Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Chronic Pain: Does Sex Matter?


September is chronic pain awareness month and a perfect time to recognize that when it comes to chronic pain, women are treated differently than men.


As reported in my article Women, Pain, Bias, and Discrimination, written for Health Central, there is a century’s old bias against women, and I am sorry to say not much has changed in the twenty-first century. Our pain remains misunderstood, mistreated, undertreated, and often times, untreated all together—simply because we are women.

The Wandering Womb = Wandering womb was the belief that a displaced uterus was the cause of many medical pathologies in women. The belief originates in the medical texts of ancient Greece, although it persisted in European academic medicine and popular thought for centuries. Wikipedia (accessed, September, 2018)

The National Pain Strategy tells us bias, stigma, and discrimination exists, and women exhibiting pain from chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and other conditions are among the vulnerable. So, why might that be? 


There are specific factors that influence pain in women that are different from men. Researchers (2016) propose this is because of genetic, anatomical, physiological, neuronal, hormonal, psychological, and social factors.

Gender matters because:

“Women do not want to appear “too strong or too weak, too healthy or too sick, or too smart or too disarranged and struggle for the maintenance of self-esteem or dignity as patients and as women.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12927471

3.     The character of our pain is different.
6.     Our risks for chronic pain are significantly different and higher.

Evidence is mounting. 

“Medical researchers recently found that a specific manipulation of receptors in the nervous system for the neurotransmitter dopamine impairs chronic pain in male mice, but has no effect on females.” Science News (March 6, 2018, accessed September 2018)

There are biological differences in pain processing between the sexes.


I think it is imperative that we understand the differences in the way pain is experienced, reported, and treated as women. We desperately need more research on women’s health that focuses on intractable pain.

However, everyone is vulnerable when it comes to chronic pain. We all share the threats to our self-esteem and well-being when bias is present.

"Although pain is known to be prevalent across society, reliable data are lacking on the full scope of the problem, especially among those currently underdiagnosed and undertreated, including racial and ethnic minorities; people with lower levels of income and education; women, children, and older people; military veterans; surgery and cancer patients; and people at the end of life; among others."

Institutes of Medicine Report, 2011, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research

That report was in 2011. It’s unfortunate, but the dialogue in 2018 has not improved, in fact, it has gotten much worse. Now everyone is discriminated against…


I always like to end on an encouraging note. It is out of adversity that opportunity exists. Use this time to raise awareness. Send a note, tag the CDC, NIH, and your congressional representatives in a tweet. You can find contact information and other helpful information in the Advocates Corner tab at the top of this page.

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer,

it sings because it has a song."


Additional Reading:

Coming soon: Brain Under Siege: Centralization, Chronic Pain, and Fibromyalgia (watch for it here.)

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

BCG Fibromyalgia Vaccine Trials Receive FDA Approval

As I stated in a blog I wrote in July (2018), the FM/a® Test is making a huge impact on the way fibromyalgia is diagnosed and now it is being used for very important research into the cause and treatment of our symptoms.

https://fmtest.com/ - treatment

In April of 2017, I reported on a press release.  Excerpts:

EpicGenetics to detect fibromyalgia disease-specific gene markers. Additionally, Bruce Gillis, M.D., CEO of EpicGenetics, has made a research gift to the Immunobiology Laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital directed by Denise Faustman, M.D., Ph.D., to continue its robust clinical research regarding a direct treatment for fibromyalgia. 

The FM/a® Test is an FDA-compliant blood test that diagnoses fibromyalgia by identifying the presence of specific white blood cell abnormalities that have been documented to exist in these patients…

Based upon the findings of [Whole-Exome genetic] testing and once treatment protocols have received regulatory and institutional approvals, FM/a® Test positive patients will be invited to participate in a fibromyalgia-specific vaccine clinical trial to reverse the biology of fibromyalgia…

Today, I would to share with you “…the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the clinical trial of the BCG vaccine to treat fibromyalgia.”

Dr. Bruce Gillis, CEO of Epicgenetics, says, "This trial has the potential to impact the biology of fibromyalgia and now with clinical testing, it will be determined over the next four years whether this vaccine has clinical validity, as well.  Since the generic BCG vaccine is affordable and safe, the clinical trial introduction of this vaccine will perhaps transform the live of the patients who currently have no other direct treatments available to combat this very debilitating disease."

These are exciting times thanks to Dr. Gillis and others who desire to do away with the same labels and stereotypes once suffered by those with SLE (Lupus) and MS (multiple sclerosis) prior to having technology that allows physicians to make a diagnose. Because of his generosity and persistence, despite the naysayers supported by Big Pharma, we will get answers to some very important questions.

1.     Are there genetic factors that can identify the risk of developing fibromyalgia, like the BRCA gene indentifies breast cancer risk?
2.     Can the immune cell dysfunction found in fibromyalgia patients using the FM/a Test be treated with an old, safe, and cheap vaccine that is showing promise as a treatment for type-1 diabetes, and nearly irradiated tuberculosis?

