Welcome back to the “Healthy Life” podcast. Today I want to talk about one of the issues we often put aside that of pain. According to the online medical dictionary, “Pain is an unpleasant feeling that is conveyed to the brain by sensory neurons. The discomfort signals actual or potential injury to the body. However, pain is more than a sensation, or the physical awareness of pain; it also includes perception, the subjective interpretation of the discomfort. “Perception gives information on the pain's location, intensity, and something about its nature.”
As a nurse, paramedic, and clinic manager I found that pain was an indicator. Something that required, understanding and interpretation before actions were taken. After a stroke many connections within the body are jumbled and we often struggle with a multitude of issues regarding movement, sight, speech, sensation and pain.
If we keep in mind that pain or discomfort are indicators then we need to ask more about it to make proper interpretations. Where exactly is the pain? Is it generalized or specific? Can you point to it with one finger or is it more sweeping? What brings it on? What changes or effects it? How long does it last?
Typically we want to solve “pain” or get rid of it with medications. Please trust me when I say that medications all come with unseen effects or unplanned effects.... medications tend to work on the entire body... take nitro glycerin tablets for example... they are used to reduce angina (pain of the heart muscle) that is usually brought about by decreased oxygen to the heart... the nitro is a vasodilator and works by relaxing the blood vessels and allowing more blood and by that... more oxygen to the heart.
Unfortunately the nitros effect is not just in vessels around the heart... it relaxes them all. So one of the unseen effects is getting dizzy or light headed and passing out. As a result it’s best when people take nitro tablets they are either seated or lying down.
Now this is only a sample case of cause and effect used to demonstrate the effects and often unperceived actions of medications. That’s why it is so important to understand details about the aches and pains we feel post stroke. It’s amazing to realize how quickly the stroke and its affects are felt and seen.
For those who have their motor functions affected as I did they are often followed by spasms, cramps, muscle atrophe, and pain in the affected limbs. The easiest fix for many of these complications are medications. Muscle relaxants, pain meds, and antidepressants are often ordered to lessen the effects of the stroke. The problem with many of these medications is they affect the total body and often slow if not stop healing and repair.
The best non medical answers for controlling and managing pain are in acupuncture, heat, stimulation, and use. I remember a mentor of mine always pointing out that practice does not make perfect... practice only makes permanent... it’s only perfect practice that makes perfect.
Unfortunately many stroke survivors get frustrated because movements have been effected so they would rather not move their affected limbs. Instead they are often content with lack of use, which in turn will promote muscle atrophy and increased pain. It is a wicked downward spiral if allowed to go unchecked.
I have one comment that I will make... use it or loose it! Now hear me out... I understand that frustration... I went three years with limited function on my right side and no feeling. I thought my life would be limited to a motorized chair... in fact We redecorated our kitchen to allow for the use of such!
It was three years after my pontine brain bleed and secondary stroke that I saw healing. As a result I will preach and repeat... never say never! Remember when we began this podcast I said that “Pain is an unpleasant feeling that is conveyed to the brain by sensory neurons. The discomfort signals actual or potential injury to the body.” We are often trapped in those signals being incorrectly interpreted and translated. If the neurons are not able to send the right message many times “pain” is the interpreted result. We need to heal those pathways and the results can be pain relief!
Well unfortunately that’s all the time we have for today ... I’m so glad we got to talk about healing and pain... thanks for joining me today and I look forward to sharing with you next week, ...please feel free to leave me a message at stroke.global or on Facebook @stroke.global, I enjoy seeing them all.
It really is an honor and it’s been a pleasure sharing today and I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast... we keep it brief so it’s easy to add to your day... we want to thank our sponsor TCM Restoration for helping us provide this venue. Feel free to share this podcast with others, offer your feedback and questions and follow us online on our website stroke.global or on our Facebook page. Well I look forward to learning more with you tomorrow.