A Woman in Pain Prepares to Talk With Women in Pain

A Woman in Pain Prepares to Talk With Women in Pain

By Ed Coghlan

If Susan Nyanzi DrPH speaks to you about chronic illness, you might take the time to listen.

This Ugandan-born British-educated chronic disease management specialist has lived the life of a patient long before she turned to trying to help.

She was diagnosed with Scleroderma when she was 7, developed fibromyalgia from an auto accident and suffers from Celiac disease.

So when she brings her message to the 9th annual Women in Pain Conference in Los Angeles on Friday (September 23), she’s brings literally a lifetime of experience.

She is a critic of the medical model which says is “absolutely broken for the chronic pain patient.

“The model is designed to treat acute issues,” she said. “We should be concentrating on keeping people as healthy as possible but we don’t see them until they are sick.”

Dr. Nyanzi will tell the women (and some men) who are attending the conference that what you eat, how you move and exercise and the importance of interacting with people can go a long way to managing chronic pain.
“We have to get out of the habit of using the pain to define us as individuals,” she said. “Medication along is not going to get rid of the pain, nor is sitting at home and not moving. Actually, it can make things worse.”

That’s why she likes conferences like Friday’s Women in Pain Conference. By going to groups she believes you can learn tricks that work for other people which you can try yourself in managing the chronic pain.

“By noon on Friday, the mood in the room will change,” she said. “People will be laughing, interacting and making new friends. The social support often helps people know they aren’t alone.”

(By the way, if you can’t attend the conference, you can view it online. Register here)

Starting with the diet, her advice is elemental. Cut out of processed foods, eat organically and listen to your body.
“I had a patient who has rheumatoid arthritis. She concentrated on organic foods and was feeling much better. She and her husband celebrated with a fast food meal and she relapsed,” she remembered.”You are what you eat.”

She’s a huge believer in exercise. If you are moving around, you’ll start to feel better.

“I tell my clients by incorporating the lifestyle component of eating better and exercising more, you will actually reduce the amount of medication you take.”

For exercise–especially if you haven’t been doing much of it, she recommends you “start slowly and create a routine.”

Take a hot bath or shower and then stretch your muscles and top it off with a 15 minute walk.

“It rejuvenates you and then little by little you increase the length and intensity. The important thing is to start.”
Her message is clear. Be more self reliant about managing your pain.

The Women in Pain Conference is sponsored by For Grace, a Los Angeles-based non-profit that is devoted to the issue of women in pain. Women suffer from chronic pain much more than men.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 11 comments for this article
  1. Jeanne at 5:24 am

    I have chronic pain issues/illness and was very interested in the webinar that you had last week. I was very disappointed as I stated before that I didn’t know about it until it was over and had to miss it. I don’t think that this conference will be beneficial to me because it will be dealing with different disorders/issues. I’m very interested to see the other webinar if you will be reposting it because I think that it will be very beneficial towards my conditions. Please let me know if you decide to do and thank you so much.

  2. Susan Nyanzi at 8:09 pm

    Hello Jeanne,
    The recording has been uploaded on the For Grace website. The conference was really good interactive, emotional and soothing. I’m sure you will be able to see that in the video. Just to add, group of us patients (okay another group 🙂 – there are so many of us) are putting a symposium. Its put on by patients with autoimmune conditions for patients with autoimmune conditions. its called The Patient to Patient Experience Symposium. it on Nov 18th – 20th here in LA with the focus on lifestyle and learning from others on how to manage our conditions. We currently have a special for patients for $150 a 2 night hotel stay is covered, meals during the conference are covered and attendance to the conference is covered.. If you are interested here is the link to our website:http://www.patienttopatientexperiencesymposium.com/ We are also on FB The patient to patient experience symposium. Hope that helps!!

  3. Jeanne at 8:01 pm

    I was unable to register or view the Conference today. Unfortunately I’m very disappointed that I couldn’t view it today because the Conference sounded as though it was full of a lot of informative, supportive and helpful information for women suffering from chronic pain/fatigue illnesses. Can you tell me if they will be replaying this webinar for the women who were not fortunate enough to attend the Conference or view the first webinar? Or will the recording be able to be purchased on a DVD. Can you please notify me about my questions with an anwer in my e-mail at jformanski@comcast.net.Thank you for your time and response.

  4. Juliette Glover at 4:53 am

    Did anyone watch the documentary on bbc2 last night ” the doctor without drugs ” ?? He worked with a lady who was on multiple opioids for chronic pain and he sent her to a Kung fu chronic pain specialist.
    It was truly amazing and worth a watch. She was medication free at the end of the programme and moving freely.

    Please DR Chris – can I have a consultation with you ??

  5. Alison Veig at 12:54 pm

    I was diagnosed with fibro when I was 30. I am now 61. I have had chronic pain most of my life. My mom died of scleraderma at 68. I have antibodies 4 it, lupus, on and on. Thank u 4 your help. I am detoxing off of fentanyl, which my old dr. had me on. I coyldn’t get out of bed I was always so tired. For years I kept lieing to myself saying I will get up tomorrow. Thanks again

  6. JoDawn at 12:47 pm

    I’ve noticed that if I push myself to go walk the pup just a few blocks (about 15 min, actually!) that I do feel better!
    We all have to count our spoons, but I think we also need to make our spoons count for us!

  7. Maureen at 6:53 am

    Kudos to Dr. Nyanzi! I will be listening to the webcast! Thank you for the advice and encouragement you give to us all!

  8. HJ at 5:03 am

    Will the webcast be archived for viewers who can’t watch? I’ll be at work. Please let us know. Thank you!