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No matter what you do, some days are just going to be bad days and that is OK

The one thing I have learn about life and having to live with a chronic disease is that no matter what you do sometimes, some days are just going to be bad days and that is OK

You can have the best diet in the world, you can have the best emotional outlook, you can exercise, and you can have the best support, but some days “Shit Happens”

Some days the disease state just flares up, or your immune system just doesn’t work as well as it should, or the body just wants to take a break and those are the days when you sit there wondering what you have done, or ask yourself “why is this happening?”

This week I had one of those weeks. I am sure many people can relate. My lung capacity was at half of what it should be and I was really struggling to get on top of it all. I had to work really hard to get back to a state of normalcy and it was really concerning me and also frustrating me. The whole week was a struggle and then by the end of the week, I was starting to feel back to normal again. But, it took some really hard work to start to feel normal again.

“Why?” I kept asking. My diet is good and I am taking my medicines and trying to stay positive and I have been getting to be early, so why is this happening?

Well the truth is that sometimes, when you are living with a chronic disease, no matter what you do, you are just going to have bad days. People can say what they want, or try to justify it being this, or that, but some days there is just no reason why.  But, the main thing is that even though you have bad days, as long as the good outweigh the bad, then you are moving forward and probably in a better place than you previously were. We aren’t invincible. We are humans. We get sick. We get tired. We get stressed. We cannot expect to be in perfect health all the time and sometimes we just have to realise this. Then, if you have a chronic disease state, there is more chance of having some bad days and again, that is OK.

Having said that, if you do all of a sudden have a flare up of symptoms, it is good to do the system check and evaluate what may be causing you to have a flare up, or have a bad day, or not feel so great, or feel so tired etc.

The things you need to ask yourself are:

  • Have you been eating well?
  • Have you been eating too many bad foods?
  • Have you been stressed?
  • Do you have negative people impacting you and your health?
  • Are you exercising and moving the body to keep fit?
  • How is your emotional outlook?
  • When was your last holiday?
  • When was the last time you took some time out for you?
  • Have you been taking you medications? (if needed)
  • Have you been following the advice from your healthcare practitioner?
  • When was the last time you had a health check-up?
  • Have you been drinking enough water?
  • Have you been drinking too much alcohol?
  • Have you been getting enough sleep?
  • Have you had a virus, or a cold, or a flu, or some other illness recently?

All these things you need to ask yourself and are some of the things I asked myself recently. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, stressing too much, not exercising, not eating well, aren’t being positive, aren’t drinking enough water, not taking your medications, not following healthcare advice etc, and then all these things can lead to a flare of symptoms. Sometimes it is just a bit of everything that builds up and causes you to feel poorly, or have a flare of symptoms. Sometimes it may just be one thing alone. No matter what it is, you need to do a check and see if there is anything that needs to be changed in order for you to feel better.

Some of the things you can do to feel better:

  • Eat health whole foods and no refined foods
  • Go and do some exercise, or go for a nice walk in the fresh air
  • Drink more water
  • Take your medicines
  • Take some time out for self
  • Do some mindfulness training
  • Do some meditation
  • Book in with your counsellor
  • Book into see your healthcare practitioner
  • Get some acupuncture
  • Do some yoga
  • Get a massage
  • Go for a swim
  • Read a book
  • Get a funny movie out and have some laughs
  • Be supported by friends
  • Make love
  • Get cuddles
  • Be positive

There are many other things you can do to make yourself feel better and help get your health back on track.

As I said, we are humans and we aren’t perfect, but we also need to sometimes stop and take check of our lives and look at what may be causing our health to suffer, or our disease states to be exacerbated and flare symptoms. It is about being proactive and being honest with one’s self and then making the necessary changes to help yourself get better. There is no “try” there is only “do”.

Lastly, just remember to not be harsh on yourself. Be kind to yourself. Just remember that you are human and it is OK to have a bad day. If those bad days continue, it just means you need to get some help and get back on top of your health again and that is OK. Never be scared to ask for help when you need it and ask for support from those around you.

Now, off you go, and be the best version of you and go and have a good day.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Normal 20 07 2016

 

Causes of bleeding in between cycles

Why am I getting bleeding between my periods?

Vaginal bleeding between periods can be common and is not generally a cause for concern. Most of the time women will get just very light pink coloured watery flow, or just some spotting. There can be many reasons why a woman would be getting bleeding between periods, which includes hormonal changes, injury, or an underlying gynaecological, or health condition.

While bleeding between your periods may not be cause for concern, on one level, the ideal situation is to not have any form of bleeding at all and if you do get bleeding between your cycle, it is a good idea to have this investigated, just to be on the safe side.

What a proper menstrual cycle should be like

I have done quite a few posts on what a proper menstrual cycle should be like, but I will go over this again just briefly

A proper menstrual cycle should be between 26-32 days in length and really only have about 3-5 days flow. Any longer than this can be too long and put a woman at risk of being low in iron, especially if this happens all the time.

The blood flow should be a nice red consistency, no clots, with no stopping and starting, and women shouldn’t have too many digestive disruptions, and really, a woman should not be getting pain with her cycle. A little bit of distention and knowing the period is coming is fine, but there should not be pain at all. If you have to reach for the pain killers and the heat pack, or are doubled up in pain, this is not normal and you need to get this checked out.

What are the causes of bleeding between periods?

As mentioned before, there can be a variety of reasons for breakthrough bleeding, some of which are no cause for concern at all. Some however do need to be investigated.

Below are some of reasons for bleeding between periods:

Ovulation

When an egg is released from the ovary, it does create a tiny wound, through which the egg will then travel through the tubes and prepare to make its way to be fertilised, or then shed with the menstrual flow. At ovulation, this tiny wound can also create a tiny amount of bleeding, which can be seen as spotting during the ovulatory phase of a woman’s cycle.

Implantation bleeding

When an embryo implants into the uterine lining and begins to grow, many women experience spotting around this time. This is called implantation bleeding. They may also experience some slight cramping at the same time and all of this is quite normal. Some women may then experience some lighter bleeding as the embryo grows further. They usually get some light spotting, which can be a light pink, or a brown colour. Sometimes it can be more like fresh blood. While this is normal, it is a good idea to get this checked out just to be on the safe side and to also put the pregnant mothers mind as ease too.

Miscarriage

Bleeding between menstrual periods can be an early sign of a miscarriage. Many women may not even know they are pregnant and may be completely unaware they are having a miscarriage.  While it is generally thought that once a woman reaches twelve weeks gestation everything is generally going to be ok, miscarriages can occur at any time during pregnancy.

Termination

After having a termination women can bleed for some time after the procedure, or taking the medication to start the abortion process. If bleeding continues and is very heavy, women need to seek medical advice.

Polyps 

Polyps are small growths that can develop in the uterus or on the cervix. They are often a cause for unexplained bleeding between the cycles. Polyps do need to be removed as they can prevent implantation happening and they can also turn cancerous if left behind. Polyps are a very common cause of bleeding between periods.

Fibroids

Fibroids, or myomas (also known as leiomyomas, or fibromyomas) are growths, or benign (non-cancerous) tumours that form in the muscle of the uterus. Up to 40% of women over the age of 40 years have fibroids and as many as 3 out of 4 women develop fibroids in their lifetime.

Fibroids can cause heavy bleeding, extended bleed and painful periods. They can also cause infertility, miscarriage and premature labour. In many women, they will not cause any problems at all. Fibroids are a very common cause of bleeding between the cycles.

Polycystic Ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a very common condition that can cause irregular periods, absent periods, and can also cause bleeding between periods. PCOS can also cause other issues such as acne, weight gain, infertility and hormonal and emotional disturbances.

Endometriosis or Adenomyosis

One in ten women are diagnosed with endometriosis and many more do not even know that they have it. Endometriosis and Adenomyosis are very closely related, with endometriosis usually being more superficial disease and not confined to the uterus,  and adenomyosis being deep within the uterine tissue. Chronic conditions such as endometriosis and adenomyosis, can cause bleeding or spotting between periods.  These conditions may also cause heavy or painful menstrual periods and cramps between periods. Adenomyosis will usually cause more bleeding symptoms along with pain etc.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause pain, vaginal bleeding and spotting. If you do suspect you may have a STI, you need to see your doctor for investigation and treatment.

Injury to the vaginal wall

During sexual intercourse the tissue of the vagina can be damaged and this can then cause bleeding. If the vagina is too dry, lack of arousal, and not lubricated enough this is more likely to happen. It can also happen if there is atrophy in the vaginal tissue as well. This is called atrophic vaginitis.  This is more likely to be seen when a woman is going into menopause, or undergoing cancer treatments, or has diabetes.

Menopause or perimenopause

The menopausal stage of life and especially the perimenopause stage, can be a cause of irregular menses and irregular bleeding. It can also cause spotting, or heavy bleeding too. Perimenopause is the period leading up to menopause. This stage of a woman’s life can last for up to 10 years as hormone levels in the body change and can be unstable.

