Sometimes little things in life are what have the greatest impact.
For many years scientists viewed glial cells as a curious & mysterious form of packing material in our nervous system & they did not get much attention.
With recent advances in digital electron microscope photography and research testing, these exceedingly small components are finally becoming understood & appreciated for what they are, what they do, and how they impact our mind & body.
The Other Brain
Dr. Douglas Fields has highlighted new research discoveries in his book “The Other Brain.” The new insight is a major revolutionary paradigm shift in our understanding of nervous system functioning, both normally and abnormally.
Besides protecting the brain and assisting with repairs, these cells provide energy for nerves and greatly influence how much (or how little) nerve tissue is activated as we function. This “other brain” is also a big player with many health disorders, including chronic pain & drug addiction.
Chronic pain & opiate (narcotic) medication addiction have been strongly interrelated throughout history; we now know glial cells are a primary reason for this.
The Opiate Trap
For millions, the drug-induced happiness (high) has been a quick-fix approach of illusion which has rapidly led to an imprisoning trap of drug tolerance, addiction, and agony.
This largely occurs because of how these cells respond to opiate medication; they undermine & progressively counteract the suppressive effects (i.e. OxyContin) making nerve cells increasingly more excitable & ratcheting up (and exacerbating) nervous system sensitivity.
The addicted patient must then take more and more medication to get pain relief & avoid withdrawal. Many lives have been damaged or destroyed as an outcome.
In a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (May 14, 2014), Dr. Nora Volkow testified (addressing a Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control) an estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. now suffer from substance abuse related to opioid prescription pain relievers with an increasing number dying from overdosing.
The physical, social & financial costs are staggering. Obviously this quick-fix pharmaceutical solution has created long-term major consequences.
The Future of Pain Management
So what’s the answer? A chiropractic friend recently shared a quote from Thomas Edison, “The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
While I’m not convinced that will entirely happen, I do believe health care must head in that direction. It’s been said that “motion is lotion” and appropriate physical therapy exercise often is the best medicine to improve function & reduce the need for drugs.
For physical therapy to be successful long-term, individuals need to be committed & get beyond the quick-fix mentality; often patients also need help understanding & addressing relevant lifestyle issues which are discovered in the examination process.
For some, non pharmaceutical functional equipment innovations, such as the Backsmith Selective Stabilization Exercise Support , also can be very helpful to improve exercise effectiveness and activity tolerance.
Unfortunately, many in health care continue to overemphasize pharmaceutical interventions.
Understand the Risks vs. Benefits
Finally, consider the words of Winston Churchill, “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities.” As a health care consumer, it’s very important to really understand the risks versus the benefits of all medications & supplements, as well as other health care options available.
Wellness is largely a product of daily choices. “We cannot always determine the consequences of our actions, but we can choose our actions.” (Covey, Stephen).