Collier and Lee Counties Edition
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Pioneers of Gentle Pain Management

According to a July 2016 issue of Pain Management, pain is the oldest medical problem and physical affliction of mankind, yet a thorough understanding of its physiology has escaped researchers until very recently.

The 400-year history of scientific studies regarding pain began with the 17th-century philosopher, physiologist and mathematician, Rene Descartes. Since then, there has been much progress. Physicians no longer value pain as a sign of the patient’s vitality or a prescription’s effectiveness, and no longer debate over whether relief from pain might actually retard the healing process. However, while Western medicine continues to rely on pain medications, today’s wise integrative practitioners, physical therapists and functional medicine doctors are casting a wider investigative net to find alternatives that provide longer-lasting or permanent pain relief.

Southwest Floridians have been benefitting from working with forward-thinking practitioners trained in pioneering pain management techniques such as those developed by osteopathic physician John Upledger, founder of CranioSacral therapy, and Jonathan Barnes, founder of myofascial release therapy (MRT). Additionally, while modalities such as chiropractic, acupuncture, Rolfing, laser therapy, reflexology, yoga, massage, and neuromuscular therapy are well-established alternatives for pain relief, there are newcomers on the block vying for attention—muscle system care, light therapy, cryotherapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), platelet-rich plasma therapy, the Magnesphere system, cannabis-based medicines and consulting a nutritionist or herbalist for a list of foods, herbs and supplements that reduce inflammation.

Supplements, Nutrition and Homeopathy

Brad FerringoDonald Lippe, who manages the nutrition department at Food & Thought, in Naples, as well as Brad Ferringo, an internationally trained homeopath and naturopath, who offers consultations at Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins, also in Naples, agree that supplements to alleviate pain frequently depend on the specific cause.

“Turmeric is the popular go-to, but Willow bark (nature’s aspirin) and arnica continue to be customer favorites,” says Lippe.

“If 10 people came to me with a description of their pain, each individual would get a different homeopathic remedy,” advises Ferringo, who notes that homeopathic topical traumeel is helpful, and should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet, along with burn and sting gels like calendula.

Magnesphere, Hyperbaric Oxygen and Platelet-Rich Plasma

Wendy LawWendy Law, a wellness provider and owner of Yollo Wellness, in Fort Myers, states, “We specialize in protocols for pain and inflammation—the Magnesphere device, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and Fiji-grown turmeric that contains five times more curcumin than the majority of others. The Magnesphere utilizes the same principle as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but at targeted field strengths of a much lower level.”

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) exposes an individual to four pounds per square inch of pressure within a total body chamber. This allows the oxygen to reach all fluids in the body, reducing inflammation and promoting healing, detoxing and regeneration of new cell growth.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a concentrate of plasma enriched with platelet cell protein derived from whole blood that is centrifuged to remove red blood cells. Platelets play a critical role in tissue repair and regeneration, regulating fundamental mechanisms involved in the healing process.

Food sensitivities can play a part in pain. Law uses an antigen leukocyte antibody test (ALCAT), to test blood for 237 foods, 50 medicinal herbs, medicines and other factors that may be causing inflammation. Using the client’s results, she customizes a 30-day protocol that includes a nutrition and supplement plan for healing and reducing inflammation, as well as 30 hyperbaric treatments for immediate relief.

Maria Gonzales, a resident of Lehigh Acres, describes the magnesphere as life-changing. “I have lived every day of my life with a migraine headache until the first session in the Magnesphere. I no longer need the opioids, which didn’t eliminate the pain, anyway. My fibromyalgia is also calmer and the edema in my feet is much better,” she advises.

Joanne Russell, the tennis professional at Grey Oaks in Naples, found that the hyperbaric oxygen chamber relieved the pain of arthritis in her right arm. She also realized a noticeable difference after following Law’s nutritional protocols and consuming the Fijian-grown turmeric.

Medical Cannabis

According to the National Library of Medicine PUB MED, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and related conditions display common clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns that benefit from treatment with cannabinoid medicines.

“Cannabis is a magic herb that has been around for thousands of years. It’s ridiculous how we’ve been taught to be afraid of it, especially since it is an effective answer for pain, insomnia, anxiety and cancer,” says Carol Roberts, M.D., who practices in Naples at the Hughes Center for Functional Medicine, which also offers HBOT. To dispense cannabis, Roberts, the author of Good Medicine: A Return to Common Sense, completed the required eight-hour course and examination provided by the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association.

