“I feel your pain” is often the response from friends when you share an ache or discomfort you are having. But what is pain? I am here to tell you pain manifests as different things to different people for different reasons. My pain is not your pain nor vice versa. SImilar perhaps, but not likely the same cause and effect.
I want to offer you some insight into pain and solutions that you can implement today. I also invite you to check out my website for more information on pain, pain management and treatment. Pain is a response our body makes to some form of abnormality. It can be caused by a trauma, for instance a fractured bone. It is often associated with inflammation.
Where there is pain there is inflammation but the reverse is not necessarily true. Athletic individuals often experience pain during their workout or routines. The old adage of “no pain, no gain”, while still discussed often leads to injury and long term problems. Repetitive strain injuries from running, jumping, repeated motions with work (machinists, office workers, landscapers) can create pain from wear and tear on joints, ligaments, tendons and bones.
I often see people in my office who say, “When I do this or that motion, it hurts.” My initial response is “stop doing it”. After that bit of humor, it is important to look at what it is that is causing the pain, seeking out the root cause while treating the symptoms. Without intervention, some injuries can take months or years to repair. With interventions, healing times can be decreased and the return to routines can be quicker.
People have access to immense amounts of information on the internet these days and are quick to seek out “Dr. Google’s” advice. I must caution the reader on self diagnosis. We as individuals don’t always know the right questions to be asking ourselves in determining what label we should attach to our pain or injury. I have seen too many individuals telling me that they have carpal tunnel syndrome when they actually are afflicted with tight neck muscles and are better labeled with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a much simpler to treat concern versus seeking out a surgical intervention. You must remember when seeking a surgeon for advice, “Surgeons get paid to do surgery.”
Beside injury and trauma, other sources of inflammation and pain can be drug regimens, such at HAART regimens for HIV, neurological and chemotherapeutic interventions, rheumatoid arthritis drugs, etc. Tingling of hands and feet are common complaints with some of these protocols. Replenishing of vitamins and minerals can help to lessen some of the symptoms. Things like injecting vitamin B12 into pain points can sometimes help relieve and reduce these neurological symptoms.
Another BIG source of inflammation is what we eat. There are many foods that cause inflammation in individuals. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I have extensive training in diet and understand which foods can be contributors to inflammation in the body and how to figure out what they are. This can be done through testing, which can be expensive, or by undertaking food eliminations and reintroduction to see which foods are the culprits in your inflammatory process. These interventions are individually tailored to the patient.
Some of the main problem foods are wheat and gluten, dairy and dairy products, sugar, caffeine, processed foods (aka white foods) and others. To begin to understand how this might play into your pain experience, check out my website at www.terramadrehealth.com.
What can I do to help with pain, inflammation and injuries resulting in pain? Assessing what you are putting into your body is the first step. Cleaning up your diet, making sure you are combining foods for optimal nutrition in minimizing the energy needed to digest foods is step one. Additional pain interventions can include: supplementation for gut and pain i.e. probiotics and fish oils; herbal interventions to improve immune function such as with echinacea (not the OTC stuff you can buy but herbs that are screened and 3rd party independently certified for purity and content (aka professional brands).
Another modality that has been shown to greatly reduce pain responses is acupuncture. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine has for centuries been used for pain, health and wellness. Naturopathic Doctors receive extensive training and certification in acupuncture for the treatment of various medical conditions including pain management.
Other interventions include things like bio-puncture, where injectables are combined with anesthetics and injected into joints and pain points to stimulate an immune response. This immune response in the short term will aggravate the area. The aggravation increases the immune response and the healing capacity of the body, therefore speeding up the recovery from injury. Less invasive techniques of subcutaneous injections and miso-therapy can provide a similar immune cascade effect using similar injectable without any need for anesthetic due to the shallowness of the interventions.
Last but not least, the use of intravenous vitamin and mineral therapies has been shown to not only boast immune response but speed healing, due to the fact of the high concentrations of vitamins and minerals available to the cellular processes. This type of intervention, as with any of those listed, does require intake and screening for any contra-indications of the modality that might be used. It is important with any pain management protocol to provide education, manage expectations (not everything works with every person) and to screen for anything that might preclude an individual from receiving a specific intervention.
Pain, in all it forms, from chronic to situation to trauma, are all managed by a variety of medical interventions. NDAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), RX pain killers, and steroids are used by the conventional medical establishment. New ideas and interventions are fast becoming mainstream as acupuncture is now available in some hospital settings, bio-puncture is being used by high performance athletes to speed recovery and guided visualizations help improve outcomes for Olympic athletes.
Dr. Timothy L. Swift MA, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, TerraMadre Health