Hormonal contraceptives

Hormonal contraceptives are a common cause of bleeding between periods. They can also cause irregular bleeding and this can be quite usual in the first 3 months of using the contraceptive. If a woman misses takin her oral contraceptive, it can also cause irregular bleeding, or a withdrawal bleed.  Intrauterine Devices (IUD’s) like the Mirena, will often cause irregular periods and irregular bleeding in the first 3 months after it have been inserted. If bleeding lasts for longer than 3 months on any contraceptive, it is a good idea to seek medical advice and get investigated and managed properly.

Emergency contraception

The morning after pill, or emergency contraceptives, may also cause bleeding. If bleeding persists, you should seek medical advice.

Certain cancers

Vaginal bleeding between periods can also be a sign of gynaecological cancers in women. Most bleeding that women get is not serious, but it still needs to be checked.  Cervical cancer can affect women of any age. Bleeding between the cycle, or after intercourse, and pain after intercourse, or unpleasant smelling discharge can be symptoms of cervical cancer and these all need to be checked by your doctor, or gynaecologist.

Uterine cancer tends to occur in women over 50 year of age. One of the early symptoms of uterine cancer can be vaginal bleeding. Uterine cancer mostly affects women are in the menopause and no longer have periods, so this is why any bleeding after menopause needs to be investigate and seen as not being normal.

Stress

Yes, stress can cause abnormal bleeding and also interfere with a woman’s cycle. Increased levels of stress can interfere with hormones and this can lead to bleeding, irregular cycles, or pain with cycles too.

When to see a doctor

If vaginal bleeding between periods is heavy, persistent, or unusual then a woman should go and see a specialist, or a gynaecologist, who is a specialist in this area of medicine. As mentioned previously, while some causes of bleeding are not serious, some are and need to be properly investigated and properly managed medically.

Treatment and prevention

All women should keep a record of their menstrual cycle and when the period starts and how long it lasts for. Any abnormal bleeding should be recorded so that you can show your healthcare specialist if need be. Any abnormal bleeding should be investigated and the treatment will depend on what the underlying cause is.

Women should try and see their healthcare specialist for regular pap smears and regular check-ups for gynaecological health.

If women are getting small tears and bleeding caused from dryness in the vagina, then there are water based lubricants that can be used to help with lubrication and to moisturise the surrounding tissue.

There is no cure for gynaecological and reproductive issues such PCOS and Endometriosis, but these disease states can be treated and managed to give women a normal life. Proper treatment of these issues needs a “Team”, or multimodality approach using medical options, surgical interventions, pelvic floor specialists, acupuncture, herbal medicines, hormone therapies, and diet and lifestyle changes. It is about using what works for the individual and not a blanket one treatment fits all approach.

Last but not least, all women should know that period pain is not normal and that irregular bleeding really isn’t normal either. While most causes of bleeding are not life threatening, they still need to be investigated and checked out properly. Never ever put off seeing a specialist if you have abnormal bleeding.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Normal 20 07 2016

 

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Menopause

The average Australian woman reaches menopause at 51 years of age- with a normal range from 40-55. Contrary to the popular concept, the female body does not become depleted of eggs at this time, but the remaining follicles become less and less responsive to hormonal stimulation.

Premature menopause is defined as cessation of ovarian function prior to 40 years of age. About 1% of women will experience menopause before 40.

The approach of menopause is signalled by rising LH and FSH levels as the pituitary attempts to prompt a response by the ovaries.

The menopause signals the permanent end of most ovarian function and hence the menstrual cycle in a woman’s life. Sex hormones don’t only influence reproductive tissues but also have a multitude of other functions including effects on bone and mineral metabolism, cardiovascular function, memory and cognition, effects on the breast and genitourinary system as well as nutrient absorption.

There are a variety of symptoms which are believed to be due to reduced oestrogen levels and approximately 85% of women will experience some of these symptoms to a greater or lesser degree. These symptoms can be summarised as:

Vasomotor symptoms– (these tend to be early onset):-Hot flushes ( or “flashes” as they are called in USA literature), Night sweats, Formication ( a particularly unpleasant sensation likened to ants crawling under the skin – “formica” is latin for ant)

Urogenital Symptoms– (tend to occur about 3-4 years after menopause):-Dry Vagina, Change in vaginal pH, Atrophic vaginitis/altered vaginal discharge, Dyspareunia, Urinary frequency/dysuria/aggravation of stress incontinence

Associated physical changes-these are partly the result of the normal ageing process, but may be accelerated by declining oestrogen levels. These may include decreased fitness and flexibility, changes in distribution of body fat, changes in sleep patterns

Loss of elasticity of skin and support tissues (may result in):- Worsening of uterine prolapsed, Loss of glandular breast tissue ( breast size and texture changes), Skin changes and wrinkling, Less nipple sensitivity and erectile potential, Joint and muscle pain, Skin dryness

Emotional and psychological changes– it is sometimes difficult to separate the hormonal from the personality-driven and situational as the cause for these symptoms, but women at the menopause may complain of such symptoms as:- Anxiety and/or depression, Insomnia, Lack of concentration and poor memory

Effects on Bone– (these effects may not become apparent until some years after menopause) :- Osteopenia/osteoporosis, Fracture and bone pain

There are other symptoms which have been ascribed to declining androgen levels, though the evidence is less clear-cut. These may include such symptoms as:
Change of body shape – increasing fat deposition around abdomen, less at buttocks and thighs
Loss of libido :- Many libido issues are caused by emotional issues and changes to lifestyle rather than being a hormonal issue
Change in body hair distribution– Pubic hair thins, hair on the head may thin or if woman carries the gene for male-pattern baldness may recede at temples and crown. Facial hair may increase.

Treating symptoms of Menopause

The main cause of people seeking treatment for the menopause is for relief from vasomotor symptoms, the main one being hot flushes or night sweats.

There is a lot of misinformation about the peri-menopause and menopause stage of a woman’s life. Some of the peri-menopause (meaning before the menopause) symptoms can start up to 8 years before a woman actually goes into menopause (meaning the menses stop). Then some of the actual menopausal symptoms can last many years after the menses has stopped and this is something that is not discussed enough and often poorly understood by many, including many healthcare practitioners.

Some women with menopausal symptoms do not choose to pursue any medical treatment when they experience it. However, some women have severe symptoms that affect their quality of life, and may need to have medical treatment in the form of hormone replacement. One of the biggest fears around hormone replacement therapy is the increased risk of breast cancer. You can talk to your specialist, or doctor about these risks before you start any form of treatment. There are now compounded bio-identical hormones to assist menopausal symptoms and these may not have the breast cancer risk factors of conventional hormone replacement medications.

Examples of some medical treatments available for menopause include:

  • Hormone replacement therapy, such as taking estrogen therapy at the lowest, most effective dose.
  • Vaginal estrogen, which is applied directly to the vaginal tissues to aid with elasticity and assisting with vaginal atrophy
  • Antidepressants (SSRI’s), have been shown to reduce the incidence of hot flashes in some postmenopausal women.

Traditional medical HRT can also help with bone strength and reduce the risk factors for heart disease.

Bioidentical Hormones

The Women’s Health Initiative of 2002, issued a warning against the long-term use of traditional hormone therapy (HT) because of the increased risk of breast cancer, but this study was poorly explained and created lots of panic for both practitioner and patient alike. Since then alternative methods, such as bioidentical hormone therapy, have been developed.

Bioidentical hormones  are chemically the same as those that the body produces naturally. As a result, the body should is not able to tell the difference between the hormones it produces and the bioidentical ones. Bioidentical hormones can be made from a variety of sources that span plant and animal products and are said to have less side effects than traditional hormone replacement medications. Many women get great relief from Bio-identical Hormones, but it is important to speak to your healthcare provider about these and if they are suited for you

Complementary Medicines

Women may also consider trying herbal medicines or other dietary supplements as a means to reduce the incidence of menopause symptoms. There are now many menopausal formulations on the market and anyone wishing to use complementary medicines should speak to a qualified complementary medicine practitioner about what is suitable for them. Never self prescribe natural medicines with consultation from a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Chinese medicine has been treating and assisting symptoms menopause for thousands of years very effectively. The key to Chinese medicine treatment is that a practitioner will assess and treat each person individually, not with the one treatment fix all plan. We aren’t all the same so why should we all be given the same treatment.

It must be noted that up until recent times the Chinese did not have a word for Menopause and that very few women experienced any of the symptoms of menopause. The only ones that did seem to were the rich and those of noble heritage, who ate very rich and luxurious diets. This does show that diet and lifestyle factors do affect menopausal symptoms. Many used to believe that the Chinese didn’t get menopause because of their higher consumption of phytoestrogens such as soy. This has now been proven not the case, as soy products “do not” have any benefit to menopausal symptoms, but adherence to proper diet and lifestyle improvements does.

There is also some really good evidence to show that acupuncture can assist with hot flushes and also assist with the symptoms of menopause.

