Tag Archives: treatment

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Brain Injury Awareness Month

It’s Brain Injury Awareness Month, and every 9 seconds, someone sustains a brain injury. Learn more about brain injuries.

Brain Injuries


Acquired brain injuries (ABIs) are ones that aren’t hereditary or from a degenerative disease. These can be caused by infection, electric shocks, nearly drowning, stroke, seizures, tumors, substance abuse, and overdose. 

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are from a trauma to the brain, and every day, 137 people die of TBI-related injuries. At least 5.3 million Americans live with a TBI-related disability.

Traumatic Brain Injuries


Opioid addictions and overdoses can cause permanent brain injuries and disabilities.

Opioids and Brain Injuries


Strokes are brain injuries that can permanently alter your life. Learn more about preventing strokes.

Preventing Strokes


Concussions are brain injuries, and without treatment, they can cause serious problems. But a better way to detect them might be on the way.

Concussions' Effects on the Brain


More than 13,000 service members and veterans are diagnosed with TBIs, and knowing the signs is key to getting help.

Military and Vet Brain Injuries

Children's Mental Health Week

Children’s Mental Health Week

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week. Sometimes kids are just being kids, and sometimes they can have real mental health concerns, and getting help can improve their quality of life.

Self-esteem is an important part of kids’ long-term mental health. These are some simple ways to boost your child’s self-esteem.

Boosting Your Children's Self-Esteem


If children worry excessively to the point that they’re restless and have trouble concentrating or sleeping and it interferes in their day-to-day life, they may have an anxiety disorder.

Worrying Too Much As a Child


Children might have ADHD if they frequently lose things, have trouble paying attention, are forgetful, and have trouble holding still.

ADHD Signs and Symptoms


If your child swings from highs that include excessive energy, risky behavior, and a feeling that nothing can go wrong to lows that include constant sadness and low energy, they may have bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder in Children


Depression includes feelings of sadness and hopelessness that last longer and go above normal feelings of sadness. If your child has it, there are treatments to help.

Fighting Depression as a Child


Your child might have obsessive compulsive disorder if they’re overly afraid of germs and things being disorderly or if they have to double-check things over and over.

OCD in Kids


If your child is having delusions, it can be very scary for you and for them. Learn more.

Types of Providers

Types of Providers

If you have complicated health issues or your doctor has called another doctor an industry term you’ve never heard before, you may be left wondering what all these health care names really mean. We can help you make sense of the different types of providers.

Your Doctors

Primary Care Provider (PCP)

A primary care provider, or PCP, is your main doctor. It’s who you visit for routine checkups, preventive care, and general health problems. Each person in your family can have a PCP, or you can all see the same one.

If you’re on an HMO or POS plan, you have to choose an in-network PCP who will oversee your care and refer you to specialists. If you’re on a PPO plan, you don’t have to choose a PCP to get referrals, but you can to get personalized care and savings.

And if you’re a woman, you can set a doctor as your PCP or choose another in-network doctor, like an OB-GYN, to oversee free preventive care, your yearly well-woman visit, or a pregnancy.

Setting and changing your PCP is easy. Just log in to Your Health Alliance to update your PCP.


A specialist is a doctor who provides health care services for a specific disease or part of the body, like dermatologists, who focus on skin care.

Usually, you’ll be referred to a specialist when your personal doctor wants you to check on specific issues or problems. You’ll also be sent to a specialist when you’re diagnosed with something serious, like a heart condition or cancer, or if you find out you’re pregnant. 


A surgeon is a doctor who is qualified to perform surgery, and they have their own specialties. If you have a heart attack and need surgery, your surgeon will be an expert in heart surgery.

If you’re sent to the ER because of an emergency or diagnosed with a condition or disease, you might be sent into surgery. But if you need a minor procedure, like having your wisdom teeth out, you’re seeing a surgeon too. 


A hospitalist is a dedicated, in-patient doctor who works only in a hospital or network of hospitals. If you’re taken to the hospital in an emergency or accident, you might be treated by a hospitalist.

Help with Your Care

Care Coordinator

Care coordinators help you figure out your health care in lots of ways, especially after a hospital stay, diagnosis, or if you have a chronic or complex condition.

They can help provide you with resources, educational materials, and self-care techniques, help you understand your doctor’s instructions, connect you to resources in your community, and help you plan for the future.

Health Coach

Health coaches can help you or your family plan for better health. Our health coaches can help you get the best care possible from your healthcare team and get the most from your coverage.

They’ll partner with you to help in areas like nutrition, weight and stress management, and preventive screenings and immunizations.

