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In light of the opioid crisis, doctors are searching for alternatives to help patients with chronic pain. But one out of the box alternative is working for one woman.
Helen Brindell’s love for gardening is easy to see.
Brindell said, “It’s what I love to do. It’s what I love to do!” But what you can’t see is Brindell’s chronic back pain.
“I couldn’t get down like this, without a lot of pain or maybe with someone helping me up,” said Brindell.
Determined not to take opioids, Brindell was faced with a tough choice. She could get a spinal fusion to help the pain but that would mean kissing gardening goodbye.
“I was at the point where I wasn’t sure what I was going to do because what I was doing wasn’t working,” said Brindell.
That’s when her surgeon Doctor Rex Marco mentioned a third option, a meditation app.
“I don’t believe it. I didn’t believe it,” said Brindell.
But Doctor Marco says there’s science to meditation. Pain creates a stress response in the body that can cause anxiety, causing a bigger stress response and more anxiety.
Rex Marco, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon and Musculoskeletal Oncologist, Houston Methodist said, “It’s this vicious circle which can be slowed down by narcotics or by other mindfulness techniques.”
And while opioids flood the brain with dopamine studies show that meditation can increase dopamine naturally.
Doctor Marco said, “There is a scientific reason why this might help you.”
Brindell says it has helped her manage pain. “You just feel like … ahh,” said Brindell.
And can continue doing the hobby she loves. Brindell said, “I did it! I made all that beauty!”
Doctor Marco recommends a couple apps to his patients: “the back doctor” and “stop, breathe, and think.”
The exercises trigger the body to make endorphins.
You can find both of those for free in the app store.