How is Pain Defined? Acute vs. Chronic
Understanding your pain starts by first defining the most basic aspect of pain: acute pain versus chronic pain.

Advanced Pain Management’s Kim Litwack, PhD has a short and simple way of explaining the difference. Watch her video now.

The standard answer to the question “What is the difference between acute and chronic pain” is this:

Acute pain is pain with a specific, identifiable cause, like a slip or fall. An example of acute pain is the pain you feel when you stub your toe or touch a hot stove. Pain from an acute injury should resolve itself in two to four weeks with the help of rest, ice, heat and a visit to your primary care provider.

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 4 to 6 weeks. An acute injury can lead to chronic pain, but sometimes chronic pain does not have an identifiable cause. If your pain persists for four to six weeks, you should see a pain management physician who can help pinpoint the cause of your pain and work with you to find an appropriate treatment plan.  An example of chronic pain is back pain that lasts longer than 4 weeks.

Interested in more information about pain prevention? Subscribe to our blog now to get weekly emails from our team of expert pain management physicians or join the over 23,000 people who subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter. You can also follow our #KnowYourPain series on Twitter or like us on Facebook to stay current with all of our educational resources.

Do you have questions about your pain or about our new #KnowYourPain series? Let us know in the comments!

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Thursday, 16 November 2017 08:27

Spine Facts Infographic

Understanding the spine -- an amazing structure of bone, intervertebral discs, nerves and soft tissue -- can be difficult. Take a look at our handy Spine Facts Infographic to help you #KnowYourPain.


spine facts infographic

Did You Know?

The spine is divided into 5 regions: the cervical (C1-C7), the thoracic (T1-T12),the lumbar(L1-L5), the sacrum with fused vertebra (S1-S5) and the coccyx, or tailbone.

Intervertebral, or spinal discs, are flat, round cushioning pads that sit between each vertebra or back bone. The soft tissue in the spinal region include tendons, which connect muscles to bone, and ligaments, which connect bones together and add strength to joints. The average adult spine consists of 33 bones, or vertebra.

Interested in more facts about the spine? View our Interactive Animation or Take a look at our treatment guides now.

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Did you know that back pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States with more than one-half of all working Americans experiencing symptoms each year? In fact, experts say that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives. The good news is that most causes of back pain are not related to serious conditions or incidents such as infection, sports or accident-related fractures or cancer. Most often, symptoms occur from causes that can be prevented or modified such as arthritis, poor posture, obesity, stress and more. When an individual experiences back pain, any one, if not all of the following factors may come to mind:

What is causing my back pain?

The back may be one of the most complex structures in our body and it sustains a tremendous amount of wear and tear with each of the activities we do everyday. In many instances, back pain is the result of overuse or injury. It is not uncommon for pain to arise from poor posture, standing or sitting for long periods of time, smoking, trauma from a fall and much more.

How do I go about diagnosing and treating my back pain?

Diagnosing the cause of back pain can be complicated and should be conducted by an experienced medical professional. Your medical provider will lead you through a series of important questions related to your pain intensity, lifestyle factors and more. A large variety of interventional treatments and minimally invasive procedures will likely be available for most people experiencing back pain, allowing patients to return to work and to their active lifestyles.

What are some ways to keep my back healthy?

Back pain prevention methods at work and home are important steps to understand and keep top of mind to avoid injury and chronic pain. Exercising, eating healthy, practicing good posture and proper lifting techniques are just a few of the ways you can prevent the onset of back pain.

How do I cope with my back pain?

Unfortunately for some, pain management is a part of day-to-day life for the long-term. However, there are many techniques that can be implemented to eliminate pain or at the very least, keep it at a tolerable level. Proper medication compliance, lifestyle factors, exercise and strength, stress and activity level all play a significant role in pain management.

The expert team at Advanced Pain Management is committed to identifying the source of back pain and finding the right treatment options for each individual patient. Understanding and protecting the spine is important to everyone’s wellbeing.

What steps are you taking to prevent back pain or treat symptoms associated with work and lifestyle factors?