This important, responsible randomized, double blind clinical trial could result in restoring the quality of life for those of us with fibromyalgia. The trial will be over four years. So, if you would like to be a candidate,


You will also find answers to frequently asked questions, a brochure to download, personal testimonies, access to peer-reviewed medical publications, and a scrolling list of insurance companies known to cover the test (at the bottom of the page). In addition, there is plenty of information to answer questions like why me, and how do I know if I am a candidate for the FM/a Test?  If you have more questions, you are encouraged to give their staff a call.

Additional Reading:

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

PAINS Project Moves to Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM)

A mission to transform the way pain is perceived, judged and treated.



I can’t think of a better time than Pain Awareness Month to make the following announcement.

As many of you know, I have had the pleasure of sharing information and participating in the Center for Practical Bioethics initiative, the PAINS Project. I have encouraged you to join me. My participation has allowed me to connect with many wonderful, caring people and organizations that have been an integral part
Myra, Jan Chambers (NFMCPA), and myself
2012 PAINS Conference
of PAINS, Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy, spearheaded by my friend Myra Christopher. Myra has an innate ability to connect people, serve on their behalf, and I think those who know her would agree a stubbornness to accept the status quo. Her service to others is exemplified in her work. Myra has retired, but her vision and her work will continue.

I have also shared a great deal with you from Bob Twillman, Executive Director at the Academy of Integrative Pain Management. That is because we share the same objectives and values that reflect patient centered care. I cannot think of a better organization to take the PAINS Project under their wing. The AIPM has been actively engaged with the Center for Practical Bioethics initiative since the very beginning. Forward we go…


Statements from the Center for Practical Bioethics and the Academy of Integrative Pain Management on the transition of the PAINS Project (Effective August 1, 2018)

John G. Carney, President/CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics

The leadership that AIPM has exhibited in the complex arena of pain care treatment ensures that the investment the Center has made over the last decade will continue and flourish. The Academy’s commitment to excellence in interdisciplinary, patient-centered and evidence-based care with virtually every stakeholder group provides the confidence the Center needed in transitioning our work as Myra Christopher retires.

Those living with chronic pain rely on strong, respected and accomplished organizations to advance person-centered, integrative models of care by uniting clinicians in the fight against chronic pain. AIPM fits that profile and we are pleased and grateful that AIPM has agreed to honor the mission of the PAINS project and the decade long charitable efforts of the Center in this duty of care to vulnerable patients.

Clay Jackson, President of the Board of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management

At AIPM, we are grateful for the tremendous work that has been accomplished by everyone involved in the PAINS Project, and we feel that important milestones such as the publication of the National Pain Strategy would have been impossible to achieve without their commitment to patient advocacy and sound medical evidence.

As the only professional organization comprising members of every discipline that treats persons with pain, AIPM is uniquely positioned to continue to serve as the central repository of information regarding best practices in integrative pain care, and as a powerful force for advocating for making those treatments available to all patients. 

Please take a few minutes to read “Building Cathedrals: PAINS Transition to the Academy of Integrative Pain Management.” The brief will tell you how and why the PAINS Initiative was established in 2011, give an account on the opioid conundrum, what the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force is, and more.


With financial support from PAINS, the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC), and the Alliance for Balanced Pain Management, AIPM convened the first Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress in October 2017. This first-of-its-kind meeting brought together more than 75 participants from more than 50 organizations, representing professional societies covering the full scope of licensed and certified healthcare providers, patient advocacy organizations, governmental agencies, private payers, and other important stakeholders. In a monumental task, these disparate parties agreed on a consensus definition of comprehensive integrative pain management, one that closely mirrors a definition previously offered in a PAINS policy brief:

Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management includes biomedical, psychosocial, complementary health, and spiritual care. It is person-centered and focuses on maximizing function and wellness. Care plans are developed through a shared decision-making model that reflects the available evidence regarding optimal clinical practice and the person’s goals and values…

PAINS’ six-year experience with its Citizen/Leaders Advisory Group demonstrates the strength of character, stamina, and ingenuity of chronic pain sufferers and their family caregivers. Those who have advised leaders of the PAINS Project are not only committed to helping themselves but also to helping others who cannot engage in reform efforts because of physical limitations—those who are often isolated, stigmatized and falsely accused of being drug seekers. This perception must change. As recent media is beginning to tell stories of chronic pain sufferers as well as those of people living with opioid use disorders which have dominated media coverage for several years, stereotypes are beginning to be dispelled, and ultimately these narratives will fuel reform efforts…

[comment: I was gifted with the opportunity to be an inaugural participant of the PAINS-KC patient leadership group thanks to the encouragement of Myra Christopher.] 

You will still find the PAINS Project at www.PAINSproject.org

Be sure to bookmark the new social media handles.

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Celeste's Website

Celeste's Website
Click on the picture