Health Promotion Newsletter Issue No. 28

18 Feb


February 2016

Dear All,

Welcome to 2016 and the year of the Monkey! What a blessing the weather has been great so far this year. If we all can be a tiny bit patient, March is just around the corner and with it comes spring!

In the upcoming two months we have two exciting topics for the Health Promotion Workshops. In March we have HIV Drug Coverage and Social Work presented by Miss Andrea Sharp, MSC from Toronto General Hospital. In April, we have HIV and Dermatology presented by Dr. Anthony Chen from Wellesley/Church Clinic. Please watch for the dates upcoming and rsvp to your support staff.

ACT also will have a health forum in the month of March on anal cancer presented by Dr. Irving Salit.It will be an interesting topic with current issues discussed, most specifically MSM. Please get into the ACT website for more details about this workshop.

I am delighted to have Elizabeth Bolen as a contributor this month with her article on the topic of chronic pain. In her article she suggests coping mechanisms for people living with HIV suffering some sort of chronic pain. I have copied the article below for your reading pleasure.

Thank you and best regards,

Kenneth Poon – Health Promotion Worker

download healthnews_issue28 (.pdf file)

Four Easy Fixes for Chronic Pain

By Elizabeth Bolen


In Canada, one in five individuals suffer from chronic pain1. The government spends over $6 billion per year in various medical expenses, and most people find only temporary relief1. Pain starts off as a warning signal, telling us that we need to stop what we are doing and fix it. Chronic pain is different, it gradually develops. There are numerous theories that were developed to explain the mechanism, and none of them quite captures what really happens. We know that the adaptive warning signal is being used in a different way. One thing is prevalent; chronic pain is poorly managed in Canada1.


Developing chronic pain can happen to anyone, at any age. The likelihood increases as you age, but it will affect certain demographics more than others. Cancer and HIV patients have a high chance of developing chronic pain. They are expected to live longer, but must deal with pain. Here are 4 easy tips you can follow to help with the pain in the comfort of your own home:

  1. Change your diet: Try to incorporate dark leafy greens, foods high in omega-3-fatty acids, turmeric, cayenne, and low sugar fruits. These foods will help decrease the inflammation in the body and decrease the amount of pain being experienced. You want to avoid highly inflammatory foods. These foods will be individual but the main offenders are gluten and dairy. You can see a health care provider to personalize your diet and suggest foods you should eliminate.
  2. Hydrotherapy: Alternating hot and cold compresses are a great way to get the circulation pumping. Hot allows for blood to enter the area with nutrients. The cold constricts the blood vessels forcing the blood out of the area. The cold will numb the area and draw out inflammatory markers, decreasing the inflammation.
  3. Epsom Salts Baths: They are very relaxing and help with relieving tension in tight muscles. The Magnesium in the salt will deposit in the muscle causing an anti-spasmodic effect. Tight muscles are a cause for a lot of chronic pain2. Epsom salts also help the body to eliminate toxins which can be contributing to pain2.
  4. Mindfulness: This is going to help with your quality of life. Research shows that mindfulness will help with adjustment of chronic pain3. It comes from the Buddhist foundation of “loving kindness”3. Mindfulness helps in reducing depression, pain acceptance, feelings of helplessness, rumination, and pain catastrophizing3. Mindfulness helps you cope with chronic pain in a healthy way. It will shift the negative mentality of pain into a positive perception of well-being3.

These tips are things you can do at home. Hydrotherapy and Epsom salts are the easiest to implement. They will have good short term effects on pain. Changing your diet and practising mindfulness can be a challenge for most people. These two tips will have the biggest effect and last the longest. Chronic Pain is a long journey with ups and downs. Feeling helpless and aggravated is normal. Now you have some tools that can help you combat chronic pain.


  1. Pain in Canada Fact Sheet. Pain Resource Center. Retrieved Feb 2, 2016. Updated 2015.
  2. Health Benefits of Epsom Salts Baths. Care2 Healthy Living. Retrieved Feb 3, 2016.
  3. Cusens, Bryany, et al. “Evaluation of the breathworks mindfulness‐based pain management programme: Effects on well‐being and multiple measures of mindfulness.”Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy 1 (2010): 63-78.



download healthnews_issue28 (.pdf file)

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