Things to do at home

In addition to medical and complementary medicine treatments, there are many at-home treatments that a woman can do to reduce menopausal symptoms. These include:

  • Avoiding triggers that are know to make hot flushes worse. Examples can eating spicy foods, drinking hot beverages, acidic foods,  being in hot weather, or being in hot rooms.
  • Using water-based vaginal lubricants during sexual activity to reduce discomfort due to dryness and thinning tissues. Vaginal estrogen creams may be needed as well
  • Reduce Stress & Practicing stress-relieving techniques. Examples can include mindfulness, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, meditation, yoga,  journaling, massage, counselling and other forms of relaxation therapy
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can increase the risk of hot flushes and contributes to many other health issues such as certain cancers.
  • Do Weight Baring Exercise. Weight baring exercise is needed to keep strong and health bones and it also has other health benefits. You can also look into doing yoga and pilates to help with core strength and to help with pelvic floor strength and tone. Exercising can also help to relieve stress.
  • Pelvic Floor Exercises. Kegels exercises or use of Jade eggs (known as yoni eggs), or Ba Wen Balls, can help with pelvic floor muscles and increase blood flow into the vagina and pelvic floor area and also help with bladder control

Summary

It must be noted that menopause is a normal part of a woman’s life and menopause is not a medical condition. The main reason that women seek help in menopause for is the menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, dryness and loss of libido etc. At my clinic I use a multi-modality and individualized approach to treating  and assisting the symptoms of menopause, using a combination of Medical science, Integrative Medicine treatments,  Chinese herbs, Diet, Nutritional supplements and Lifestyle changes and find this gives the best results in assisting my patients.

Regards
Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

 

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Weeding Out Endometriosis

Explaining endometriosis to people is not always easy and sometimes you have to use analogies that seem strange at first, but once you get the gist of where I am going with it, it will all make sense. But before I start, I always like to say that please take the personal out of things and just know that what ever analogy I use, it is with good intention and always about helping others.

I just know that when I used the “Endo is like Rust” analogy, which is what it is like, a few people took it to heart as though they had a rusty uterus and this is not what I was saying. Not at all. Please know that I have loved ones with this horrible disease, so I am here to help, and my main aim now is to help as many people as possible with what I know, and how to treat people properly. I am also about getting the message out there so that women to not have to remain silent about this disease any longer. My motto is, and always will be, “Period Pain is Not Normal”

So, sit back, take out the personal and know that I am writing from a place of caring and sharing and a place of getting the message out there to help you all. Sometimes you just have to tell it how it is, in order for people to sit up and listen, so here we go J

Many of you have read my article of “Rust Never Sleeps and Neither Does Endometriosis” and the reason I wrote this is because endometriosis and how it attacks the body, is very much like how rust attacks metal. If you haven’t read the article, please do so that you can see what I am trying to convey.

I am always doing lots of speaking events and seminars on Women’s Health and also presenting for workshops on Endometriosis. It is so great to get the message out to the world, so that both the public and healthcare professionals can be educated on this subject better. We need to stop having this disease “Missed” and women being “Dismissed” as I am always saying now. This disease should not be taking 8 years from onset to definitive diagnosis. It used to be 12 years. This is disgusting, to say the least, and there is no excuse for this to be happening, except poor education, sloppy diagnosis, lack of training, negligence and dismissive egos that need an attitude adjustment.

But, in saying that, we also need to teach women to be empowered and not just put up with being told “This is normal”, or “Just go on the pill and it will fix it”. That is bullshit (sorry). But it is true. There needs to be a better way and we need to stand up and say “Enough”. But we also need to not let the disease define you and get caught up in the blame game either. We also need to get people to stop “Dr Googling” too, as this is also spreading the misinformation. It is great to be educated, but good old “Dr Google” is full of false information and research shows that up to 75% of the health information that the public can access on google, is either wrong, or only partially true.

Now that I have had my little rant about the injustices of many, I would like to share what I have been sharing to others about what endometriosis is really like and how hopefully we can prevent it from returning, hopefully for good. I do know this is possible with the right care, right follow up treatments and right team of people helping. I see it daily and know what I share to be true. But, again it requires the person to follow the advice given and then to get the information out there. It also requires people to not be defined by their disease and break free from these chains to open their minds to the possibilities of new thought, new treatments and new ways of doing things. We need to not be caught up in what may cause the disease, but what we can do to help those with it now.

Of course prevention is crucial and so important, but once the disease is expressed in the body, what caused it is irrelevant. We can argue about the hypothesis of what may be the initial causal factor until the end of time, but that isn’t helping those with the disease now. The most important factor is how we can help those with it live a normal life and hopefully one day in the future to be free of the disease completely. At least  for now, we can look at hopefully giving people a better quality of life than the one they are living each day. From my experience, I do know that this is possible with the right team of people working the help the individual.

To be honest, the most likely cause of this disease is now known to be genetic links, or chromosomal, most likely through the parental mode of inheritance. Gene therapy is probably going to provide the biggest breakthrough in this disease in the years to come. But like any breakthrough, we just have to wait and see what happens there. You heard it here first. I do believe genetics does play a big part, but like any disease, it is not the only contributing factor. But, all this aside, we need to focus on the here and now to help those who need help now. In order to make change, you need to make those changes required. If you change nothing, nothing will change. I also get how hard it is for those whom have suffered so long to pick themselves up, to make those changes. Believe me, as someone who has been through a major life threatening illness and pain and crawled their way back to good health and do what I do now, I get it. I’ve been to that point of wanting it all to just stop and I get what many women put up with on a daily basis. Pain is pain, no matter where it has stemmed from.

Getting back to the subject at hand, I have now been explaining that Endometriosis is like a weed. Why would I explain it like this?

Like a weed, endometriosis grows and spreads. You can physically remove the weed (surgically), but unless you control the regrowth, seeds have been dropped (endometriosis regrowth) and then the weeds pop up again and start to grow once more. Sound like endometriosis too you?

Like any weed, it needs certain things for its regrowth. We have just talked about the dropping of the seeds ( regrowth) but it needs a food and fuel source to make it grow (estrogens, insulin, inflammatory response from external factors, stress etc). Then once the seeds are fed, the regrowth continues and then the garden is infested with the weed plague once more. Then you need to try and physically removed the weeds again once more and so the cycle begins again. Are you seeing what I am getting at yet?

Just like these weeds, endometriosis is often removed and many people then either believe they are fixed, or they do not do anything post surgery to prevent that regrowth. Before they know it, they again have to go back for more surgery. Often when people do try to control the regrowth (Progestins, Mirena etc), they are only employing one method, for which is either not effective enough, or the weed (Endo) is now resistant too.

This is why we need to employ a multimodality approach post surgery to hopefully complete eradicate the weed regrowth and halt the life cycle of these seeds being spread and to start growing again, thus starting the horrible cycle all over again

Now that we can see how endometriosis is really like a weed that can spread throughout our garden, we need to look at what we can do to hopefully stop it coming back, or spreading into other parts of the body.

Like I said, treatment must be individualised, using a multimodality approach, taking the clinical problem in its entirety into account, including the impact of the disease and the effect of its treatment on quality of life. Pain symptoms may persist despite seemingly adequate medical and/or surgical treatment of the disease.

The real focus needs to be on prevention and treatment strategies post surgery. Even better still, lets prevent it before it starts

There is an ancient Chinese saying – “To try and treat a disease once it is fully expressed into the body is like trying to forge arms once a war has already started, or like trying to dig a well once you are already thirsty – Yellow Emperors Classics of Internal Medicine”

The same goes for endometriosis. Once the disease is there and expressed into the body, it is hard to treat, especially is known methods of treatment are failing and this individualised, multimodality approach is used.

A Multimodality Approach Needs To Include:

  • Surgery
  • Pain Management
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Counselling
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Exercise
  • Pilates/Yoga
  • Changes to Diet
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Acupuncture
  • Holistic Medicine
  • Anything people have tried and has worked for them

The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologist guidelines for the “Investigations and Management of Endometriosis” have the following quote:

“Many women with endometriosis report that nutritional and complementary therapies such as homeopathy, reflexology, traditional Chinese medicine or herbal treatments, do improve pain symptoms. They should not be ruled out if the woman feels they could be beneficial for her overall pain management and/or quality of life, or work in conjunction with more modern medical therapies.

This is why it is vital to take careful note of the woman’s complaints and to give her time to express her concerns and anxieties, as with other chronic diseases, just as I do for all of my patients. Healthcare providers actually need to listen to the woman and her concerns. Women need to be listened to and be heard and be nurtured

It is also important to involve the woman in all decisions, to be flexible in diagnostic and therapeutic thinking, to maintain a good relationship with the woman and for healthcare providers to seek advice where appropriate from more experienced colleagues. This is something that I try to educate all my patients with and something I also try to educate healthcare providers with when I do my seminars and speaking events about Women’s Health issues and diseases like endometriosis.

