Guest: Cindy Perlin
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Cindy Perlin is a licensed clinical social worker, certified biofeedback practitioner, chronic pain survivor, past president of the Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society and the author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free. She has been in private practice in the Albany, NY area for about 25 years. Her website is www.cindyperlin.com.
Segment overview: Cindy Perlin, LCSW, talks about her book, “The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.”
Health Professional Radio – Chronic Pain Treatments
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. Our guest in studio today is Cindy Perlin, licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Biofeedback Practitioner, she’s a chronic pain survivor and past President of the North-East Regional Biofeedback Society. She’s also the Author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free and she’s in studio this afternoon with us to talk about her book, The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments and also to talk about what led her to become so interested in this, well so called epidemic of opioid use and abuse in the United States today. Good afternoon Cindy.
Cindy Perlin Good afternoon.
N: Well as an author, you’re an author now, the Author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free, the title suggests strategies in addition to opioids or getting rid of opioids altogether. Is it a mixture of the two or one of the other?
C: Well I’m not a fan of opioids and there’s no study that says that they’re effective for chronic pain and there’s even concern about prescribing it for acute pain because some people still get addicted to opioids even when they take them in a short term so I’m not a fan. The only problem right now is that we have many, many, many patients who’ve used opioids as their primary treatment for many years and you can’t just cut them off because they’re dependent on it. So you need a strategy for replacing that treatment gradually with other safer, more effective treatments. There really isn’t an answer to the question, ‘Is there anybody who really needs opioids?’ We do know that we use almost all the opioids on the planet in the United States and elsewhere, other strategies who used to deal with pain.
N: Now you’re the Author of this book and I’m assuming that as a licensed Clinical Social Worker, there are many areas of social work that you could have focused on. What brought you to chronic pain and opioid use?
C: Well as I said earlier, I have some background in it in terms of having personally experienced chronic pain that was very severe and being given all kinds of drugs including narcotics. Nothing told me that’s what I was being given but fortunately they didn’t work for me. I think that the lucky people are the people who have an adverse reaction to opioids and don’t take them.
N: I guess, I’m wondering as a Social Worker, I’ve known social workers to work with children or with aged adults or people with disabilities. Were you seeing clients, were you’re on another field you were seeing people that were struggling with this and you decided, “I think this is something maybe I should take a look at.” something other than your own struggle or was it your struggle personally that launched you into this?
C: Well I started out with the practice focusing on people with any kind of chronic illness or disability because in my own work with healing, I discovered that the mind is a very powerful healer and that psychotherapeutic interventions can be very useful in terms of relieving pain and improving health. So very early on I became a Biofeedback Practitioner because that really helped me and with Biofeedback does is that it measures your physiology and then you can use that information to learn how to change it, you can change your blood pressure, your heart rate, your muscle tense and your blood flow, your brain activity. Many of these things relates to chronic pain or other kinds of chronic illness.
N: Now in the introduction of your book, you state that physicians know very little about pain treatment. Physicians, you’re not a physician, you’re a licensed Clinical Social Worker. Why is that you have this information based on your own personal experience and the desire to find out more? Why is it that physicians who deal with pain don’t know what you know?
C: Well first of all medical school, they’re given very little education of any kind on pain treatment. A survey done a few years ago of all the medical schools in the country found out that it’s very uncommon for physicians to get more than an hour or two of education about how to treat pain. So we start there and then we go to the fact that most continuing in medical education sponsored by the drug companies and what they’re going to hear about is drug treatment and not anything else and same with the conferences, they’re also heavily funded by drug companies so and the journals are the same thing.
N: Follow the money. I interview healthcare professionals pretty much on a daily basis and I’m used to hearing that doctors don’t get a lot of training in nutrition in medical school. It kind of astonishing to me that most people who are seeing a physician is because there’s something wrong, usually there’s some level of pain or discomfort involved. How is it that so little about pain treatment is given to the people that we trust to relieve our pain?
C: Well I don’t know if I could really answer that question except that I know there was another survey that said that 66% of primary care physicians feel incompetent in dealing with pain or don’t feel confident to treat pain and 40% of the patients visiting their office come with complaints of pain. So they’re gonna reach for the prescription pad because that’s what they’ve heard about and they’ve been oversold on opioids and they’ve even been oversold on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which the FDA just this past summer issued an advisory about that they can cause a significant increase in the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
N: As we wrap up this segment, let’s talk about, I’ve mentioned the lack of education in nutrition. Let’s talk about nutritional interventions, chapter seven of your book talks about the research that shown that diet plays such an important role in chronic pain. Talk about some of the things that maybe we should be eating or not eating that contribute to our pain.
C: Well generally speaking, there are foods that are inflammatory and foods that are anti-inflammatory and if you look at the most enlightened dietary guidelines, for instance recommending a Mediterranean Diet. You’re looking at lots of fruits and vegetables and fish and getting away from red meat and refined carbohydrates…refined carbohydrates inflammatory, fish and vegetables and fruits tend to be anti-inflammatory. Another issue is most people are very deficient in Vitamin D and Vitamin D is very important in preventing pain. So supplementing with Vitamin D, this is something where you can have blood levels measured by your doctors, a very simple lab test and you can find out if you’re deficient. A lot of chronic pain patients have undetectable levels of Vitamin D in their bloodstream.
N: I guess the supplement taken at some particular interval when you get their levels back up to where some of the pain could be alleviated?
C: Right. I like the idea of daily supplementation with natural Vitamin D, which is D3, which is better absorbed than synthetic form which is D2.
N: Okay. The D2, is it taken the same as D3 or?
C: Well sometimes doctors prescribe 50,000 units of D2 taken at once. It seems to me that if you take a smaller amount every day of the natural Vitamin D, that would be better absorbed and would work better.
N: Well that’s something that readers of your book can go ahead and determine for themselves and at your website, are they going to be able to get more information about you, your research and your book? And I understand there’s some incentives to visit your website as well, cindyperlin.com?
C: Right. I have a free give away called The Five Best Self-Help Tools for Healing Chronic Pain and it has suggestions of some very inexpensive free tools that you can use to eliminate your pain that are drug free.
N: Great, absolutely wonderful. Alright, you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio with Cindy Perlin, talking about chronic pain, her book, The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free and also a little bit about some of the training that is required or desperately needed in medical school for physicians to get some training in pain treatment as well as some training in alternative treatments other than drugs. Cindy says that to be successful, a program to curtail the opioid abuse epidemic must include physician education about these alternative pain treatments, these treatments that are mentioned in her book, The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments and it’s been a pleasure talking with you this afternoon.
C: Thank you.
N: Thank you. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe through our podcast on iTunes.