Can Love Help People Heal?

The Community Pain Center had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Dean Ornish at the 2014 Lifestyle Medicine Conference. We asked him, “How do we change the perspective on using love in medicine?” His response surprised us. Watch the video below to see why.

Who is Dean Ornish, MD?

Read More Can Love Help People Heal?

 

Biomarkers in Fibromyalgia

By Jacob N. Ablin, MD, Dan Buskila, MD, and Daniel J. Clauw, MD

Fibromyalgia is a common pain syndrome char­acterized by widespread pain, tenderness, and a number of other somatic symptoms and syndromes. Although there was original skepticism that any objective abnormalities would be identified in these individuals, at present there are many that have been reproducibly identified, and most point to dysregulation of central nervous system function as a key underlying pathogenic mechanism in this and related illnesses. This article reviews several objective abnormalities or measures that have been identified or used in fibromyalgia, and indicates which of these may be most promising to eventually use as biomarkers to follow the response to treat­ment or progress of disease over time.

 

The Myths & Legends of the Dragonfly

The Community Pain Center has chosen the Dragonfly as the Community’s symbol. The legends and myths that surround the dragonfly are symbolic of many of the beliefs that can help guide people with pain.

Dragonflies are a species of insect that have inhabited our planet for almost 300 million years.

dragonfly image

~The dragonfly is recognized as an amazing insect and in almost every part of the world it symbolizes change and self-realization. The kind of change that the dragonfly represents is in mental and emotional maturity, or in other words, to better understanding the deeper meaning of life. The traditional association of dragonflies with water also gives rise to this meaning, with it scurrying flight across water representing an act of going beyond what’s on the surface and looking deeper into the implications and aspects of life.

For those in pain, our lives can change and can at times lead us to improved self-realization and the finding of a deeper meaning of life.

~When a dragonfly glides across water it only flaps its wings a mere 30 times a minute, while mosquitoes and houseflies need to flap their wings 600 and 1000 times a minute respectively.

For people in pain, we are best served when we can learn how to accomplish things with a minimum amount of effort.

~The dragonfly is known to move with elegance and grace that can be compared to a veteran ballet dancer.

People in pain who have learned to function well despite their pain, often move gracefully and slowly in order to protect themselves.

~The dragonfly exhibits iridescence on its wings, as well as on its body. Iridescence is the property of an object to show itself in different colors depending on the angle and polarization of light falling on it. This magical property of iridescence is associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self-discovery and removal of inhibitions.

The pain community has gone through a stage of discovery that has removed much of our self-doubt that our pain wasn’t real. As we learn more about the causes and treatments for chronic pain the community will continue to explore different means of self-discovery and with better treatments and improved health, each person will experience the removal of inhibitions.

~The style of life the dragonfly experiences, symbolizes and exemplifies the virtue of living IN the moment and living life to the fullest. By living in the moment you are aware of who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you want, what you don’t and make informed choices on a moment-to-moment basis. This ability lets you live your life without regrets like the great dragonfly.

When in pain it’s important to live in the moment. The more you focus on the past and future, the less likely you will be able to appreciate life. Without worrying about the past or fearing the future, your present will be easier and happier.

~In China, people associate the dragonfly with harmony and it is often used as a good luck charm. Among Native Americans, it is a sign of happiness.

It is our hope that those who come to the Community Pain Center will find harmony and happiness, and their lives will change and become easier day by day.

 

CEO’s Journey to the Creation of the Community Pain Center

 

maxresdefaultLynne Matallana can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in pain. Throughout her life she heard doctors say, “You are weird,” and even worse, “There is nothing wrong with you, and there is nothing I can do to help you.”

Despite constant pain, Lynne went on to work in a variety of fields including community development, public policy administration, lobbying, advertising and marketing, and in the early ‘90s she established a very successful marketing and public relations consulting agency. She felt good about her accomplishments, but her neglected medical symptoms had not improved and her frustration with our medical system continued. In 1995, she recognized the onset of a new variety of more intense symptoms. Lynne ended up in bed, unable to function for nearly two years, and became extremely depressed and hopeless with her fibromyalgia (FM) diagnosis.

