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Chronic Pain

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Chronic Disease Management

By | Chronic Disease, Chronic Pain, Diabetes | No Comments

Chronic Disease Management in General Practice

Almost half of the population of Australia suffer with at least one chronic disease and these conditions account for the vast majority of the causes of illness, disability and death. Chronic diseases are also on the rise in our society, mainly due to longer life expectancy & a historical change in lifestyle.

So what is a chronic disease?

A chronic disease is a medical condition that is long term and persisting, slow to progress but can lead to severe disability and a shorter lifespan.

Examples of chronic diseases that are common in Australia include:

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic back pain
  • Mental health conditions
  • Some cancers

What can I do to help manage my chronic condition?

There are many complex factors that contribute towards disease such as genetics, gender & environment, yet many conditions are triggered by lifestyle factors such as smoking, high alcohol consumption, poor diet (and obesity) and lack of physical activity.

Make sure you have a great GP

When you go to see a great GP if you have multiple issues to discuss, they will break them down into what’s most important and start with those, and invite you to return to spend more time going through the rest of the things on your list. That’s because a great GP knows that rushing through everything in one go is not really doing justice to your needs. You can read more about what to look for in a great GP

Have a healthy lifestyle

Live a healthy lifestyle. Many people with chronic conditions feel better with a good diet, being as active as they can be, being a healthy weight, not smoking and minimising alcohol.

Medication 

Understand the medication you take – make sure your GP reviews them on a yearly basis if you are taking them long term.

Management Plan

Ask your GP for a chronic disease management plan (see below)

The power of a good GP

People may not realise that GPs and practice nurses are experts in screening for risk factors of chronic health problems, poor lifestyle, recognise early symptoms as well as advising and empowering people on proactive lifestyle changes or active treatment to prevent the disease.

However, once a person has developed a chronic disease, the GP becomes the facilitator to direct that person’s care, with the focus being less on cure but control of progression,  avoidance of complications such as disability, hospitalisation and early death.

It could be argued that good GP care in recent times has helped revolutionise the care of illness, with the realistic expectation for people to live a near normal life with a chronic disease rather than suffer significant suffering and an early demise.

What is an integrated chronic disease management plan?

The Australian Government continues to invest in GPs leading disease management through the chronic disease management plan (CDM), a medicare rebatable case meeting with the GP and/or practice nurse to work in partnership with the patient to set goals of treatment and plan how these are going to be reached. Goals usually have a pragmatic and realistic focus on achieving optimal health and functional outcomes in living with the condition. The plan will involve various measures that incorporates clinician-led medical treatment and lifestyle measures that the patient is given the responsibility to build into their routine.

Part of this plan often involves generating a team care arrangement (TCA) to enlist the help of 2 or more allied health professionals such as a physiotherapist, podiatrist, dietitian etc to reach these health goals. Up to 5 visits to private allied health professionals are subsidised per year under these plans.

Not everyone qualifies for a CDM & TCA plan; the rules stipulate that a person must possess a valid medicare card and have a chronic medical condition. Medicare have entrusted GPs with the discretion of what constitutes a chronic disease, yet it is essentially an illness that has lasted for at least 6 months.

Separate from the CDM, there are also separately funded GP-led care plans enabled for diabetes and mental health, two of the more common long term health problems in our society.

Chronic disease management at HealthMint

At HealthMint we believe that the value of a high quality plan comes in a skilled, perceptive and enthusiastic GP and/or practice nurse dedicating a good amount of time to the patient, considering a tailored plan to the individual and providing practical tips on how to achieve the best health outcomes.

We are confident that we provide a superior service since time and effort has been put into gathering an excellent group of caring GPs and nurses who are provided with the time to spend getting to know their patients, enabling them to work in partnership to inspire and empower these patients to improve their health and quality of life in spite of their chronic disease.

We recommend that if you find yourself hampered by unpleasant symptoms of a chronic medical illness on a daily basis then do not waste another day settling for second best, and book an appointment with one of our GPs or practice nurses to discuss your management options.

Access the factsheet for patients on chronic disease management.

