Thursday, May 12, 2005
Prayer Ranks with Drugs for Pain Relief
STANFORD, Calif. — More than half of all Americans are limping through life these days with the aggravation of on-again, off-again pain or the utter misery of hard-to-treat chronic pain. The result is less work, crankier mood and fewer activities, combined with a wide-ranging search for pain relief.
Folks are clear on where they hurt, but often can't link that pain to a specific cause. And in a surprising look at what works for pain relief, researchers find that just as many people cite prayers as prescription drugs.
These findings come from a recent nationwide survey sponsored by Stanford University Medical Center, ABC News and USA Today. Among the survey's significant findings:
Where does it hurt? Back pain is far and away the most common. Knees and shoulders are also troublesome. About one-quarter of all respondents cited back pain as their most recent difficulty, and another quarter cited joint pain. Nearly one-tenth said they suffered from headaches.
Why does it hurt? Half the crowd could identify a specific medical condition or injury behind their most recent painful experience. Just as many could not. Among those who could, injury or accident was the most common culprit, followed by arthritis.
Does it matter? Yes. About four in 10 people cited interference with each of these quality-of-life indicators: work and other duties, mood, day-to-day activities, sleep and enjoyment of life.
What helps? In desperation, people have tried everything from over-the-counter drugs to alcohol. For effectiveness, prayer and prescription drugs come out on top.
"Pain has been a hidden disease; it has not received as much attention as other diseases," said Raymond Gaeta, MD, associate professor of anesthesia at the Stanford School of Medicine and director of pain management services at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. "But now there's a growing recognition that pain really is not just the sensation we have — it's something that interferes with every one of us, with life."
The new survey carefully documents the experience of pain in America. "It's very unusual that you have an independent, rigorous, national random-sample survey on the subject of pain," said Gary Langer, director of polling for ABC News. "This survey puts this issue out before a broader public, and it really underscores the serious public health problem that exists regarding pain in this country."
Indeed, the incidence of pain is significant. About 60 percent of respondents said their most recent pain episode had occurred within just the last month. And about 40 percent said pain plagues them often.
So what do the multitudes do when physical distress kicks in? Most — about 80 percent — go for over-the-counter drugs and home remedies. Prescription drugs, bed rest and prayer constitute second-string remedies: About six in 10 respondents have tried those.
And what helps most? Good pain relief, it seems, is hard to come by. Respondents ranked prayer and prescription drugs as tops. Still, only about 50 percent of those who tried these methods said they worked "very well." Another 40 percent said they worked "somewhat well." Chiropractic and massage therapy ranked second-best. Forty percent of the people who tried these modalities said they worked very well.
Gaeta offered an explanation for the popularity of prayer as pain relief. "Prayer falls in the category of having patients learn about the meaning of their pain," he said. "Sometimes patients do need to be introspective before they can move forward." The survey noted that those who used prayer were likely to rely as well on other pain treatments.
Many people are getting by only with the regular help of modern pharmaceuticals. Of those who have tried over-the-counter-drugs for pain relief, 10 percent use them daily. And among those who have tried prescription drugs, about 20 percent take them daily. In other words, more than 10 percent of all adults in America rely on prescription painkillers every day.
The good news, Gaeta said, is that people are talking to their doctors. More than six in 10 survey participants said they consulted a doctor or other health-care worker about their most recent pain episode. And more than half found at least some relief.
Now, with growing numbers of pain specialists and better-educated patients and physicians, he's hopeful that number will rise. "All the surveys and information coming out now are saying pain impacts not only the patients' livelihood but also, in ever-widening circles, family, work and even society in general," Gaeta said. "I'm hoping for not only the clinical care to improve, but for the science to catch up and for us to make some dramatic breakthroughs in pain treatment."
Pollsters queried 1,204 adults by phone, April 13-19, 2005. The results have a three-point error margin. Poll results and analysis are available at abcnews.com.
