Non medical Pain care

Non-Medical Ways to Manage Pain

In my recent post Getting a Handle on Pain with Proper Pain Management, I talked about the need for getting help with pain and how important it is to manage pain properly. But most of that was focussing on the medical side of things. But we also know that even with the best medical care, people are still in pain. So what is the answer is this approach is not working?

This is where we need to look at the Non-Medical ways to manage pain and look at an individualised and multimodality care approach to give people the best care and clinical management of pain possible.

Let’s have a look at what some of the Non-Medical options are first.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

One modality that may assist in managing long-term pain is Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This medicine has been around much longer than modern medicine and it is very effective. There is now research to show that Acupuncture and TCM is not only assist with treatments for  pain and pain management, but it may be equivalent to the effects of some of our strong pain medications, when it is administered properly by a trained healthcare provider and with a series of treatments. It is also being used in mainstream hospitals for pain management too. While acupuncture may be effective for pain, there is no such thing as a one off treatment for any medicine and we all need to remember that.

Biomesotherapy (Biopuncture)

There is also an amazing therapy called Biomesotherapy, also known as biopuncture. It combines the use of acupuncture and also uses injectable saline and anti-inflammatories into the acupuncture points. Local anaesthetics and pharmaceutical injectable pain killers can also be injected into the acupuncture points and this is how it has been used in parts of Europe for over 50 years by main stream medicine. It may be affective for acute pain.

Chinese Herbal Medicines

There are also Chinese herbal formulas that may assist with pain and pain management and they may also help with the root cause of your pain as well. Again these aren’t a one off treatment and require a course of treatment to get the true benefits. You don’t just take one antibiotic, or one pain medicine and it fixes your issue and the same goes for herbal medicines. What we also need to remember is that up to 50% of our pharmaceuticals are actually derived from herbal compounds.

Chiropractic & Osteopathy

There are also some other great complementary therapies that may help pain. Chiropractic and Osteopathy may help with skeletal pain and may also help with realigning sublaxations that are impinging on nerves and may be causing pain. Both modalities may assist in helping balance the body as a whole.

Yoga & Pilates

Yoga and Pilates may help with pain by rebalancing the body, working on the core and also by assisting the body to relax. There is a bit more to it than that, but they can help. There is now some good research out there to support the use of these modalities.

Massage & Complementary Medicines

Massage may also help with pain and pain management.  There are also other herbal medicines that can help too. You need to see a qualified massage therapist and qualified complementary medicine practitioner to get the best care and advice with either of these modalities.

Your healthcare provider, or herbalist, can assist you by consulting with you and helping manage your condition. Just like medical interventions and pharmaceuticals, you should never self-prescribe and always consult with someone who is qualified in their particular profession. They can also administer you practitioner only medicines that are far stronger and more clinically efficient that over the counter products. It is the same in modern medicine too.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy can help with pain management and rehabilitation and women with pelvic pain may need a physiotherapist that can help with pelvic floor physiotherapy and that can do work internally. This is a specialist area though. Physiotherapy also fits into the medical model of pain management too.

Pulse Magnetic Therapy & TENS

Pulse magnetic therapy and TENS (Transcutaneous Electro Neuro Stimulator) may help with pain and ongoing pain management. While many people have heard of TENS, not many have heard of Pulse Magnetic Therapy and this is something that may assist with chronic pain and also pelvic floor instability and incontinence. There is such good research to support this as well. Many urodynamic specialists are now using pulse magnetic therapy in their clinics.

Diet

Let’s not forget the power of a healthy diet, when it comes to pain. Diets high in processed foods and sugars and refined grains, alcohol etc promote inflammation. Then inflammation causes pain and may make conditions causing pain worse. I always assess people’s diets, when they have pain, or health issues.

Exercise

Exercise may also assist with pain by helping with stress levels and helping with increasing blood flow into the muscles and brain and also helping with endorphins into the body. Again exercise can be a catch 22 situation. Some people are in so much people that they cannot even contemplate exercise. But, with starting out slowly and a step by step approach, little by little, exercise can help with controlling pain and getting the body back to optimum health again.

Counselling and Mindfulness

Lastly, talk therapy and counselling and mindfulness training is probably some of the most underrated therapies for the ongoing management of pain. I can’t say this enough. Our brain is what controls all our senses and unless we learn to control stress and quieting our mind, then managing pain is so much harder. I also know it can be a catch 22 situation too, but it is needed. While support groups and talking with friends is great, it cannot compare to the help from a trained professional, who has the appropriate years of training and is specialised in their particular field, or profession.

Important Things To Remember

Oh, and please don’t get your medical advice from people on support groups either. I see this so often and it really scares me what I see and hear.  I know they are well meaning and their support is great for you, but they are not a trained professional and this could be very dangerous. Let’s not forget that everyone has different needs according to their condition.

What medication, or therapy, one person is on, or taking, may make another ill, or actually make someone else worse. Please do not Dr Google either. A degree in Dr Google, doesn’t make one a healthcare expert and much of the medical advice on Dr Google is not right. Sure, be educated and be informed, but be careful too. Always consult with a healthcare professional for any health advice, or before trying to do something to manage your health.

