Treating Chronic Pain From the Inside

Do you experience chronic pain? Do you get injury after injury? If you answered yes, it may be time to look inwards.

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Let's talk about inflammation.

Inflammation is not always a bad thing. It play an important role in the body’s immune response; it helps recruit the cells needed to fight off invaders. It is also responsible for the swelling you may experience after an acute injury. Swelling is important because it increases blood flow, which brings nutrients and cells to the injured area that are needed to begin the healing process.

The type of inflammation we want to avoid is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to chronic pain. It can also wear down your stress response and immune system, deplete nutrients, and increase your risk of chronic disease.

 

What's causing the inflammation? 

Undiagnosed food sensitivities.Gut health is extremely important for managing inflammation. The digestive tract is a selectively permeable barrier. This means it allows the entry of vital nutrients into the body and blocks entry of unwanted or harmful items. However, if this barrier gets damaged its selectivity is lost and unwanted items make their way into the bloodstream. These items can travel around the body and react with various structures like joints and muscle tissue causing more inflammation. The digestive barrier can be damaged by a number of things, but a common culprit is undiagnosed food sensitivities. It is important to test for and eliminate foods your body reacts to to reduce unnecessary inflammation.

 Stress.The body’s main stress hormone is cortisol. It’s release during acute stress is an adaptive response that can help us escape emergency situations. However, if you have chronic stress in your life your cortisol levels will increase beyond adaptive levels. These high cortisol levels can increase inflammation. This increased inflammation can cause pain, which can then increase stress levels even more. It is important to regulate cortisol so it doesn’t stay chronically elevated. Herbs, lifestyle counselling, and acupuncture can all help to improve cortisol levels. 

Underlying disease state.If you are experiencing other symptoms in addition to chronic pain they may be pointing to the cause of chronic inflammation. Disorders involving the thyroid gland or the cardiovascular, digestive, or reproductive systems (along with others) can produce inflammation which may cause pain elsewhere in the body.

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Ways to lower inflammation?

Lab testing.The best first step is to explore testing options. This will help to highlight areas that can be improved in your individual case. Areas that may be tested include food sensitivities, hormones (cortisol, female/male hormones), and inflammatory markers (CRP, ferritin).

Dietary modifications.There are certain foods that trigger inflammation in the body when consumed, and there are also foods that can help to reduce inflammation. It is important to eliminate pro-inflammatory and increase anti-inflammatory foods. Foods to avoid are fried foods, processed sugars, and omega-6 rich oils (sunflower, soybean, corn). Foods to increase are fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, nuts and seeds and omega-3 rich oils (olive, grapeseed, avocado). It is also important to reduce or eliminate any foods to which you are sensitive.

Enzymes.Bromelain (found in pineapple) and papain (found in papaya) are enzymes that can be used to reduce inflammation. These enzymes have been studied for use in chronic pain and inflammation because of their ability to breakdown proteins that cause inflammation and scar tissue.

Nutrients.There are TONS of nutrients that have been shown to effectively reduce inflammation. These include curcumin, boswellia, and omega-3 rich fish oils. A thorough health history will reveal more nutrients that can be targeted specific to your case.

 

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Lastly, it is important to consider influences in your physical environment that may be contributing to inflammation. These include lack of sleep and exposure to heavy metals and other toxins.

To learn more about tools that can be used in your specific case book a 15 minute complimentary consult.