But while there are thing that healthcare providers need to do, there also things you must do also. These include

  • Reducing Stress
  • Look at Emotions and How They Affect You
  • Exercise
  • Get “You Time”
  • Eat more protein and less High GI Carbs
  • Eat less process and package foods that we now call “Carbage”
  • Loss some weight if you have excess fats (which spike estrogens)
  • Gain some weight if you are underweight.
  • Do Something You Love (At least once per week)
  • Laugh Often (Even if some days you feel like crying)
  • Spend Time With Friends and Loved Ones
  • Make Love J ( Climax and Oxytocin are your friends)
  • Do Not Let The Disease Define You
  • Don’t Buy Into The Label
  • You are more than this disease
  • If something is helping, then continue with it, no matter what anyone tells you
  • Just remember that “You” are uniquely “You”

Please remember these words :

  • Do Not Let The Disease Define You
  • Don’t Buy Into The Label
  • You are more than this disease
  • If something is helping, then continue with it, no matter what anyone tells you
  • Don’t buy into everything you read on the internet, social media, or “Dr Google. To be honest, I ban “Dr Google” with my patient (haha)
  • Make sure you have a good laugh each day, but remember it is also OK to have a good cry too
  • It is OK to unplug every so often
  • It is OK to take the “Superwoman” cape off every so often too.
  • Remember “You” are uniquely “You”

This is why it is so important to not get caught up in what others have done, or tried and may not now be working for you either. We need to look at you as an individual and treat you as such. What works for one person, may not work for another. This is why an individualised multimodality approach is needed to help prevent and treat this horrible disease and we often need a team of people, on the same page, to help treat this properly.

Don’t forget to “Get A Second Opinion”, or a Third, or Fourth, or Tenth one if needed

In many other areas in life we will get multiple quotes, and opinions. Yet, when it comes to our health, we often only get one quote, or maybe two.

Just because someone has your history, or is nice to you, or maybe recommended by a friend etc, does not make them a good practitioner. It does not mean that you cannot get another opinion. If someone isn’t helping you, then you need to look at changing, no matter who they are, or how well they know your history. Not every specialist you see is a good surgeon either, so please remember this. You need to have someone who specialises in endometriosis and who has done advanced surgical training, not just minimal training. There is good and bad in every profession and the medical profession is not exempt from this either. Neither is the complementary medicine profession, or allied health care profession exempt from this either. Your health is important and so is the value of another opinion. Not every practitioner has all the answers. If someone isn’t helping you, then don’t be scared to change.

Lastly please remember to know that there is always help out there. I am always here to help and I am a specialist in this area, alongside many other Women’s Health issues and Gynaecological issues. You can always come and see me in person, or make an appointment via skype, for those who live at a distance. I have a great team of people I work with to give you the best help possible. I have a team of some of the best health care professionals there is and I make sure all of them are at the top of their game in their chosen profession.

Let me be the conductor of your health issues and help you get the treatment and advice you so desperately deserve. I am here to listen to you and hear you. I make sure you don’t have things “Missed” and aren’t “Dismissed “ and why my treatment motto is “Leaving No Stone Unturned”. I am out there as a voice for women and being a crusader for women’s health everywhere. I don’t mind stepping on a few toes, and ego’s to get you the best help possible J

Take care and remember that “Period Pain Is Not Normal” and neither are and other “Menstrual Irregularities” that women face on a daily basis. I know what you go through daily and I am out there making sure you all get heard. Let’s end the silence on this horrible disease for you, and the ones close to me whom I love, adore and care about also.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

Girl Taking Medication

Could You Be Suffering With Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory bladder condition in which there is persisting chronic pelvic pain, urinary frequency and urgency, bladder pain or pressure, and it can also resemble the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, but there will be no infection present. The pain can range from being mild to severe.

Worldwide Interstitial Cystitis affects up to 100 million people and it can affect both men and women, regardless of age. IC is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and chronic pelvic pain (CPP)

Women with interstitial cystitis may experience many of the same symptoms as those with endometriosis. Women can have both Interstitial Cystitis and endometriosis at the same time. Some people with IC may also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia and other pain syndromes

People with IC have chronic symptoms in the urinary tract that last more than 6 weeks in duration. Infection has not been identified as a cause of IC. Physical and emotional stress can worsen the symptoms of IC.

Interstitial Cystitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Chronic pelvic pain that lasts 6 months or more
  • Symptoms affected by the menstrual cycle
  • Pain, pressure, discomfort or unpleasant sensation that may worsen as the bladder fills
  • Urinating often alleviates the pain and may give a temporary sense of relief;
  • Suprapubic pain or discomfort
  • Pelvic pain (lower abdominal pain), sometimes extending to the lower part of the back, the groin and thighs
  • In women there may be pain in the vagina and vulva
  • In men, pain in the penis, testicles, scrotum and perineum
  • Both men and women may have pain in the urethra and rectum
  • Pain with sexual intercourse in both men and women (dyspareunia)
  • Pain on ejaculation in men
  • Pain may worsen with specific foods or drinks
  • A frequent need to urinate (frequency), including at night (night-time frequency or nocturia)
  • An often urgent or compelling need to urinate (urgency)

The pain may be experienced as discomfort or tenderness or irritation or burning sensation in the bladder, in the form of spasms in or around the bladder, or stabbing or burning vaginal pain or simply a feeling of pressure on or in the bladder or a feeling of fullness even when there is only a little urine in the bladder.

In many people, the pain is relieved temporarily by urination, while other people may also feel strong pain following urination.

The pain or discomfort may be constant or intermittent. It may also be felt throughout the pelvic floor, including the lower bowel system and rectum. In some patients the pain may be very severe and debilitating.

Other people, particularly in the early stages, may have milder frequency with/without urgency and without a true sensation of pain. What they may experience, however, is a feeling of heaviness, fullness, discomfort or pressure.

Diagnosis

During the evaluation of potential IC, several tests may be completed to make a diagnosis. These tests may include taking a full medical history, completing a bladder diary, pelvic examination, including a neurological exam and urinalysis to rule out or diagnose an infection

Other diagnostic tests that can be carried out include:

Cystoscopy: This is performed inserting a tube, with a camera attached, into the bladder to evaluate the lining and to look for inflammation and signs of disease. A specialist may also evaluate the bladder capacity with a cystoscopy.

Urodynamics: The bladder is filled to test its capacity by measuring the pressure during filling and voiding. These tests evaluate the function of the bladder, urethra, and sphincter muscles.

Biopsy: During a cystoscopy, a biopsy may or may not be taken to rules out cancer or other inflammatory bladder conditions that can cause pain similar to IC.

Potassium sensitivity test: This is a test in which potassium and water are instilled into the bladder. In healthy bladders, pain is not felt with either solution. In cases of IC, however, pain is typically experienced when the potassium is instilled.

Diet

People with IC may be sensitive to certain foods and beverages. There is a range of items a person may need to excluded from their diet after receiving an IC diagnosis. This will be different for each individual but there are certain foods and drinks that an individual with IC should be aware of potentially needing to avoid. There are food and drinks such as:

  • tea and coffee
  • Soft drinks and soda (including diet drinks)
  • alcohol
  • citrus, citrus drinks and cranberry
  • artificial sweeteners
  • spicy food

Some people with IC may need to a food elimination diet over several weeks to see which specific foods and drinks may be exacerbating their symptoms. There are many foods that do not have an irritating effect on the bladder and contain vital nutrients to help fight disease. This is why elimination diets and specific dietary requirements need to be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

People with IC should also give up smoking if they are a smoker, as the chemicals can affect this condition too.

Treatment

The treatment of interstitial cystitis is complex and needs a multimodality approach to treat it effectively. It may require treatments such as:

  • Urodynamic Therapies
  • Physiotherapy with a specialised pelvic floor physiotherapist
  • Pelvic Floor Therapy (Kegels, Yoni eggs, Ba Wen Balls, internal TENS)
  • Surgery, including laser surgery
  • Neuromodulators, such as electrical nerve stimulators
  • Injections, such as Nerves blocks, Antispasmodics and Botox therapy
  • Pain medications- including narcotics, NSAIDS, Anti-inflammatories,
  • Hormone therapy, both oral and intravaginal
  • Antidepressants
  • Acupuncture
  • Pilates and Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Herbal Medicines, including Chinese Herbal Medicines
  • Amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants
  • Sex Therapy and counselling
  • Mindfulness
  • Adopting health sleeping habits

Your specialist or healthcare provider will discuss the best forms of treatment for your individual case. People with IC should also be referred to a Urodynamic and Pelvic Floor Specialist who specialises in this area.

Complications

Complications from IC can vary between individuals and why there is no one treatment fix all approach to this conditions. IC can affect a person life on so many levels. It can affect their bladder volume, their quality of life, their sex life, their libido and have an affect on sexual intimacy and it can also cause them emotional distress. It is a complex condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life both physically and mentally and why a multimodality treatment approach is needed.

Causes

The exact cause of IC is not known, but there are several theories as to what triggers the condition. Some possible causes include:

  • Damage due to previous surgery
  • Defects in the lining of the urinary bladder that cause irritation
  • Overstretching of the bladder due to trauma
  • Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Genetics
  • Allergy

IC is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many people world wide. It cannot be fully cured and requires close clinical management and care. A multimodality treatment approach needs to be adopted that is suited to the individual. When this is done properly, people with IC can still have a good quality of life.

Recommended treatment usually involves diet and lifestyle changes, stopping smoking, drinking less before bedtime, and scheduling planned toilet breaks to ensure the bladder does not get too full.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Normal 20 07 2016

 

treatment 1327811 1920

Women Benefit from Acupressure for Menstrual Pain Through Self Help App

A new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has shown that acupressure may help to alleviate menstrual pain. There have been numerous studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture for period pain, but now researchers from Charité — Universitätsmedizin Berlin, have found that acupressure could help to alleviate menstrual pain as well.

