Understanding Your Mental Health

In honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month, we thought we’d share some helpful information.


Understanding your mental healthMental health refers to your emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life – from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. It helps you develop resilience and the ability to cope in the face of life’s inevitable adversities.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood and behavior could be affected. Your mental health can be influenced by a variety of factors, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems


Mental health problems are common; about one in five American adults experience at least one mental illness each year. And around one in five teenagers experience a mental illness at some point in their lives, too. Although mental illnesses are common, they vary in severity. About one in 25 adults experience a serious mental illness each year.

Early Warning Signs

Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health issues? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking or abusing drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts or flashbacks you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

Improving your mental health

Mental Health and Wellness

Concepts of mental health include subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, and recognition of the ability to realize one’s intellectual and emotional potential. It has also been defined as a state of well-being whereby individuals recognize their abilities, are able to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and make a contribution to their communities.

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills
  • Getting professional help if you need it

When anxious, depressed or frustrated, you might feel very alone. There’s no need to suffer in silence. Our care team offers comprehensive and compassionate treatment in a warm and welcoming environment, and will help you learn healthy ways to manage your condition. We understand the significant toll emotional struggles can have on everyday life, and we want to help you determine what’s holding you back. The dedicated and experienced staff at LAGS Recovery Centers will treat your specific needs so you can manage your symptoms – once and for all.


What is PRP Therapy?

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, is a cutting-edge, non-surgical, steroid-free treatment. It relieves pain by helping your body repair its own damaged and injured tissues by speeding up your own natural healing process. PRP Therapy is minimally invasive, and utilizes the natural growth factors contained in your body’s own blood platelets. It gets your body to initiate the regenerative repair process, and since it uses your body’s own platelets, there is very little risk of allergic reaction.

How does PRP treatment work?

Your blood is drawn and processed in a special syringe and centrifuge to obtain the PRP. The PRP is then injected into the location that needs treatment. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes, and unlike steroid injections, PRP will not cause weight gain, mood changes, sleep disturbances, or high blood pressure.

What is PRP Therapy Used For?

  • PRP Therapy is useful in treating a variety of ligament and tendon conditions, including:
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • ACL Injuries
  • Ankle Sprains
  • Cervical Facet Pain
  • Hamstring & Hip Strains
  • Knee Sprains
  • Neck Pain
  • Lumbar Spine Disk Pain
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Shoulder Pain
  • SI (Sacroiliac) Joint Dysfunction
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Osteoarthritis conditions such as:
  • Knee Arthritis
  • Hip Joint Arthritis
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Ankle Arthritis

How Effective is PRP Therapy?

PRP therapy has been found to be highly effective in treating chronic ligament and tendon issues that have failed other treatments.

  • A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, found that PRP significantly improved pain and function in 72% of patients.(1)
  • Research done at the University of Pittsburgh found that PRP exerts anti-inflammatory effects on injured tendons.(2)

1. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: May 2013 – Volume 23 – Issue 3 – p 238–239, doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31827c3846
2. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Exerts Anti-inflammatory Effects on Injured Tendons Zhang, J; Wang, J H-C, University of Pittsburgh

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What are the Causes of Neuropathic Pain?

Neuropathic pain is most often caused by damaged nerve fibers, and to those suffering from it, often seems to have no obvious cause or origin. Some of the most common causes of neuropathic pain and damaged nerve fibers include.

Alcohol: Excess alcohol consumption can cause damage to your nerve fibers, usually as a result of nutritional deficiencies such as thiamine and other B vitamins that result from prolonged periods of excess alcohol intake.

Autoimmune diseases: Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus can cause inflammation to tissues, that over time, can damage nerve fibers.

Diabetes: High blood sugar levels can damage small blood vessels and nerve fibers, and due to the elevated levels of blood sugar usually found in diabetics, it is not surprising that it is the leading cause of neuropathic pain.

Cancer: Many cancers, especially lymphoma and multiple myeloma contribute to neuropathy. Toxins from cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation treatment can also cause peripheral neuropathy.

Connective Tissue Diseases: Diseases that affect your connective tissues such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus can lead to neuropathy due to inflammation and the body’s attacking its own tissues.

Endocrine disorders: Endocrine disorders can lead to hormonal imbalances that often disturb normal metabolic processes and cause neuropathy. For example, low thyroid hormones can cause fluid retention and swelling in the tissues, that puts pressure on peripheral nerves and damages them.

HIV or AIDS: People with HIV and AIDS who get neuropathy, usually suffer distal symmetrical polyneuropathy, which is a type of neuropathy that starts in the extremities, affects both sides of the body, and involves multiple nerves. It can also be caused by anti-HIV medications, in which case it’s called antiretroviral toxic neuropathy.

Infections: Many bacteria and viruses can attack and damage nerves, causing neuropathy.

Idopathic (unknown): Neuropathic pain is often very complex, and in many cases, the exact cause of neuropathy cannot be determined.

