Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Could Biofeedback Be On Your Chronic Pain Gift List?

A study on the effects of mindfulness (a type of meditation focusing on the present without judgment) looked at changes in the brain and pain sensitivity. The results showed that those of us with higher innate mindfulness report less pain. Higher mindfulness was also associated with greater deactivation of a brain region involved in attention and subjective emotional responses to sensations, which means it promotes cognition and enables us to improve our reactions to pain and other symptoms. A recent study  published November 5, 2018 in NeuroImage suggests neurofeedback could be a cost effective way of helping improve fibromyalgia pain and sleep. This is consistent with the findings of other studies on the benefits of mindful exercises and neurofeedback in chronic pain from many sources.

That’s great news, but some of my readers tell me they can’t get a handle on any type of meditation to minimize their experience with chronic pain. My response is based on my personal experiences, keep practicing—until. I have practiced meditation for over fifty years. That’s how long I have lived with migraine disease. I also learned the value of focused breathing during 24 hours of labor with each of my two children. But, it would be nearly three decades later before I learned the value of biofeedback. I had objective evidence of how my thoughts affect the vital signs of my life. And, now you can too.

Technology has brought us to a new place. We can monitor and react to our meditation practices at home. We don’t have to wonder if what we are thinking is right or helpful. So, I asked an expert about biofeedback a few questions. The expert was once my therapist and now he is my co-author, Dr. Jeff Miller, PhD.

Q:  Is the program I used in your office still available?


Wild Divine's Journey to Wild Divine, the program you are familiar with, is no longer available. About six programs used the fingertip sensors for both heart rate variability (HRV) and galvanic skin resistance (GSR), also called skin conductivity level (SCL). As new programs were developed, the company quit supporting the sensors and went to a wired ear clip that only measures heart rate.

Q: What is available now?


Lightstone (Wild Divine) was bought out by Unyte™, which developed the Bluetooth version of the ear clip for HRV. This is a plus, because the wired ear clips often fail if the wire moves.

Unyte™ IOM2 is working on a GSR sensor, and they are selling subscriptions now rather than software. 

Muse™ is a wireless neurofeedback device that tracks your brain signals. I use daily and I love it. You wear it like a headband across the forehead and you Bluetooth it to a device. 

Q: Why do you love Muse so much?


·        It reads your brainwaves and rewards you for increased alpha and gamma wave production by altering the sound environment on the device such as, rainforest, beach, ambient music etc.
·        You get real-time feedback on your mental state to help you meditate.
·        It is very dependable and entertaining. 
·        It is very intuitive and simple to learn.
·        You can wear it anywhere and use it in any situation that allows the sensors to stay in contact with forehead and ears.
·        Muse keeps your stats like a Fitbit™ does.
·        It issues challenges and encouragement. 
·        There's an expanding library of device accessible guided meditations and discussions (Deepak does some!).
·        It is well supported. 
·        They have a very good monthly Museletter.
·        At $199 Muse™ is affordable for a home neurofeedback device.

* You can receive a 15% discount at by using Jeff’s sponsor code AMBASSADOR15-20180911. The discount code is applied at checkout. My total was $169.15 and shipping is free. In full disclosure, as a sponsor Jeff receives 10%.  

Am I promoting biofeedback? You bet I am, and can hardly wait to see the Muse in my stocking this year. I realize meditation isn’t going to cure the illness that causes my pain and other symptoms, but I know it will help me cope in a positive way and bring balance to the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual balance we talk about in our books. It will give me some control!

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. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The GERD-Fibro Connection

Clinicians should be more alert to an association between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and fibromyalgia, says Don Goldenberg, MD, a fibromyalgia expert and affiliate faculty in rheumatology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Maine. He also said in the interview, A Closer Look at the Interrelationship of Fibromyalgia and GERD, by Kathleen Doheny for Practical Pain Management, “For pain practitioners, routinely asking FM patients about any problems with irritable bowel and repeated reflux would be a very good start."

An article written last November for ProHealth, Is There a GERD—Fibro Connection?, continues to garner attention most likely for these reasons, so with ProHealth’s permission I am sharing the article in its entirety here on The Pained Ink Slayer’s blog.