Explore each area of diagnosis, treatment and prevention in much greater detail by downloading our newly expanded Back Pain Guide.

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Thursday, 16 November 2017 07:33

4th of July parade? Proper Sitting Posture

With the 4th of July come things like cookouts, parades, fireworks and…oh yeah, a lot of sitting. This Independence Day, don’t jeopardize your posture for a good time. Although sitting puts more stress on your spine than if you’re walking or standing, maintaining proper sitting posture can help you avoid minor aches and pains this holiday.

Poor Sitting Posture

Good Sitting Posture

How to sit with good posture:

  • Choose a chair with a firm, flat seat
  • Keep both feet flat on the floor, with thighs parallel to the floor
  • Sit on sitting bones, not your tailbone
  • Keep your chest lifted and shoulders pressed down below your ears
  • If your knees are higher than your hips, add a blanket or cushion below your bottom
  • Avoid slouching or sitting up too straight

Tip: Using a chair with correct lower lumbar support can help keep your back comfortable. Of course, if you are enjoying the summer weather and sitting on patio furniture, this isn’t always an option. To make your own lumbar support, try placing a small pillow or even a folded up sweatshirt between your lower back and the chair. For more tips on health and exercise, take a look at our other helpful eBooks

Chronic pain plagues more that 116 million American adults and diet may be contributing to this staggering statistic. Did you know that if you look around your kitchen you could find foods that fight inflammation, block pain signals and can even heal underlying disease? Moreover, did you know that a typical Western-style diet is rich with foods that promote inflammation, which include highly processed foods and refined carbohydrates?

 “Eating more fruits and vegetables alone will not alleviate your pain,” says Advanced Pain Management (APM) physician Michael Jung. “But if you commit to a healthy eating plan that includes less processed foods and more fresh foods, you will likely see positive results.”

What does he suggest? Take a look at a few tasty tips below.

The power-packed cherry has the ability to help with muscle pain and general inflammation. Why? The compounds in cherries that give them a bright red color, called anthocyanins, pack a heavy punch of antioxidants. These compounds block inflammation and inhibit pain enzymes in the same way that aspirin and other NSAIDS work, says Jung. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition confirms that cherry consumption can in fact help healthy adults reduce inflammation.[1]

If you experience headaches and are not a regular coffee drinker, you might see some benefit from having a cup or two when a headache strikes. Caffeine helps narrow the dilated blood vessels that often cause headache pain, says Jung. But beware; too much coffee can exacerbate headache pain.

Typically reserved for expectant mothers and sea travelers, the ginger root can do much more than ease nausea. Much like the cherry, ginger can be beneficial in reducing inflammation[2], particularly offering relief from migraines, muscle pain and arthritis.

According to Foods that Fight Pain author Dr. Neal D. Barnard, eating fish low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve back pain.[3] Omega-3s help improve blood flow by reducing inflammation in blood vessels and nerves. A study published in Pain, the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, suggests that omega-3s provide benefit as an alternative therapy for joint pain and inflammation.[4] 

Try making mint tea to help with headaches and general aches and pain. Wintergreen leaves in particular contain a compound called methyl salicylate that has been shown to block the  enzymes that cause inflammation and pain.

Hot PeppersHot Peppers
Capsaicin, an ingredient in hot peppers, can help reduce pain. In fact, you may notice that many topical creams contain this as a pain-fighting ingredient.

Do you want to save or share this information? We make it easy! Download your own ‘Foods
that Fight Pain’
cheat sheet today! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get more tips and facts to help you prevent or reduce pain!

Did you find this information helpful? Do you have foods that you find help your pain? Let
us know in the comments section below!

Get moving. Call (888) 901-PAIN (7246) or click to schedule a consultation now.

[1] Kelley DS et al.(2013) Sweet bing cherries lower circulating concentrations of markers for chronic inflammatory diseases in healthy humans. Journal of Nutrition. March; 143(3):340-4.

[2] Grzanna et al. (2005) Ginger—An Herbal Medicinal Product with Broad Anti-Inflammatory Actions. Journal of Medicinal Food. Volume: 8 Issue 2.