Pain is something that we have all experienced, but it is not something that should be endured either. Of course there are individual cases that are just off the charts and require a whole different level of management. These people I feel sorry for the most. While some of these cases may never have their pain gone completely, with the right treatment most of them can be managed to some form of normalcy.

For the rest of the population, most pain can be treated if intervention is administered early enough and there is good ongoing management moving forward. The problem for many is that they aren’t being managed properly and many are trying to just do it themselves. That isn’t going to work. Some people just leave it too long too. The longer you leave pain not managed, the harder it is to treat.

You may also need that multimodality (team approach) for some conditions such as endometriosis and gynaecological conditions. Some other causes of pain will need this too. For others, they just need to see the right people and once they do, their pain can be treated, or managed really well. In many cases, it can be fixed completely.

There is no magic pill

Always remember that there is no such thing as a one off magic treatment for pain, or any health issues, and that there is no miracle one off magic pill to fix pain either.

Even though pain needs to be managed with medications sometimes, it isn’t always the answer either. People need look at treating the cause of their pain and also looking at other therapies outside of modern medicine too. This is where individualised treatments and treatment/management plans are the best, because everyone is different in what they are experiencing and what their particular issue is.

I have seen the amazing effects of a combination of therapies, or stand-alone therapies, in the treatment of pain and its ongoing management. If you aren’t getting the answers you need, with who you are seeing, or what you are currently doing, then you need to look outside the box, think outside the box and start finding treatments and healthcare people that can help you and your particular health issue.

Never underestimate the body’s power to heal itself with proper care and never underestimate the power of a second, or tenth opinion.

Getting proper help and care

If you aren’t getting the help you need, then book in a consult with me and I will do my best to get you the help and care you deserve and should be getting. I also have a great network of trusted professionals I work with if it is outside something that I do, or if you need that team approach for your condition. I have my trusted team and that is what you may need too.

One more things, for anyone, pain is the sign that something is wrong in the body and means it needs to be addressed. Oh and always remember, period pain is not normal either.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

– The Headache, Migraine and Pain Experts

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Endometriosis Awareness Month March 2019

Dr Andrew Orr has an honest and open talk about Endometriosis Awareness Month and also about the disease itself.

Dr Andrew Orr talks about the facts, the myths and what women with endometriosis go through on a daily basis.

He also discussed that there is help out there and what is needed in a multi-modality (team like) approach to care and ongoing management of the disease

Lastly, he wants every women, and man, to know that Period Pain IS NOT Normal and that women do not need to suffer in silence. There is always help out there and you just have to find the right people who will care, listen and help you in every aspect that you need.

Dr Andrew Orr has a special interest in Endometriosis and does research and lecturers about this horrible disease that affects 1 in 10 women world wide. If you do need help with period pain, or endometriosis and the associated symptoms, please give his clinic a call. Please do not suffer in silence alone. There is help out there. Dr Andrew Orr’s motto is “No Stone Left Unturned” and he uses this to assist all his patients.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Expert

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Sometimes The Body is Like a Well Sprung Spring & Other Times Not

Sometimes the body is like a well sprung spring, and over time the spring gets stretched, but , bounces back to its original shape, but overtime, one day, it will get to a point where it is slower to recoil to its original state, or, will no longer spring back to its original shape and have no more spring to recoil to its original state. No matter what you do to it, it just will not recoil and will in essence become to a state of non-repair.

As everyone knows, I always use a very integrative medicine/ multi-modality approach to treating people and getting the best for people’s health. I always believe that preventative medicine is the best approach to any health problems, but sometimes medical intervention, in the form of surgery,  is needed for some acute complaints.

It is always hard when someone comes into the clinic and they are doubled over in acute pain from endometriosis, or an acute skeletal issue, and while I can help them, I know that the best thing for their long term health would be intervention in the form of surgery. That is not saying I cannot help and assist people with acute pain, but sometimes the best thing to do is get the person in for surgery to help with the acute pain, and then follow up with preventative and rehabilitation care.

Often it can take several months to help regulate hormonal issues and pain from conditions such as endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease, with more conservative forms of treatments such as pharmaceutical medicines and hormones, complementary medicines, acupuncture, supplements etc. While the outcome after treatment is always great, is it really beneficial for people to endure constant pain for months, when surgery could produce a faster result, for the pain?

In saying that some of these conditions have a high rate of return, so that is where an integrative medicine/multi-modality approach can help post surgery.

I was talking to a medical specialist last week, who promotes complementary medicine for all his patients, and he explains it to his patients like this; “Sometimes the body is like a well sprung spring, and over time the spring gets stretched, but , bounces back to its original shape, but overtime, one day, it will get to a point where it is slower to recoil to its original state, or, will no longer spring back to its original shape and have no more spring to recoil to its original state. No matter what you do to it, it just will not recoil and will in essence become to a state of non-repair.”