Dr Chris Madden GP at HealthMint Medical Centre Croydon Central Shopping CentreThis article was written by

Dr Chris Madden, GP

General Practitioner MBBS, FRACGP, DRCOG, DFSRH, BSc (Hons)

Chris is passionate about delivering high quality holistic care in the community. He really enjoys interacting with patients, recognising and advising on their physical and emotional problems as well as counselling on preventative medicine and lifestyle change to help people achieve their best long term health. Chris is devoted to educating, inspiring and mentoring future GPs & is an accredited supervisor & Medical Educator with Eastern Victoria GP Training. Chris is originally from the UK, having trained as a doctor in London, and moved to Melbourne in 2011 after completing his GP training. Away from work Chris loves spending time with his wife and kids as well as doing many activities such as jogging, cycling, bushwalking, swimming, socialising and travelling. Chris is also an avid fan of Leicester City Football Club.
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8 Benefits of Exercise

By | Body Systems, Chronic Disease, Chronic Pain, Diabetes, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Living a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial to your health, prevent some illnesses and diseases and can help to improve your mental health! Here we look into 8 benefits of exercise. 

1. Exercise boosts and benefits your mood

One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Exercise helps to block negative thoughts and distracts from daily worries and stresses. It  only releases the levels of, but also increases the levels of chemicals like serotonin and endorphins that can moderate responses to stress. It’s a win win!

benefits of exercise improve mood healthmint 2. Exercise assists in weight loss and helps prevent unhealthy weight gain

Exercise is extremely helpful in the journey of weight loss and weight management. Exercise speeds up metabolism, and increased activity levels increases the body’s fuel consumption (calories).

Regular physical activity combined with a healthy diet will increase the chances of weight loss.

8 benefits of exercise control weight loss healthmint3. Exercise reduces the risk of and helps to manage cardiovascular disease, reduce risk of heart attack, lower blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure

Regular physical activity can greatly reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and can actually also help to lower blood pressure! Lowering the levels of cholesterol and keeping your arteries clear of fatty deposits by undertaking regular exercise can reduce the chances of heart attacks and strokes.

8 benefits of exercise cardiovascular health heart healthmint4. Social interaction and exercise go hand-in-hand

Find an exercise buddy – grab a friend or family member and hit the pavement. Let’s face it, exercise is more fun with someone and it works both ways to motivate each other and keeps each other’s exercise goals in check.

8 benefits of exercise socialising healthmint5. Build strong muscles and bones

Exercise that involves weight bearing like walking, stair climbing, weightlifting helps to preserve bone mass which can help protect against osteoporosis. Exercise also builds and strengthens muscles which in turn protects the bones from injury and support and protect the jones that might be susceptible to or affected by arthritis. It also improves the blood supply to muscles and can help prevent age related loss of muscle mass.

8 benefits of exercise strong kids dad family healthmint

6. Reduce the risk and help manage Type 2 Diabetes

For those with Type 2 Diabetes, physical exercise is a critical party of the treatment plan. Exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood! It helps with keeping blood glucose levels in check and in the correct range. Controlling blood glucose levels is essential in combating long term complications such as heart problems.

7. Exercise helps with sleep quality and benefits energy levels

When you exercise, your body naturally depletes its energy stores which helps when trying to fall asleep. When exercising, you may have longer, deeper and greater quality sleeps which helps make you feel more energised throughout the day. Around 30 minutes of exercise is all it can take for a better nights sleep and more energised days!

8 benefits of exercise boost mood aid sleep healthmint8. Lower the risk of falls with exercise

Exercise is a proven way to prevent falls by improving balance and strengthening the muscles that keep us upright.  As we get older, a fear of falling may limit the decision to want to undertake exercise – but this can have a damaging affect and actually increase the risks of developing chronic diseases and the probability of falls.

Of course, there are many more reasons other than these 8 benefits of exercise to consider. Being regularly physically active will always have positive effects on your mind, body and soul, it’s just about finding the types of exercise that suits you and your lifestyle, setting small, achievable goals to start off with, and building up the process of becoming a healthier, happier YOU!

Before undergoing any new types of exercise make sure you have a medical check from your HealthMint GP. You can even get a FREE* Health Check Up (valued at $159) to get you started on your journey to great health and on your way to your fitness and exercise goals.

tmj pain and how to treat it healthmint medical centre cranbourne north

TMJ Pain And How To Treat It

By | Body Systems, Chronic Pain | No Comments

TMJ Pain And How To Treat It

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a pain in the jaw that can be caused by numerous medical issues. Keep reading to find out what TMJ pain is and how to treat it.

