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The Environment is Becoming a 'Pain'

From the Show: Wellness for Life
Summary: Over 100 million people suffer from chronic pain, and the cause could be what is found in the environment.
Air Date: 5/15/15
Duration: 10
Host: Susanne Bennett, DC
Guest Bio: Gary Kaplan, DO
Gary-2-Large1-e1391176981785Dr. Gary Kaplan, D.O., a pioneer of integrative medicine, is one of just 19 physicians board certified in both family medicine and pain medicine and practices in McLean, VA. A clinical associate professor at Georgetown University and director of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, he has also served as a consultant to the NIH and, in October 2013, was appointed to the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee at Health and Human Services. He has discussed his work on Good Morning America, NPR, NBC News, as well as in New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. He resides in Falls Church, VA.
The Environment is Becoming a 'Pain'

Dr. Gary Kaplan discusses the connection between chronic pain and the environment around us. 

Find out how Lyme disease and other diseases also play a part in what is causing chronic pain in some sufferers. 

Get tips on preventing chronic pain and easing symptoms if you're one of the many people who live with this debilitating condition. 


RadioMD PresentsWellness for Life Radio | Original Air Date: May 15, 2015
Host: Susanne Bennett, DC
Guest: Gary Kaplan, DO

You’re listening to Radio MD. She’s a chiropractic, holistic physician, best-selling author, international speaker, entrepreneur and talk show host. She’s Dr. Susanne Bennett. It’s time now for Wellness For Life radio. Here’s Dr. Susanne.

DR. SUSANNE: Do you, suffer from chronic pain, headaches, muscle aches, joint pain? Well, you’re not alone. There are approximately a hundred million people in the United States suffering from chronic pain. My next guest joins me today to share with you how the environment around you may be causing this pain and how you can find treatment. Please welcome a pioneer of integrative medicine and best-selling author of Total Recovery Breaking This Cycle of Chronic Pain and Depression, Dr. Gary Kaplan. Thanks for being here, doc.

DR. GARY: Once again, thank you for having me.

DR. SUSANNE: Absolutely! Tell the listeners first, what would you consider chronic pain? We all know acute pain is like when you slip and fall, and hit yourself, and you’ve got this major bruise and swelling. What is chronic pain?

DR. GARY: So, actually chronic pain and acute pain are two very different things, it turns out. Acute pain is when you directly hit yourself, the tissue is damaged, the body part’s damaged and over time it heals and resolves and you’re done.
Chronic pain is any pain that persists after a period of time of expected healing. So that that can be typically about six weeks out after an injury is occurred. So, chronic pain is on-going. The chronic pain is also a curse in terms of migraine headaches, which are recurrent in people. People will suffer in chronic daily headaches, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and low back pain are, by the way, the number one and two causes of disability in this country. They cause something in the order of about $18 million dollars and start affecting eighteen million people a year with these disabilities. So, we actually don’t do very good job at treating chronic pain.

DR. SUSANNE: Well, the chronic pain that I know of, like you’ve just said, as a chiropractor, we deal with low back pain. You’re absolutely right. But the problem is that there are not good enough treatments. There aren’t good enough therapists and a lot of us go for the surgery because that’s all they know but even…there are a lot of failed surgeries, isn’t it that right too?

DR. GARY: Oh, there’s a huge amount of failed surgery. The fact of the matter is, we are horrible at treating chronic pain. If you just look at the statistics, if you happens to suffer with chronic pain, your odds of recovery are about forty-eight percent. If you happen to suffer with chronic pain and depression or anxiety disorder, your odds of recovery drop under 10 percent. Think about that. This is a less than chance of getting better in terms of getting better with conventional medical therapy. And the reason for that is because we have not understood what this problem is. We treat these conditions as if they are the disease itself. Fibromyalgia, headaches, when in fact what they really are, is symptom of an underlying inflammatory problem in the brain. This is a brain on fire symptom. And so what we need to do then is step back and say, “Okay, what is it this that’s causing the brain to be inflamed, and then how do we go about our treating it?” And once we start asking those questions, that we understand the basis and what I go into in my book, is how the brain gets inflamed because it typically occurs as a result of cumulative assaults multiple times and with the brain has concussions or you have problems with mold exposures we discussed previously.
Celiac disease, I’ve had patients who’ve had chronic migraines, who in fact had celiac disease and that was the sole presentation of the celiac. They had no gastro-intestinal symptoms. So, if you don’t know to ask questions about what’s creating the inflammation, then you don’t get the right answers and inevitably you don’t get the result that is the resolution of the pain for the patient.