Nurse Navigators

You might get help handling your care from a nurse navigator when you’re discharged from the hospital if you get a serious diagnosis. For example, a cardiac nurse navigator will help patients with a primary diagnosis of heart failure or myocardial infarction.

They will usually start the process by visiting you before you leave the hospital, then they’ll stay in-touch to walk you through the first 30 days after discharge. 

Nurse navigators can help you organize your appointments, connect you to education on your diagnosis, medications, exercise, diet, therapies, and when to call the doctor. And they might host support groups that can help people like you.

Other Kinds of Care

Home Health Care

Home health care is medical care, treatment, or skilled care you can get in your home. You doctor might recommend this in situations where care in your own home will be easier for your case and condition.

Skilled Nursing Facility

You doctor might order medical care that must be given or supervised by a licensed health care professional in a skilled nursing facility. This type of care could include:

  • X-rays and other radiology services
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
  • Storage and administration of blood
  • Use of appliances, like wheelchairs
  • Meals, including special diets
  • A semiprivate room or private room if medically necessary

Hospice Care

Hospice care is special care for people who are terminally ill, including medical and physical care and help with social, emotional, and spiritual needs. It also provides support for family and caregivers.

Other Help


Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who practice pharmacy, which focuses on safe and effective medication use. You might not think about your pharmacist’s skillset when you pick up your drugs at the pharmacy, but they’re trained to know how drugs work.

They know which drugs can interact to protect you from dangerous drug combinations, they can explain the side effects of your drug to you, and they make sure you’re getting the right dosage of your drugs on the right schedule.

Social Worker

Social workers are there to help you with social problems that can affect your quality of life and health care. They can help you and connect you to resources for domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse and neglect, housing and food insecurity, home-delivered meals, substance abuse, mental health issues, advance directives, and more.

Other Providers

Medical Director

A medical director is a leader who recruits and manages doctors, nurses, and other personnel. They also examine and coordinate processes within their organizations to improve and guarantee the medical quality of the facility. 


If you need to find covered providers, use our Find a Doctor or Hospital tool to search for covered doctors, hospitals, and more.

Pregnancy Health Problems

Pregnancy Health Problems

If you have a preexisiting health problem or develop a new one during your pregnancy, you may need more care. Pregnancy health problems that can occur include:

Blood Pressure Related Conditions

While your blood pressure is always an important part of your overall health, when you’re pregnant, it becomes even more important to monitor it. High blood pressure can constrict the blood vessels in your uterus that supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

Chronic Hypertension

This is high blood pressure before you become pregnant. If you have it, it won’t go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Your doctor may prescribe medication or liestyle changes. If you’re already on hypertension meds, talk to your doctor before trying to conceive. ACE inhibitors, a common kind of blood pressure meds, can be bad for your baby.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH)

Some women develop high blood pressure about 20 weeks into their pregnancy. PIH will usually go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

PIH can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.


This is high blood pressure and protein in your urine that usually develops after 30 weeks. 25% of women who have PIH develop this too.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Preeclampsia can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

HELLP syndrome

This is a variation of preeclampsia that’s diagnosed by blood tests. It stands for the conditions you develop:

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Low platelets

Most women with HELLP have high blood pressure, and other symptoms include fatigue, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and swelling.

The only treatment is to deliver your baby. HELLP is very serious and requires care from a doctor.

Gestational Diabetes

Even if you don’t have diabetes before you get pregnant, you can develop gestational diabetes. It will go away after you have your baby, but during your pregnancy, you may be required to follow a special diet, exercise, or take insulin.

Environmental Risk

Certain substances can be harmful to your baby, raising the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Chemicals to avoid include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Lead in water or paint
  • Some cleaners
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury in tuna and other fish
  • Cat litter boxes

Talk to your doctor about how to avoid these chemicals and what to do if you come in contact with any of them.

Chicken Pox

While most women are immune if they’ve had chicken pox or the vaccine before, it can be dangerous if you catch it while pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you come in contact with someone who has it or if you believe you have it.


You can pass HIV/AIDS to your baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery if you already have it. You can take meds to protect your baby during your pregnancy, just talk to your doctor about it.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

If you have an STI, it can cause your baby to be born blind, deaf, or even stillborn. Medication can usually help protect your baby during pregnancy and delivery. Tell your doctor right away if you have an STI or develop one while you are pregnant.

Understand AIDS

Understand AIDS

In honor of World AIDS day this month, we want to help raise awareness about HIV and help you understand AIDS.

HIV is an infection transmitted between people by bodily fluids like blood. People can have flu-like symptoms 2 to 4 weeks after becoming infected.

