Every August on Nevada Inside Pain, we try to focus on the latest research and news in pain management, as well as the wider medical community.

We do this to keep you informed about what science is saying now about the best ways to live a healthier life with less pain. It’s part of our commitment to patient education that we think is so important for comprehensive pain management.

But, we also think that it’s also a lot of fun to learn about the most compelling research and events out there! From assistance dogs to TED talks to cancer prevention to stem cell therapy, we dished on some of the latest news in the medical community this August. Let’s take a look back.

Chronic pain research and resources

Do you know about stem cell therapy for pain management? As we discussed in an earlier August post, one team from the University of Illinois conducted research this summer that’s pushed our understanding of this innovative new treatment to the next level.

In order to effectively use stem cell therapy for pain management, researchers will need to be able to manipulate stem cells. By doing it correctly, researchers will be able to alter the biological rules that influence which cells turn into organs, bone, muscle, or other bodily tissues.

The University of Illinois team was the first to do this successfully and there are hopes that they’ll be able to reproduce these results in the future.

When we discuss research, it’s also important to discuss the resources that are already out there that are helping chronic pain patients manage their pain. In August, we took an in-depth look at the opportunities for inspiration, support, and advice that are available in online pain support groups.

A recent study from The Journal of Pain actually showed that pain patients who participated in positive online activities experienced fewer chronic pain symptoms than those who didn’t. It’s a very tangible result from an intangible meeting area.

One of our favorites is Faces of Pain, an online support group created by our partners at PainDoctor.com. We noted that:

If you visit the website, you’ll see that many people are already sharing their stories and their sources of inspiration. Scrolling through immediately gives you a sense of other people out there battling chronic pain. Each of their very real faces is a testament to the strength that people rely upon every day when battling chronic pain.”

If you suffer from chronic pain, we recommend joining an online or in-person group in order to find inspiration, advice, and support.

We also discussed another very interesting area of pain management–water exercises.

Water exercises can help relieve symptoms associated with arthritis pain, hip and knee pain, and fibromyalgia pain. As we covered in our post, there are many places in Southern Nevada already offering pain-specific exercise opportunities!

Recent events in the medical community 

August was also host to one of our favorite week-long observances–International Assistance Dog Week!

Assistance dogs not only help the blind. They can also assist people with conditions like:

  • Autism
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Seizures
  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Chronic pain

These amazing animals can help their owners open doors, pick up and carry items, fetch medication bottles, and help reduce the stigma around disability.

We also covered the results of another important southern Nevada initiative–Operation Medicine Cabinet.

In April of this year, this program (through a partnership with southern Nevada law enforcement agencies and the Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy) helped get 1,000 pounds of unused or expired medications out of homes. Many of these were potentially dangerous narcotics, such as opioids, that can cause overdose and death when used in large doses.

Understanding preventative medicine 

In August, we also took a look at some medical conditions that aren’t pain-specific, but nevertheless affect many of our patients.

Cancer, in particular, is a disease that affects too many. In Nevada alone, 14,450 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2014. However, through appropriate prevention and screening, we can help stop some of these cases from occurring. In our August post on cancer, we noted that:

“A Daily Mail article states that 37% of pancreatic cancer cases could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. Researchers at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center found that women who consumed more fruits and vegetables were less likely to develop bladder cancer. A study conducted by the University of Regensburg in Germany found that inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle can cause an increased risk for lung, colon, and endometrial cancer.”

It is encouraging to see that there are some easy lifestyle changes that we can make that may reduce our risk of cancer. Likewise, many of these same healthy living guidelines can reduce our risk of heart disease.

To reduce your risk of heart disease, you should:

  • Educate yourself to determine your own level of risk
  • Eat healthy meals that are based on vegetables, low-fat protein sources, and healthy fats
  • Find time for exercise–as little as ten minutes of exercise a day can reduce your risk for heart disease
  • Learn what to do in case of a heart attack

Finally, we discussed a portion of the body not commonly talked about–the gut. Recently, however, we have seen an uptick in the amount of people talking about and researching gut conditions. These include conditions like irritable bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Our August post discusses this latest research–from studies into the genetic components of IBS and IBD to effective treatments–as well as recent books that have come out about the subject. It’s important that there’s a broader cultural conversation about these conditions because of the amount of people affected by them. We found that:

  • The CDC estimates that as many as 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from irritable bowel diseases
  • Ulcerative colitis, one of the more common irritable bowel diseases, affects as many as 700,000 people in the U.S.
  • The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America also estimates that another 700,000 people in the U.S. suffer from Crohn’s disease
  • Certain studies cited by the National Institutes of Health estimate that irritable bowel syndrome may affect as many as 20% of the U.S. adult population

And, now for some fun

In addition to these topics, we also delved into some more light-hearted topics this August.

If you’re looking for a smile, check out our coverage of a TED talk by a local Nevada teen. Logan LaPlante has some refreshing new ideas about how we should rethink happiness and our lives.

Did you know that play can be healthy? Recent research has shown that play time–for adults and kids both!–can help relieve stress, make us smarter and more creative, and help keep us young. Our post on play will make you ready to join in a hula-hooping contest in no time!

What about you? What was your favorite post on Nevada Inside Pain this August? 

Image by poppet with a camera via Flickr


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