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Chronic Pain: America's Hidden Epidemic

Followers of this blog are familiar with the idea of chronic pain being much more common than you might initially think.  However, you might not realize just how many Americans suffer from chronic pain without taking a look at recent statistics and surveys.

According to a recent Gallup-Healthways poll:

  • about 1 in 2 Americans suffer from some type of chronic pain.
  • 31% of American adults report chronic back/neck pain
  • 26% report a leg/knee condition, and 18% have another type of chronic pain.
  • 47% report 1 or 2 types of the pain listed above 
  • 7% report experiencing all three types of the pain listed above.

When the numbers from the survey were broken down further, it was reported that one in five people between their 40s and 80s experienced recurring pain. Interestingly, reports of chronic pain increased between ages 18 and 59 (from 16% to 37%), but those chronic pain reports stopped increasing once people turned 60.  

These data suggest that the occurrence of chronic pain among the nation's adult population is much higher than most people realize.  Chronic pain is also often caused by a traumatic injury, such as ones that result from a car crash or slip-and-fall.  If you have pain that persists more than 6 months, it is often considered chronic and may require a lifetime of medical care and expenses.  In those situations, it may be prudent to consult with an attorney if you have chronic pain that has resulted from an injury due to the fault of another. 

For more information on Attorney Doug Stoehr and his central Pennsylvania personal injury practice, please visit his website or call him at 814-946-4100.

Chronic Pain and Workplace Performance

One of the main problems surrounding symptoms of chronic pain is how it influences every aspect of your life.  Chronic pain is often not a disorder that changes its symptoms or decreases across situations.  Due to this, chronic pain can lead to problems in other aspects of your life, such as socially, athletically, and in workplace performance.

An article by Human Resource Executive Online addressed this problem in one of their online articles.  According to the article, HR professionals have an obligation to look for the signs of chronic pain and approach employees about it when appropriate.  Additionally, these professionals should familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations surrounding disabilities (professionally diagnosed chronic pain is considered both a medical condition and a disability). Workers with chronic pain do have rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act.  The article also acknowledged that chronic pain can carry stigma for the suffer, so HR representatives should be sensitive when broaching the subject.  Many companies also have infrastructure in place to support people with disabilities, so HR representatives should work to try and get those services put in place for the sufferer of chronic pain.   Overall, it is prudent on the part of the employee and HR representative to work together to discuss the medical condition and come to grips with how that will affect their job performance.

Chronic pain is a tricky diagnosis in terms of finding the right medication combination that will work, but will not lead to overmedication.  Working with your physician and seeing what is right for you is the only way to find an effective, realistic pain management treatment.  If you would like more information about chronic pain as it relates to your personal injury claim, contact our Altoona, Pennsylvania, law firm by calling 814-946-4100.

Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer practicing in the western and central Pennsylvania region.  For more information on his firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100.

What Is Adhesion Pain?

Have you heard of adhesion pain before? Chances are that you have not heard of this medical term unless you or a loved one has had very extensive or invasive medical treatments.  However, adhesion pain is a very real and painful medical problem.  So what is the condition, anyway?  Adhesion pain can best be described as "pain resulting from internal scar tissue that fuses together, most often in the abdominal region."  

Curious and want to learn more? Here are some fast facts about adhesion pain (resources from Pain Pathways magazine):

  • Adhesion scars can come not only from surgical procedures, but from injuries that do not require invasive surgery, such as getting hit in the stomach or being in a car accident.  
  • Adhesion scars can result in a serious medical complications, including chronic abdominal pain, fusion of internal organs, obstruction of the bowels, and infertility.
  • Adhesion scars don't not appear on medical scans, such as CAT, PET, or x-rays.  So, that means that they can sometimes be tricky to diagnose!
  • Treatment normally involves attending to the symptoms, and not the actual adhesion scar.  Although surgery is available to cut adhesion tissue, it may actually lead to more scar tissue and potentially worsen the problem. 
  • As a result of the recognition and diagnosis of adhesion scar pain, some foundations and support networks have been formed around the country for those suffering from adhesion scar pain.

The formation of adhesion scar tissue can occur after a wide variety of accidents and injuries, such as car accidents.  It is very important to monitor your pain and consult with a knowledgeable physician if you suspect that you may have a case of adhesion scar pain, especially if it leads to bowel obstruction or other painful disorders.  If you experience adhesion pain as the result of a car accident, it may be time to consult with an attorney.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer located in Altoona, PA and serves the central and western Pennsylvania area.  For more information on him and his firm, please call his law firm at 814-946-4100. 

Throwback Thursday: Chronic Pain Researchers Find "Erasing" Chemical?

Talk about an unexpected discovery! Read one of our most unique and thought-provoking Throwback Thursday blog posts below:

Occasionally while investigating a research problem, scientists stumble upon something that they did not expect.  Researchers studying the pathways and treatment of chronic pain had that experience recently.  While studying the genes involved in chronic pain, the scientists discovered a chemical that can erase "memories".  Neuroscientists at McGill University claim that the chemical, with the  acronym ZIP, can selectively wipe out the nervous system's "memory" of chronic pain while still leaving other memories intact.