Lifecycle of HIV


HIV multiplies in your system, and without HIV treatment, it usually advances to AIDS in 10 years or longer, when the immune system is severely damaged.

AIDS Progression


Women with HIV can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth, but your doctor can help you prevent this with medicine, C-sections, and formula.

Preventing Transmission to Your Baby


If you’re HIV positive, make sure you know how to prevent transmission to protect your loved ones and partners.

Protecting Your Loved Ones from HIV


Talk to your doctor, get tested regularly, and know how to prevent HIV infection and protect yourself now.

Protecting Yourself from AIDS


If you’ve just been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, what can you expect? Know what tests and treatments come next.

What's Next After an HIV Diagnosis?


Understand how your care team, including case managers, can help you manage HIV/AIDS, and learn more about living with HIV/AIDS.

Your HIV/AIDS Care Team

Chronic Back Pain

My Healthy Journey: Chronic Back Pain

The Opioid Epidemic and Chronic Back Pain

Over the last year, the leading news story in health care has been the opioid epidemic. And chronic pain, particularly chronic back pain, has been at the top of the list of reasons why people use opioids long term. 

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks, and for many, it’s pain that can last the rest of their lives. Chronic pain can happen because of a genetic problem or disorder or an injury or accident. Many people who survive serious car accidents or workplace accidents deal with chronic pain for the rest of their lives. 

And back injuries are a leading cause of chronic pain. Business Insider took a look at a study that dug into the relationship between chronic back pain and opioid use disorder:

Amino - Chronic Back Pain and Opioid Use Disorder

Having back surgery increases your chances of relying on opioids to manage pain by over 7 times! Other back problems raise your chances by over 2 times. 

Obviously, these are also people who are likely to get long-term opioid prescriptions from their doctors.

How Doctors Treat Chronic Pain

For decades, the standard for doctors has been to treat this kind of ongoing pain with opioids. Now, with opioid drug overdoses skyrocketing, doctors are making changes.

Early estimates show that opioids took 53,000 American lives in 2016, more than those killed in car accidents.

Opioids don’t just turn off your pain receptors. They also let your brain release more dopamine, which can help relieve stress and anxiety and make you happier.

But when you take an opioid permanently, you can build a tolerance to it, which means you need more and more to manage your pain and to feel good. Both the pain relief for chronic sufferers and the way it makes you feel can become addictive.

Not to mention, opioids can change how often certain neurons in your brain fire, which means that when you’re not on opioids, you actually get more anxious and unhappy until you take more, causing serious withdrawals. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised their guidelines to help doctors try other treatments first, and doctors are hard at work to find new ways to treat pain.

Waiting for Chronic Back Pain

So why is this part of my healthy journey? I have my own chronic back pain.

I’m lucky. I’ve never taken opioids for my back pain, so I’ve avoided those issues, but I do understand what it’s like to live with pain as a part of your daily life and why people would be willing to take opioids to stop it.

My father has had a slipped disc in his back my entire life. I’ve always known what back pain looks like. I also always thought it might happen to me. Not only can these issues be hereditary, but I also take after my father physically.

Combine that with the slouch of someone who hated always being the tallest in her class as a child and now sits in front of a computer all day, and I always suspected that back problems were coming for me.

My Chronic Back Pain

The pain started for me in college, when I was no longer playing sports or working out in P.E. every day. One year, I chose to live in the loop in Chicago instead of by my campus, so as part of my daily commute, I walked about an hour and a half. That was when I really started to throw out my back once in a while.

But it wasn’t until I worked at Starbucks after college that I really started to have serious problems regularly. Being on my feet all day and bending up and down with milk jugs all the time really started to take a toll on my back.

I’ll get building back pain on one side of my lower back. It can switch sides, and one side is usually worse than the other. And when it fully goes out, my knee on that side can sometimes buckle, which if I’m not ready for it, can actually knock me down. And sometimes it’s so bad that getting out of bed, getting up and down, or just falling asleep, is a challenge. 

Getting Help

I’ve always known this pain might hit me one day, and when it started, I talked to my dad a lot about what was going on. My symptoms match his exactly.

Since I knew what the issue was from my father’s medical history, I wasn’t really worried about getting an official diagnosis.

I also already knew that I didn’t want to take opioids or painkillers long term. I’m one of those people who rarely takes even Tylenol. And when I had serious opioids after I had my wisdom teeth removed, they made me feel disoriented and nauseous.

My older brother had a serious workplace injury when I was in high school. He broke his pelvis and some of his spine. He’d seen a chiropractor, among many other specialists, when he was recovering, and he still sees one sometimes to cope with his own chronic pain.

