Archive | April, 2011

Copper for Pain: The Theory of Trapped Electricity

23 Apr

by Heather Grace, IPJ Staff Writer

An innovative area in pain research involves reducing trapped electricity in the body to help achieve pain relief.

The ‘Theory of Trapped Electricity’ is a concept that focuses on electricity as the cause of much chronic pain. A damaged nerve traps electricity in your body, and can cause pain, burning, redness, loss of appetite, insomnia, headaches and more.*

How Copper Works

Copper as well as magnets attract electricity, helping to pull it from the body.

For centuries, Egyptians, Native Americans and Mexicans have used copper jewelry for medical, religious and spiritual rituals. These bracelets were often tools of ancient healers. Today, we know the benefits of pain relief they can provide.

Copper, often found in the form of a bracelet, can be an effective means of reducing pain. Is it a cure? Probably not. However, regardless of the severity of your pain, copper can be one of many tools used to bring down your pain to a manageable level. Copper can be considered an augmentative therapy as well; it can help other treatments work more effectively. Best of all, wearing copper is not known to cause any drug interactions or lasting side effects!

Merely wearing copper jewelry benefits many people with minor aches and pains. For more targeted relief, you may also consider rubbing copper over the pain site. Copper can provide instant results — try it for yourself!

Directions: Copper for Different Types of Pain

Minor Pain: For those with minor pain, wear as you want to, for unlimited periods of time. However, for more severe, chronic pain, wear for up to one hour at a time, paying attention to how you feel.

Electricity and Intractable Pain

Note that people who have conditions that cause constant pain, i.e. Intractable Pain, one hour may prove far too long… Copper can sometimes be too powerful. Keep in mind that constant pain literally means there are pain signals constantly being sent throughout the neurological system. This can produce an incredible amount of electricity.

If you notice any throbbing, aching, heat or pain, as a result of wearing the bracelet, it may be pulling large amounts of trapped electricity through the body. Try wearing copper for shorter periods (20 to 30 minutes max). Or, for best results, people with Intractable Pain may choose to simply rub copper over the pain site for several minutes, twice daily. Try starting with 5 minutes at a time, and see how it goes.

Too Much Electricity?

If you experience any of the adverse effects described above, you can discharge the excess electricity! How? Discharge electricity by walking barefoot on dirt/grass outside. Walking barefoot on carpet should have a similar effect. Walk barefoot for several minutes, until the symptoms subside.*

Even when copper has not been used, walking barefoot outdoors or on carpet can help Intractable Pain sufferers cope with the excess electricity constantly flowing through the body. Give it a shot!

ONE FINAL TIP: It’s ok to experiment with brass or magnets, as well, using the same directions explained here. Both have shown similar promise in combating trapped electricity.

Copper: One Woman’s Perspective

Before I was diagnosed with Intractable Pain, I would’ve probably dismissed the use of copper as little more than superstition! I’m not the type to over-exaggerate for emphasis, I tell it like it is.

So, I was introduced to the use copper at my physician’s Intractable Pain clinic. I was speaking with my doctor, as my boyfriend was swirling the lid of a copper tea kettle over my neck and back.

I expected nothing to happen; how wrong I was! In less than 2 minutes, I began to feel less tension in my back. It was as if some magical sense of calm flowed over my neck muscles, which are always in knots.

I would’ve said something about the difference the copper made–my pain had gone from an 8 to a 7, very quickly–but my doctor was still explaining his thoughts on copper. Apparently, before a patient brought the idea to him–his feelings were a lot like my own. Then, he described how many patients were making copper a part of their pain control regimen… How effective it was…

Another few minutes had passed and, suddenly, I started to feel funny–hot, like heat was swirling within my spine and rushing up to my back and neck. Before I could say anything, my doctor motioned to my boyfriend to stop. “Whoa!” was all I could muster. I was shocked that a tiny piece of metal could have such an impact in FIVE SHORT MINUTES!

Even though I was a tad freaked out, my doctor was impressed. He had never seen such an immediate reaction to copper. He asked me to take my shoes off. As I walked barefoot on the carpet, I immediately started to feel better. In addition to getting hot, I had also apparently gotten very red. My face, neck, shoulders were all showing just how much trapped electricity I was dealing with!

Because of the level of pain I experience, the nerve damage as well as the multiple levels of my discs that are degenerating, I am an electrical storm, internally. I wasn’t aware of this until I tried the copper out. I never wouldve guessed it had so much power!

What I Learned: My Copper Routine

I still use copper, but only by rubbing it over the pain site(s) for approximately 3 minutes, a maximum of three times a day. Having a bracelet on causes my wrist to ache. Why? The copper draws the electricity right to that spot. It’s just too intense, given the seriousness of my symptoms.

I have learned to respect the way that my nerves conduct electricity, constantly. My pain is intense and so is its signal! I also realize that copper interrupts this process, attempting to normalize electricity levels. It seems that the more I use copper, the better it works, keeping trapped electricity levels lower than they would normally be, for someone like me.