This chemical may work because pain that lasts more than a few minutes, leaving a permanent memory trace (which is the reasoning behind phantom limb syndrome).  To begin experiments with ZIP, the scientists injected the chemical into the spinal area of rats.  This successfully wiped out pain memories in their hind paws that had become tender and very sensitive from the use of capsacin, the burning chemical in hot peppers.  Although this chemical is in the very early stages of development and may not possibly become a drug for many years, its future is bright and many result in chronic pain relief for thousands of patients. 


Chronic pain is a tricky diagnosis in terms of finding the right medication combination that will work, but will not lead to overmedication.  Working with your physician and seeing what is right for you is the only way to find an effective, realistic pain management treatment.  If you would like more information about this page or central Pennsylvania attorney Doug Stoehr's areas of practice, contact our Altoona, Pennsylvania, law firm by calling 814-946-4100. 

Throwback Thursday: NPR Gets In On The Chronic Pain Game

This week's Throwback Thursday is centering on National Public Radio (NPR)'s coverage of chronic pain.  It's great when a national news source such as NPR can weigh in and provide information about such an important medical phenomenon.  Here's the original article for your viewing pleasure:


Chronic pain is becoming an issue that is swiftly gaining national attention as more physicians are recognizing the disorder as a valid medical condition.  Among the many national news sources that are covering the topic of chronic pain, the National Public Radio is one of them.  NPR recently ran a radio interview covering an area within chronic pain that many patients grapple with:  the fear of addiction to pain medication versus the discomfort of chronic pain.  To read the NPR interview with Judy Foreman, author of "A Nation in Pain", or listen to the audio version, please click here.


Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving Blair and the seven surrounding counties in central Pennsylvania.  He takes cases for clients who are experiencing chronic pain as the result of an injury due to the fault of another.   For more information on his Altoona, PA area firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100 or visit his website at http://www.stoehrlaw.com.

Throwback Thursday: How Does Chronic Pain Work In The Office?

In our latest edition of Throwback Thursday here at our blog, we'll be taking a look at how chronic pain can affect your work life.  What do you think? Can you compartmentalize pain while you're at work?

Do you suffer from chronic pain, such as from a car accident or a lingering injury?  It might be hard to get your job done during the day, especially if you are sitting for a large amount of time.  Millions of Americans suffer from this problem, and a Seattle-area news website offered up some tips to help sufferers of chronic pain more effectively function during the work day.  Some things recommended in the article include trying to regularly stretch tense muscles during the day, especially those in your back and neck. Also, try to take walks during the work day.  Even a brief stroll around the office can relieve pressure on your spine and increase blood flow.  Your chair may also be harming you more than it's helping! Pick a chair that will support your body in an appropriate and comfortable way.
The majority of chronic pain begins in the joints and muscles, but then can move into the central nervous system. There is also research that has shown that persistent pain can re-map brain pathways, making pain worsen over time.  To manage this, it is best to consult with your physician as soon as you begin to feel chronic pain symptoms.  Catching the problem early may make treatment easier, less time consuming, and more effective.

Attorney Doug Stoehr takes cases for clients who are experiencing chronic pain due to an accident or injury due to the fault of another.  For more information on his Altoona, PA area practice, please visit his website at  http://www.stoehrlaw.com or call his office at 814-946-4100.

To read more of the original article, and for more of their tips on dealing with chronic pain at the office, please click here

Strange, But True! Surgical Instruments Often Found Where?

Scary, but true! Did you know that, once in a while, surgical tools can get left inside of people?  A few years ago, Attorney Stoehr settled a case where a surgical sponge was left inside a woman's body. After a long period of unexplained pain, the woman discovered that a sponge was left inside her head and had become infected! Another doctor found it during an exploratory surgery, hoping to find a way to relieve her pain, and immediately removed it.  She missed a great deal of work and was very sick. 

The same topic was posted on a legal website that deals with cases within the personal injury world.  According to the article, sponges, forceps, scissors, and other surgical instruments are among the things that have been found left inside patients' bodies post-surgery.  The post even included an alarming x-ray of a surgical instrument near a patient's hip.  For more information and to see the article and video in its entirety, please click here.
Surgery can be anxiety-provoking, even when it is a seemingly minor procedure.  When surgery is serious, the risks increase as well.  You do not want to have to worry on top of that about the possibility of sponges, instruments, and other surgical materials staying in your body when they should not be left behind.  If this has happened to you or a loved one, and you have since become infected or have had other serious side effects, it may be time to consult with an attorney.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer who takes cases for clients in the central and western Pennsylvania area.  For more information on his firm or to schedule a consultation, please call his office at 814-946-4100.

It's Throwback Thursday! How Does Chronic Pain Affect The Brain?