[3] Barnard, N. (2010). Foods that Fight Pain: Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief. Harmony.

[4] Goldberg, Robert J; Katz, Joel. (2007) A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain. Volume 129, Issue 1 , Pages 210-223.

Thursday, 16 November 2017 03:46

5 Ways to Stay Active During Cold Weather

As the temperatures begin to drop, so do many people’s activity levels. Walks in the park and days spent gardening or biking are replaced with cozy days indoors, often in front of the TV. But there are actually a multitude of options for cool-weather fitness, no matter your activity level. Here are our top 5 favorites.


  1. Indoor swimming. Swimming is a great alternative to higher-impact exercises, like running, because it puts less pressure on the joints, according to physical therapist Courtney Wack. “It is great for knee pain, especially due to arthritis, and many back conditions,” she says, “because it decreases the pressure on the vertebral discs or facet joints. It is also very beneficial for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or CRPS.”

    Not only is swimming a low-impact exercise, but it’s also versatile. Typical lap swimming works a variety of muscles and can help you develop core body strength, but it’s not the only aquatic fitness option. Many gyms and YMCAs with indoor pools offer a variety of aqua classes, from simple shallow-water exercises and classes designed to improve muscle strength and joint function to more intense classes like aqua Zumba, water jogging and intense cardio pool workouts. And, if you’re still on the fence, consider the fact that taking a dip in a heated pool can even help relax painful muscles and loosen joints. 

  2. Walking. While it might seem obvious, walking is a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. But walking on streets and sidewalks, even with the colorful fall foliage, can get dull. Consider spicing up your walking routine by taking a jaunt through a hay bale or corn maze, or take advantage of state parks, forests, recreation areas, trails and wildlife areas, which contain thousands of miles of hiking trails.

    If the weather isn’t cooperating, consider a stroll through your local mall. Mall perimeters typically range from .4 miles to .8 miles around, and most shopping centers have extended early hours specifically for walkers. Some even provide guests with complimentary walking logs and pedometers to help track your progress.

    Before starting your walk, warm up with a few stretches to prevent injury. “You can do some basic trunk rotation (looking over your shoulder), hamstring stretches (reaching toward your toes) and quadriceps stretches (holding your foot behind you),” says Courtney.

  3. Workout classes. Nowadays, gyms offer much more than simple aerobics and step classes. You can get your groove on in classes dedicated to belly dancing, hip hop, funk or Zumba, get your heart rate up with group treadmill, boxing or interval classes, or stretch it out and clear your mind with Pilates, yoga or Tai chi. For beginners, says Courtney, “Yoga and Pilates are great for developing your core and maintaining flexibility.”

    Every gym offers its own unique list of classes geared toward any fitness level. Even those just beginning a workout routine – or those who want to take it slow – can enroll in a beginner-friendly running or strength and movement class, which may also include tips on nutrition.

  4. Fitness videos. With YouTube and Amazon at your fingertips, any fitness video or DVD you can imagine is just a click away. And don’t think fitness DVDs are just for the super-intense P90X crowd; there’s an option for every expert level. For those who are less mobile, Courtney suggests the Sit and Be Fit series, which gives easy sitting stretches and exercises. There are various DVDs in the series, including ones geared toward those with arthritis, diabetes and osteoporosis, as well as general balance, stretching and aerobics.

    Barre workouts are also becoming more popular, and instructional videos can be found on Youtube or purchased on Amazon. The concept is simple: Use a ballet barre to balance while doing small strengthening exercises focused on a specific set of muscles. The workout was actually designed by a ballerina after a back injury as a kind of rehab combined with dance conditioning. (Don’t worry, there’s no dance experience required!) When done right, it’s said to improve core strength and enhance mobility. And it can be done barefoot.
  1. Indoor sports league. Sports leagues aren’t just for kids. Consider picking up a new sport – or getting back to one you haven’t played in a while. There are men’s, women’s and coed leagues for a wide variety of skill levels. If the traditional basketball and volleyball leagues aren’t your style, consider joining a dodgeball, inner tube water polo, bowling or even ping pong team. Indoor soccer and flag football leagues are also available.