Injury (trauma): Injuries from automobile accidents, sports, falls, and even surgery, can damage nerves, leading to peripheral neuropathy.

Kidney Disorders: Kidney disorders can lead to high levels of toxins in the blood, causing nerve damage.

Medications: Certain drugs used to treat cancer, HIV, anticonvulsant agents, and some heart and blood pressure medications can cause peripheral neuropathy.

Metabolic disorders: Metabolic disorders can impair your body’s ability to turn nutrients into energy, and to get rid of waste products, which can lead to nerve damage.

Multiple Sclerosis: While multiple sclerosis does appear to cause neuropathy in many people with the disease, the exact reasons are not fully understood, and more research is needed.

Repetitive Stress: Repetitive or forceful activities that can cause irritation and inflammation in the ligaments, tendons, and muscles, which can constrict the narrow passages that many nerves pass through, causing them to become compressed, and leading to neuropathic pain.

Toxins: Exposure to toxins such as lead, mercury, arsenic, insecticides, and solvents can cause peripheral neuropathy.

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What is Chronic Pain Management?

In the past, when a person was suffering from pain, it was typically their primary care doctor that would help them manage it, usually by either prescribing medication, or referring them to a surgeon for surgery. As medical science advanced however, it was found that diagnosing and treating pain was much more complex than previously thought, and managing pain was not as easy as simply relying on medicine and surgery. 

With these advances in knowledge about the causes of pain, and the discovery of new and better treatment options often utilizing advanced technology, a new branch of medicine began to emerge known as chronic pain management.

Chronic pain management is a very specialized branch of medicine that focuses on treating patients suffering from all types of pain, including back pain, musculoskeletal pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, cancer pain, arthritis, and neuropathic pain. Properly managing pain requires a correct diagnosis of the cause(s), and often times this is not a simple as many people think. Often times pain is the result of several overlapping conditions that contribute to a person’s pain, or due to diseases that are not well understood by most doctors such as painful neuropathy.

The first step in chronic pain management is to properly diagnosis of what is causing the pain. Once an accurate diagnosis is made and the underlying cause(s) of a patients pain has been determined, the next step in chronic pain management is to develop a patient-specific treatment program. This often requires an interdisciplinary team approach, to both treat any underlying conditions, as well as to get the patient moving and active again and to treat any co-occurring disorders.

For example, often times, chronic pain leads to depression, which over time, can become very serious and debilitating, at which point mental health specialists such as counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and mindfulness training experts, need to be part of the treatment team. Sometimes, the depression and/or pain causes the patient to turn to drugs or alcohol as away of dealing with their misery, at which point they need the help of an addiction specialist who can provide therapy and group counseling.

Other specialists who often get involved in chronic pain management include physical therapists, physician assistants, massage therapists, diet and nutrition counselors, and even acupuncture practitioners. Unless all of the underlying causes of a patients pain are addressed by a team of specialists, it can be very difficult to bring the patient the real relief they are looking for.

During the initial treatment period, a chronic pain management specialist will often utilize low doses of medication and minimally-invasive injections, as a way of reducing the patients pain so they can begin to move and get active again. During this early healing period, patients often return once a month to report back on how the treatment is affecting their levels of pain, mobility, and general well-being. This allows the pain management specialists to see how the specialized program is working for their patient, and to modify it as necessary.

Often times, recovery can be slow a steady process, as long as the patient is committed to sticking to all of the prescribed therapies. Other times, simple procedures such as nerve blocks, are able to stop the pain caused by a specific nerve, and bring what many patients describe as instant and miraculous relief.

As new cutting-edge research continues to shed even more light on the root causes of pain, most recently, new understandings have been discovered about a condition known as painful neuropathy, which requires a different type of treatment than other types of pain. Once again, a good chronic pain management specialist will be able to test you for conditions such as painful neuropathy, and treat you for it if necessary. There have even been recent news articles about people suffering for decades with pain, who tried everything, including surgery, only to find out it was painful neuropathy that could be treated.

If you are tired of living with your pain, and have not yet been to a chronic pain specialist, we encourage you to find one in your area that can help you lead the better and more active life you deserve.

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Two Types of Pain Doctors: Physiatrists and Anesthesiologists

Physiatrists and Anesthesiologists are the two primary type of physicians that treat chronic pain conditions. They both go to medical school, however the training they receive for their specialties is quite different, and as a result, the way that they treat chronic pain can also differ.


Physiatrists specialize in rehabilitation and how the body moves, and are often classified as “Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation” doctors. They look at the big picture by focusing on the entire body, and are experts in treating injuries that affect the way your body moves in relation to your nerves, muscles and bones.

Physiatrists focus on treating the underlying cause of pain, as a way of restoring your function and mobility. They often work as part of team that might include physical therapists and counselors, and believe non-surgical treatments such as pain medication, injections, and exercise programs should always be tried first, and that surgery should be an option of last resort after other treatments have failed.