Once again, it's Throwback Thursday on our blog! We love to give you some of our most popular previous blog posts to review and learn some new information.  This week's post focuses on the important issues of chronic pain and mental fatigue.  Enjoy!
How does your brain work when you are suffering from chronic pain? As you may or may not know, chronic pain not only affects your physical body, it also has other secondary effects.  Most notably, sleep deprivation and psychological disorders (such as depression or anxiety) seem to be the most prevalent and debilitating side effects of chronic pain.  Many researchers are interested in this phenomenon, and took their studying a step further to examine how all of these relationships affect the brain.  
Specifically, scientists at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine studied these interactions and found that, in patients with chronic pain, the emotional center of the brain is in constant overdrive.  This, in turn, deactivates other parts of the brain and changes neural connections and wiring.  Constant overfiring of some neurons while little to no activation of other neurons could lead to permanent damage and changes in the brain.  For example, it may be harder for a patient with chronic pain to make rational decisions or make them more likely to suffer from mood disorders.  Implications of this study are to have physicians not only help chronic pain to manage their chronic pain, but also to help identify possible areas of cognitive dysfunction as a result of the pain and treat those areas as well.
 
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a lawyer located in Altoona, PA who has successfully negotiated claims for those who have chronic pain as the result of personal injury, such as a car accident, motorcycle accident, or slip-and-fall, just to name a few.  For more information on him and his firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100.

Car Crashes Are Often Associated With Chronic Pain

If you or someone you know has ever been in a car crash, the idea that chronic pain often follows seems like common sense.  However, it may be startling to hear that crash victims have over an 84% increased risk of experiencing chronic pain.  This is one of the many new aspects of a research study going on in University of Aberdeen School of Medicine, Scotland.  Researchers from the university have been studying chronic pain as it relates to accidents, such as motor vehicle, workplace injuries, fractured bones, surgical operations, childbirth, and other miscellaneous hospitalizations.  By interviewing 241 participants three times over a period of four years, researchers found some interesting results.  In addition to the car crash statistic listed above, 1/3 of patients who were victims of any kind of trauma were more likely to experience a new onset of chronic pain.  There was no significant link between childbirth or surgery and chronic pain.  
These results are extremely important when it comes to making a legal claim after a traumatic event, such as an automobile accident or a slip and fall.  By gauging your pain over a period of months and years, it becomes apparent when pain has resulted from the accident and is now chronic pain, or whether it's due to the healing process.  Talking to a physician may aid in helping to sort out your type, frequency, and intensity of pain in order to best treat you.  Chronic pain is also a significant factor in legal practice and is often taken into consideration when filing a claim surrounding the traumatic event.
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving western and central Pennsylvania, including Blair, Somerset, Huntingdon, and the surrounding counties.  For more information or to schedule your free car accident consultation, please contact his firm at 814-946-4100. 
To read more about the University of Aberdeen study, please click here

The Nitty Gritty of Spinal Stenosis

In case you weren't tuned in to our blog earlier this week, our law firm has been focusing on the medical condition called spinal stenosis, how it develops, and what your legal and medical options may be.  First of all, as a recap, spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which causes nerve pain that is often in the lower back.  It is much more common than you may think, and affects over 10% of our American population every year.  Some medical experts are even projecting that spinal stenosis may be diagnosed in almost 2.5 million people by 2021!  
As stated previously, spinal stenosis can be caused by a variety of things--aging, chronic use of a certain body motion (such as in professional athletes), and through accident or injury.  At our law firm, we handle cases for people who have spinal stenosis as a result of things like car, truck, motorcycle, and bike accidents as well as chronic back pain caused by situations such as slip-and-fall accidents.  Things like slipping and falling on an untreated, icy sidewalk, or through injuring your back and neck in a motor vehicle accident can lead to some serious and long-lasting spinal stenosis pain.  The pain may be bad enough to keep you from working, exercising, or even walking.   
Some people use the diagnostic tool of the "toothbrush test" as highlighted in our blog post earlier this week, and others state that if you feel nerve pain in your legs when you walk, you very may well have some degree of spinal stenosis.  This type of pain may lessen when you're sitting down, but the average person can't sit for 24 hours a day, making mobility and quality of life a huge issue.  The pain will NOT go away on its own, so it is imperative that you see a doctor if you start to develop these spinal stenosis symptoms.
If you think you're developing spinal stenosis and were recently injured, such as through a car accident or something like a slip-and-fall, you should consider consulting with an attorney.  Not only may your injury worsen over time, you may also be facing situations like time off of work, limited mobility, and potentially permanent pain.  If you don't consult with an attorney and see what your options are, you may be missing out on some choices that may considerably help you and your family in the future.  If you're located in the central PA area, such as Altoona, Tyrone, Martinsburg, Bedford, and other surrounding areas, Attorney Stoehr is an expert attorney who is skilled in handling these types of cases.  Give him a call at 814-946-4100 to schedule a meeting and discuss your potential legal claim!

 

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