Barby Ingle – Elderly Need Different Pain Solutions

by | Aug 27, 2020

Barby Ingle is a bestselling author, reality television personality, and President of the International Pain Foundation.

Ingle has been battling chronic pain since 1997 and is a fierce advocate for anyone challenged with conditions that involve chronic pain, as well as their families, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and the public.

Ingle was a professional cheerleading/dance coach when an automobile accident changed her life.  She developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a progressive neuro-autoimmune condition affecting multiple body systems, and lost her physical abilities, requiring a wheelchair to get out of bed.  Her experience, which included visits to more than 100 healthcare professionals, unnecessary surgeries, and multiple complications inspired Ingle to become the “Chief of Staff” of her own medical team.  Ingle shares what she learned to help others avoid the struggles she went through.

Ingle has received more than 19 awards and commendations for her advocacy work including being named a Health Information Technology Top 100 Influencer by HealthScene is 2017, and a Top 20 Health Influencer by Insider Monkey Magazine. She uses her blog, reality shows and media appearances as a platform for advocacy and speaks at healthcare conferences across the country.

Today, she has brought her expertise on advocating for the elderly who face chronic pain to the High-Tech Wellness podcast.

Highlights include:

3:40 Pain is Not a Normal Part of Aging

12:07 International Pain Foundation Resources

15:45 The Brain and Pain

26:55 The Importance of Building a Medical Team

37:42 The Importance of Building a Medical Team

Ingle will offer these insights:

Pain is Not a Normal Part of Aging

Too often, older people are told to expect pain as they get older, and the root causes are never identified.  Pain can come from anywhere, but there are common ailments in older people, such as osteoporosis and arthritis, that come from a lifetime of stress and strain.

“The secondary challenges that they face because of these conditions are what cause the pain to set in.”

The source of the pain should be explored more thoroughly, Ingle says, so solutions can be found.

“No, pain is not something you should just expect…there’s something underlying that’s causing that.”

Ingle wants people to understand that pain can be controlled, but it often takes multiple strategies to find true relief.

“You have to find a combination of treatment options that will work for you, and it’s going to be different for each person.”

International Pain Foundation Resources

As president of the International Pain Foundation, Ingle has spent countless hours on education, building awareness, and helping patients of all ages access care.

“One of the goals for 2019 that we had was to work more with the elderly population to get them to understand that there are tips, tools and resources out there for them…”

The website offers resources on 150 conditions that involve chronic pain, awareness projects and a magazine, among other things.

The Brain and Pain

The brain and pain are intricately connected.  Ingle discusses the impact of aging on the brain, and how that can alter the perception of pain.

“…our life experiences throughout our life alter what our perception of pain is.”

With chronic conditions, neuroinflammation builds up in the spine and the brain.  This causes the glia, cells that act as the connective tissue of the nervous system, to fire continually.  When this happens, brain fog develops.

“It’s like kinking a hose. If there’s a kink in a water hose, you’re not going to get the proper message.”

These misfires can also cause anxiety and depression. It takes practice to stay positive, Ingle says.

 “You have to use a variety of tools and techniques so that you can help calm that down so that you can pay attention, remember better, get through waiting to die because my doctor said that I had no options.”

The Importance of Building a Medical Team

Too often, specialists operate in silos, missing crucial information that could make a difference.  Having a team that communicates regularly is the key to effectively managing pain.

“You absolutely need a team. You cannot do it by yourself, but you need to be the leader of your team.”

Often, the elderly are at odds with those trying to help, or they give up on viable treatments when insurance won’t cover it.  Learning to communicate – and ensuring that the entire team is communicating effectively – is important.  Often, this means choosing one medical professional to coordinate the care.

Having an advocate such as a friend, neighbor, spouse or child creates an objective lens and helps older patients have a voice.

“You really want to have that, especially if you’re having trouble with your short-term memory…You want to have that support that can back you up.”

A Comprehensive Approach to Managing Pain

Pain medication is often the first solution for conventional medicine, and though it can certainly help, medication can also be the source of other problems.  That’s why looking at alternative options is important.

“Don’t just rely on medication, use other modalities to help lower the pain levels.”

A comprehensive approach to pain management is best, especially if many specialists gather under one roof for easier coordination.

 “…they have a plan and everybody’s in the same electronic record system now and they can all see what each other are doing. That’s when you get the best care.”


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