Natural Ways to Relieve Chronic Pain
September 24, 2019 at 1:48 PM
ADAPTED FROM THE BLOG "10 NATURAL THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR CHRONIC PAIN" BY CLAIRE MURRAY
Our Pain is Insane
With 20% of Australians and New Zealanders suffering from chronic pain, and pain being the most common reason someone will visit a healthcare Practitioner, there is no question that we’re nations in pain and inflamed!
To understand how to reduce pain, we need to look at its main cause, inflammation, which is triggered in response to tissue injury or infection. The inflammatory process is designed to initiate healing and also to keep you resting while healing occurs. For this reason, the swelling that comes with inflammation stimulates nerves around the affected area, sending signals to your brain that something is wrong by causing you pain, and consequently restricting your movement.
It’s also important to understand that inflammation is a two-phase process. The swelling and pain described above are part of the first phase (the ‘initiation phase’). The second phase (the ‘resolution phase’) begins once the tissue damage or infection has been repaired, and involves clearing away inflammatory cells and any tissue wastes produced during the first phase. The resolution phase ultimately eliminates pain and returns the body to health.
In states of chronic pain, however, the resolution does not occur, and instead, the body becomes stuck in the initiation phase, with persistent inflammation and pain. To reduce chronic pain, then, we need to address both phases of inflammation – initiation and resolution.
8 Natural Things You Can Do For Your Chronic Pain
In order to manage ongoing pain, the underlying cause, inflammation, must be addressed and resolved. Natural medicines and certain dietary and lifestyle interventions enable your body to calm and resolve the inflammatory response, while also reducing the nerve irritation that causes pain. This ultimately shifts your body into that healing resolution phase, reducing your reliance on medication and putting you on the road to a pain-free life.
Here are 8 natural ways to reduce your pain:
1. Magnesium This mineral helps relieve pain by reducing inflammation, soothing tight muscles in inflamed areas, and also by reducing the firing of pain pathways in the brain. It does this by regulating nerve signalling, muscle contraction and the production of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that influence pain perception (the way pain is recognised and interpreted by the brain).
2. Fish oil Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil regulate the activity of inflammatory cells, minimising the severity of inflammation and pain in the initiation phase of inflammation, without preventing the resolution phase from engaging. Supplementing with fish oil is especially important if you don’t regularly consume omega-3-rich foods (e.g. wild-caught fish), as your body may be lacking in these anti-inflammatory fats.
3. Turmeric A potent anti-inflammatory herb, learn its multiple benefits for inflammation and pain by reading this blog, here.
Natural diet and lifestyle interventions:
4. Diet The body cannot work to resolve pain if inflammation is being continually initiated by the consumption of inflammatory foods[CM6] such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, vegetable oils, trans fats and preservative-rich processed foods. Instead, swap these for a diet rich in colourful vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes and organic meats and seafood. This will provide your body with a bevy of anti-inflammatory and tissue healing nutrients working to put out that painful inflammatory fire.
5. Exercise Whilst chronic pain may have you thinking rest is important and exercise impossible, your body may be craving some movement. A large scientific review examining the use of exercise in chronic pain suggested that exercise “may improve pain severity and physical function, and consequent quality of life”.
6. Sleep Research examining people with fibromyalgia (a condition of chronic musculoskeletal pain) found 90% of subjects experienced a sleep disorder directly correlated with their pain. However, poor sleep quality or quantity then also decreases your pain threshold! So, to ensure you get a good night’s sleep, use herbs like the ones discussed here to manage your pain.
7. Stress Did you know that psychological stress can increase your perception of pain? If you’re in pain, but also tend to feel stressed or anxious, read on for a stress management technique that may help to reduce your pain intensity.
8. Meditation Whilst meditating may feel like the last thing you wish to do when in pain, evidence supports its usefulness in improving the psychological complications of living with chronic pain, such as depression and stress. Developing daily mindfulness practise may, therefore, help to improve overall feelings of wellbeing, quality of life and contentedness.
The overall goal when inflamed and in pain is to assist the body in resolving inflammation. Remember, although pain-relieving medications reduce your symptoms, some may actually inhibit inflammation resolution. To reduce and resolve your inflammation, and therefore your pain, try the 8 natural tools above. By addressing inflammation naturally, you can reduce your reliance on medications, increase your quality of life, and finally resolve your pain.