The TMJ connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) in front of the ear. These joints allow the movements needed for facial expressions, speaking, singing, whistling and eating.

TMJ disorders are quite common, and they can cause abnormal jaw movements, pain and noises in the joint. Often TMJ can feel like your jaw is popping, clicking or momentarily getting stuck. Sufferers of TMJ pain may experience either sharp pain or a dull, constant ache. 

Image from the Mayo Clinic
TMJ

Symptoms of TMJ pain

  • Locking of the jaw – which makes it difficult to open or close your mouth
  • Discomfort or pain in the jaw which is common during eating
  • An uneven or uncomfortable bite
  • Clicking and grating noises when chewing and opening mouth
  • Aching pain in the front of ear, which may spread to the rest of the face
  • Headaches, pain and pressure behind the eyes
  • Dizziness and vision problems
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain in the neck and shoulders

tmj pain and how to treat it healthmint medical centre cranbourne northWhat can cause TMJ pain?

  • Stress
  • Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • An injury
  • Dental issues – new dentures and fillings
  • Osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Genes and/or hormones
  • Infections and autoimmune diseases

Occasionally, people have TMJ pain without any obvious cause.

How to treat TMJ pain

To relieve the symptoms of TMJ you can try the following:

  • Cutting food into small pieces
  • Eating softer foods
  • Avoid clenching your jaw
  • Taking over the counter medications, pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Wearing a mouthguard when sleeping
  • Avoiding chewing gum
  • Not opening your mouth wide
  • Gentle jaw stretches

tmj pain and how to treat it healthmint medical centre cranbourne northIf you or someone you know may be suffering from any of the above signs of TMJ, you can book an appointment online to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. See our wonderful team of GPs here.

If necessary, our GPs may refer you to see a dentist for specialist treatment for your TMJ pain. Berwick Dental Studio in Berwick may be able to help – you can check out their amazing range of dental services here

Want more information?

Call (03) 5611 3365 to speak to a friendly patient concierge

or book an appointment here

A Painful Subject – Living With Chronic Pain

By | Chronic Disease, Chronic Pain

A Painful Subject – Living With Chronic Pain

 

Acute (or short-term) pain is a normal function of our nervous system, meant to let us know that something is wrong and to hopefully encourage us to fix the problem. Chronic pain is pain that stays for the long term. Even though it is very common – one in five Australians live with chronic pain – people who have this condition can feel isolated and misunderstood. Here are three areas of life with chronic pain that we should talk about.

  1. Sometimes, acute pain can turn chronic

Some conditions have chronic pain as a common symptom; for example, osteoporosis, arthritis, and migraines. Pain as the result of an injury or condition that lasts beyond the expected healing time can also become chronic (or on-going).  For example, if a person had surgery, they would expect to feel some pain afterwards until the wound healed. However, if the wound had completely healed but the patient still had pain, it has become chronic. Often, delayed or incorrect treatment is the reason acute pain becomes chronic.

  1. People can feel pain even when there is no physical damage

Pain is a signal that is sent from the nervous system and interpreted by the brain. In some conditions such as nerve disorders, there is no physical damage that is causing the pain.  If acute pain is not correctly treated, the body can modify its nervous system to continue to send pain signals – even when the original problem is no longer there.

Not only can a person with chronic pain feel the same pain sensation as someone with physical damage, it can be much harder to treat because the issue can be with the nerve signals instead of a result of a treatable injury.

  1. Chronic pain often comes with social and mental issues

Because pain is not visible or measurable by other people, a person with chronic pain can feel misunderstood and unsupported by not only the people around them, but even by some medical professionals. Mental health issues are common in people with chronic pain. The rates of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and substance abuse are much higher than in the general population.

 

Imagine being in pain every day. Maybe it’s worse on some days than others. When you first talk about your pain, people are sympathetic and understanding.  As the months stretch on, some friends, family and co-workers begin to lose interest or become frustrated with your inability to resume your normal activities. Many people bear the pain silently, or isolate themselves as a result.

 

Where someone has pain, it is very important that a pain management plan is developed as soon as possible. If you have experienced acute pain, stay in contact with your GP if you feel the pain is not resolving as quickly as expected. If you suffer from chronic pain, find a GP that will commit to working with you long-term to manage your symptoms. Pain is a serious condition that deserves to be prioritised, and there are many options available to help you manage symptoms.

 

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