I have also experimented with brass and like to switch between the two. Additionally, I have used copper cream*, something that targets trapped electricity, but is less intense. (You can make this & other creams using the reference materials noted, below.)

The most important lesson I have learned? Copper can go from effective to TOO effective, very quickly. Realize that it is always best to work up to an optimal level. Take it slow, and realize that you always have a way out. Or, the electricity does… through your feet. Take those shoes off, and discharge!

For More Information…

Want more great info on electricity and pain? The May, 2011 issue of Practical Pain Management has a review of electromagnetic treatments for pain management. It includes an article on fellow IP patient/friend, Radene Marie Cook’s experiences with trapped electricity! It’s from her book The Pain Factory, in a chapter called “Electrical Me.” The Pain Factory is due out in late 2011.

* Source: 2009 “What To Do While Looking For A Good Pain Doctor,” at: -and- 2010 “Dr. Forest Tennant’s Pain Control Guidelines,” online at:

Looking for the most comprehensive ‘how to’ guide for life with severe, chronic or constant pain? Now available online at no cost, please download “The Intractable Pain Patient’s Handbook For Survival” at

(Some of the links above are PDFs. If you need the Adobe Acrobat Reader–it’s free. Visit Adobe’s website at

Heather Grace is an Intractable Pain Sufferer, Writer & Advocate. She Co-Manages Intractable Pain Patients United (, has been a Guest Speaker at For Grace’s ( Annual Women in Pain Conference and is a California Leader for the American Pain Foundation (

© 2011 Intractable Pain Journal & Heather Grace. All rights reserved.


Support California’s Anti-Fail First Bill, AB-369: Send Your Letter Today

21 Apr

by Heather Grace, IPJ Staff Writer

The deadline to get your comments to Legislators regarding AB 369, the ‘Fail First’ bill, is rapidly approaching. My letter is enclosed, below. Won’t you share YOUR story, too?

April 21, 2011

Dear Legislators,

I am writing you today to request that you support AB 369. This legislation is critical to ensuring that medical decisions regarding prescriptions and treatments for pain are made by the direct patient care providers (physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants), and not insurance administrators.

AB 369 will help medical professionals do what they do best practice
health care. Step therapy or “fail first” therapy occurs when an insurer requires that other therapies must be tried and must fail, before people with pain can obtain the appropriate treatment, recommended by their physician.

AB 369 will save countless people from permanent disability. I know, because I am a victim of Step Therapy in the CA Worker’s Comp System.

I spent over 9 years working for a medical education company. I started
out as an Intern. Thanks a lot of hard work and dedication, I soon became the company’s Webmaster, as well as Web Department Manager. I loved what I did, truly!

I never dreamed that a spinal injury would change my life forever–especially because it didn’t have to. When I realized something was wrong with my neck (in addition to neck pain and headaches, my arms were going numb) , I did what I was supposed to: I told my employer. Their Workers Compensation carrier examined me and did an x-ray. Seeing no broken bones, they announced it was a ‘soft
tissue injury,’ even though I had a nagging feeling it was something

It took OVER TWO YEARS of heat, ice, physical therapy and Tramadol for
anyone to listen to me. When I finally got an MRI, I was relieved. There was a disc pressing against my spinal cord, causing the numbness. I had an answer! Now they would patch me up, good as new, wouldn’t they? A simple surgery could make things right again. Except, that’s not what happened…

Instead, I got… more of the same. Nerve glides, physical therapy, acupuncture, occupational therapy, over-the-counter medication, muscle relaxers, non-opioid pain relievers, stretching machines, home exercises, TENS units, sound waves, spinal decompression, ultrasound.

It was enough to make me want to lay down and die. I had been working
through all of these useless steps, trying to keep as normal a life as
possible as I was slowly being driven insane, with pain. There was no
rhyme or reason to any of it–it was just a bunch of stall tactics. What did they think would happen? Would I spontaneously heal?

By the time I got disc replacement surgery, I was dropping things. I was useless physically, and the pain was getting worse and worse. I was scared,
confused, mostly really depressed. I’d lost my dream job to a ‘layoff’–my employer got tired of waiting for me to get back to ‘normal.’ This only gave me more time to think about how miserable I was! It felt as though the Work Comp system’s steps were really a bunch of hoops. And, I was too sick to jump through them anymore.

Fail first in the Workers Compensation system is truly akin to medical neglect! No one’s ever that concerned if a certain treatment does not work. Being in a holding pattern–one useless treatment after the next–was hell on earth. I was in such severe pain, I was SUICIDAL. My WC lawyer said his hands were tied. The WC doctor said it was up to the insurer. The insurer refused to give a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to a question that should have been a no-brainer.

