Treatment Of Chronic Pain
People should seek help from their doctor if their pain has lasted for more than 12 weeks or if the injury/illness that caused the pain has healed, but the pain is still present and persistent.
Chronic pain is complex and as a result, there is no ‘one size fits all’ way of treating it. However, over time the volume of the pain can be turned down, and even turned off.
Chronic pain can be successfully managed using a combination of things such as:
2. diet & nutrition
3. structural issues
4. lifestyle changes
5. underlying diseases
6. toxin exposure
7. mind-body connection (psychological & social factors)
NSAIDs are not habit forming, and fine for occasional headache, but everyday use can lead to leaky gut, which can exacerbate autoimmunity.
OPIOIDS include morphine, codeine, and other codeine related drugs such as oxycodone, and tramadol.
Codeine is routinely converted to morphine in the body in order for it to be an effective painkiller. Many people are unaware of this fact and most would be reluctant to take codeine if they knew.
The metabolism of codeine to morphine takes place in the liver through the actions of an enzyme called CYP2D6. Most people have normal CYP2D6 activity and their response to codeine is as expected. However, a substantial minority of people have CYP2D6 activity that is higher or lower than normal, potentially resulting in dangerously excessive (higher activity) or inadequate (lower activity) response to codeine.
While opioids do reduce suffering, they can be addictive and produce side effects. In addition, they often fail to eliminate the true cause of the pain.
No matter how well you prescribe medication, chronic sufferers don’t get complete relief. It’s an enormous problem, and the medical community is doing a bad job solving it.
MAGNESIUM deficiency is very popular and affects around 80% of the population, usually due to poor diet (such as insufficient vegetables, excess sugar, excess phytic acid from grains) or poor digestive absorption due to leaky gut.
Magnesium is used for so many different functions, but it is particularly beneficial for fibromyalgia pain, nerve pain, and painful conditions involving muscle spasm or cramps (e.g. menstrual pain).
It has also been linked to tension or migraine headaches because of its importance in balancing neurotransmitters in the body. Taking 300mg of magnesium twice daily reduces the frequency of migraines.
Magnesium can be obtained from the diet (particularly green leafy vegetables) or from supplementation.
The top 10 foods high in magnesium are:
- Silverbeet or chard
- Pumpkin seeds
- Yoghurt or kefir
- Black beans
- Dark chocolate
SESAME OIL is rancid-resistant and is especially high in copper, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and more. Copper is a mineral that is important for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant enzyme systems. It is known for reducing pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Additionally, this mineral helps provide strength to blood vessels, bones, and joints.
Sesame oil massaged onto affected joints and swollen areas, helps to reduce pain while making the joints and bone stronger. It does so very quickly too, within 15-30 minutes usually. So stock up with this ancient condiment as an effective alternative to NSAIDs, but much safer.
OTHER NATURAL OPTIONS include:
– glucosamine, MSM
– ginger, turmeric, holy basil
– devil’s claw
– omega 3 fatty acids e.g. fish oil. krill oil
– willow bark
– essential oils e.g. frankincense (contains boswellia), lavender, peppermint, wintergreen (contains methyl salicylate), oregano
– arnica, comfrey
2. DIET & NUTRITION
Diet interventions can be the biggest difference in reducing pain and inflammation in patients suffering from chronic pain or other inflammation-mediated disorders.
Leaky gut and other gut problems are inflammatory. Going grain free would be one of the very first recommendations for people who experience pain. Dairy free can make a tremendous difference too. Add in fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, herbs, and tea, but go easy on nuts, seeds, and other Omega-6 fats.
The gut affects the brain and the relationship between serotonin, food, and the gut is extremely complicated. Maintaining good gut health maintains healthy brain function and as a result, healthy pain perception.
Certain foods ease aches by fighting inflammation, blocking pain signals, and even healing underlying disease. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet often eliminates the unpleasant side effects of some medications that cause fogginess, memory loss and sleepiness.
In contrast, poor food choices and elevated adipose tissue (body fat) are likely to activate the immune system and increase inflammation and pain.
A variety of foods may have anti-inflammatory effects via their direct action on cells in the immune system and on the subsequent release of inflammatory cytokines.
Such foods include:
– green leafy vegetables
– bok choy
– red grapes
– omega 3 fats (fish oil, salmon, walnuts, chia and flax seeds)
– vitamin D (eggs, oily fish, mushrooms)
– vitamin E (almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, fish and shellfish)
– bone broth
– coconut oil
– turmeric, ginger
– fermented foods
– proteolytic enzymes (or protease)
– antioxidants (e.g. selenium – brazil nuts; zinc – seafood)
– green tea
3. STRUCTURAL ISSUES
Options such as remedial massage, manipulation therapy (chiropractic care, osteopathy, physiotherapy), Bowen therapy, and acupuncture can be very helpful in speeding up recovery from an injury.
It is vital also to address posture issues, mobility problems, old repetitive stress injuries, or whatever other mechanical or movement issues might be behind the pain.
4. LIFESTYLE CHANGES
It’s so important to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. That means getting enough sleep every night, regular but moderate exercise, and effective stress management.
Getting enough restorative sleep is critical to managing pain and promoting healing, so it’s important to employ a variety of sleep aids to help achieve a healthy amount of sleep.
Visualization, meditation, and other psychological techniques can also help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
Any activity that gets your blood pumping for a sustained period will release pain-relieving endorphins into your system. Endorphins are the natural pain relievers produced by your body. They work by binding to the opioid receptors in your brain to block the perception of pain, similar to opioid pain medications, but without the side effects. Along with reducing pain, these natural hormones produce profound feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
Regular exercise that physically exhausts the body also helps promote deep sleep.
Pick an exercise that is tolerable (e.g. gentle walking) and remember to seek guidance from a the right type of health professional, such as a physical therapist.
Meditating twice daily has enormous benefits. Start with a few minutes, and gradually lengthen to thirty minutes. You will find yourself refreshed and reinvigorated, with less pain overall.
Not everyone who has chronic pain has an autoimmune disorder or vice versa. But, autoimmune disorders are exactly the kind of disease that screams “chronic pain that nobody can seem to figure out or give you a diagnosis for”, and diets such as Paleo and Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) may be helpful.
6. TOXIN EXPOSURE
Environmental toxicity from our air, water, food pollutants and toxic metals like mercury and lead all contribute to inflammation and immune dysregulation, both contributors to chronic pain. Hence, it is vital to eliminate as many toxins as possible in order to be pain free.
7. MIND-BODY CONNECTION (psychological & social factors)
Sometimes pain just wants to “get our attention” and shows up in certain parts of the body associated with emotional blockages. For instance, pain in the lower back is often associated with lack of support, stress (in particular financial fears/worries), feeling overwhelmed and stuck. This pain will need some “attention” and “understanding” before the pain will clear. In doing this, a person can heal from “dis-ease”.
For further clarification, have a read of my favourite two books:
- The Secret Language of Your Body – by Inna Segal
- You Can Heal Your Life – by Louisa Hay
Overworking can lead to adrenal fatigue, which is very common nowadays. There is strong social pressure for many to over achieve, or to sacrifice themself for the sake of a family member, a job or an ideal. Cortisol levels rise during chronic stress, leading to inflammation. Mild exercise, plenty of rest, a healthy diet, and relevant lifestyle changes will be needed to reduce pain associated with stress.