By Payson Flattery
Chronic pain can range from a moderate annoyance to a major life disruption. Sometimes we brush it off thinking it will go away on it’s own. Other times we might be wary of discovering something more serious or alarming. The thought of possible surgery and a prolonged recovery can also cause us to avoid seeking treatment because we don’t want to give up the activities that keep us physically active and emotionally healthy. If you or someone you care about suffers from chronic pain, here are five important things to consider:
1. Don’t stop searching for an answer
If you’ve been told by a medical provider “we’ve tried everything and there’s nothing more to do”, it’s time to get another opinion. Often times, when chronic pain is hard to manage, medication is offered as the only option. The truth is, there are alternatives beyond chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, medication, steroids and surgery. If you suffer from ligament, joint and tendon pain or osteoarthritis, you might explore Prolotherapy, a form of non-surgical regenerative medicine that uses injections to stimulate healing of weak or damaged connective tissue. These regenerative injections create a controlled inflammation that stimulates the body’s natural healing mechanisms to create new strengthened tissue. There are also oral or in some cases IV nutrient therapies to help prevent and reduce inflammation that causes chronic pain.
2. Understand how you process pain
The mind is a powerful thing and often times, the way you think affects the way you feel. Most of us have experienced different levels of pain, but each of us processes them differently. Current medical research is uncovering significant benefits to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to support the treatment of chronic pain. CBT can be very effective in helping you reframe the way your brain processes pain.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of diet & exercise
Your lifestyle choices can have a profound effect on the physiology and biochemistry driving, or even perpetuating, your chronic pain. Some foods and food additives can dramatically increase inflammation. For example, gluten, sugar, Omega-6 fatty acids, trans fatty acids, dairy, red meat, processed meat and alcohol can all interfere with pain management and even increase pain symptoms. If you’re serious about getting your chronic pain under control, you might consider a detoxification program or some dietary adjustments to see how food is affecting your pain. Food allergy testing is another option and can be especially helpful after you’ve cleansed your body of toxins. Moderate exercise (brisk walking, gardening, bicycling, swimming, dancing, tennis) can also play an important role in reducing whole body inflammation. Raising your heart rate for just 30 minutes a day, five days a week is important for pain management because it boosts your immune response which helps repair and remove damaged tissue.
4. Get tested for vitamin deficiency or hormone imbalance
Vitamin deficiencies and hormone imbalance can each play a role in causing or increasing inflammation and musculoskeletal pain. Specifically, vitamin D, which we get from certain foods (fatty fish) and exposure to sunlight, can inhibit inflammation. Magnesium deficiency has been found to cause chronic inflammatory build up. Oral supplements, or in some cases IV nutrient therapy can be effective in managing chronic pain. Hormone imbalance in both men (testosterone) and women (estrogen) has also been linked to chronic joint and muscle pain and can be managed with Hormone Replacement Therapy.
5. Find a physician that won’t give up
Having a trusted relationship with a physician who will work with you to find the cause of your pain is one of the most important steps you can take. Western medicine has been limited and often ill equipped to manager chronic pain. A doctor who is skilled in diagnostics will help identify the cause of your pain instead of simply treating symptoms with medication. There are also naturopathic complements that you may want to consider.
More about the Center for Integrative Medicine
The Center for Integrative Medicine offers a team of interdisciplinary board certified physicians and therapeutic care practitioners who work closely together to provide patients with exceptional and comprehensive healthcare services. Our progressive form of medical care, called Integrative Medicine, represents the future of healthcare. By integrating Conventional, Naturopathic and Chinese Medicine with Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, Physical Therapy and Psychotherapy, the strengths of each discipline are utilized to develop a better understanding of an individual’s state of health. This allows us to deliver the most effective and personalized treatment for each patient.