Acupressure is a technique derived from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Rather than using needles, this technique involves massage or pressure being applied to specific points on the body. The good thing is that this can be taught to women and they can use these methods at home.

Approximately 50 to 90 percent of young women experience pain during their periods. Before we go any further, it is important for all women to know that period pain “IS NOT” Normal and could be a sign of a major gynaecological condition such as endometriosis. Any woman who gets period pain, should be evaluated by a proper specialist.One of my mottos is that Period Pain IS NOT Normal and no woman should have to endure pain each cycle.

While this pain primarily manifests itself as lower abdominal cramping, other symptoms include headache, backache, nausea, bloating, fluid retention and diarrhoea.

The researchers wanted to evaluate whether self acupressure would be more effective at achieving a sustained reduction in menstrual pain than usual care alone (e.g. pain medication and hormonal contraceptives). A total of 221 participants, aged between 18 and 34 years, were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups, both of which received a study app and short introduction. Only one of the groups had acupressure points on their app.

After three months, (37 percent) of participants in the acupressure group reported a (50 percent) reduction in pain intensity. After six months, this proportion had increased to more than half of the women in this group (58 percent). The acupressure group also used less pain medication than women in the control group and reported lower levels of pain overall.

The researchers also noted the they were surprised to see that, after six months, two thirds of participants continued to use self-acupressure and continued to gain the benefits of this age old technique.

Acupuncture and acupressure is something I do recommend to any woman with period pain, or conditions such as endometriosis, with other associated symptoms and pain.

Regards
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned
Dr Andrew Orr Logo Normal 20 07 2016

Banishing Headaches and Migraines

A multi-modality approach was one of the best ways I found to help Headaches & Migraines

Many years ago I used to suffer lot of debilitating migraines and headaches. Actually if I did get a headache, I was thankful because that was never as bad as a migraine, that could make you bed ridden with a head feeling like ten hangovers accompanied with the vomiting and light sensitivity. Even when the migraine had subsided I still felt washed out and like a train had run over me. Thankfully I haven’t had a migraine for many years and all thanks to a combination of chiropractic, acupuncture and diet and lifestyle changes.

Like many migraine and headache sufferers, mine were most likely caused by a neck injury, or whip lash, along with blocked sinuses. Current research shows that most headaches and migraines have a neck injury or neck complaint as a predisposing factor. Some neck injuries could go back to childhood or even a traumatic birth and you might not even know about it.

While neck related issues seem to be a major cause, there are many other contributing factors such as poor diet and lifestyle habits. Too many high GI carbohydrate foods and highly refined foods that interfere with blood sugars, can also cause headaches and migraine. Certain chemicals and additives in foods can also exacerbate headaches and migraines too. Let’s not forget how alcohol can be a big factor in headaches and migraines too.

Lack of fluids and inadequate hydration can also be a big cause of headaches and migraines too. While water is important to hydrate us, water alone is not enough. We need to make sure we get electrolytes into us as well. These need to be proper electrolytes, not lolly water such as sports drinks such as gatorade and powerade.

An imbalance of hormones, or hormonal surges, can also cause headaches and migraines and can be a big problem for women around the time of their menstrual cycle.

One other area that is overlooked is that the sinuses are inflamed or blocked and the associated inflammation and blockage is causing pressure and pain and causing headaches and migraines. This is a big one for many people and sadly, all too often, it is overlooked. A simple CT scan of the paranasal sinuses can see if the sinus cavity is blocked. If the sinus cavity is blocked by polypoid disease, or obstruction, it may require surgical intervention.

Lastly the biggest headache producer of all….STRESS!

Stress will tighten up those shoulder and neck muscles and then constrict all the blood flow to the head and the next thing you know it is headache and migraine city.

Whichever way you look at it, headaches are caused from an imbalance in the body and need to be rectified. Unfortunately too many people use the band aid treatment of painkillers to try and deal with the mighty headache or migraine. Nobody can argue with the painkilling properties of a dose of panadeine forte or a pethidine injection. I’d had many a trip to the doctor to get a shot in the behind. It was either that, or my head felt like it was about to explode. Worse still the pain often gets that bad that dying would be a relief. Well, that’s how it seemed anyway. I’m sure anyone who has suffered a really bad migraine wouldn’t have minded ending it all to get out of pain.

The only problem with painkillers, is they really don’t look at fixing the cause of the problem. Not only that, all painkillers have long term side effects that can be very bad for your health and some medication can be very addictive.

Like any health problem you have to look at treating the cause and not just the symptoms. A headache or migraine is actually the symptom of a much bigger cause. The problem for most people is that they only treat this problem symptomatically or seek help when they get a migraine or headache. It is the good old band aid approach to health care.

So how do you treat headaches and migraines and try and prevent them from coming back?

The answer as I’ve said is using a multimodality approach use the ancient wonders of Acupuncture, the more modern practices of Chiropractic and addressing dietary and lifestyle changes. Of course any other medically related issues need to be ruled out too. Like any health related condition, the management of headaches and migraines require a series of treatments to fix this problem, not a one off when you are experiencing a headache or migraine. Unfortunately I used to be one of those people who only do something about my headaches and migraines when I was suffering one. This was until I learnt that if I had regular treatments while I didn’t have a headache, then the practitioners could get to the bottom of the cause of my problems and prevent a migraine from happening. I wish I’d learnt that lesson sooner.

You will also need to address any dietary, hormonal and lifestyle issues that may be also exacerbating, or causing your headaches and migraines too. You also need to rule out any medically related issues as well and this can be done alongside other treatment modalities at the same time.  This is how I now treat people and why I use a multimodality approach to assist people and give them the best results.

Just like many people have a misconception about getting Acupuncture, because they have a fear of needles or it may hurt, many people have misconception of Chiropractic. For one, just like acupuncture, it doesn’t hurt. and two, it isn’t about cracking bones. No bones are cracked, only gently realigned by expertly trained doctors whom have spent 5 years at university to do so. Before your first treatment, a good practitioner will usually take a series of x-rays to evaluate what needs to be done before ever adjusting the body. This way the practitioner can accurately and precisely pin point the exact cause of your particular problem. Just like with any healthcare professional, a series of questions is asked to get precise evaluation of the overall cause of your particular issue and then only after a treatment plan formulated, is the patient actually treated. Just like Chinese medicine, chiropractic looks at he cause of the problem to treat the symptoms. This is why they go so well together.

When I finally did get my headaches and migraines sorted, I found that it was a combination of acupuncture, chiropractic, diet and lifestyle changes that gave me the best results. This is why to this day that I firmly believe that with any health condition, headaches and migraines included, that a multimodality treatment approach is the only way to go. All of this can be done alongside medical treatment options as well. Of course the cause of migraines and headaches are different for each individual and this is why individual assessment and management protocols are needed for each person. This is why people need to see an appropriate healthcare professional and not try to manage headaches and migraines on their own.

If you need help with Headaches and Migraines, give our clinic a call and let’s assist you with getting the help that you so desperately need.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Specialist)

-Women’s & Men’s Health Advocate

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

Alternative Ways to Assist Pain and Help with Pain Management

After my recent posts of the management of pain, pain medications and how pain affects so many people lives daily, it is pretty clear that there are lots of people out there in pain. Worst still it highlights what I have known for many years, is that many people who are in pain, or have inflammatory pain conditions, are not being managed really well. Unfortunately many are also trying to manage their own pain conditions and may even be dependent on pain medications. Some of these medications taken long term may in fact be exacerbating their current symptoms, or actually making their pain and inflammation worse. Some of the medications may in fact by shutting off the body’s ability to know that it isn’t actually in pain anymore, but the body actually thinks it is. It is such vicious never ending cycle for many people and there seems to be no long-term, or short term, solutions for many who have to endure the physical and emotional consequences of all these things combined.

The one thing for sure, is that pain often isn’t managed well and there need to be more done to help those in pain. But, it also requires those in pain to seek proper help too. Again it is a bit of complex issue and many in pain often get dismissed initially as well, or are looked at as people who are dependent on pain medications just seeking more pain meds.

Pain does need proper management and if pain is not managed properly, it can do more damage than the medications health professionals, and the person in pain, are worrying about. But sometimes the blanket pain medication treatments don’t work, or they just aren’t enough, and this is why when it comes to pain, it need to be managed with a multi-modality approach. It really cannot just be all about taking medication, or telling people to just go and learn to live with their pain and all will be OK. It won’t be OK and we need to start to educate all concerned that there other options that may assist the current medical treatments and management strategies.

Let’s look at some of the alternatives to pain medications and how these things can help assist those in pain and can be used alongside medications to give better control of pain and also help in reducing dependency of pain medications.

1.Watch your diet

Eating the right foods may provide some protection from the symptoms of pain and the disease state that you may have. The role of diet in inflammatory conditions has been investigated in recent years due to the influence of diet on some of the processes linked to certain disease states that are causing pain and inflammation on a daily basis. Many of the so called anti-inflammatory diets out there are now outdated and have outdated nutritional and dietary advice that don’t really help much at all.