I see people in my clinic just like this spring. Some are well oiled, and well sprung, and bounce back into shape very quickly. Some are showing the signs of starting to lose their spring, and then others have just pushed their body to the point or no spring, or worse still to the point of non-repair. Obviously I like seeing people do the right things and use preventative health so that they stay well oiled and well sprung. I do like to see people coming into the clinic when they get the first signs of ill health and the spring is starting to recoil slowly.

The sooner you get onto any health complaint the easier it is to treat. Early intervention is the key to any disease state, or health issue. But, we all know people who push through pain and say “She’ll be right mate” and get to that point where they just can’t recoil anymore. Then we get the ones that have gone beyond that and unfortunately no matter what they do you will never be able to get them back to what they used to be like. So, please don’t ever let your body get to this point if you can.

The reason for this blog was to not only inform people to be proactive with their health but to also make sure people are covered if they do need surgery. It is always such a shame and I always feel sorry for people who need urgent medical attention, but they don’t have private health cover. I know that not everyone can afford it, and I am not pushing it either. But, it is worth considering for anyone who have a long term health issue, or especially for women trying to conceive.

Every woman is going to need to see a gynaecologist at some stage in their life and you don’t want to be relying on a failing public health system that could have you waiting months, or even years, for an appointment, or much needed surgical intervention. Those experiencing fertility issues will need some investigation at some stage so it’s almost necessary to be prepared and well covered.

I’ve seen so many people over the years that come into my clinic, for so many different ranges of acute conditions, that actually do require some sort of urgent surgical intervention, but only to find out they can’t get the necessary treatment they need because they aren’t covered.

The public health system is in such a mess at the moment and wait times are becoming increasingly long. If you have an acute condition, you don’t want to be waiting months, or years for treatment. The other issue is that you don’t get to see a surgeon of your choice and can then end up with the lucky dip of whomever is there on the day. The other issue is that this person may not specialise in the disease state, or issue you are there to have treated. This is what happens to many and this can then have long term health consequences if you aren’t given the right care that you need, or they actually miss crucial issues as well. It is a big issue.

Then when you finally get to having the surgical intervention, it may require multiple surgeries, and the first surgery may be just for investigation only. I’ll give you an example. I had a friend, with acute period pain that got nausea, vomiting and even fainted, (from severe endometriosis) go on a 12 month wait list for surgery in the public system. Finally she got in for surgery only to wake up and find that the operation was one of many to come and the first one was only for investigation purposes only. She would need ‘three’ more surgeries spaced at months apart. So nothing was done with the first surgery, she was still in pain and now had to prepare for further surgeries.

Yet, a similar friend who had a private cover, got to chose the gynaecologist of her choice, got someone who specialised in her disease state, was an advanced trained excision surgeon, had no wait time, had not out of pocket expenses, had everything tidied up and the endometriosis removed on the first surgery. This same lady could then come back to see me straight away to prevent the endometriosis from returning and was now not getting that acute pain anymore. There is a huge difference in the time, the surgeon who this the surgery, the treatment and the amount of surgery needed.

As I said, it is a hard topic to talk about and is by no means a push for private health cover. I am only talking about this to educate people that sometimes it may be a necessary part of your overall health. It just distresses me seeing people who need desperate immediate help, not being able to get it. I know that not everyone can afford it and believe me you have to shop around when you do start looking at it. The big companies are usually the worst to deal with and the smaller companies are usually the best to deal with, and give you better rebates.

In saying that, private health is a sometimes necessary part of overall health care, especially for those with ongoing health concerns and especially those that may require some form of medical intervention. There are some great smaller funds out there that don’t cost that much and give you full hospital cover with an outlay of a couple of dollars per day. You can also look into having extra’s cover as well, which will cover part of the treatments with us also.  Again some of the smaller funds provide better rebates and the best thing would be to give us a call and we can tell you who those funds are. I hate talking about these sorts of things but at the end of the day I care when people aren’t getting the right help and am here to help people with every area of their overall health. It is a very important issue that we all need to consider and that we all need to discuss too.

If you do need help with pain, or  any health condition, or need someone who cares and can help you get the right advice and health management, please give my clinic staff a call. Just book in an initial extended consultation and let’s get you feeling like you again.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Expert

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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

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So you have the diagnosis… Now What?

Many gynaecological issues such as endometriosis and PCOS often take years to be definitively diagnosed and women have to suffer the consequences of their disease state through being missed and dismissed along the way. Then after many years of suffering, they finally get the diagnosis they have been looking for, but then many are not told what to do next, to manage their disease state moving forward. From a state of relief then comes a state of despair, as the diagnosis is made and realisation that disease state you are living with isn’t really being helped as well as it could be. So now what?

As someone who has had to live with a chronic disease state daily and spent many years trying to find the right help and be diagnosed properly, I know all too well what many face daily. Many days it just feels like you are knocking your head against a brick wall and nobody wants to help, or listen to what you are telling them.

This is why it is important to take things into your own hands and keep searching until you find the right help. That is why I now do what I do and my motto is “No Stone Left Unturned”.

