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Three Tips for a Healthier New Year j a n u a r y 2 0 1 6 A L I V E E A S T B A Y 33 As a child, the New Year was a time of excitement, anticipation and adventure. I eagerly awaited what would “happen.” As an adult, the New Year is a time of renewal and promise of improvement. As opposed to waiting for something to happen, each year I try to have a goal to MAKE something happen. The good thing is that we really do have more control over our lives and our futures than we give ourselves credit for. Our lives may not look exactly like the way we pictured they’d be when we were children, BUT we have time and opportunity to shape it into something more compatible with our dreams. Usually the only obstacle is fear of failure or ridicule, or of not being like everyone else. Fear is a truly poor excuse for not having a better, happier and more satisfying life. I like the Mark Twain quote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Whether you DO or DON’T DO something, there is still a decision involved to DO one or the other. I believe that all of us know what the right thing is—what we ought to do for ourselves. Confusion can occur when we second guess ourselves or place more value on another person’s decision or opinion. There are many reasons for why some people develop chronic pain and others don’t. More studies are documenting the non-physiologic contributors such as depression and anxiety disorders as well as well known and documented causes such as obesity and smoking. Currently, addiction and overdose-related deaths are at epidemic levels related to the treatment of chronic pain with opioids and benzodiazepines. As a result, pain physicians and patients are searching for alternative ways to achieve pain control. The most successful strategies to treat chronic pain are the ones you can do on your own. 1. Stop Smoking: There is a positive correlation between tobacco use and low back pain. This includes cigars, chewing tobacco and ecigarettes. Nicotine slows down blood flow and oxygen delivery to all of the organs, muscles, nerves and bones. This increases the risk of injury, delays healing and perpetuates the inflammatory cycle; all of which cause chronic pain. 2. Lose Weight: Obesity (BMI>30) and Overweight (BMI>25) increase the risk of osteoarthritis and joint pain by up to 5X. The force on your knees when you walk is 1.5X your body weight and if you walk up stairs, the force is two to three times. If you bend over to pick something up or tie your shoes, the force is 4-5X your body weight. Every pound of weight loss results in four pounds of reduction in knee joint pressure. Eleven pounds of weight loss reduces the risk of osteoarthritis by 50%. These numbers may be extrapolated to show the effect of obesity on any weight bearing joint of the body including the spine, hips and ankles. Most of us need help developing a plan to lose weight. The best solution I’ve seen is LeanMD. It was developed by physicians and helps you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight with a program that can fit your lifestyle. 3. Socialize: Being around friends and loved ones increases your sense of well being and the release of oxytocin and endorphins. These are our natural “pain killers.” Unfortunately, people in pain tend to isolate themselves because they don’t want to be “a bother” to others. Invite your friends and family who may be suffering from chronic pain to engage in activities that they can such as playing cards and games, listening to music, or having a lively conversation over coffee. This year, make the decision to be proactive when it comes to your health—and if pain is an obstacle for you, please feel free to contact me so that I can help you move toward your goal of becoming healthier in the New Year. Dr. DeLaney is the founder and medical director of Balanced Pain Management. She is board certified in both Chronic Pain Management and Anesthesiology and is a member of the California Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Pain Association, the American Academy of Pain Management, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain. LESLIE R. DELANEY, MD


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