People in pain need to adopt an anti-inflammatory (grain free, primal, ketogenic style diet) to assist with settling any inflammation in the body and also helping the immune system.  This also needs to include prebiotic and probiotic bacteria to help with digestive function, immunity and gut health.  Regulation and restoration of gut function and the microbiome is so important and assisting with pain and inflammatory conditions.

Excess bad carbohydrates increase insulin response and this then causes the body to store fats and stops the burning of fat. This also leads to inflammatory conditions and more inflammation in the body. Excess body fat, now known as obestrogens (because it is estrogenic) needs to be controlled and managed through diet and exercise too. Excess fat and excess weight all lead to inflammation and stress on the body and this can also exacerbate pain and pain pathway.

Certain environmental estrogens, known as endocrine disruptors,  such as preservatives, plastics, pesticides and insecticides that can be ingested through certain nutrients have been suggested as risk factors for exacerbating pain and creating inflammation in the body too

2.Try complementary medicine and complementary therapies

Many people with pain and inflammatory disease states find symptom relief from using a range of different complementary and alternative medicines. There is some good solid research to show that certain natural medicines may help with the management of pain and inflammatory disease states and the associated symptoms. There is now some good research to support many natural medicines treatments such as Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, vitamins, omega 3 oils, probiotics, chiropractic/osteopathy, Yoga, Pilates and more.

Out of all the natural medicine therapies, Acupuncture and Chinese medicines has been one of the most researched and have shown to be the most beneficial and to assist those suffering pain and chronic inflammatory disease and their associated symptoms. Acupuncture has been widely researched to assist with many pain conditions and is now even used in some emergency departments around the world, for acute and chronic pain. Chinese herbal medicines have been used for centuries for pain and inflammatory disease and modern research has shown that certain Chinese herbs and herbal medicine formulas may assist with pain and painful conditions.

Certain strains of prebiotics and probiotics have also been shown to help with the immune system, microbiome, bowel, and digestive associated symptoms of some pain conditions. Probiotics have also been shown to not only help with digestive and immune function, but also with the psychological function as well. It does need to be specific strains of probiotics though. Correction of the microbiome, but using pre and probiotics may assist in reduction of inflammation in the body and thus assist with pain and painful disease states.

There are also western herbal medicines and naturopathic herbal formulations that can assist with pain and assist with pain management. There are also certain amino acids and nutritional medicine supplements that have been shown to assist with managing pain and inflammatory conditions. Like any conditions, management need to be done on an individualised approach and what works for one person, may not work for another.

Chiropractic and Osteopathy have been used for centuries to assist with pain and pain conditions. By correction of the sublaxations and correction of posture, this can assist in better nerve functioning, better blood flow to muscles and also help with pain reduction and reducing inflammation.

Just like with medical treatments, when it comes to complementary medicines, it is important to find someone who is a qualified practitioner and who specialises in pain management. Just like in the medical model, this can also be hard to find. Please find someone who is a registered healthcare practitioner, or part of an association for qualified healthcare practitioners.

3.Boost intake of omega-3 fatty acids

The is lots of research on the health benefits of taking Omega 3 fatty acids and a diet high in these healthy fats. Omega 3 fatty acids may assist many inflammatory conditions such as depression, cardiovascular disease, arthritic conditions and many conditions where inflammatory processes are then leading to pain.

Researchers have also found that the type of fat included in your diet makes a difference in your risk factors for inflammation and pain conditions. Studies have shown that people whose diets were heavily laden with trans fats increased their risk of the expression of inflammatory disease by 48 % when compared with individuals who ate the least of these. By comparison, women whose diets were rich in omega-3 oils lowered their risk of inflammatory conditions by 22 % compared with those who consumed the least amount.

Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, almonds, and walnuts, may be helpful for pain and inflammatory conditions. Another way to get Omega 3 fatty acids is through supplementation, but please make sure you are using a practitioner only grade omega 3 supplement to ensure higher potency and better quality control.  Just remember, it is all about reducing inflammation.

4.Exercise

Often, people who experience pain fear exercising, in case it causes more problems for them. But over time, regular physical activity may decrease the pain and discomfort that you feel. High-intensity exercise and resistance training may assist in helping to reduce the reducing the symptoms of pain and reducing inflammation in the body.

While resistance training and high intensity interval training may assist in pain management and reducing inflammation in the body, some of the more gentle forms of exercise, such as Yoga and Pilates, may also assist in reducing pain and inflammatory response in the body too. Yoga and Pilates can stretch and strengthen your muscles, help with core strength, help with circulation, which all may be beneficial for pelvic pain management and stress reduction.There has been lots of research into the benefits of Yoga and Pilates and how it can assist pain and inflammation.

No matter what exercise, you choose, exercise may help those with pain and inflammation in many ways, including:

  • encouraging the circulation of blood to your organs
  • maintaining nutrients and oxygen flow to all your body systems
  • assist with decreasing pain and inflammatory response
  • assist with reducing stress
  • releasing endorphins in the brain, which are pain-relieving, “feel good” chemicals

Research has shown that those who engage in some sort of regular exercise have fewer symptoms of pain and less inflammation that those people who do not participate in regular exercise.

5.Managing Stress Levels

Stress and emotional factors are probably one of the most under rated causes of pain and inflammatory response. Stress and emotional factors are big factors in any disease and can make any disease worse. Not only can stress and emotional disorders be exacerbated by pain and inflammation, but so can pain and inflammatory symptoms be exacerbated by stress and emotional disorders, in a never-ending cycle. Pain and inflammation could contribute to making your stress levels, or emotion issues worse, due to the impact that the associated symptoms have on all aspects of your life, including family and personal relationships and work.

Stress management, Counselling, Mindfulness and Relaxation techniques may all assist in reducing stress and emotional disturbances that exacerbates inflammation and pain pathways and painful conditions.

People with pain and chronic pain and inflammation need to manage stress by using mindfulness and relaxation techniques. These can help you to increase your awareness of your body, refocus on something calming, and reduce the activity of stress hormones and inflammation in the body. It is all about learning coping mechanisms and what works best for you, not what works best for others.

6.TENS and Neuromodulators

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is an inexpensive nonpharmacological intervention used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions. These small battery-powered devices deliver alternating current via cutaneous electrodes positioned near the painful area. The parameters of pulse frequency, and pulse intensity are adjustable and linked to TENS efficacy. TENS activates a complex neuronal network to result in a reduction in pain

Neuromodulation is the process by which nervous activity is regulated by way of controlling the physiological levels of several classes of neurotransmitters. Many pain management specialist now use a common form of neuromodulation involves using a device to deliver electrical current in therapeutic doses to the spinal cord to disrupt pain signals from the spinal cord to the brain, converting them to a more pleasant tingling sensation. This has been proven a safe and effective therapeutic approach for managing chronic pain of the arms and legs, neck and back often after spine surgery, or for other neuropathic conditions.

In Summary

It is important to know that people with pain and disease states that are causing chronic pain, will need a multi-modality, or team approach to deal with this disease. The team you need and modalities that you will need will be dependent on your individual symptoms. This will mean finding practitioners who will listen to you and also be open to trying some of the alternatives to some of the pain medications and opiates alongside pharmaceutical medications. As I said before, these alternatives may assist in treating your pain and managing your pain long term and also help with reducing some of the pain medications you may have been dependent on. Try and find healthcare professionals that can offer you a multi-modality approach for ongoing care and support and who also have a team of other people who specialise in the disease you are suffering from too. Again, the approach that you and your pain management specialist, or healthcare provider, choose to take will vary depending on your signs and symptoms.

Before starting any pain management, or new treatment, it is important to know all of your options and the potential outcomes of all of them and to know that the people that you are seeing are specialists in your condition and know how to manage the disease properly. That can often be the hardest thing to find and why you need to do your homework and see people who are specialists in this area of medicine. Too many people are missed and dismissed purely because they are just seeing the wrong people in the first place.

Lastly, if you are in pain and have a pain condition, please do not try and keep managing it yourself, or try to self-medicate. You need to be managed properly and should be getting the advice of a professional, not your friends, family or social media buddies. Pain needs to be managed and it needs to be managed properly and this also goes for pain medications as well. If you are still in pain and pain symptoms are getting worse, this means that you need to get something done about it because your disease may in fact be getting worse, or your body may not be responding to medication any longer.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

Lets Talk About Pain, Pain Medication, Dependency, Detox & Withdrawal Symptoms

Recently I did a post on over the counter pain medicines and how that as of February 2018, that some of these codeine based pain medicines, will now no longer be available over the counter in Australia. I know that in other parts of the world, these medications are not available over the counter anyway and in some countries even paracetamol is not available as readily as it is here in Australia.

The post surely did get people talking and it surely highlighted some very important points. It also highlighted how many people are in pain daily and something that I have known for a long time. I actually know that pain and people with pain conditions, aren’t managed very well. It also highlighted that many people are self managing pain conditions and that many do not realise that they in fact dependent on medications, alcohol and other drugs. Many also do not realise that the pain and symptoms they are experiencing daily, may in fact be withdrawal and dependence symptoms from their medications and substances they are using, including alcohol, and may have nothing to do with their condition at all. It is a very complex issue and there needs to be more education around this very sensitive issue.

