Extol Magazine

OCT-NOV 2016

Extol Magazine Celebrating Southern Indiana is a local publication that covers stories about businesses people places or events throughout the cities of New Albany Jeffersonville Clarksville Sellersburg and Louisville KY

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Because, says Cassaro, "most specialists don't have specific experience or knowledge or training to draw from in treating pain, just as I wouldn't feel comfortable providing operating room anesthesia after being away from it for about twenty years. If their patient has pain, they'll prescribe pain medication. But when that medication is no longer doing a good job, they don't have a Plan B. So they send their patients to somebody who does." at's when Cassaro digs deep into a patient's lifestyle, eating habits and chemical makeup. You Are What You Eat Take the chronic daily headaches that incapacitate so many people. "In my 30 years of practice, almost everyone I've seen with chronic headaches also has digestive problems," Cassaro notes. ose digestive problems might include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which starts with heartburn. "A lot of the newer medications that treat heartburn actually make the problem worse," says Cassaro. "eir digestive problems actually get worse because they no longer have the acid to prepare the food properly for digestion in the intestines." at leads to nutritional problems, not absorbing nutrients properly in the body, which show up as a variety of symptoms – and a chronic headache is one of those. "We're not a bag of unassembled parts," the physician says. "Everything is connected to everything else. Everything is important for something else to work properly." Dealing With Arthritis One of the most common sources of pain is arthritis, the painful stiffness, swelling and inflammation of joints – fingers, wrists, hands, knees, hips, ankles, heels and toes. Many people suffer from it, Cassaro notes, but there are differences. What he tries to determine is what's going on in that particular patient that promotes inflammation more easily or makes the nervous system more irritable, so that a little bit of painful stimulation gets translated into a lot of pain. As an example, he says, "If you drive past a local golf course, you're likely to see 80-year-old men walking the course. ey have big knobby knees and hands that look like they couldn't grasp anything, let alone a golf club. If you look at the X-rays of their joints, you'll see they look horrible, with all kinds of arthritis. And yet, they're walking the course, playing golf." en, he says, are people in their 40s. eir X-rays don't look that bad and yet they're crippled with painful arthritis. at means there's a lot more to the infirmity than just what the X-rays looks like. "e goal is to change the metabolism of that crippled 40-year-old to be more like the active 80-year-old. Eat, Sleep and Stay Moving Cassaro says there are three big lifestyle components to the degree of pain from chronic everyday arthritis: • How you eat • How you sleep • How you exercise "Nutrition probably plays the biggest role," he says, "though all three are important." e biggest problems of the average pain sufferer's diet regimen are sugar and flavor-enhancers. "Sugar is an irritant," he says, "Ever had a cavity and eaten a candy bar? en you know what an irritant sugar can be." Eating a lot of sugar makes everything in the body hurt worse. at also goes for those flavor-enhancers, preservatives and monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in restaurant foods and prepared foods. "ose are designed to light up your taste buds," says Cassaro. "But what about after you swallow? ey go around your system lighting up everything else. And if you have arthritis or nerve injury, and these chemicals are lighting things up, you're going to have pain." Here, Cassaro turns nutritionist, helping patients come up with a diet- altering game plan. "If people can convert their diets gradually, over time they'll realize big changes." Exercise is a relatively straightforward component of the game plan: If you're in motion, he says, you tend not to hurt as much. "Anyone with arthritis will tell you the hardest thing they do every morning is getting out of bed. But once they're up and moving, the pain isn't as bad. So the idea is to just stay moving." Sleep, however, is a hidden menace – more specifically, lack of sleep. "In the modern lifestyle, people cheat sleep," the doctor says. "ey're up early in the morning, trying to get a headstart on work. And they're up late at night, trying to keep things from unraveling the next morning. In so doing, they rob themselves of sleep on a long-term basis, and that promotes inflammation plus a lot of other health problems." e Treatment Tools So, how does Dr. Cassaro treat chronic pain? In several ways. Here are some of the most common: Injections. He'll inject cortisone or an anti-inflammatory in an affected joint, perhaps also in the spine, but he has a wide variety of medications he injects. "It's not so much what I'm injecting as where I'm injecting it," he says. "ey're precision injections, going directly to where they'll provide the greatest benefit – and with minimal side-effects." Implanted devices that interfere with pain signaling in the sensory nerves. One is a nerve stimulator, either inside the spinal canal to stimulate the spinal cord or over a nerve to perform what's called "peripheral nerve stimulation." Wires overlay pain pathways, and signals are broadcast through the wire to interfere with the pain signal. is is a surgical procedure, "but if you have pain that's not responding to other treatments, this can be life-changing," says Cassaro. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) heats up small areas of nerve tissue through an electrical current produced by a radio wave. is burning of sensory nerves is particularly effective in major joints like the hips and knees, or along the spine, places where the sensory and motor nerves are separate. "is is also very effective on the face," says Cassaro, "for painful conditions like trigeminal neuralgia." Before You Go Most of the Painless Living treatments are covered by insurance. For those that are not, or when an insured patient's high deductibles cover very little of the cost of the treatment, Cassaro offers separate "cash prices." You can also hear – and ask questions of – Dr. Cassaro every Saturday morning on his informational, call-in radio show, "e Painless Living Show," which is live from the Painless Living Studios from 11 a.m. to noon on 970 AM WGTK. Painless Living is located at: Painless Living is located at: 200 Missouri Ave. in Jeffersonville To make an appointment, or for more information, call 502.891.8940 or visit the website www.painlessliving.net. call 502.891.8940 or visit the website www.painlessliving.net. call 502.891.8940 or visit the website www.painlessliving.net.

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