When I say take things into your own hands, I don’t mean try and manage things yourself. Trying to manage oneself just does not work and it can created a never ending vicious cycle of thinking nothing works, or nothing will help. The truth is, everyone with a chronic disease state, needs proper professional help to be managed properly.

The sad but real truth is that we do know that despite the best medical interventions and treatments that many women will continue to suffer the consequences of their disease state.

We know that disease states like endometriosis have no cure and despite the best surgical intervention, hormonal therapies, pain medications etc, that the disease state can continue to grow and cause debilitating symptoms, both physically and emotionally.

Just remember that while surgical intervention, such as a laparoscopy is a definitive diagnostic for diseases such as endometriosis, it can also be used to excise the active disease and by a part of pain management too.

But….while surgical interventions, hormone therapies and pain medications can offer women some reprieve in their disease state, are they enough?

Sadly the answer is “no!”

Unfortunately, this is where many get caught in the vicious cycle of further surgical intervention, the need for new hormonal therapies and a dependency on pain medications.

There are also the side effects of some of the medications and treatments and also the effects on future fertility. Treatments also tend to be about treating the masses, rather than the individual. We know that while women may suffer the same disease state and similar symptoms, all will have differing symptoms as individuals as well. This is why blanket approach does not work and why an individualised, multimodality/team approach is needed.

The trouble with the current treatments for many gynaecological issues such as endometriosis and PCOS, is that they are suppressive rather than being curative. These treatments also tend to mask the disease and also only provide temporary relief of symptoms during the period of treatment.

On discontinuation of treatment the reoccurrence of symptoms is generally to be expected. For example, after medical treatment and surgical intervention, the reoccurrence rate of endometriosis is said to be around 25% after 2 years and around 50% or more at 5 years.

So what is the answer?

For any disease state to be treated and managed properly it needs to follow these treatment principles.

  • Treatments needs to be individualised and not about treating the masses
  • Treatments and management needs to be multimodality and may require a team like approach
  • Treatments need to be curative, rather than being suppressive
  • Treatments need to treat pain and associated symptoms
  • Treatments need to have an acceptable side effect profile
  • Long-term treatments need to be safe and affordable
  • Treatments need to treat and assist fertility and not interfere with ovulation and implantation
  • Treatments need to inhibit the current disease state and inhibit the current formation of lesions and cysts and future growths and cystic formations as well.
  • Treatments are efficient in treating all parts of the disease and all types of the disease, either superficial, or deep infiltrating, or related to the current disease state.

Do treatments like this exist?

Well, the answer is ‘yes!’… and ‘no!’

There is no curative medical treatment for endometriosis, but there are treatments that can assist in helping women with their disease state and to become symptom free, or at least live a fairly normal life.

There are treatments that can assist PCOS and actually assist in the reversal of some of the symptoms that are associated with the disease.

The one thing I explain to my patients is that they need to be real about their disease state and they also need to look at their expectations versus reality.

The longer one has had a disease state for, or health issue for, the longer it is going to take to manage.

Then I always talk about the magic pill. I think many people are waiting for “the magic pill”, which does not exist, and then get caught up in the vicious cycle of “Nothing works” and then spiral over and over again.

I wish there was a magic pill to take to solve everyone’s disease state, but there isn’t and this is something that all concerned need to come to terms with.  I know I have been there, so I understand where people minds go to.

When you are in pain, or living with disease state, it is all too easy to blame everything and become very cynical and negative, which in turn does not help the disease state either.

This is why when it comes to dealing with any disease state, we need to help the individual emotionally as well, so that they can learn to be focussed, be clear and also learn to cope with their symptoms better. Stress and emotional issues do exacerbate pain pathways and this is something that many overlook. This is why the body mind aspect is something that I look at with all my patients.

The problem is that many just get caught up in the one dimensional medical treatments of surgery and taking a pill approach, when in fact they need so much more.

Again, this is not discrediting that surgery and medications are a much needed part of treatment for many, especially those with endometriosis, or severe PCOS etc. Many will not be able to function daily without surgical intervention, or pain killers, etc.

But, as mentioned before, while they are necessary, they are not enough and women need to be looking outside the box and looking for a more individualised, multi-modality, team like approaches, if they truly want to get the help they are needing and to be clinically managed properly.

So where do you find these treatments and people who can help?

Well, that is the million dollar question that everyone is looking for and probably the hardest thing to answer. In every profession and every industry there is good and bad and not everyone specialises in the disease state you are wanting help with. This is the biggest hurdle many will face.

The sad but honest truth is that many people are seeing someone that doesn’t have the skills to deal with their disease state and is actually a big part of them not being able to move forward with proper treatment.

This isn’t just related to the medical profession either. It is the same in allied health, complementary medicine and other areas of health.

This is why it is so important to find the right person, or the right team to help you. People that have the right skills, the years of experience, the specialisation in the area you are needing help with and also willing to work in with others to help you be managed and treated properly.