I decided to explore that as a treatment option instead. My new chiropractor ran some X-rays and told me that my pelvis is tilted, which lets my disc slip back and forth instead of holding it in place. 

Through a series of adjustments, he worked to bring my pelvis back in line, and brought me some real relief. 

Unfortunately, I’ve done some state-hopping since then, and while I’m still in better shape than I used to be, I haven’t had time to find a new chiropractor yet. 

Starting to Deal with Your Pain

So what can you do to tackle your chronic pain? 

  1. First and foremost, go see your doctor, especially if you’ve been injured or don’t have a family history of back issues. You might need surgery or other serious help.

  2. Consider your treatment options. Surgery can be an option for many chronic back problems, but it has costs. It’s expensive and can cause its own set of pain problems. Opioids are highly addictive. Talk to your doctor about other options, like chiropractic treatment or acupuncture.

  3. Talk to your insurance company. Insurance companies want to stop the opioid epidemic too, and more plans are covering alternative therapies like chiropractic visits than ever before.

  4. Talk to your employer. If you have insurance through your employer, talk to them about making sure other therapies are covered on your group plan.

  5. Work with your care team on a treatment plan to cope with and manage your pain.

Learning to Manage Pain

So how do I manage my chronic back pain without drugs?

  • Set expectations. Knowing I would probably grow up to develop chronic back pain means I’ve always been ready for it. Accepting that pain will be a part of my life helps me feel in control.

  • Find a treatment that helps. For me, this has been regular chiropractic adjustments that help relieve tension and keep my disc in place. 

  • Get massages. I get the occasional massage to help relieve tension in the muscles in my back too. Many people with back pain get regular massages and swear by them.

  • Exercise and eat right. Even just a few extra pounds can put enormous stress on your spine if you already have back problems. And exercise can strengthen the muscles in your back. Focus on low-impact activities and strengthen your core if you’re already in pain.

    And choose your cardio wisely. Running outdoors or on inclines can be really hard on your back and pelvis. Try running on a treadmill, walking, or biking instead.

  • Try yoga, pilates, or tai chi. Yes, these are technically forms of exercise, but they’re more than that too. A new study found that yoga can actually help relieve back pain itself, but recommends gentle poses. And the routine they used is free online. I find it highly relaxing and a nice way to stretch and wind down, and you can do it as often as you want.

  • Get plenty of sleep. You’d be surprised how sleep affects other parts of your life. When I’m sleep deprived, my back is much more likely to go out. And since I struggle to sleep once my back’s out, it makes for a long sleepless week in that situation.

  • Try little treatments and tricks. I ice my back and use heating pads. I also take over-the-counter pain meds before bed if my back feels like it will go out during the night. If my back’s already out, lying on the floor (if I have someone handy to help me get up later) can help. Putting a pillow between my knees can also help while I’m trying to fall asleep.

  • Meditate. Meditation can help you clear your mind and refocus, and mindfulness can be surprisingly helpful in overcoming pain. There are easy apps you can try to get started too.

  • Talk to someone or journal. Chronic pain can be emotional. You hurt. You can’t escape it, and it can feel hopeless. Talk to a close loved one, journal about what’s happening, or visit a therapist. It can help you blow off steam, lighten your mental load, feel heard, and document your pain’s progression.

  • Practice self-care. Stress and tension can tighten up everything in your back. Find ways to reduce and fight stress in your life. And find little pleasures that you can focus on each day, like your favorite coffee, trading back rubs with your significant other, or cuddling your pet.

Most importantly, get help when you need it. Never let your pain push you so far that you can’t handle it or you fall into depression. Talk to your doctor to keep your mind and body healthy, even in the face of chronic pain.

Blindness Awareness Month

Blindness Awareness Month

It’s Blindness Awareness Month, and blindness affects more people than most realize.

Worldwide, over 285 million people are visually impaired, and over 39 million of those people are completely blind.

The Rate of Blindness


10 million Americans have retinal diseases, which affect the tissue at the back of your eye. They can get worse over time.

Retinal Diseases


Some people lose peripheral and night vision without losing their central vision. It depends on how retinal diseases affect them.

Losing Types of Vision


Retinal diseases include macular degeneration. Many people go blind over time with macular degeneration.

Symptoms of retinal diseases include seeing flecks, blurred vision, poor side vision, or vision lost.

Retinal Disease Symptoms


If you’re worried you’re suffering from a retinal disease, your eye doctor can run some tests and talk to you about treatment options.

Tests for Retinal Diseases


There are ways to take it easy on your eyes, like having your glasses prescription updated and choosing appliances made for low vision.

Making It Easy for Your Eyes