sure how acupuncture works, but tradition holds that it alters the flow of chi.

Journaling for Relief

Journaling has not been as well researched as the other treatments mentioned in this article, but it costs virtually nothing and is easy to do. Simply write down your thoughts about your life situation and your emotions. Try to be non-judgmental. Some journalers feel that writing by hand, with a pen and paper, is more conducive than a computer to thoughtful reflection (at least you won’t be tempted to check your emails or Facebook), but use whatever medium you find works for you.

The better educated you are on the subject of natural treatments for depression, the more empowered you will be to address it. Whatever your situation in life, you may already have the ability to treat your own depression.

Self-treatment is not always effective, however, and the care of a professional may be necessary to treat your condition. Pain Care Clinic of Idaho offers acupuncture, yoga, meditation and other treatments to help people in the Boise area cope with depression, as well as treatments to address chronic pain directly. Call 208-629-2492 for an appointment.

Jan 21

In today’s society we are all too quick to turn to pharmaceuticals for pain management. And the costs can really add up. There’s a pill for joint pain, there’s a pill for muscle pain, and there’s a pill for headaches.

We believe pumping your body full of pharmaceuticals is the wrong way to go about managing your pain. Chemicals can harm the body, and they can mute your mind, body, soul connection. Plus, there are numerous benefits to narcotic-free chronic pain relief.

It Puts You in Tune With Your Body

When you take a pharmaceutical, odds are that the drug will numb your body in some fashion. This might be a relief in the short term, but it sets you up for damage in the long term. If you numb your ankle pain, for instance, you may do damage to your ankle without even feeling it. This will cause you to reach for more pills.

On the other hand, take medical acupuncture as an example. This holistic approach to pain management will put you in tune with your body. You’ll understand pressure points in your body much more thoroughly, and your body will still be alive to tell you that you’re doing further damage to yourself if it occurs. It’s a much more sustainable approach to pain management.

It Puts You in Touch with Those Around You

When you are under the numbing effects of pharmaceuticals, you might miss what’s going on around you. You might miss the fact that having a loved one near you literally heals your pain. Or you might miss the fact that touching your favorite pet can also heal pain.

With a narcotic-free approach to pain management, your senses are left intact to enjoy the world around you. Because, as we’ve mentioned above, the positive influences in the world around you can literally heal you and help to manage your pain.

Lend A Helping Hand

Studies have also shown that volunteering for a good cause reduces stress in the body. When stress is reduced, harmful hormones are also reduced in the bloodstream. But in order to lend a helping hand, you’ll need to get some chronic pain relief, especially for chronic neuropathic pain if you have it.

But pain medication can make it difficult to volunteer, especially if the volunteering requires any sort of physical labor. It’s hard to build a house for Habitat for Humanity when you are feeling spacey.

Something for Everyone

But pain management in Boise, Idaho, doesn’t have to be New Age and all medical acupuncture. There is something called the Scrambler unit that can gently massage your muscles in order to relieve pain. This advanced medical device uses electronic leads to gently change the electronic signal that your nerves are giving to your brain. Each signal is tailored to the unique individual and the new signal being retrained in your body is a signal of “non pain.” Essentially, it re-trains your muscles to tell your brain that everything is okay.

Jan 14

There are limitations to conventional medical treatments of chronic pain. Of course, there are a variety of pharmaceutical approaches to pain management, but almost all of them have negative side effects, including dizziness, nausea, and the risk of developing a dependence on the medicine.

Because conventional medicine does not always have effective responses, Complementary and Alternative Medicine is an important option for many who suffer from chronic pain.

Benefits of Yoga for Chronic Pain

Yoga is an effective treatment for chronic pain because it works both the mind and the body. As a low-impact exercise, it provides gentle stretching that can ease stiffness and pain. As a meditation procedure, it helps to keep the mind alert and calm, and reduce the perception of pain.

Studies have shown that yoga is “effective in the treatment of chronic pain, including osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. In the studies reviewed, patients saw significant reductions in joint pain, muscle stiffness, and overall physical discomfort while greatly improving their flexibility, range of motion, and muscle strength.”

Five Exercises

Keep in mind that for beginning practitioners, it’s always best to get experienced guidance when trying yoga. Proper form is important, and watching videos can only take you so far. If you have a serious condition such as disc diseases, you should also check with your doctor before trying yoga. If you can’t do the poses by yourself, pillows or foam supports may make it easier.

Cobra pose. This is a simple exercise that can help greatly with lower back pain. Lie facedown on the floor with your legs stretched straight back and toes pointed backward. Place your forearms on the floor and push upward, lifting your chest but keeping your thighs and groin on the floor. Don’t forget to breathe! Lift as far as you can without pain, hold the pose for a few seconds, and slowly lower again.

Dolphin pose. This is an easier variation of the well-known downward dog pose that does not stress the arms as much. It still provides a strong full-body stretch that loosens and strengthens the legs and core. Start on your hands and knees, with knees directly under your hips and forearms flat on the floor. Press your toes to the floor and lift your buttocks toward the ceiling. Straighten your legs if you can, but keeping them bent is okay. Keep your upper body straight as well — don’t flex your back or push your head into the floor. Hold for a few second and then lower again.

Butterfly pose. This stretch helps painful hips and backs. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Press the soles of your feet together and keep them together as you move your knees apart, lowering them as far to the floor as you can (but don’t force it!). Hold as long as comfortable, and then raise your knees again.

Mountain pose with shoulder stretch. For shoulder/neck pain. Stand straight upright and reach your right hand back to the back of your neck, and your left hand around your back. Move the hands together slowly and clasp them, keeping your spine straight. (If you can’t clasp your hands, hold a strap or rope between them.) Then slowly lift your right elbow as far as you can and hold a few seconds. Release and repeat on the other side.

Supine torso twist. Another pose useful for back pain. Lie flat on your back with your arms out in a T and your feet on the floor, knees up. Slowly lower your knees toward the left side. Go as far as you can without lifting your shoulders from the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then return to center and repeat the exercise toward the right side.

To learn more about how to manage and relieve chronic pain, contact the Pain Care Clinic of Idaho at 208-629-2492 or visit paincareclinicofidaho.com.

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