How can I learn more about medical marijuana? Can dogs smell cancer? Are there places online to find support for my chronic pain?

We covered these questions and more during our research and event guided month of August on Colorado Inside Pain!

Where can I find lower cost medical equipment in Colorado? 

Many chronic pain patients can benefit from using assistive devices. These may include braces for knee pain or splints after an injury. As we noted in our August post on this topic:

“Generally, if pain is interfering with a person’s ability to do what he or she usually does, it’s time to discuss assistive devices with a physician or therapist.”

However, these devices can sometimes be cost-prohibitive. That’s why we were thrilled to share resources on more affordable medical equipment right in Colorado. Check out these programs if you’re looking for lower cost medical equipment:

  • The Assistance League of Denver’s Hospital Equipment Lending Program
  • Disabled Resource Services
  • Kids Mobility Network
  • GoodHealthWill

Why do I feel pain? 

Pain is a complex issue. There’s a genetic component and reason for our experience of pain, but for those with chronic pain, this adaptation can make living difficult. However, as we covered in our August post on this topic, not feeling pain can be just as much of a detriment.

Researchers are now trying to better understand the specific evolutionary reasons that we feel pain. A recent study published in Molecular Biology and Evolution was able to identify the specific gene for pain in cold-blooded animals. This adds to our overall understanding of pain and may help us find new therapies or methods of treatment.

Even if we’re not yet entirely sure how and why we feel pain, we did have to note that:

“Most pain is evidence of an injury or condition that needs time to heal, possibly even a physician’s attention. Chronic pain, or pain that lasts for three months or more, can sometimes potentially be accompanied by psychiatric conditions like depression or anxiety. Because of these risks, it’s advisable to always pursue treatment for chronic pain.”

Where can I learn more about medical marijuana? 

Medical marijuana is one of the more pressing legal and medical topics in Colorado right now. Managing its use effectively and responsibly is of utmost concern for all of us. If you’re interested in learning about this topic, head over to these three reliable websites to find out more:

Finding reliable sources of information is important because there have been studies into marijuana’s effectiveness for some chronic pain conditions, including neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. As we noted in an August post:

“A survey conducted by the National Pain Foundation found that medical marijuana was much more effective at pain management

[of fibromyalgia] than Cymbalta, Lyrica, or Savella. Only about 30% to 40% of survey participants said that the FDA-approved fibromyalgia medications were effective, but 62% of participants who used medical marijuana said that it was effective. It’s worth noting, however, that the participants in this survey were self-selected.”

Can dogs smell cancer?

While research is still ongoing into a dog’s ability to detect cancer, there is early promise. An August post noted that dogs have been trained to detect lung, breast, and bladder cancers with varying–but high–rates of success. Dogs have also been used to identify the particularly infectious C. diff bacteria in hospital patients.

Even if they haven’t fully worked out the mechanisms of cancer detection, dog trainers can now train assistive dogs to perform an array of amazing feats. Dogs can:

  • Detect their owner’s impending diabetes or allergies crisis
  • Alert their owners of an oncoming seizure
  • Help people with mental diseases or psychiatric conditions, like autism or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Provide therapy and stress relief in hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health facilities
  • Act as a living heating pad and source of therapy for patients with chronic pain

Are there places online to find support for my chronic pain condition? 

Unfortunately, those with chronic pain don’t only have to suffer from the symptoms of chronic pain. As we discussed in an August post:

Not only can constant pain affect an individual’s ability to perform household chores or go to work, but it can create feelings of isolation and loneliness. A person with chronic pain may feel alone or as though no one understands what he or she goes through. He or she might become resentful of those who don’t have to deal with pain on a regular basis. His or her loved ones might become frustrated by their inability to help. These feelings can multiply and eventually damage friendships and relationships.”

Because of these risks, it’s important to find a support group that can help you work through the mental side effects and symptoms of chronic pain, while your pain doctor works on the physical side of it. Support groups provide an opportunity to share advice, find support, learn ways to cope, and support others in their journey with pain.

Whether they’re online or in-person, support groups provide an invaluable service to those with chronic pain. At Pain Doctor, we especially recommend the Faces of Pain community at our partner site, The affiliated Facebook group has over 33,000 members, while their visual gallery of user submissions can put a real face to pain.

What other questions do you have about chronic pain management or other medical research? 

Image by Derek Bridges via Flickr