In 1997, Lynne improved her attitude by using her skills and passion to raise awareness for FM and chronic pain.  Her goal was to improve patients’ quality of life by bringing their stories to the attention of the media and medical community.  She lobbied for more research and encouraged medical professionals to find new ways to help those suffering. Lynne created a nonprofit organization (NPO) to help address the needs of the more than 10 million Americans afflicted with FM. The National Fibromyalgia Association’s credibility and legitimacy grew through its website and international magazine, Fibromyalgia AWARE, and the organization became the leading international NPO providing support and awareness for the FM community.

Lynne’s reputation as the patient expert in the field of FM and chronic pain became indisputable and she knew what needed to be done next: establish a model for an interactive website to provide millions of pain patients 24/7 support, motivation, resources, referrals, solutions, and evidenced-based health care. In 2011, Lynne’s company, Community Health Focus, Inc. (CHFI), was established, driven by her passion to create a unified support system for people in pain.

Her intentions never wavered throughout the four years of intense development for CHFI to realize the Community Pain Center™ (CPC). During its initial stages of experimentation, research and development, Lynne funded the process herself and enlisted the dedicated individuals who are the company’s executive team, and have provided thousands of hours of non-compensated work. The initial stage of the CPC was launched in May 2015. In the coming months it will be the online health care delivery system that goes beyond providing information, but motivates and supports consumers to take personal action. By utilizing the site’s programs and resources members will create solutions for improved wellness.

The CPC currently features a host of interactive videos in the e-HealthMedia™ theater; special offers, discounts, and samples in the Resource Center; engaging and educational articles in the Learning Center; and self-management tools, including STAR™ (Symptom Tracker and Reporting) program and WISH™ (Weekly Individualized Self-Help) program. Coming very soon to the CPC are My Medical Vault for HIPAA-compliant storage of patient information, an evidence tracker all about treatments, and a vast array of independent affiliate medical offerings found in the Community Partners section. All of these will provide patients, clinicians and caregivers a new system for health care delivery and improved health outcomes. The CPC will also include one-on-one assistance, allowing users to interact with a team of healthcare professionals to help them establish their own self-management programs, resulting in system-wide medical cost savings.

The Community Pain Center, brought to life by Lynne Matallana and her hand selected executive team, is revolutionizing health care by delivering access to care and new treatments via the Internet, which will improve health outcomes and lower medical costs for millions of people.

 

Chronic Pain Requires a Long-Term Relationship with your Health Care Team

long term relationshipHistorically, pain has been treated in accordance with the traditional biomedical model. In this model the physician sets the agenda for the visit and directs the dialogue within the visit, the values associated with health are often those of the physician and need to be adopted by the patient, and the role of the physician is that of health guardian for the patient. 1 Communication is typically one-directional with the physician telling the patient what he or she needs to do. Such interactions make sense when strict adherence to the physician’s orders results in a cure or reliable outcome.

 

In the case of chronic pain, where cures are rare and outcomes varied and limited, the traditional model is likely to fall short of the hopes of both the patient and provider. In fact, for most forms of chronic pain, the evidence supports patients taking an active role in the clinical process with goals being jointly agreed upon, values jointly explored, and the physician serving as a knowledgeable advisor rather than a guardian. Sometimes this latter perspective is called “patient-centered,” but in actuality it is more “relationship-centered,” focusing on the cooperative nature of the exchange and placing value on the resources that each party brings to the process of managing pain. Inherent to a relationship-centered approach is the notion that this will be an ongoing relationship that will have ups and downs and requires nurturing and maintenance, just like any interpersonal relationship that you might have with friends or family. It also suggests that the relationship involves not only the patient and physician, but could include a multi-disciplinary team (e.g., nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, etc.), each with expertise in pain.

 

The Community Pain Center offers educational resources for working productively with your physician and/or team of health professionals in a relationship-centered manner. These include educational videos, self-management tools for tracking progress, and resources to aid in making important behavioral and life-style changes in support of better pain management.

 

1 Roter D. The enduring and evolving nature of the patient-physician relationship. Patient education and counseling. 2000;39(1):5-15.

 

Balancing Evidence-based Medicine and Personalized Medicine

The Community Pain Center (CPC) encourages individuals with pain to be well informed about their condition, available treatment options, and resources for optimal care. Two terms important to optimal care are the following: “evidence-based medicine” and “personalized medicine.”

