Dr Oz: Fibromyalgia
Dr Oz wanted to focus on two of the most under-treated chronic pain conditions: fibromyalgia and pelvic pain. Dr Oz started the conversation by talking about fibromyalgia, saying there was a recent study saying that it may be caused by sleep disorders.
Dr Oz welcomed Dr Jennifer Caudle, who explained that current research suggests fibromyalgia is not caused by a primary sleep disorder. She said what they think is the underlying cause is abnormal pain processing by the central nervous system, which is the brain and spinal cord. That causes patients to have a heightened sense or awareness of pain than other people.
Dr Oz: Lidocaine Injections For Fibromyalgia
Researchers wanted to find out if lidocaine injections could help, and 62 women were in the study and they all received four injections, two in the upper body and two in the lower body. A third of them received all lidocaine injections, another third received placebo injections, and the final group received a mixture of both. At the end of the study, the women who received the lidocaine injections reported decreased mechanical pain and decreased heat pain, more than those who received the placebo injections.
Dr Oz showed an illustration of where people with fibromyalgia typically get their pain. There are 18 spots, and researchers specifically injected certain areas in the back just beneath the shoulders, as well as areas at the top of the buttocks. Dr Oz pointed out that they were similar to acupuncture points. Dr Caudle said it adds to our knowledge about fibromyalgia treatments but to be able to go one step further and recommend lidocaine injections to those suffering from fibromyalgia, they need more studies. She said they have to start somewhere, and that study was a great place to start.
Dr Oz: Diagnosing Chronic Pelvic Pain
Dr Oz then wanted to move on to talk about chronic pelvic pain. Chronic pelvic pain is pain in a woman that has been going on for at least six months and it’s typically in the lower abdomen, but it can be in the buttocks, hip or even the lower back. Dr Colleen Fitzgerald, medical director of the Chronic Pelvic Pain Program at Loyola University, explained that women will describe cramping or burning pain, which doctors will often mistake for being gynecologic in origin. What they’re finding is that it could actually be pelvic muscle, pelvic joint, bone, or ligament.
She said it’s hard to diagnose because most don’t train in the musculoskeletal system, plus there’s no good medical tests for it. She said patients with pelvic pain are sent for an ultrasound, MRI, or CAT scan and she comes back with a normal test, which can be frustrating. Dr Fitzgerald then showed a scan of a brain to show how pelvic pain can be seen in their head. She said it’s new research, but you can see areas where pain processing normally takes place and how they’re lit up. She said that although the pelvic imaging may be normal, the brain imaging isn’t.
Dr Oz: Treating Chronic Pelvic Pain
The latest research on why this pain exists is that it’s not just organ-based pain, but it has to do with the nervous system, problems with nerve pain, muscle pain, and the pelvic floor muscles. She said those muscles tend to be tight, tender, and difficult to access other than through physical therapy.
The latest treatment for pelvic floor muscles is called Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, which is done by a highly trained typically female physical therapist that is trained to do internal examinations. They can stretch the muscles internally and show the patient how to relax the muscles. It can provide significant pain relief.
Nerve pain medical treatments as well as muscle relaxants and injections are other options for pain relief. She said the sooner they see the patient, the better, and added that women should not live with the symptoms just because it happens to be with their period or with childbirth. The sooner you get in to be seen, the better the chance of finding an effective treatment.