Ten Tips for Better Sleep

Feeling crabby lately? It could be you aren’t getting enough sleep. Work, household responsibilities and child care can make sleep difficult to come by. Factor in other unexpected challenges such as financial worries, layoffs, relationship issues or an illness, and quality sleep may be even more elusive. You may not be able to control or eliminate all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, but you can create an environment and adopt habits that encourage a more restful night. Try these suggestions if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep: Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day, even on the weekends. Sticking to a schedule helps reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle and can help you fall asleep better at night. Don’t eat or drink large amounts before bedtime. Eat a light dinner … Read more

Alternative Treatments for Pain

If you experience frequent headaches and the medications you’re taking aren’t working effectively, why not consider natural treatments instead? Since stress is a major cause of and contributor to headaches it makes sense that alternative treatments for them are familiar stress reduction recommendations: biofeedback and relaxation (well documented as effective headache treatments), acupuncture, massage, herbs, and diets (less well documented as effective). Let’s start with biofeedback. Small metal sensors attached to your skin measure muscle tension, brain waves, skin temperature, and other vital signs. Stress, through the fight/flight response, reduces skin temperature by constricting blood vessels while relaxation dilates them, warming the skin.According to the Cleveland Clinic, biofeedback trains you to send blood flow to your brain for headache management. Most studies show that it reduces the frequency and duration of headaches in children and adults and seems equivalent to … Read more

Four Dead in Painkiller Use

The deaths of two patients prescribed a powerful painkiller as a headache treatment were among four fatalities linked to the recently approved drug, its manufacturer reported Thursday. All four deaths apparently involved improper use of the drug, called Fentora, manufacturer Cephalon Inc. said. The Food and Drug Administration was monitoring the situation, a spokeswoman said. The FDA approved the drug in September for use only by cancer patients already taking morphine or other prescription narcotics for their pain. Fentora contains fentanyl, which is similar to morphine, but far more potent. Besides the two headache patients, the other deaths involved a suicide and a patient administered the drug outside the recommended dosing. “None of the reports were in cancer patients, which leads us to believe they were inappropriate candidates for the product,” Cephalon spokeswoman Candace Steele said. Cephalon reminded doctors and … Read more

Is Spinal Manipulation in Children Safe?

Researchers are calling for the creation of a collaborative registry to assess the risk of serious injuries when treating children using spinal manipulation. A recent study done in part by the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, concludes that although serious adverse events have been identified when spinal manipulation is used to treat children, their true incidence remains unknown, and these events must be better reported. Patient safety demands a greater collaboration between the medical community and other health care professionals, the study suggests. A team of researchers representing multiple professions that provide spinal manipulation conducted the study, the results of which were published in a recent issue of the journal Pediatrics. They reviewed data drawn from 13 international studies conducted over a period of more than 40 years and found that adverse reactions in children appeared to be rare … Read more

How Pain Distracts the Brain

Anybody who’s tried to concentrate on work while suffering a headache knows that pain compellingly commands attention–which is how evolution helped ensure survival in a painful world. Now, researchers have pinpointed the brain region responsible for pain’s ability to affect cognitive processing. They have found that this pain-related brain region is distinct from the one involved in cognitive processing interference due to a distracting memory task. Ulrike Bingel and colleagues at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf published their discovery in the July 5, 2007 issue of the journal Neuron. To search for the region responsible for pain’s ability to usurp attention, the researchers asked volunteers to perform a cognitive task involving distinguishing images, as well as a working memory task involving remembering images. The researchers asked the volunteers to perform the tasks as they experienced different levels of pain caused … Read more