 

Evidence-based medicine.

surgeryWhile there are many so-called “cures” for pain, it is difficult to know which ones can be trusted, which ones are being promoted purely for profit, and which ones are still too new and based upon untested assumptions. The goal of evidence-based medicine is to subject a treatment to the methods of science in order to get an idea of how well it works. The methods of science should be rigorous, unbiased, and show the same result in many people who get the treatment under controlled conditions. When something still works after being assessed in this way you can have greater confidence that it might work for you too.

 

The CPC provides its community with information about treatments that have undergone scientific testing. That said, scientific evidence cannot be graded as good/bad or yes/no.  Some treatments have undergone multiple studies with thousands of people, whereas other treatments may have only been studied once in a few people. Different levels of confidence would obviously be associated with these treatments even though both underwent a scientific process to provide supporting evidence that they work. Eventually the CPC will be offering the community the ability to check a variety of sources regarding the evidence supporting a given treatment for a specific type of pain. In educational videos the CPC tries to highlight both the evidence for and limitations of each treatment option, so that community members can make informed decisions for themselves.

 

Personalized Medicine.

massageThe CPC realizes that for any given individual, what works for the masses may or may not work for the individual. Although evidence-based medicine uses scientific rigor to learn about what works for groups of people, each individual still needs to decide what works best for themselves. Simply by the odds it is likely that an evidence-based approach will be helpful, but some people value the opinions of specific individuals or the results of their own reading and research, which may or may not be based in science. There is nothing wrong with being your own scientist as long as what you try is safe and won’t harm you. The CPC attempts to provide information about popular but lessor studied interventions as well as evidence-based approaches, given that for any given person, a combination of evidence-based and personalized approaches might be optimal.

 

 

If You Feel it, the Pain is Real

if you feal it its realPain is a perception produced in the brain. This perception is often associated with some bodily damage, but it does not have to be. Usually there is a good relationship between the amount of bodily damage and the intensity of pain; however, we all know of situations where there is extensive damage but little pain, or situations where there is no damage and a lot of pain. How can this be?

 

The production of pain uses biological signals in the peripheral body to sense and transmit information about damage or potential damage (e.g., in bone, muscles, nerves, organs, etc.) to the central nervous system (i.e., the spinal cord and brain). If these biological signals are sufficiently meaningful to the brain, then they can enter into your consciousness as pain. Pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) 1 as being both a sensory and an emotional experience. You need both in order to experience pain. The balance between sensory and emotional drivers may shift from time to time but both are always needed and when both are active, it is always real pain.

 

The Community Pain Center (CPC) realizes that the topic of pain can be confusing to both patients and clinicians. Some of the confusion stems from assuming that pain arises solely from a damaged body region. It does not. Some of the confusion may also come from assuming that brief acute pain is processed by the brain in the same way as more long-term or chronic pain. It does not. Different treatments are likely needed for these different forms of pain.

 

The CPC seeks to provide the chronic pain community with high quality education about how different types of pain are produced and what treatments can be matched to the different drivers of pain. The goal of the CPC is not to promote any one form of treatment, but to offer broad education about what pain is and what has worked for others, so that individuals can make informed decisions about their own path to optimal pain management.

 

1 Merskey H, Bogduk N. Classification of chronic pain: description of chronic pain syndromes and definitions of pain terms. Seattle: IASP Press; 1994

 

There is Power in Numbers

crowd at capital fltHistorically, pain has been studied in relationship to specific diseases (e.g., osteoarthritis, cancer, HIV, etc.), bodily regions (e.g., head pain, back pain, shoulder pain), or in relationship to medical procedures (e.g., dental procedures, surgery, etc.). Considering pain in this way resulted in there never being enough people in any one grouping to have a meaningful voice for influencing health policy for pain, to push for more pain research, or to even support each other in living with pain. That all changed in 2011 when the Institute of Medicine published its report on pain that combined all forms of chronic pain to reveal that in the U.S. over 100 million people suffer from chronic pain of various forms. 1 Counted in this way, there are more people suffering with chronic pain than have diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or cancer–combined. Now we know that there are more than enough people to make a meaningful difference in pain. They just need to be organized.

 

The Community Pain Center is building the infrastructure to support the interests of a large community of individuals with chronic pain. This community will be able to support each other, have a voice in directing pain policy, make recommendations for pain research, and gain access to resources to personalize one’s approach to managing pain.

 

1Institute of Medicine (IOM). Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care Education, and Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2011.