Most people think of anesthesiologists as doctors who spend all of their time in the operating room administering anesthesia during surgery. Many anesthesiologists also practice pain management, and as their name implies, they tend focus more on surgeries and injections as a way of treating pain.

Some of the common surgeries performed by anesthesiologists for pain management include spinal cord stimulators, which are devices that are implanted inside your body, that deliver electrical impulses to your body in an attempt to intercept and change the nerve signals that cause pain. Anesthesiologists also rely heavily on injections, which can include Cervical Epidural Injections, Joint Injections, and Lumbar Epidural Injections.

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Painful Neuropathy: A Leading Cause of Opioid Addiction

What is Painful Neuropathy?

Painful neuropathy is a complex, chronic pain condition, often caused by damaged nerve fibers. These damaged fibers can send incorrect signals to the body’s pain centers, often causing a patient to feel moderate to severe pain.

Painful neuropathy is one of the most painful chronic conditions treated by pain management specialists, and traditionally, most pain doctors have treated it using the same opioid medications given to patients suffering from other types of chronic pain.

Opioids Do Not Help Treat Painful Neuropathy

Cutting-edge research conducted at the Mayo Clinic, shows that opioids do not provide pain relief to patients suffering from Painful Neuropathy.

Opioids Actually Make Painful Neuropathy Patients Worse.

This same study showed that patients suffering from Painful Neuropathy who are treated with opioids long-term, actually have worse functional status than those who were not given opioids, including an increased risk of:

  • – inability to work
  • – use of walking aids
  • – an overdose
  • – opioid dependence

Painful Neuropathy is a Major Cause of the Opioid Epidemic

So essentially, while opioids do not offer any pain relief for patients suffering from Painful Neuropathy, they do lead to opioid addiction. This makes logical sense, given that Painful Neuropathy patients given a low-dose of opioids, usually report back to their physician, that the low dosage did not help relieve their pain. Over time, dosages are often slowly increased, in the hope of bringing the patient much needed pain relief that never comes, and over time, these patients very often become addicted to the medication that brings them ZERO relief.

MAP Identifies and Treats Painful Neuropathy

The MAP Program identifies painful neuropathy using a simple diagnostic skin test, and when a patient is confirmed to be suffering from it, they are given non-opioid medications that are effective at treating it. Patients are also counseled in natural supplements useful in Painful Neuropathy, and dietary and lifestyle changes such as exercise that also assist in the healing process.

Studies show that these types of lifestyle changes can actually cause the damaged nerve fibers to grow back, and as this slowly happens, pain often slowly disappears.

MAP is a Major Solution to the Opioid Epidemic

The MAP Program properly diagnoses, and treats Painful Neuropathy using non-opioid medications, and in the process of bringing true pain relief to our patients, we feel that we are also helping to solve the opioid epidemic one patient at a time.

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What is the MAP Pain Management Program?

The MAP Program was developed by Lags Medical Centers as a way to effectively treat patients suffering from chronic pain conditions using minimal opioids.

This is accomplished by treating the underlying causes of a patients chronic pain rather than simply covering up the symptoms with opioids. MAP minimizes patient surgeries, as Lags believes that most surgery is medically unnecessary, often makes the patient worse, and should only be used as a last resort after minimally invasive options have been tried.

Three Primary Sources of Pain

The MAP Program treats the three primary sources of a patients pain:

  • Pain caused by METABOLIC conditions such as Painful Neuropathy
  • Pain caused by ANATOMICAL conditions
  • Pain caused by PSYCHOLOGICAL conditions, such as depression, or substance abuse

Each new patient undergoing the MAP Program will be given a complete Metabolic, Anatomical and Phycological Assessment, including the following where appropriate.

Medical Assessments

  • Metabolic Assessments: Diabetes Risk Assessment, Blood Panel, ENFD
  • Anatomical Assessment: Physical Examination, EMG/Nerve Conduction Velocity Testing, Imaging such as X-rays, MRI’s, ultrasound, SDAF
  • Psychological Assessment: Confirmatory Urine Tests, Opioid Misuse Screening, Clear

Once the contributing causes of a patients pain have been identified, a custom tailored treatment program will be initiated, and may include the following where appropriate.

Medical Treatments

Metabolic Treatments: Metabolic specific medications such as Trental or Topamax. Counseling in metabolic dietary supplements such as alpha-lipoic acid and L-citruline. Group nutrition and exercise classes that teach and encourage the patient to eat a healthy diet, engage in daily exercise, and maintain a healthy weight.

Anatomical Treatments: Nerve blocks, and guided injections utilizing fluoroscopy and ultrasound. Acupuncture and PRP Therapy. Intrathecal pain pump trials are also included as a treatment option of last resort if patient fails to respond to other treatments after an appropriate amount of time.

Psychological Treatments: Refer patient to mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, and medication assisted treatment (MAT). Group mindful meditation classes.