Sleep, vitamin D may help ease chronic pain – Houston Chronicle

Sleep, vitamin D may help ease chronic pain



July 29, 2017

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There’s an emerging pair in medicine that’s being shown to make a great team against chronic pain: sleep and vitamin D. A new review published in the Journal of Endocrinology has two important points.

First, both lack of sleep and vitamin D deficiency have independently been linked to worsening of chronic pain, such as that associated with fibromyalgia. And second, sufficient vitamin D may reduce inflammation and may be associated not only with less pain, but longer and better quality sleep.


So if you suffer from fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or another condition that causes you chronic pain, make sure you’re snoozing seven to nine hours a night. And while we only have data that associates vitamin D to improved sleep quality and reduced pain, most docs think the combo is worth trying. So aim to get the recommended 600 IU of vitamin D-3 a day: Some great sources include salmon and fortified foods like soymilk. However, most of you will need a D-3 supplement. Your goal is to reach a blood level of 35-80 ng/ml; ask your doc for a blood test.

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It’s not too late to treat lazy eye

For decades, eye doctors have seen “lazy eye” as a childhood problem that had to be fixed when you were quite young. They thought the part of the brain responsible for processing visual information, the visual cortex, stopped developing around age 5 or 6, so visual improvements couldn’t be made after that. But a new study published in Journal of Neuroscience suggests that it might be possible to treat lazy eye into middle age. Scientists looked at the brain tissue of people ages 20 to 80 and found that the visual cortex doesn’t stop maturing until around age 36 (plus or minus about 4.5 years).

This is exciting news for anyone with a developmental vision problem. If you have amblyopia, in which one eye focuses better than the other, or even a condition like strabismus, the misalignment of the eyes, it might not be too late to correct your vision problems. Talk to your ophthalmologist about treatment options.


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Health

Q: I hear there’s a new noninvasive electronic brain stimulation that can make your short-term memory sharper. Is that true?

Chris H., Poughkeepsie, NY

A: You’re referring to transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and it’s actually been around in some form for about 55 years. It was tested for and used for anesthesia in the 1960s. One precursor to the current system, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), could be effective in treating depression. Several other studies suggest that it may be valuable for treating anxiety and for short-term relief from symptoms of stroke, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain. However, there’s been no documentation that these therapies have any lasting effect.

You can buy these devices on Amazon for between $100 and $200 depending on how many accessories you want and how much time you want to put into the therapy. So here’s what we know about these devices so far:

Transcranial direct current stimulation is a noninvasive, painless, brain stimulation treatment: You put two electrodes over your cranium and, using an electronic stimulator, dial in electrical currents to specific parts of your brain. Some devices are cleared by the Food and Drug Administration; some are not. The tested ones have been found to be free of any intermediate-term side effects.

What has been well-established is that tDCS can, at least temporarily, improve blood flow throughout the brain. That could explain a lot of its apparent benefits right there, and might account for any cognitive boost.

As one handbook puts it: “Transcranial electrical and magnetic stimulation techniques encompass a broad physical variety of stimuli, ranging from static magnetic fields or direct current stimulation to pulsed magnetic or alternating current stimulation with an almost infinite number of possible stimulus parameters.” That said, your caveat is that an infinite number of marketing opportunities are possible as well. We say: Buyer beware.

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