DR. SUSANNE: In your book Total Recovery Breaking the Cycle, and I like the title, Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Pain, you’ve got to know, first of all, all the symptoms that you may be having. People think that when they’ve got, let’s say, hemorrhoids and stuff and pain like that, that that’s just what it is – hemorrhoids, but they might be much deeper issue. So, in your book, do you go through some of those deeper-rooted issues?

DR. GARY: Absolutely. We go through a lot of case studies in the book that people can easily relate to and understand as to how this might pertain to them. But it’s really about the detective work of going through the process of, first off, starting with a very comprehensive history. Patients don’t come into me and say, my right knee hurts. They come in, and they spend 2 hours with. I take a very comprehensive history in terms of how their digestion is, how their sleep is, what’s going on in their lives, because stress can also be something that’s neurodegenerative. Stress actually damages the neuron response. So, if you were in an extremely high stress situation, this may be something we need to address as well.

The other thing that’s particularly interesting, is that the things that can help reduce inflammation of the brain, are things like exercise. Regular aerobic exercise will absolutely reduce inflammation of the brain and improve actually cause new nerves neurons to occur of the brain.
Meditation is another thing that’s extremely effective of reducing the inflammation of the central nervous system. So, there are a lot of things that come into play here and the only way get into the bottom of it is really listen to the patient, have a chance to take your comprehensive history and then do the proper testing for appropriate for that individual.

DR. SUSANNE: Got it. You talk a little bit about the Lyme disease. That’s a huge area but you did mention that we should get tested for Lyme disease.

DR. GARY: So I practice in Northern Virginia. I live Northern Virginia. We have a huge number of Lyme cases this region of the country, all open down the eastern seaboard. Again, it’s one of those things that we don’t get to ask, you don’t make the diagnosis. So, when people are in tick-infested areas, they’ve been outdoors, they are exposed, the majority of people who get bit by ticks actually aren’t unaware that they’ve been bitten, so that, your migraine reaction which is a positive reaction in Lyme disease, actually doesn’t show up in the majority of people who get Lyme Disease, so if you’re not asking questions about what your potential exposures, do they have pets in the house, did the dog have ticks, you’re not going to think about the diagnosis. There’re only two diagnoses you make: those that you think you make and those that you actually make. So, if you’re not making an inquiry, if you’re not doing the detective work, you’re not getting the comprehensive history, you’re not going to know what the questions to ask, what testing to do, to get to the bottom of what the problem is.

DR. SUSANNE: Right, I know. Lyme disease has so many different symptoms in Lyme. And like you know, if you it’s in the area, but I’ll tell you what, we’ve got it here, Dr. Kaplan. We’ve got it here in Southern California, a lot of people have Lyme, and I’ve seen many, many and you know there are tests that you can do. Which test do you recommend for people to ask your doctor to get?

DR. GARY: So, there are a number of specialty labs that do really fine testing for Lyme disease. The test that I typically use is IGENEX.


DR. GARY: Which is out in your neck of the woods. And you’re absolutely correct. So, let me back up. The testing for Lyme disease is not as good as we’d like it to be. So even the Western blot so the ELISA test which is typically the screening test, some will miss almost half the cases and many doctors will stop at that test and that’s a huge mistake. So, doing the Western blot testing is absolutely essential. But, even the fact, that there are our cases of what we call sero-negative Lyme, and in those situations is about getting…listening to the patient, understanding the whole picture to be able to take the diagnosis.

DR. SUSANNE: Right. Right. I know that depression is one symptom of Lyme, but depression is definitely a symptom that a lot of us have. We just have one minute. You know, a lot of us walk around, we say, “Oh, I’ve got foggy brain.” That alone can be considered depression, isn’t that right?

DR. GARY: Well, so foggy brain, difficulty focusing and concentration, is really about some inflammation of the central nervous system but it may not be a full-blown depression. Again this is discussed in my book, Total Recovery, and I would hope people will have an opportunity to look at it and read it and find their own pathway to health, and that’s what I wrote it for and hope that’s what people will find.

DR. SUSANNE: Right. Right. Total Recovery. That’s what you want. Look at that book. It’s awesome. Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Pain and Depression. And you mention that depression is definitely more than just the emotional and psychological aspect of it. If you find that you got all these symptoms, that you don’t even know that are related, chronic pain, you don’t feel good, you get irritable quickly, and you find yourself, for no reason, being depressed, you end up having foggy brain, digestive issues, allergies, all of this is in Dr. Kaplan’s book, Total Recovery. Again, everyone, Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Pain and Depression, so that you can feel your best. Dr. Kaplan, thanks so much for being here. Loved it, loved it.

Alright to learn more on chronic pain and the factors that can cause it, please go to www.kaplanclinic.com.

This is Dr. Susanne Bennett sharing natural strategies for ultimate health and wellness right here on RadioMD. See you next time, stay well!