Now, before we get started and before anyone tries to bring the personal/emotional side of things into this, I need to be very clear on this and set some boundaries up front. I need everyone to listen to this, so it is clear and that what I am about to say is coming from personal experience, clinical experience and someone who cares and is just trying to help with the right advice and right education around this issues.

So before we start I need to get a few things straight

  1. I have lived with a painful condition and have used pain medication and been dependent on pain medications. I have also withdrawn off pain medications
  2. I have loved ones who have pain conditions, who suffer daily and have also used pain medications to get through their day. Also know many of these have learned to manage and overcome their disease and pain too.
  3. People in pain, need help to get out of pain and pain medications are one way of doing this
  4. Many people who are in pain are actually dependent on pain medications and are completely unaware that they are dependent
  5. It is completely OK to take pain medication when someone is in pain. It just needs to be monitored a little better than it has been in the past.
  6. Please take the personal out of this and just sit back and listen
  7. I am not here to judge, or attack anyone
  8. This post is purely from heart, from caring and also about helping people with education so that they can get help if they need to
  9. The first part of any change and getting help is admitting you have an issue, or a problem, in the first place.
  10. The is no guilt, shame, or anything wrong with admitting you have a problem, or a dependency
  11. For the sake of this post I am going to used the word “Dependency”, rather than the words “Abuse” or “Addict”
  12. Perception is reality and sometimes ones perception is not reality, or based on all the facts
  13. Not all pain is from the withdrawal of medications either, but some of it could be.
  14. We are here to support people and care for people, not attack them. Anyone found attacking another on any posts surrounding this subject, will be deleted.
  15. Lastly, to get help, you need to see a qualified healthcare practitioner and you should only ever rely on information from a qualified health expert, not from your friends, your support groups, or anyone without a proper qualification in things to do with medical, medicines, or health conditions.

Right, now we have set the boundaries and we are clear, we can move forward and I can start explaining about pain, pain medications, pain pathways and also withdrawal symptoms

Before I start, I need everyone to open, his or her, minds a bit and think of how you feel when you have had some alcohol. Let’s not forget that alcohol is a drug and it can make you feel good initially and then not so good if you have a few glasses, or more. You can also become dependent on it too, and yes, it can be abused.

So, say you have a few glasses of alcohol, how do you feel while you are consuming it and shortly after?

This is for the average person, but most people would feel a little warm and tingling and feel quite good wouldn’t they?

But, even with a few glasses, would you necessarily wake up OK the next morning?

Some people might wake up semi OK, some might feel a little less than OK?

For some, a few are nothing because they are used to having way more. Some of these people may in fact be dependent and actually have an alcohol dependency.

So, say you have more than a few glasses of alcohol, how might you feel the next morning?

More than likely you may feel a little dusty, or for some, you may in fact have what we all know to be a hangover… is that correct?

You might feel really tired, irritable, nauseas, sore, have a headache, or a really bad head that feels like it might explode, and all the senses are just a little on hyper-drive and you would feel a little off??

Now that we are clear that alcohol can give you a hangover and make you a bit sick and that alcohol is in fact a drug, let me ask you this?

If alcohol is a drug and it can give you a hangover, even after one night of taking it, and taking just a few glasses of it, then why would not a medication, that can produce all the initial effects of alcohol, then not cause you a “Hangover Effect” the next day as well????

Just have a think about that for one second and let it really sink in.

Hmmmm, what are you thinking now?

Well, I am sure this is where we get some people going “But, but, but!”

Well there are no “But’s”. This is the hard but honest truth. Any drug, being prescription, over the counter, off the street and illegal, can cause you a withdrawal and hangover effect. Also, the longer you take those drugs, the more you take them etc, the more you need to take and the more dependent you become on them. This doesn’t mean I don’t get why people take these medications. I do get it and I get all the reasons behind it too. This is just to explain everything logically and properly to people so that they also get that they may not be managed properly and that they may also be dependent on medications, which are actually in the long term, making all their symptoms worse, or actually causing the ones they have now.

Just so people don’t forget, please go back to points 1 and point 2 in the ground rules I set before. I have lived with pain and I have loved ones who are in pain and yes, I have taken pain medications and so have my loved ones.

Ok, so we are now all on the same page and are clear here, yes, many of the medications that people are taking daily, or periodically, or once off, or chugging down by the packet load, or are actually causing them rebound symptoms and withdrawal symptoms, when those drugs wear off.

We also need to recognise that some people are only taking medications every so often, when they need them too and this is more for people who are medication daily, or frequently. But even still, people do need to be away of rebound symptoms from taking medications, even periodically.

When we talk about “withdrawal” and “rebound symptoms”, let’s all go back to the alcohol story. We know that the hangover symptoms occur because of a rebound and withdrawal affect from the alcohol messing with the symptom, causing dehydration, causing inflammation and then causing all manner of symptoms from nausea, headaches, tiredness and even muscle and joint pain. The same goes for when you take any pain medications, especially those that are opiates, or contain codeine, or convert to morphine in the body.

Are we all getting this yet??

Right, then lets move on.

Now, the longer you take a medication the more your body gets used to it and the more that you may have to take to get that same therapeutic affect on the body and the pain that you are trying to manage. But, the more you have to take, the more dependent you become on that medication and the more worse you are going to feel when the medication wears off and tries to leave the body. Then it is going to take longer to ween off the medication, when you finally realise that you are dependent and that you need to so something about it. That is if you have that realisation, or finally admit there may be an issue.

One of the things that I have mentioned many times before, is that sometimes the body has been in pain that long, that the body doesn’t realise that it isn’t in pain any longer, that you also need to turn that response off, because it has actually become a habit, rather than the body actually still being in pain. The other issue is that the pain medications may in fact now be what are causing the pain, through rebound symptoms and withdrawal.  This one is a bit tricky to explain to people, but in essence what we need to do is actually tell the body it isn’t in pain any longer, so that it switches off that response in the brain. To do that we need to detox an individual and then see what pain really does exist still and then manage those remaining symptoms. I will talk about proper medical detox further in the post.

Now let’s look at how pain medications, opiates and some elicit drugs work

Pain medications, Opiates and other pain relieving drugs, all change the way the brain responds to pain and they can also produce a “high” feeling by disrupting the reward and pleasure centres in the brain. This is why they can make you feel a bit stoned, or a bit light headed and why you should not drive, or operate machinery etc, while you are taking them. They can dehydrate and constipate you too, so this is why you should only take as directed and also make sure you drink enough water, take some electrolytes and take it easy too. Let’s not forget the serious side effects of medications that can put overload on your liver and other vital organs and actually shut them down, if taken for long enough, or in a super high dose.

The central nervous system, which includes the brain, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, has opioid and pain medication receptors that receive opiate drugs and other pain medications, and these drugs bring a variety of physical and emotional effects. Your heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and body temperature are usually all lowered while pleasant feelings are increased. It can cause the opposite effect too, where some people get hyper-activated responses too.

Repeated use, or abuse, of pain medications, or an opioid drug, can actually change the way an individual’s brain chemistry works and then lead to physical and psychological dependence. The body may not feel “normal” anymore without the drug’s interaction, and withdrawal symptoms may start in between doses or when an individual stops taking the pain medication, or drug they are on.

What Are Pain Medication, Drugs and Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms?

Certain over the counter medications (such as codeine based meds), prescription painkillers, Opiates and heroin, can produce withdrawal symptoms just hours after the last dose, and the symptoms can last for a week or more. Sometimes these symptoms can be minor, but many times they can cause all manner of symptoms, which I will list below in detail. Some symptoms can be major and unassisted withdrawal may, or may not be life-threatening. When someone doesn’t withdraw properly it can also lead to relapse and further dependence on a medication, or drug. Medications and therapy, accessed in medical detox, may make relapse less likely. I’ll talk about why it is necessary to do a proper medical detox first, before seeing practitioners outside the medical detox model.

What Are Pain Medication ad Drug Dependency Symptoms?

Pain medication and drug withdrawal symptoms can last about a week, or even longer for some, and may include:

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Muscles aches
  • Insomnia
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Diarrhea
  • Bowel Pain and Rectal Pressure
  • Severe bloating
  • Fluid Retention
  • Sweating
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Many other symptoms not mentioned here

Detox and Withdrawal Duration

Withdrawal is the collection of side effects that occur when a drug is removed from the brain and body of someone who is dependent on it, while detox is the actual removal of the drug itself.

Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of days to up to a week or longer. For most pain medications and prescription opiates, withdrawal symptoms take shape 8-12 hours after the last dose and it peaks in the first 72 hours. The time within the withdrawal period depends on the medication, or drug taken. This is where rebound symptoms can occur.

The first week of withdrawal is typically the worst, but some symptoms may actually last longer. Symptoms typically last up to one month, but can linger for several months. Some effects can be permanent if there is a genuine abuse of a medication. Symptoms that can last longer than one week include tiredness, muscles aches and tiredness, depression, anxiety, and trouble with sleeping.