Cryotherapy

Ron Repice, DCBeing exposed to extremely cold temperatures triggers the body’s natural instinct to keep warm. Cold temperature constricts blood vessels near the surface of the skin, limiting the amount of inflammatory cytokines that flow to that area and cause pain. The body redirects blood flow from the extremities to all of the core organs. “Reducing the circulatory flow to sore muscles or painful joints limits swelling and produces a calming effect on inflammation, essentially tricking the body into healing itself faster,” advises Ron Repice, DC, owner of Rejuvenations Cool Cryotherapy in Naples. The licensed, board certified chiropractic neurologist is also a diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management and the first to bring cryotherapy to Naples.

Muscle System Care

Jay WeitznerFrom experience, Certified Medical Exercise Specialist and Muscle System Care provider, Jay Weitzner, owner of Symmetry—No Fads All Fitness, in Naples, knows that when the muscular system isn’t working properly, individuals are more likely to experience pain, tightness and other discomfort. “When parts of the muscle system lose quality, individuals focus solely on the hurt, thinking pain is the problem. I’m trying to get clients to focus on the not moving well part instead of the hurting part. I work on muscle systems so you can feel, move and be better,” explains Weitzner.

Weitzner’s muscle system wizardry made total believers out of Naples residents Holly Strickland, Tracy Colleran and Danielle Bishop. Bishop, who had a back injury in 2013 had five epidurals in 2016 in order to live with the pain. Since her doctor, who is also Weitzner’s client, recommended Weitzner six months ago, she hasn’t needed one.

Colleran was born with mild cerebral palsy, and says, “Jay’s muscle system care reduced the muscle pain in my legs and improved my coordination, balance and flexibility. He taught me to pay attention to how I move, use and hold my body. The greatest testimonial for Jay’s work came from my parents. We hadn’t seen each other for several months before we all flew to Massachusetts for a family reunion. During our layover, I walked away from my parents in the waiting area. When I returned, they didn’t recognize me because my gait was so different,” says Colleran.  

Strickland, co-owner of Burn Bootcamp, a gym in Naples, was eight weeks pregnant when she sustained an injury that left her with a herniated disc, a pinched nerve in her arm and bedridden for 12 days. In unbearable agony, her doctor couldn’t prescribe pain medication. “A client gave me Jay’s number. One visit, and the next day I was able to walk around the house. After two sessions I was driving again,” she recalls.

Physical Therapy

Dr. Jake BermanJake Berman, physical therapist and owner of Berman Physical Therapy, in Naples, doesn’t believe that his clients have physical problems and pain that are simply just part of the aging process. “I feel that people can stay active and mobile at any age,” says Berman, who holds a doctorate of physical therapy degree.

Charlene Damion, a young-at-heart seasonal Naples resident, recently benefitted from Berman’s perspective. Four months after hip replacement surgery, she fell and suffered a soft tissue injury. “I was walking improperly for many years due to arthritis. After I had hip replacement the pain in my opposite foot, caused by the plantar fasciitis worsened, throwing me off balance,” explains Damion, who notes that after a few treatments, the foot pain was significantly reduced and her posture improved. “Dr. Berman assessed and reassessed me during appointments, applied several different tools and assigned me exercises that were helpful,” she notes.

Light Therapy

Jennifer AlvarezAt Purely You Spa, owner Jennifer Alvarez advises clients with pain issues to add U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved light-emitting diode (LED) therapy to the massage of their choice. “LED infrared light, which penetrates the skin to calm inflammation and relieve pain, can be specifically directed to any area and its affects are accumulative,” advises Alvarez.  

Not everyone responds to the same treatment, which is why using several modalities in tandem may offer the best relief. Consulting with an integrative practitioner versed in the body’s subtle signals and familiar with the chronic pain vocabulary can help pinpoint the pain’s source and identify therapies to ease discomfort and facilitate healing.

Local Resources

Berman Physical Therapy, 501 Goodlette Rd. N, Bldg. C, Unit 104, Naples. 239-564-0069. BermanPT.com.

Brad Ferringo, 239-248-0455. BffHolistic.com.

Food & Thought, 2132 Tamiami Tr. N., Naples. For more information, call 239-213-2222 or visit FoodAndThought.com.

Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins, 877 91st Ave. N. Ste. 4, Naples. 239-596-9017. GenesisNonGMO.com.

Hughes Center for Functional Medicine, 800 Goodlette Rd. Naples. 239-649-7400. HughesCenterNaples.com.

Symmetry—No Fads All Fitness, 1750 J&C Blvd., Ste. 10, Naples. 239-940-2121. NoFadsAllFitness.com.

Purely You Spa, 3066 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 302, Naples. 239-331-8266. PurelyYouSpa.com.

Rejuvenations, Inc., 1575 Pine Ridge Rd, Ste. 6, Naples. 239-331-5886. CryoNaples.com.

Yollo Wellness, 3033 Winkler Ave., Ste. 170, Ft. Myers. 239-275-0039. YolloWellness.com.

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