    But don’t forget to properly prepare for game time. “I would recommend a couple nights of practice before starting out with your first league game,” says Courtney. “Do some jogging to warm up and practice whatever motions are needed for the sport.” If it’s bowling you choose, she suggests doing some trunk rotation (looking over your shoulder) and playing a few games to warm up.  If it’s volleyball, make sure to warm up your shoulder with some serves, ball throws and lateral (side-to-side) movements before game time.

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Wednesday, 15 November 2017 13:52

Resources To Help You Quit Smoking

Reasons to Quit SmokingStudies show that individuals who smoke cigarettes are more at risk for developing pain. If you are interested in more information about how to quit smoking, take a look at a few resoruces we’ve compiled that can help you on your way to smoke-free living.

Looking for more helpful tips and information about pain? Download our FREE pain guide now for detailing information you need to know on pain.

Interested in more information about pain prevention? Subscribe to our blog now to get weekly emails from our team of expert pain management physicians or join the over 23,000 people who subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter. You can also follow our #KnowYourPain series on Facebook and Twitter to stay current with all of our educational resources.

pain guide

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 10:40

Chronic Pain Resources Online

We recently stumbled across a blog post titled "TOP 5 Chronic Pain Resources That Can Teach You A Thing Or Two About Chronic Pain."  We were very thankful to be included on this post because we do take pride in offering educational information to the public.

Moreover, this got us thinking about the types of sites and information that we use regularly to stay informed about the field of pain and pain management. Listed below are a few helpful websites that were not mentioned above that we wanted to share with you.

  • offers great information on 'In the News' topics, including new treatments and studies that show advancements in the field.
  • has some great tools and tips from other pain sufferers, including great coping techniques and partner resources.  
  • MayDay Pain Project at has links to recent national news on pain treatments including hot topics in the news on  CBS, USA Today headlines and more.

Do you have any websites or resources that you use regularly? Leave a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 10:15

3 Pain Fighting Powers of Essential Oils

It has become a commonality in the United States for individuals suffering from sickness and pain to turn to over the counter and prescription medicines for treat various ailments. Next time you feel the need to open a bottle of ibuprofen, try a more invigorating method of managing pain provided by nature, without added chemical content. Essential oils can provide relief for many serious chronic pain sufferers through their ability to penetrate cells quickly, providing oxygen and improving circulation to inflamed joints.  Be sure to talk with your doctor before you try essential oils to understand how to use them appropriately. Learn more of the pain fighting powers of essential oil:

Chronic Pain:
Chronic pain can be a debilitating and frustrating condition that at times, can cause emotional or mental uneasiness, impacting our ability to heal. If pain persists for more than four to six weeks, it is important to seek consultation from an experienced medical professional. There are a number of essential oils that provide relief not only from the discomfort of chronic pain, but also the anxiety and stress that come along with it.

  • Basil: Energizing and uplifting, with anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant and decongestant benefits.
  • Peppermint: Cools and calms the mind with additional anti-inflammatory, gallbladder and pain relieving benefits.
  • Wintergreen: Increases attentiveness with additional neck, nerve, herniated disk and carpal tunnel pain relieving benefits.
  • Clove: Improves memory and assists healing with anti-aging, arthritis and rheumatism benefits.
  • Lavender: Relaxes and balances the body, with anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Sandalwood: Encourages relaxation with additional antidepressant benefits.

Joint & Bone Pain:
There are many causes for joint or bone pain including natural aging, injury or trauma. This type of pain is most common in middle aged or older individuals because as you age, your body goes through changes including a decrease in bone density. While joint and bone pain typically require medical attention, there are essential oils that will assist with managing this type of pain.

  • Helichrysum: Offers anti-inflammatory and nerve regenerating benefits.
  • Idaho Balsam Fir: Eases sore muscles, joints, tendons and back pain.
  • Spruce: Soothes arthritis, rheumatism, back pain, sciatica and bone pain.
  • Palo Santo:  Helps with inflammation.