If the healthcare practitioner you are seeing isn’t helping you, then you need to change. Don’t just sit there complaining about it. Don’t go back to them and just go and find someone who will help you. It might just change your life. Remember that if you do not change anything, nothing changes.

Just to be clear on this though, make sure you have actually taken on board the changes and treatment that has been prescribed to you. If you don’t do the prescribed treatments and follow the prescribed management plan, then you cannot blame the person you are seeing for not getting better. As I always say to my patients, a big part of them getting better is them actually following the advice, taking the prescribed medicines etc and making the necessary changes.

Having to live with a chronic disease state daily, I know the issues people face, on both a physical and emotional level. I know how hard it is to find the right people and get the right help and having to sift through the BS people tell you, when in fact many of these really have no idea. I really get how hard it is and I also hear how people are being missed and dismissed daily and it annoys the hell out of me.

This is why as a healthcare practitioner, I use an individualised, multi-modality approach to healthcare. I help people with as much of my own skills and multimodality treatments and then I am also their guide, their coach and their voice, if they need to be referred to others.

I always only work within my close network of healthcare professionals and only refer to those whom I can trust and whom I know have the skills to assist my treatments and to help my patients. I always joke with my patients that I am here to keep the others honest and also be their guide every step of the way.

For those that are living in chronic disease state, I do feel for you, as I know how hard it is when you have to deal with a chronic disease daily. The one thing I did learn though, is that you have to fight and you need to take your health into your own hands. By that I mean that you need to find the right people to help you.  Do not try to manage your disease on your own. Find someone who will be your voice for you. I know this is what I do for my patients. This is what you need to find also.

If something isn’t working for you, or your symptoms aren’t getting better, then this means you need to change something. Don’t just keep doing what you have been doing and expect it to change.

Don’t get caught up in the blame game, or get caught up in the label, as this doesn’t help you either. It just creates more stress and negativity. The best way to help your condition is to help yourself and get your mind and body strong again.

You also need to realise that nothing is going to fix overnight and there is no such thing as a magic pill. You need to take one day at a time and do things one step at a time, no matter how hard things seem. You need to put one foot in front of the other and just keep doing that. Yes, you will have bad days, but as long as you are progressive and being monitored and managed properly and you are progressing forward, no matter how slow you may think you are going, then this is a good thing.

I often say that when one is faced with the challenges of having to deal with a chronic disease, or chronic health issue, that it is like running a marathon. You can’t not put in the training and all of a sudden wake up one day, without any training, and expect to run a marathon and complete it.

To run a marathon you need to put in the work. You need to train. You need a coach to motivate you and help you with your training. You need to put good food in. You need to put supplements and additional nutrients in. You need to get your mind right and be motivated.

To do that you need a mind coach, or a psychologist, or counsellor, or mindfulness coach. What will get you over the line in the end is “You” and the work “You” have done and the advice “You” have followed and the lifestyle and dietary changes and the body conditioning. It is about everything “You” have done in combination coming together to help you overcome the marathon of your disease state.

Nobody is going to do this for you and this is probably one of the hardest things I had to learn on my own health journey. You can either stay where you are, and live in the state you are living in, or you can get up and take control of your own health.

It isn’t going to be easy, but it can be done. It just means taking that step to get the right help and if necessary, ask for help to find the right people to help you as well.

I help people do this everyday. I see people do this everyday. It is also about finding the right people to help you and support you along the way. This is what I now do for my own patients and if you do need help, and cannot find the right people to help you.  I can always assist you in the marathon of your own disease as well. I do online consults, or consults in person as well.

My caring and friendly staff will explain all that to you when you make an enquiry.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

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But what do I do and who is going to help me?

Many years ago I was asking this same question, “But what do I do?” and “Who is going to help me?”

Like so many others, I know all too well about having a chronic health condition and living with that daily. Yes, I too have a chronic disease state and I also know what it is like to live in that chronic disease state. That is why I understand what many of you go through daily. I may not know what it is like to live with your disease state, but I know what it feels like to live in chronic disease state and have to live with the consequences of that disease.  I also know what it is like sitting there thinking that nobody seems to be able to help me and one seems to be getting nowhere with this. Then the vicious cycle of then doing nothing, because one believes that nothing works and nobody can help, and then nothing gets done and the symptoms continue and then you get even more and more frustrated. Yes, I have been there too. This is why I do what I do now and why I want to help others get out of their rut, and help them overcome their disease and learn to manage their disease better to then have a better life.

But unlike many others, I do know the power of positivity and know that once I put my mind to something and commit to it, then I’ll do as best I can and it also helps get the process going.  I also know that in order for something to change, that I also had to be proactive and make things change. It is that old saying “If you don’t change anything, then nothing changes”

So one day I sat down and said “Right, let’s just forget about whom I have been seeing, forget the blame game etc and let’s just really look at this objectively. What do (I) need to do to create a change?” and “Can I do all these changes on my own?”