From the time I reported my injury til the time I got the one treatment
that would actually help–disc replacement surgery–took SEVEN LONG YEARS! That length of time in Worker’s Compensation without the appropriate therapy should be criminal! By the time my surgery was granted, it was too late…

Most people agree that the best they can ask at the end of their lives is a peaceful death. So many people don’t realize that it is possible to live with severe constant pain for years–or worse, for the rest of your life, due to step therapy.

Only when I decided to leave the Work Comp system and seek out a doctor
who could treat my pain, did I find any humanity. Finally, I had a doctor that focused on my symptoms–he was not bound by red tape. Still, he had bad news: because my spinal cord injury has gone untreated for so long, I had developed a nerve injury. There would be no cure for me, the ‘system’
and its hellacious steps had seen to that. I was destined to live with
this pain, indefinitely.

I will remember that day for the rest of my life. I was 33, and I had been in constant pain for almost 5 years. Though I was glad to finally have answers, I never expected I would be
permanently disabled by pain!

There *IS* a fate worse than a painful death, and I am living it. I’ve been given a life sentence, forced into a lifetime of pain. My sin? Trusting a system that did not care if I lived or died. I had begged, pleaded for their help. One WC Adjuster actually quit–I would like to think it was because of the guilt he felt over his part in my case. I told him I was suicidal due to the severity of the pain, and I still didn’t get surgery for another four months!

I’ve been coping with constant pain for nearly a decade now, and I am not even 40 yet. I’ve been in severe constant pain for so long, I cannot remember what it is like to be without it. People take for granted a life lived without pain and I am facing another 40 years of Intractable Pain.

Am I angry? Feel cheated? Sure, absolutely. I wish I had recourse for
what was done to me–a way to prevent WC from doing this to anyone
else, ever again. All I have is my story and the will to fight. And, you have the power of this bill in your hands. Please put an end to the nightmare of ‘fail first.’

You have the power to right a horrible wrong. Maybe not for me, but for
others who are destined to go down the same road I did. Though I am
thankful for good pain management, my life just isn’t the same. CONSTANT, SEVERE PAIN has taken away my ability to work a normal 40-hour per week job. It prevents me from being the productive person I once was. Though my heart and mind are stronger for what I have been through, I am a prisoner in this worn out body.

Now more than ever, we need AB369! PLEASE, HELP PREVENT STEP THERAPY

Improper or inappropriate care invariably leads to more persistent
illness and complications, which is far more expensive in the long run. True health care cost containment can be realized with bills like AB 369. Restoring a much needed balance in the provision of appropriate health care is good for everyone. Please give this bill your support!

Thank you,
Ms. Heather Grace
CA State Leader
American Pain Foundation
Twitter @intractablepain

Want to share your story, and help your legislators understand what AB 369 means to you? Visit to send your letter to legislators, instantly!

© 2011 Intractable Pain Journal & Heather Grace. All rights reserved.

12 Web Resources Intractable Pain Patients & Their Doctors Must See

5 Apr

by Heather Grace, IPJ Staff Writer

These are the tried and true dozen web resources that Intractable Pain Patients must see. More than that, these resources are so vital, patients are strongly encouraged to share them with their doctors, as well.

#1. OBJECTIVE SIGNS OF PAIN. If you show your physician anything, it must be this article, on the objective signs of severe pain, established in 2008. Pain, like any other disease, has diagnosable signs. I believe all physicians should see:

#2. THE INTRACTABLE PAIN PATIENT’S HANDBOOK FOR SURVIVAL. The name says it all. Have Intractable Pain? This is a definite must! Is a loved one suffering with this illness? Get a glimpse into the life of an IP patient:

Here are two related links, for a full set of ‘how-tos’ for the knowledgable patient:

#2A. What To Do While Looking For A Good Pain Doctor:

#2B. Dr. Tennant’s Pain Control Guidelines: — Four key handouts, provided to all Tennant patients.

THE REST OF THE SITES ARE IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER–I couldn’t decide which was next best, I love them all! They are, however, divided into two areas; informative sites and doctor’s sites. Enjoy!


#3. American Pain Foundation: Also, don’t miss their advocacy area, the APF Action Network:

#4. Intractable Pain Disease: — an authoratative source for Intractable Pain information, dedicated to the patient.

#5. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management:

#6. Practical Pain Management: Medical professionals can get the print publication free:

#7. The Pain Store–Articles: (Ok, this is my own site. Admittedly, I’m a little biased, but I have been compiling great links for years!)

#8. Pain Topics: — a dynamo of timely information that impacts doctors and patients alike!


#9. The Late Dr. Joel S. Hochman’s sites: and

#10. Dr. Russell K. Portenoy’s site:

#11. Dr. Steven Richeimer’s site:

#12. Dr. Forest Tennant’s site: Jam-packed with research… It doesn’t get better than 35+ years of dedication to Intractable Pain!

© 2011 Intractable Pain Journal & Heather Grace. All rights reserved.

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