Chronic Pain

How the skills and attitudes of resilience can help manage chronic pain.

Blue-eyed man looks at his reflection in a broken mirror.


Attitude alone cannot cure chronic illness or chronic pain. Positive attitude and certain self-management skills can make it much easier to live with. In previous blogs, we have discussed chronic pain and its relationship to the opioid epidemic. In the next couple of blog posts, we are going to be discussing situations that people find themselves frequently when they experience chronic pain. And we will discuss the ways in which the skills and attitudes of resilience can help you manage the pain.

There is a great deal of research that shows that the experience of pain can be modified by circumstances, beliefs, mood, and the attention we pay to the pain symptoms. For example with arthritis of the knee, how depressed the person is better predicts how disabled, limited and uncomfortable they will be. What goes on in a person’s mind is often more important than what is going on in their body.

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Living in Pain

Exploring Non-pharmaceutical Interventions

Pain rating scale showing images reflecting a corresponding level of pain from 0 (being none) and 10 (being the worst pain ever).

In the past few posts, I discussed a number of pharmaceuticals that can be used in treating pain. Most recently, CBD has received a great deal of attention and press, but there is still a lack of consistent research findings to support many of the claims being made. I also discussed the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions to treat pain. But before we talk more about these, we will talk about what pain is.

The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” Acute pain is usually transitory and resolves quickly. Pain that lasts a long time, usually 3 to 6 months, is called chronic or persistent. Continue reading “Living in Pain”

Happy Holidays

Christmas tree made of lobster traps and buoys for decorations.The holiday season is upon here in Maine and throughout the world. People are busy planning for celebratory work and family gatherings. Our focus shifts from business as usual to thoughts of what it is that we are thankful for. As we gather with loved ones, we celebrate the meaning and purpose of the season in keeping with our values and beliefs. And as the year passes, we find ourselves taking inventory of what gave us joy, what brought us sadness and what was accomplished as a prelude to making resolutions for the new year.

As we celebrate the holidays, each in our own way, we are reminded that diversity breeds resilience in both nature and in society. When the environment changes, natures’ fauna either relocates, adapts, or ceases to exist. Luckily, the latter is the most unlikely scenario. This is cause for readjustment of and within the new environment followed by a restoration of balance. Society is no different. If we are to become a resilient world community, we must learn to value diversity.

A resilient world community is our hope for the future. Celebrate diversity; it is our path to restoring balance in an everchanging environment. Albert Einstein said, ” We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” An influx of new cultures, new philosophies, and new ideas will offer new solutions to old problems that serve to maintain imbalance.

We wish you the happiest of holidays and much optimism for the year to come.

Photo of Charlene Fernald Moynihan
Charlene Fernald Moynihan


Cannabis for Chronic Pain?

What we know about CBD is still limited.

Cannabis Americana advertisement.

Many states in this country have legalized medical marijuana. A number have recently legalized recreational marijuana. Maine is one of those. As I pointed out in a previous blog, the medicinal use of marijuana has been around for some time. Cannabis Americano was sold in most pharmacies in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Cannabis was listed as one of the 50 fundamental herbs of traditional Chinese medicine. Cannabis Indica was part of many cold and cough treatments sold over the counter in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century. It, and more recently CBD which does not contain THC, are marketed to treat pain, nausea in pregnancy, feelings of anxietydepression, and Parkinson’s disease, to name a few.

There are, however, a number of issues that the users of these preparations should be aware of. Unlike many medications, these drugs have not been studied extensively. And they apparently are not risk-free. One issue being drug interactions. This may be especially true in the elderly who may be taking a number of other medications. Very little research has been done on this and there is considerable controversy even as to the effectiveness of these medications in treating chronic pain.

So what is the consumer to do? Educate yourself about the medication that you are taking, whatever it is. And be aware that some CBD products may be tainted. A California company tested 20 different popular CBD products and found “insanely high levels of dangerous chemicals and misleading labels.” If you are an elderly person making use of a product containing THC be aware that THC may impair your gait and stability increasing the risk of falling and injuring yourself. And there may be some impairment in short-term memory and emotional processing. This is especially a problem for patients with pre-existing cognitive impairment. There is also, apparently, an increased risk for cardiovascular events and an increased risk of psychotic episodes and suicidality.

Again buyer beware. These drugs may have a role in the treatment of pain, nausea and other symptoms, but we need to be aware of the current state of the marketplace, drug interactions and adverse side effects that have occurred. Be aware, too, as to guarantees, or lack of them, regarding the purity of the product that we are consuming. We also need to be aware that there may be other ways of treating these problems, especially pain, without consuming a pharmaceutical.

This article was originally posted to Psychology Today, “In the Face of Adversity“, by Dr. Ron Breazeale, Ph.D. With his permission, we will share a series of posts on Chronic Pain and related issues as a prologue to introducing what Maine has to offer for treatment options.

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Taking a Pill to Solve a Problem

The Rise of the Abuse of Drugs

Old cocaine tooth drops advertisement.

We have all been trained to take medications to solve our problems. And in many cases, this is exactly what we need to do. Pharmaceuticals have played a major role in the advancement of our society and the improvement of our health. Unfortunately, this has taught us that just about any problem can be solved by taking a pill. Just find the right pill and your problem is solved. Continue reading “Taking a Pill to Solve a Problem”