 

21st-Century Healthcare Revolution

A technology-driven healthcare revolution has been shifting control from the hands of institutions and physicians back into the hands of the patients for the past 40 years. This revolution appears to partially mirror the institutional revolution that took place in the early 1900s with the creation of medical schools and hospitals. Prior to that time we were born at home and died at home.Stich, Abbildung, engraving, gravure : 1857

The certification of physicians limited those who could practice, and the advent of hospitals took the control out of the hands of the patients and put it in the hands of the experts. Now this trend is reversing. Patients are looking for complementary alternatives to traditional medicine. These patient-driven incentives enhanced by technology are changing the way we experience and practice medicine in the 21st century.

The CPC has adopted a patient-centric model where well-informed patients can decide on their own path to health…

Coupled with the sky-rocketing prices of health care and the need to stem those costs, technology offers solutions to patients by giving them choices for less expensive options. The Community Pain Center (CPC) offers multiple cost-saving technologies all in one place that promise to reduce overall healthcare expenditures, help patients achieve their desired health outcomes, and put the control of health management back in the hands of the patients. The CPC has adopted a patient-centric model where well-informed patients can decide on their own path to health with the guidance of physicians, allied health associates, and health coaches all playing a role in their healthcare team.

Read More 21st-Century Healthcare Revolution

 

What Makes the CPC Unique?

Thirty years of scientific research, the collection of thousands of patients’ perspectives, plus new technological tools, result in increased access to medical care, improved health outcomes and reduced costs for patients. This is the foundation for Community Health Focus Inc.’s newly created business model, the
Community Pain Center™ (CPC).
Senior woman with her caregiver
Unlike some sites, CPC content and messaging is not just based on the opinion of one well‑known “expert,” but rather it melds years of research as well as patients’ perspectives into its educational and practical offerings. The CPC provides a totally unique user experience where information flows in both directions. Our site provides high quality information about what is known about pain and its treatment, while we also provide a means for patients to tell the medical and research community what it is they want and need. All this in one convenient site.

The CPC has acquired proprietary software that was developed specifically for the chronic pain community. Jointly developed with input from patients, IT professionals, and medical experts, this software allows members to track a variety of symptoms and behavioral processes that can facilitate self-management and the sharing of that information with multiple health care providers, family or other community members.

…people in pain often believe that by
sharing information they can guide
awareness and research efforts to find
answers and solutions for pain.

The CPC allows a user to personalize the site, so that it reflects the offerings that work best for him/her. As the CPC’s platform can expand both horizontally and vertically, there is a never ending opportunity to locate viable and appropriate products and services that will benefit and be of interest to the site’s membership.

For the first time, a patient can learn about a specific treatment and trust that the level of scrutiny the product or service has been subjected to meets the high standards of the chronic pain community. In the coming months balanced educational videos and written resources will accompany each of the services offered within the CPC, presenting the evidence (e.g., pro/con) of each offering. Presenting the evidence along with the product/service is a key value of the CPC.

Members of the CPC want to play a role in creating a better future and are concerned for others living with chronic pain. Unlike other patient populations that may prefer to remain silent about their health issues, people in pain often believe that by sharing information they can guide awareness and research efforts to find answers and solutions for pain.

Community members will be given the
option of participating anonymously in a
“living laboratory” from which new
approaches to managing pain
can be explored.

The CPC is a community destination where people of like interests and needs are brought together to support and motivate one another. Through the CPC’s STAR (Symptom Tracker and Reporter) program, members have the opportunity to track their level of pain and quality of sleep in a systematic way, so they can see how these symptoms change over time. They can meet and get to know others with similar interests and health issues through the Community Support Center. If they choose, they can also share resources and support. While some users may choose to meet their chronic pain neighbors living in their local community, others may choose to keep their identity anonymous.

Either form of membership is supported and valued within the community. As the CPC grows and adds new programs and services, its members will have the unique ability to interact in both the internal social network of the CPC as well as outside the community through the CPC’s Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
Female doctor and patient
In addition to serving the needs of individuals living with chronic pain, the CPC also offers unique tools and information to researchers and others in the health care industry. The Community Pain Center software can provide invaluable information for informing the development of new treatment methods and health care delivery systems. Community members will be given the option of participating anonymously in a “living laboratory” from which new approaches to managing pain can be explored.