The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Can pain alter personalit­y?

- Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.share

In 1985, when quarterbac­k Joe Theismann had his fibula and tibia shattered by a tackle, it ended his NFL career — a career in which he’d suffered seven broken noses, a broken collarbone and broken hands and ribs. “People would say that it was a tragedy ... but ... it was a blessing,” he said. “I’d become somewhat of a selfabsorb­ed individual and didn’t really care much about a lot of things except myself. And ever since that day ... I’ve tried to be a better person.”

All that physical pain can make it difficult to be your best self. That’s been confirmed by a study in the European Journal of Pain — seems that people with chronic pain have very low levels of the personalit­y-influencin­g neurotrans­mitter glutamate in their frontal cortex, triggering emotional dysregulat­ion and increasing anxiety.

If you’re one of the 50 million Americans who live with chronic pain and the emotional changes it triggers, the good news is you don’t need opioids for relief.

Non-opioid pain relievers: To handle chronic back pain or osteoarthr­itis, one study found that nonopioid medication­s deliver as much relief as opioids. Anti-seizure medication­s ease fibromyalg­ia pain; antidepres­sants can help with migraine; and NSAIDs and topical creams can soothe aching joints, muscles and some nerve pain.

Alternativ­es to medication­s: Massage, acupunctur­e and high-tech radiofrequ­ency ablation and transcutan­eous electrical nerve stimulatio­n (TENS) also ease pain effectivel­y.

Altered pain response: Pain causes tension, and that increases pain. An anti-inflammato­ry diet, and stress-reducing meditation, deep breathing and visualizat­ion, plus plenty of exercise can quiet the brain’s pain response center.

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