Sometimes asking these sorts of questions about yourself can be quite confronting and when you do, you also need to be completely honest with yourself and have those around you be honest with you also. Then you have to take that advice, listen to what people are saying and then go about finding someone to help you and then actually make the necessary changes that are needed. But, finding someone to help can be really hard too. Like every other profession, or industry, or workplace etc, there are good and bad people in what they do. Unfortunately finding the good people to help can often be hard, but it doesn’t mean they are not out there. There are good people out there, and people who are excellent at what they do, but it also means not being sceptical and also having an open mind, otherwise you will just give up and not do anything again. Then you end up being in the vicious ‘poor me’ cycle again and that isn’t going to help anyone. This is where a good counsellor or psychologist can help and be impartial and be objective in what you need to do to move forward.

Then I also learnt that I had to stop the blame game and had to learn to stop making excuses. I know all too well that it was much as it is easy to blame others and blame things for not working, but at the end of the day we are all in charge of our own health, our own lives and what happens to our body too. Well, to a point anyway. I do know that sometimes you just can’t help genetics and hereditary disease, but at the same time, these disease states can be managed “If” you get proper care.

I remember a good friend sitting me down and talking to me about what I should do and also some of the questions this friend asked me. Some of the things he said to me and insights he shared with me were things like these.

  1. “Are the people you are seeing good at what they do?”
  2. “Have you noticed any changes after the treatments they have prescribed?”
  3. “How long have you been seeing these people for?”
  4. “What are your expectations around the treatments they have prescribed for you?”
  5. “Have you actually been doing the treatments they have prescribed”
  6. “Have you been taking the prescribed treatments and advice seriously and doing it properly?”

This friend of mine said to sit there for a minute or so and really reflect on what he was asking and be completely honest with myself.

He said to me “You know how some people come to see you and then they go away and then don’t take on any of the recommended changes and don’t do the treatments and then expect for things to miraculously changes and you to somehow just fix them without them having to do anything….. are you one of those people too?”

Not something I wanted to hear, but I did appreciate the honesty. I could relate to what he was saying because if one doesn’t do the necessary recommendation, or do the treatment, then one isn’t going to get better and then you can’t blame the person you are seeing if it all goes pear shaped.

Then he said to me “You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. If it isn’t working, you can’t then expect a different outcome each time, or just hope that all of a sudden it works.”    He then went on to say “I’ll put it to you this way. If you keep running into a brick wall and then it hurts and you fall over and then get back up again and try to do it again thinking it might not hurt this time, and expect a different outcome, when you know it is going to hurt, then you need to start asking yourself some serious questions”

Then he said to me “Let’s really look at expectation versus reality. You have had this disease state for a really long time, but in your own mind you want it fixed straight away, or after a few days, or after a few weeks.  The thing is… it isn’t going to happen.” He then continued “You know all too well that if you have had a disease state for years it isn’t going to fix overnight and that it is going to take months, or may even take a year or more to fully get on top of it, depending on the severity and what is going on”

This friend also said to me “Sometimes pain levels and symptom and all a matter of expectation versus reality too. Sometimes you think you aren’t getting better, when in fact you actually are. If someone where monitoring you properly you may have started out at 10/10 pain and may now be 5/10, which is an improvement. But, because you are still in pain, you won’t see it as such until someone points out the difference. It is all relative to what you believe versus what is actually happening ”

Lastly he then put it rather bluntly to me “Who the bloody hell have you been seeing and are they any good?” then he added “Because we all know there are people out there you wouldn’t send your dog to and the good ones are few and far between. Btw, who sent you there in the first place?”

He then added one more thing in “You can’t try and do this yourself, or try and treat yourself because that isn’t going to work and this is not your area of expertise. Go and see someone for advice and help and don’t be like many others and try and (Dr Google), or try and self-manage your own disease. That will end in tears”

So, after my brutally honest, but helpful, conversation with my friend, I did have a big conversation with myself and realised some things. These same things I now share with my own patients.