This diagram shows the withdrawal of these medications and time frames of side effects from withdrawal after the last dose is taken.

Medical Detox

Detox may begin before withdrawal symptoms start and while the drug is still active in the body. This way the drug can be safely removed. During medical detox, individuals are monitored around the clock for 5-7 days, vital signs are continually checked, and medications may be used to control more difficult withdrawal symptoms. If an individual is heavily dependent on pain medications, opiates, or took large amounts of the drug for a long time, or has a family or personal history of addiction, medical detox may last up to 10 days. Medical detox ensures that an individual is stable before moving on with a comprehensive substance dependence treatment and management program.

Relapse after a proper detox can increase the risk for a potentially life-threatening overdose since the brain and body may not be used to the same amount of drugs that was used before. Each year around 30,000 people worldwide die each year as the result of a prescription pain reliever overdose. Each year around 500,000 people worldwide seek emergency department treatment for a reaction to the abuse, or dependency of pain medications or drugs to help with pain. By decreasing pain medication side effects and dependency on these medications as drugs, an individual may be less prone to seek out these same pain medications and drugs again after detox. Medical detox can help sustain abstinence and potentially prevent a tragic, relapse-related consequence.

While there are non-medical forms of detox, I wouldn’t recommend someone doing these until a proper medical detox is done. Proper support and around the clock care is needed in the initial stages of a proper detox and this really cannot be provided out in private practice, or by complementary medicine practitioners during this initial stage. I am all for people seeing natural medicine practitioners and using natural medicines but this needs to be done after the initial medical detox. That first phase needs 24-hour care, medicines, psychological care and so many things that would be really hard to find out in a non-medical environment. There are some specialised centres that use a multimodality approach, using medical science and complementary medicines, but these are few and not always cheap to access either.

Sure, after the initial medical side of things, go your hardest and you should be seeking natural alternatives to pain medications and looking and diet and lifestyle choices to help deal with pain. You should also be seeking alternatives to pain medications and seeking therapies that can help manage your pain, such as acupuncture, herbal medicines, pilates, yoga, counselling etc. All these things are important for ongoing care and helping deal with disease states and ongoing pain. But if you have reached the point where you are dependent on a medication, or drug, you are going to need lots of help and you will need help with proper detox first. Please, do not think that those packet over the counter detoxes from a chemist etc, are a proper detox. They are just a herbal laxative that cleans out your bowel. Always speak to a qualified professional to get proper advice about detox and microbiome restore.

Having lived with pain and having actually properly detoxed off meds years ago, it wasn’t until I was off all meds and things managed properly while detoxing, that I realised that some of my daily pain, was actually withdrawal effect of my pain meds. I don’t think many people realise that this happens and all the nausea and migraines and headaches and increased pain, is actually withdrawal. Only once pain is managed well, a proper medical detox done and then a plan put in place, do people realise how much the meds were actually part of their daily struggle and it was all withdrawal. Then you can use proper pain management strategies and alternatives for pain and also preventative strategies too.

I hope this has given you all a better insight into pain, pain medications and withdrawal symptoms and if you aren’t being managed properly for your pain and pain condition, then you need to talk to your healthcare professional about this. Everyone’s pain and pain symptoms are going to be different, even if they have the same disease state, or inflammatory condition. This is why individual treatment plans are much more effective than a treating the masses approach.

I’ll do a separate post of some alternative to pain medications and drugs shortly, as it is whole post in itself. I will be collaborating with integrative medicine practitioner and mindfulness expert Rosa Bunn on this topic. 

In the meantime have a read of my post about me knowing what it is like to live with pain

https://drandreworr.com.au/knowing-all-too-well-what-it-is-like-to-live-with-pain/

I have written quite a few articles on pain and pain management and I urge you all to have a read of them all, so that it gives you some understanding of where I am coming from and also some helpful pain management strategies

  1. https://drandreworr.com.au/getting-a-handle-on-pain-with-proper-pain-management/
  2. https://drandreworr.com.au/stop-telling-women-that-period-pain-is-normal/
  3. https://drandreworr.com.au/early-intervention-early-management-is-vital-for-gynaecological-conditions-menstrual-issues/
  4. https://drandreworr.com.au/period-pain-is-not-normal-and-doctors-in-australia-and-the-rest-of-the-world-need-to-start-listening/
  5. https://drandreworr.com.au/asking-the-right-questions-about-period-pain-gynaecological-issues/
  6. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170618103517.htm
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318532.php

Take care and if you do need help with pain and pain management and getting of pain medications, you can always come and see me and book in a proper consultation and I can help you and point you in the right direction too. Sometimes we all need a little help in the right direction and sometimes the first step is admitting you have a problem in the first place. Oh, yes, I also get that many of you have been missed and dismissed also and this is why you are where you are now.

Telling it how it is and keeping it real. I get it and I understand.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

Knowing All Too Well What It Is Like To Live With Pain

I often get asked how I know so much about pain and living with disease state and pain on a day to day basis. While I am a man and cannot truly understand what it is like to have a gynaecological condition and the associated symptoms, I can understand how pain can affect ones daily life and how hard it is to manage a chronic disease state.

You see, I too have a chronic disease state that was missed and dismissed for many years. It causes me pain when the disease grows back and the inflammation gets bad. It has required me to have multiple surgeries, because it was missed for so long. Even though surgery helps, it isn’t a cure and the disease can grow back and then start causing pain and associated symptoms again. Sounds a lot like endometriosis doesn’t it?

While I don’t have endometriosis, I do have a disease that is very much like endometriosis and just this week I have had my 7th surgery for this disease.

My disease state grows in my sinus cavities and it can cause such excruciating pain in my head and make me feel really unwell. It’s really hard to use your brain to shut off pain, when the actual pain is in your head and it feels like my head is going to explode. If the disease gets out of control too much, it could cause extreme pressure and actually cave the bones around the sinuses inwards, so it can be dangerous.  I wish someone had listened to me and helped me earlier on so that I wouldn’t have to have been going through the surgery again.

But, I have learned to find the right team to help me. I have learned to manage pain levels using a multimodality treatment approach. I have learned that diet and lifestyle choices can help me manage my disease state. This is why when I talk to all of you, I understand what you all go through and why I am so passionate about telling you all the facts and helping you get the right help and intervention. They always say that to truly understand pain, you have to experience it yourself. Unfortunately I know all to well how pain can affect the whole body, not just where the pain is orginating from.

While I know first hand how bad pain can affect ones life, I have also learnt that the disease does not define me. I am not the disease and I have made a conscious decision to be proactive with my health and not live and breath the disease.

While it is good to be educated and proactive about your health, it isn’t good to live in your disease and let it overcome you and rule your life either. It is about getting up each day, making healthy choices, pushing yourself to move forward and remember that it is all about small steps forward, not matter what is going on.

I found the more I focussed on my disease, the worse things became and I got caught up in the pain cycle and the disease took over and it just made things too hard on both a physical and emotional level. Sure, there are days when you will have a bad day and that is ok. I know I had days where I had to take painkillers and just get on with it and nobody would ever have known how much pain I was in. Sure, there are going to be days when it doesn’t seem fair and that nobody can truly understand what it is like for you. The main thing is to not live in the ‘poor me’ syndrome and not let the disease define you. It is about overcoming the disease and being you again. It is about finding your team to help you. It is about finding that support you need and not buying into the diagnosis and living in the disease.

The more positive you are, the happier you are, the quicker you will heal and the treatments will work better too. Whatever you need to do, you just need to go and do it. If that means seeing a counsellor, seeing a pain specialist, seeing a gynaecologist, seeing a nutritionist, getting some acupuncture, seeing a physiotherapist, seeing a chiropractor/osteopath, taking pain killers, taking herbal medicines, or whomever and what you need that can help you, then you need to do it.

I also know all too well how hard it can be to get started, but when you get started and you keep going and you find the right team of people to help you, that is when you get the results. Never underestimate the power of positivity and never think that all is lost and get lost in your disease state and symptoms. Even if you make two steps forward and then one step back, you are still moving forward. Try and do something you love each day and try and find joy and positivity in your day. It is so important.

Lastly, never ever just take one opinion and always get multiple opinions about what you are experiencing. This is why I offer a multimodality approach for people and offer a multitude of services like a one stop shop. It is why my motto is “No Stone Left Unturned” because I dont want to see anyone be missed and dismissed. The reason I do a multimodality approach and use and integrative medicine approach, is so I can help people as much as possible on my own and then only have to refer for things like surgery and some other specialty areas that I do not do.

Please remember that pain, no matter where it presents in the body, is a sign of inflammation and a sign that something isn’t right. It is a sign that something needs to be investigated and managed and is you are being missed and dismissed constantly, then you need to find another healthcare practitioner, or a team of healthcare people that can help you moving forward and get some sort of normalcy back in your life. If you can’t find the right person, or team, then book in and see me instead. I’ll make sure “No Stone is Left Unturned” and I also understand what it is like to live with pain. You wont be missed and dismissed at my clinic. Don’t forget that I can do online consultations for people that live interstate, aren’t local, or live overseas. I can be your eyes and ears and be your guide and coordinator too. I understand pain.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Women’s and Mens Health Advocate

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal