Chronic Pain: A Complex Problem Deserves A Comprehensive Solution

Naturopathic medicine offers a holistic solution to address chronic pain.  We look at all the factors below to help you live pain-free:

Nutrition: Eliminate inflammatory foods, identify food sensitivities, replete nutritional deficiencies.

Sleep: Pain = Difficulty sleeping = Sleep disruption = More pain. Improved sleep is a side effect of some of the techniques that follow.

Sedentarism: Studies have repeatedly shown that bed rest for back pain makes it worse. The body needs to get comfortable and feel safe at its normal ranges of motion and the only way to do this is to move.

Exercise: Is neuroregenerative, brings oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, helps rebuild strength and stamina, reduces stiffness and pain. Often even if you're in pain, gentle walking, swimming, yoga, pilates and stretching can help a great deal.

Habitual movement: work with a professional to help you figure out how to engage in proper movement patterns.

Medication: Certain medications can actually promote chronic pain. Proton pump inhibitors can interfere with absorption of many micronutrients most notably magnesium. NSAIDs à impairment in gut mucosa à leaky gut and inflammation à malabsorption.

Chronic infections: Activate inflammatory pathways in the body and microglia. Many examples from SIBO/SIFO in the gut to viruses such as EBV, CMV and HHV-6 are being researched in widespread myofascial pain syndromes.

Muscle abnormalities: Incredibly common, often misdiagnosed. Muscles have a very rich nerve supply, and they can be full of myofascial trigger points, which are very, very painful when activated. They also produce a referral pattern, which may be confused for nerve pain. Ways to relieve trigger points include: Intramuscular stimulation (IMS), myofascial release massage, stretching, active release technique (ART), injection techniques into trigger points, acupressure, rolling.

Stress: Puts the body into a state of fight or flight. Studies have shown that people in chronic pain generally have higher cortisol levels then their healthy counterparts, which contribute to a more sensitized nervous system. Many studies have shown that managing stress is an integral part of eliminating chronic pain.

Hormones: Make sure thyroid and sex hormone function is optimized.

Emotions: Depression, anxiety, fear and anger all contribute to feeling more pain. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps people identify and develop skills to change negative thoughts and negative thought patterns and behaviors.

Mindfulness: can be defined as a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, without judgement. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation is a neuroregenerative process and is a very effective way to manage chronic pain.

Your biography becomes your biology: Recognizing deeper emotions and significant life events can be a very valuable part of the healing process.  

Thoughts and subconscious: it is important to pay attention to how we feel and think about our bodies. We often limit ourselves with our thoughts alone.

Hypnosis: Many studies have demonstrated consistent decreases of pain in regards to chronic pain problems. Most interventions involve instructions in self-hypnosis. The studies looked at cancer pain, low back pain, arthritic pain, fibromyalgia, TMJ pain, disability related pain and several others.

Acupuncture: A meta-analysis in 2015 in JAMA looked at studies including 18,000 patients, and concluded that acupuncture is effective at treating chronic pain. It triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers; affects part of the brain that regulates mood; it is also neuroregenerative and stimulates the body’s intrinsic healing capabilities.

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