Friday, May 06, 2005
Meet One Special Woman
During the ensuing months Sandy kept the strictly regimented holistic program which was very intensive and time consuming. Yet, as she states, “I have not been sick (throwing up, nauseated, nagging headaches or pain, etc.) one single day during this entire journey to date. I am encouraged by what I feel going on in my body! Good things - like increased stamina and energy.”
It is now mid-March and Sandy’s progress has been astounding. The carefully managed therapeutic program was instrumental; however, Sandy’s beautiful attitude and intensely spiritual life play an essential role as well as loving support of family and friends. Read Sandy’s own words in a recent letter:
Thank you so much for your continued prayers and thoughts. God has truly blessed me with caring friends and fellow believers who faithfully pray. One day this past week for the first time in months, I stopped by the cleaners to pick up something and the owner was so happy to see me after my absence – she came around the counter and hugged me twice and said she was praying for me. Then at the post office the gal behind the counter took a double take when she saw me and grabbed a little pink sticky off her cubicle wall and pointed at it - there was my name written down - she said I have been praying for you, can I take your name off? I told her no - keep praying. I'm telling you, it was like showers of blessings to me! How humbling to be upheld in this way.
I received new test results last week - all the carcinoma virus numbers were ZERO!!! I still have the melanoma virus, but those numbers were 38 and 28 - getting closer to zero all the time.
We fly to Seattle soon for an appointment with the gentleman I have been working with long- distance since mid-July. He will do new muscle testing and we will talk about how to proceed from here and what life looks like after all my numbers are zero. I'm very excited to see him. I had some blood work drawn so I’ll have results prior to seeing him – was really curious to see what the medical profession would have to say at this point in time. We got a phone call last night from our family doctor. He said "I am happy to tell you that all your blood work is normal!" Isn't that great? Eventually I will have an ultrasound done to confirm that I no longer have any masses/tumors. I know they are disappearing, but want standard medical confirmation that I hope will stimulate the doctors to consider alternatives!
For me, most of this swirls around trust - trusting in our great God - seeing more deeply who He is and wholly trusting in that alone. What a wonderful, loving Savior we have! I had to come to grips with the possibility of an early death - something that I told God I didn't want - but had to come to the point of being willing for such. He is gracious and I am seeing healing! But I have pondered more than once Christ's own prayer that He be spared the crucifixion. I need to walk in complete faith knowing that I can trust Him without question. I'm still learning this on a daily basis.
Thank you again for your continued encouragement toward healing in many areas!
More on Sandy’s Amazing Story
In her own words:
I saw the gentleman I have been working with over the past 9 months personally on Wednesday, March 30. While in his office, we received the results of my most recent test. ALL the cancer numbers we have been tracking on read ZERO!!! Yes, you read that right - ZERO!!! We had prayed and asked the Lord that my numbers would be zero by the time I visited Washington again, because I wanted a face to face conversation about what life looks like after the zero mark! GOD IS GOOD! I keep telling you all that and IT IS TRUE! What an awesome answer to a specific prayer!
You can bet the tears flowed - tears of rejoicing! I have been encouraged to continue my protocol over the next year as my body recovers from the damage of the cancer. I can use the equipment on a modified schedule and we are making plans for me to be back on the road with (husband) Rolly. My heart is very full. Tears of gratitude fill my eyes as I write. Praise the Lord with us dear friend! He has "dealt bountifully" with us! Praise His Name!
A dear friend told me recently that she was sorry I had to go through this experience. I have to say that I have great joy in what God is doing. I am not sorry. He continues to refine me and He has granted me additional days to serve Him. He has walked with me every step of the way and guided our steps from the outset. He is our "Emmanuel", our "Redeemer", our "Peace", our "Good Shepherd", our "Deliverer". Truly He is matchless in His grace. AMEN...................................Sandy
This is a wonderful example of faith. Sandy gives the credit to God. This is good, for God is good. Yet there is more to this situation than meets the eye. To me, Sandy’s willingness to step up and take responsibility for her life, is what stands out. I believe we must assert our God-given power as we seek God’s presence in deep prayer. Sandy beautifully demonstrated that.
E-mail Sandy: Sandycq@aol.com