  1. Not everyone you see is good at what they do and if someone isn’t helping you, then you need to find someone that will. This is why now I always say to people that never underestimate the power of a second, or tenth opinion. Never give up until you find someone who will listen and then really help you.
  2. When you get a referral to someone, do your research and make sure the person you are seeing is well qualified to be helping you and your condition. You need to ask them the big questions and don’t be scared in asking the big questions. If they don’t seem qualified to help you, then find someone else. Also make sure your surgeon is advanced trained, if one is needed and also specialises in your disease state.
  3. Look at who is referring you. Look at what their knowledge of the area you need help with. It is your friend referring that may have no idea? Is it mum, or dad referring? Make sure the person referring you has a good knowledge base of the person they are referring to and also has a good understanding of your disease. Sometimes the people referring you have no idea and then refer you to someone mediocre. It is all about perception and sometimes perception of who is good and who isn’t might be a little distorted.
  4. Look at how long you have had a disease for and look at what your expectations are around how long it may take to see some changes? Then ask the person you are seeing for an honest opinion about how long they would expect to see some changes happening. No long term health issues fixes overnight and the longer you have a disease for, the longer it is going to take to help it and see some real changes.
  5. If you are asking to make changes and do a certain treatment and management plan, then make sure you do it 100%. For changes to happen you have to follow the advice given and stick to it. Forget what Dr Google says. If a professional with years of training tells you to follow their advice, then make sure you give it a chance and actually do it. You also need regular follow-up consultations and regular management to oversee those changes and also talk about any concerns and also talk about changes as they happen. You need to document changes and actually be managed properly. If a treatment isn’t helping, or you perceive it isn’t helping, then have a chat with your healthcare practitioner about this. If something really isn’t working, then you need to change something, or change the person you are seeing until you find someone who can help you.
  6. Pain levels and symptoms and healing times can sometimes be distorted when you are in pain. When you are in pain, or have bad symptoms sometimes you don’t always realise you have had changes, because you are still in pain and have symptoms. As my friend mentioned to me, sometimes you may have started at 10/10 pain, or symptoms, but now you may actually be 5/10 pain and symptoms. That is actually a big change and means you are getting better, but because you are still in pain, or have symptoms, you may not be able to see this until it is pointed out. As long as you are progressing and moving forward then this is good and something to give you hope that your treatment is working.
  7. You are always going to have bad days. Even with the best treatments and best management, everyone will have bad days and these are the days you need to be careful about and not get negative about. Shit happens. Bad days happen for everyone and we all have to be aware that while the bad days will happen, as long as you are moving forward, even if it is step by step, then this is a good thing. Like they say “Two steps forward, one step back”, which still means you are one step ahead of where you were.
  8. Don’t try and treat yourself. It is good to be educated and good to be informed etc, but relying on Dr Google, or friends advice etc, can be a bad thing too. We don’t try and cut our own hair, or fix our own car, or make our own medicines etc, so we shouldn’t try and fix ourselves either. We need someone who can be objective and someone who is actually qualified in the area that we need help with to get the best results.
  9. Many disease states need a ‘team’ or multimodality approach to give you the best results possible. We know that despite the best medical treatments, that many people are still in pain etc and it isn’t until they incorporate other therapies, that they then start getting positive results. Be open to trying new therapies and new things that may help you.
  10. If you do ever need to go to the emergency department for your disease, just remember that the emergency department isnt there to fix your chronic disease. They are there to stabilise your pain and stabilise your symptoms and once that is done, they are more than likely to send you home, if you aren’t in any medical danger. If so they will admit you. But part of critical care should be making sure you are referred to someone who can manage you clinically moving forward. The reality is that sometimes this doesn’t always happen.
  11. Never ever let the disease own you. You are not the disease and it does not own you and we need to be careful of not buying into the label and then letting the disease and the label consume us. Take back your power and be positive and use that to help you overcome the disease and being owned by the label.
  12. Be kind to yourself. That means eating good foods, exercise, lifestyle changes and getting out into the sunshine daily. Many foods that we eat are inflammatory and only add to the inflammatory disease process you are dealing with already. Create good gut health to build up your reserves of health gut bacteria to help your body and help your immune system. Get the body moving and get the circulation and blood flow moving to nourish the body too.
  13. Last but not least, never underestimate the power of the mind, or how emotions can be a big part of a disease state and some of those disease states symptoms. We check in our tax to the accountant, we check in our health with the GP, we check in our hair to the hair dresser, but when do we actually check in our emotions and our thought processes. Never underestimate the power of talk therapy and seeing a counsellor etc. The body mind connection is a big part of many diseases. Never underestimate the power of stillness and mindfulness and bringing the body to rest and being mindful of your life and what may be needed to help your health. There are people who can help you with mindfulness and meditation and creating that positivity in your life

Having lived with a chronic disease state for most of my life, I do know how challenging it can be for people and to find that strength and courage to actually get up and do something about your health. It can also be disheartening when the people you have seen have missed and dismissed your disease too. It all just compounds and adds to the daily burden of what you are going through. But, never let those things stop you from finding someone who can help, or finding the strength to get up and make the necessary changes you need to make a better life for you. I think that having a disease is sometimes like learning to ride a horse. You may fall off many times, but you need to just get straight back on again until you master the art of staying on and being a good rider and being in control. But even the best rider is going to fall of every now and again, and that is ok too.

Just remember that there is always help out there and there are people who will listen and who do specialise in the area you need help with. Lastly, for you to get better, it also needs for you to be a big part of the driving force behind that and actually do the work needed. Don’t just sit there in ‘poor me’ mode. Get up and get yourself out there and do what you need to do for you. If something isn’t working then change it. Just remember that in order for a change to take place, something has to change. Something that means you changing your belief and your thinking too. It might also mean changing the healthcare provider you are seeing too.

As someone who has been there, I hope this helps you all get the help you so desperately deserve. Just remember that if you don’t know what to do, or where to get help, please know I am here to help you as well. You can always book in a consult (in person, or via online) and I can help assist you with your health, and also point you in the right direction too.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Normal 20 07 2016

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

 

Bladder Endometriosis

What is Bladder Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue resembling the uterus lining grows outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can spread to every organ in the body and can grow inside, or on the outer surface of the bladder.This is what is known as Bladder Endometriosis.