Muscle Pain
It is not uncommon to experience muscle aches and pain that often go away within a few days. Muscle pain becomes a larger concern when it lingers for a longer time period and particularly when it occurs in the neck and back. In fact, 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives making it one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor or miss work. Muscle pain includes aching, stabbing or shooting pain, and stiff or limited flexibility. If you are experiencing muscle pain, it is recommended that you be evaluated by a physician in addition to trying essential oils that may alleviate some of the discomfort.

  • Roman Chamomile:  Relieves stress and anxiety and offers anti-inflammatory, relaxant and detoxifying benefits.
  • Majoram:  Helps with aches, pains and muscular cramps.
  • Rosemary:  Keeps the mind alert and can help with muscle soreness.
  • Thyme:  Fights fatigue and can help with rheumatism.
  • Vetiver: Helps with joint stiffness and muscle fatigue.

Essential oils are so effective because they by-pass the digestive system and become absorbed directly into the blood stream. With millenniums of successful use, they not only provide enticing, awakening and pleasant aromas, they help fight pain by reducing inflammation, anxiety and stress. Whether you are using essential oils for your health or your home, relieving pain is just one of the amazing powers packed into the little bottle.

How have essential oils helped you fight pain and alleviate stress or anxiety? 

pain guide

Sources Used:

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 08:16

How Music Therapy Can Help Reduce Pain

Music can move people. It can bring a smile to a face, tears to eyes; music can make us laugh and motivate us to overcome obstacles. But did you know that the power of music can even reduce the perception of pain[1]?

As more and more studies reveal the benefits of music therapy in healthcare, it’s no wonder that this field continues to grow. Music therapy has been shown to lower stress, enhance comfort and manage pain for people of all ages, genders and races.

It can work in many different ways. At its most basic, rhythm's ability to ease pain has been noted among patients in cancer wards and nursing homes[2].

Some medical facilities will use music to elevate patients’ moods, promote movement for physical rehabilitation, calm patients down, counteract apprehension or fear, and lessen muscle tension for the purpose of relaxation. Music with a strong beat can actually stimulate brain waves, including those that govern the autonomic nervous system, which can slow breathing and heart rates.

And while the greatest benefits of music therapy will come in a professional setting with a trained expert, people can use music to assist in relieving daily aches and pains. Music can be used for relaxation, to get an added boost for physical activity, as a catharsis when dealing with emotional stress, and other ways.

There is no one kind of music that everyone finds soothing or beneficial in reducing pain. Start by identifying the type of music that soothes you the most and makes you feel comfortable. This might be anything – classic music, jazz, rock ‘n roll, maybe even rap.

You will likely find that you use different types of music to promote specific types of healthy activities. While one form of music might get you revved up for a walk or run through the neighborhood, another type of music might be perfect to relax your tight muscles after that run. A good balance of physical activity and periods of relaxation can dramatically help reduce the pain people experience.

Music also has the power to improve your state of mind. This helps keep things like depression and anxiety at bay[3]. Having a positive attitude can prove beneficial in decreasing pain.

While listening to music can provide many benefits, actually making the music has been shown to provide even better results. And no, it’s not necessary to be a musician to get involved. Some people find that rhythmically banging on a drum can provide serious returns.

What type of music do you find theraputic? Let us know in the comments section.

Nileshkumar Patel, MD

Nilesh Patel, M.D., works for Advanced Pain Management in Green Bay. He is board certified in both pain management and anesthesiology.

[1]Tan, X., Yowler, C.J., Super, D.M. & Fratianne, R.B. (2010). The efficacy of music therapy protocols for decreasing pain, anxiety, and muscle tension levels during burn dressing changes: a prospective randomized crossover trial. J Burn Care Res., 31(4):590-7.

[2] Magill, L. & Berenson, S. (2008). The conjoint use of music therapy and reflexology with hospitalized advanced stage cancer patients and their families. Palliat Support Care. 6(3):289-96.

[3] Siedliecki, S.L. & Good, M. (2006). Effect of music on power, pain, depression and disability. J Adv Nurs. 54(5):553-62.

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