Living Well with Chronic Pain – The Choice You Have to Make

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Chronic pain comes in a wide variety of forms and the causes are many.  Recent studies show that nearly one third of us — more than 100 million Americans each year, suffer from back pain, joint pain, arthritis; neck and muscle pain, headache and other types of recurrent pain.

People who suffer from chronic pain often fall into a downward spiral of self-pity, depression, and inaction. They feel like they are being drowned in a whirlpool that saps all their strength. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Dr. Liza Leal, a physician in Houston, Texas is one of the nation’s leading experts on managing chronic pain. She has just published a new book titled Live Well with Chronic Pain.

“Most people who suffer from chronic pain,” she says, “learn very quickly that total reliance on pain killers is not the answer. Primary care, — a quick visit to the doctor followed by a course of readily available medications, is not usually enough to provide effective and long-lasting relief.”

“You are not powerless,” she says. “You must realize that you have a series of major choices to make and first and foremost is that YOU have to choose to live well.”

Dr. Leal believes that there are important things people can do physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially to manage their pain.

“You are the primary manager of your pain and your physician is your most knowledgeable ally,” she says. And once you realize the power of choice, you can start addressing the real facts and the many viable options that are available to you.”

Dr. Leal believes that knowledge is power. Her book describes the three tiered approach she refined over many years of clinical practice:

“Learning to live well means learning how to become a more effective pain manager. And that, in turn, involves learning more in three main areas:

Improve Your Knowledge of General Health Principles – Learning all you can about matters such as proper nutrition, nutritional supplements, exercise, sleep, and also—very important for good health—how to motivate yourself and keep a positive mental outlook.

Identify and Learn About Your Particular Condition – Sit down with your doctor and figure out whatever condition may be causing your chronic pain. Then learn all you can about how you can deal with that condition to alleviate the pain caused by that condition. Read, take seminars, do a ton of Internet research, talk with other people, join a support group – get out there and learn all you can.

Create Your Individual Action Plan – Now face the facts and create a plan that identifies a series of steps you can take every day. You might realize that you need to do something about your weight. You might want to start exercising or stretching every day. You might want to go on a reasonable diet and develop an exercise plan. Learn what factors affect your pain and what pain management methods work best for you.

Dr. Leal finds that the people who are most successful at reducing pain level do so after focusing on improving important bodily functions such as circulation and overall cardiovascular health, muscular strength, and mobility.

“These are the most important first steps,” she says. “You draw a line for yourself, and then learn effective techniques to keep you walking that line.”

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Dr. Liza Leal knows first-hand the devastation of chronic pain and that restoration IS possible

While in medical school she developed rheumatoid arthritis, causing her to be wheelchair bound, potentially derailing her medical career. Dr. Leal inspires while educating and motivating her patients and audiences to succeed in living as a thriver and not a survivor.

Dr. Liza Leal knows something about pain, both professionally and personally as a patient. Dr. Liza lives with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic, aching inflammation of the joints. Her personal experiences provide a unique perspective that strengthens her professional commitment to treat patients with compassion, understanding and education.

Leal began experiencing searing, persistent leg pain during her junior year of medical school. She completed medical school and began her residency—in a wheelchair. Today, Leal is out of the wheelchair—thanks to her unique comprehensive approach to pain management, which lead her to the understanding how opioid dependence is misunderstood by many in healthcare. Her passion is to bridge the education gap, evoke conversation between healthcare providers and pharmaceutical industry to help build long-term relationships through caring conversation.

Leal is the Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of Meridian Medical Dental Healthcare. As a family physician, Leal offers patients a comprehensive range of services of integrated medicine. She is well known for her development of training webinars and was featured in the Bronze Opus Award “On the Road to Joint Pain Relief” as the medical expert in the 30-minute infomercial. She has developed specialized training for sales representatives for pharmaceutical companies including Searle, Pfizer, Ligand, Organon and Cephalon. Currently she is the spokesperson for the international infomercials for Aloecure and Aloederma.

Leal earned a B.S. in Biology (Pre-Med) at the University of Dallas and a Medicare  degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center Medical School at Houston. She completed her post-graduate training at St. Joseph Family Practice in Houston and is certified by the American Academy of Pain Management. She also is certified to treat patients who suffer from substance abuse and addiction. Leal has sat on the faculty of the American Academy of Pain Management and the American Academy of Family Practice.

Her feature articles have appeared in Woman’s World magazine, Prevention magazine and on many other magazines and websites. She is a fierce promoter and living example of learning to live well with chronic pain.

She regularly gives presentations on arthritis and depression, understanding opioid dependence, nutrition in pain management, and arthritis in the bedroom. She has served as consulting correspondent for the UPN and Telemundo networks as well as national satellite tour with Eric Estrada for the “Attack Arthritis” campaign with Pfizer.

She lives in Sugarland, Texas.