By Celeste Cooper

Could gastro-esophageal-reflux-disease (GERD) be co-morbid to fibromyalgia? A new study (October 2017) published in the peer-reviewed journal Pain suggests the answer is YES. Researchers found fibromyalgia patients are slightly more likely to develop GERD than people with GERD are likely to develop fibromyalgia (FM), but there is a bi-directional connection. As to why this “bi-directional association” occurs is up for debate according to a Practical Pain Management interview of fibromyalgia experts who reviewed the study.

What is GERD?

Anyone who has experienced heartburn knows the symptoms of an isolated event of gastric reflux, usually caused a specific thing, such as seriously spicy or fatty food, or eating too fast. For some of us, though, these symptoms are persistent and can be aggravated by many things.

These persistent symptoms may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you have mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week, your doctor may order certain tests to confirm a diagnosis of GERD.

What happens?

The esophagus, a tube-like structure behind the breathing tube (trachea) in our neck, provides the passageway for food and beverages from the mouth to the stomach. When the esophagus becomes irritated, symptoms of heartburn, sour taste, burning, a sore throat, hoarseness, nausea, regurgitation, problems swallowing, and sometimes even severe chest pain may occur.

*Caution - Never assume chest pain is GERD until heart problems have been ruled out. Symptoms can mimic a heart attack.

Two gates, in our esophagus, called sphincters, act to control the flow of things we ingest. As we swallow the upper esophageal sphincter opens, gravity and esophageal motility move things along, and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens to allow the contents to flow into our stomach, where digestion continues. When the LES gate fails, backwash of stomach acid (gastric reflux) occurs.

esophageal motility = synchronized contractions in the esophagus that moves food toward the stomach.

Normally, the lower gate (LES) relaxes to let food pass into the stomach where special acids continue the digestive process. But, when this normally tight muscle becomes floppy or opens ad lib, permanent erosive damage can occur, affecting many things, including our sense of taste and even our sense of smell if it gets into our airway passages during sleep.

Why does the sphincter stop working?

Sphincter dysfunction can be the result of heredity, life-style choices, myofascial pain syndrome, connective tissue disorders, a stress response, obesity, hormones, slow stomach emptying, certain neurological conditions, medications, cancer of the esophagus, or any other thing that interferes with normal esophageal motility.

What can we do?

There are things we can do. We can make healthier lifestyle choices, such as avoiding alcohol, caffeine, foods that are acidic, fatty, or spicy, and carbonated beverages. We can stop smoking and assess the side effects of our supplements and medications. Exercise is important to our wellness, but exercise that creates gravitational reflux, such as jumping, aggressive jogging, and yoga poses (i.e. downward facing dog) can aggravate symptoms.
Sleeping with our upper body at a slight angle (head higher than our waist) can help prevent gravitational reflux. (Try putting four-inch blocks under the head of your bed frame.) Learn about and use an anti-inflammatory diet, eat small frequent meals, and exercise regularly by walking or doing things like T’ai Chi, which has been found helpful for those of us with fibromyalgia. There are supplements and medications that can help, too. So, if you have symptoms, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.


One of the reviewers of the study, “Bidirectional association between fibromyalgia and gastroesophageal reflux disease,” Don Goldenberg, MD, a fibromyalgia expert and affiliate faculty in rheumatology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Maine, told Practical Pain Management that this study should serve to raise awareness about the likelihood of an increased prevalence of co-morbidity. He suggests clinicians be alert to the possibility of this association and routinely assess for irritable bowel and GERD in their fibromyalgia patients. I couldn’t agree more. I have had GERD for many decades but never considered it might be related to fibromyalgia. So, if you are experiencing symptoms, be sure to discuss this connection with your heath care provider. I know I will.


Additional Reading

Wang JC, Sung FC, Men M, et al. “Bidirectional association between fibromyalgia and gastroesophageal reflux disease: two population-based retrospective cohort analysis.” Pain. 2017 Oct;158(10):1971-1978. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000994

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
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