To learn more about endometriosis and to learn about the symptoms of this disease, you can click on this link to find out more (Click Here)

If endometriosis forms in, or on the bladder, it that can cause severe discomfort and pain. It can also make a woman want to urinate more and also with urgency, pain, burning and frequency. There are other bladder conditions with the same, or similar symptoms, but endometriosis can also aggravate these conditions, or be present at the same time as well. I will discuss the other forms of bladder pain and interstitial cystitis, which can have similar symptoms to endometriosis affecting the bladder, or bladder endometriosis.

Prevalence
Bladder endometriosis is not common. Reports state that around 2 percent of women with endometriosis may have endometrial growths in their urinary system, with endometriosis growing in, or on the bladder. But even if endometriosis isn’t on, or in the bladder, it can still cause issues with the bladder and cause associated symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis in, or on the bladder?
One of the main symptoms bladder endometriosis is pain when the bladder is full and a woman needing to urinate more frequently. It can also cause symptoms resembling a urinary tract infection, but no infection will be found to be present.  Women do need to be aware that a significant portion of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) and may not be aware that they have endometriosis until they have investigations for another reason, such as not being able to fall pregnant.

Some women are more likely to notice symptoms of endometriosis around the time they are due to have their menstrual cycle.

Other symptoms of bladder endometriosis may include the following:
• More frequent need to urinate
• Needing to urinate urgently
• Feeling pain when the bladder is full
• Stinging and burning or painful sensations when passing urine
• Seeing blood in the urine
• Experiencing pelvic pain
• Having lower back pain, more on one side of the body

Diagnosis
The definitive diagnosis for endometriosis is via a laparoscopy as this is the gold standard investigation for investigating disease states inside the pelvic cavity. A biopsy is usually taken at the same time to check the microscopic implants of endometriosis, which cannot be seen visually. Normal ultrasound, transvaginal or abdominal, cannot diagnose endometriosis. Blood tests cannot diagnose endometriosis either.

If Endometriosis has spread inside the bladder a cystoscopy would be needed also. A cystoscopy is where a small scope is inserted into the bladder and the specialist can then see if there is endometriosis, or other inflammatory disease in the bladder lining.

The specialist will then see what stage the endometriosis is at. This is a staging system from 1-4, but this is only to let the surgeon know how much of the disease is present. The staging system does not have anything to do with pain levels, as pain levels “are not” related to the extent of the disease. A woman with stage 1 endometriosis could have more pain than someone who is stage 4, and someone who is stage 4, may not have any pain, or associated symptoms at all.

Treatment
There is no current cure for endometriosis. However, the condition can be managed through a multimodality approach that involves surgery, hormones, pain medication, physiotherapy, herbal medicines, acupuncture, yoga, pilates, diet, lifestyle changes, counselling and an individualised approach. Women with endometriosis need a team approach.

Surgery, via a laparoscopy, is the most common treatment, and definitive diagnosis, for those with endometriosis. If endometriosis had been found in the bladder transurethral surgery will be done at the same time. This involves a scope inside the bladder to cut away any endometriosis in the bladder lining. Sometimes a partial cystectomy is needed to remove an affected part of the bladder.
While surgery is a much-needed part of the treatment and diagnosis of endometriosis, it is not a cure. Endometriosis can, and often does, grow back again, even with the best medical forms of treatment.

Fertility
Bladder endometriosis does not have any effect on a woman’s fertility. However, endometriosis does grow in other parts of a woman’s body and reproductive system such as the ovaries, which may affect a woman’s likelihood of conception. But, endometriosis does not always affect fertility.

The Difference Between Bladder endometriosis interstitial cystitis
When endometriosis gets in the bladder it can cause very similar symptoms to another bladder condition called interstitial cystitis. This can often make it very hard to differentiate on symptoms alone. It is also very possible to have both interstitial cystitis and endometriosis present at the same. This is why further investigations are needed to definitively diagnose both these conditions.
I will do a separate post on interstitial cystitis so that people know more about this inflammatory condition that affects the bladder

Outlook for Women With Bladder Endometriosis
At present there is no real known cause of endometriosis and only speculation as to what the true cause is. We know that endometriosis is estrogen driven (not from estrogen dominance), but the most likely cause is probably due to genetic reasons and being a hereditary condition passed on through the parental mode of inheritance and then expressed into the body. The how, when and why will hopefully be answered in the not too distant future hopefully.

Women with endometriosis in the bladder do need to be careful and managed properly as it can cause kidney damage. There is also some research to show that endometriosis in the bladder can lead to cancer in the bladder, but this is thought to be very rare.

For now, anyone with endometriosis needs to be clinically managed properly through a multimodality team approach mentioned before. Let’s get more education out there so that women with this horrible disease have a voice and we end the silence for these women as well. Hopefully through education, funding and further research, this leads to the cure that women with endometriosis so desperately deserve.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016