PAIN IS YOUR BODY TALKING TO YOU
Our body 'talks' to us all the time - it is a barometer guiding us to live and act in certain ways. When pain exists, there is injury - or something wrong - the body needs rest, repair and attention. To mask pain with pain relief is ignoring the intelligence of our body asking for healing.
If you can resolve inflammation, you have pretty much succeeded in resolving your pain. Inflammation is at the core root of all pain and most body ailments.
The methods I have found to be most successful in removing inflammation include a combination of diet therapy, near infra red therapy and certain anti-inflammatory substances such as Tumeric, Ginger, Boswellia (Frankinsense) and external application of DMSO.
Tumeric has wonderful attributes - not only is it a potent anti-inflammatory natural herb, it also helps circulation, alleviates depression and aids digestion.
Near Infra Red (NIR) therapy is a total blessing for pain patients, yet few have discovered its benefits. It is an emerging therapy.
NIR therapy requires deligent application (best 3 times weekly for chronic conditions- for sometimes up to 3 months for the most stubborn of conditions). Acute pain resolves much more quickly.
NIR has been shown clinically to remove inflammation, increase circulation and increase oxygenation. Additional to this, it has also been demonstrated to regenerate new tissue (perfect for healing painful injuries!)
Note - often chronic injuries can flare and get temporaily worse at the beginning of treatment as the healing response is activated. This soon passes. It usually takes 3 to 4 weeks for pain and inflammation to subside.
It is imperitive to avoid sugar (and sugar containing foods) to stop the inflammatory reactions in the body. Wheat is also another pro- inflammatory food which is best avoided.
Its useful to gauge the level of inflammation in your body. Time Magazine printed a cover story named 'Inflammation - The Silent Killer'. Its now recognized inflammation is at the core of virtually every disease, including pain.
You can find out the severity of your inflammation by certain blood tests (bio-markers for inflammation) from your doctor. The best is testing for Highly Sensitive CRP.
Also very helpful is a test of your ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate). Additionally, high neutrophil counts can also indicate inflammation. (See Live Blood Analysis)
SO HOW DO WE HEAL PAIN?
Whether the pain is from a short-term recent injury or a long standing chronic condition, there are certain common elements required to assist the body to heal itself.
All pain needs rest (removal of stress)
All pain requires good blood flow to the area.
All pain needs to resolve inflammation.
All pain requires nutrients (especially to nerves and connective tissue) to repair.
All pain is assisted by the removal of lymphatic waste fluid build up in the area.
All pain needs protection from further repeated self-injury.
THE MECHANICS OF INFLAMMATION
When the body first undergoes a physical trauma, an invasion of a pathogen or threatening factor, the body will respond with acute inflammation. It is a protective defense mechanism to localize and eliminate the problem.
First, blood vessels dialate so that blood flow is increased. The vessels then become permeable (leaky) to allow for clotting factors and white bloods cells (neutrophils) to enter the area. Neutrophils attempt to remove the problem and clotting factors attempt to stop the spread of the problem. This manifests in signs of heat, pain and swelling.
Normally, healing will occur naturally by cells regenerating themselves. Fibrous scar tissue usually forms (even internally) and sometimes scar tissue can impede free flow of blood supply, making the area vulnerable to future inflammation and problems.
If the acute inflammation does not resolve, a chronic inflammation sets in. This is characterized by high numbers of macrophages, lymphocytes, and plasma cells. Macrophages are the main cells involved in chronic inflammation. and cause more tissue damage.
After a period of time, chronic pain injuries will isolate themselves off from the rest of the body, by increased scarring and clotting resulting in a diminished blood supply to the area.
In order for healing to be re-established, new blood needs to circulate continuously to the area to provide the oxygen and nutrients needed for repair.
GOOD BLOOD FLOW
Good blood flow can be achieved by -
Avoiding sitting for too long.
Move around throughout the day
Exercise - walking, riding, swimming, gardening, (but not excessive exercising or stretching)
Tai Chi or gentle yoga will keep blood flowing
HEAT is excellent to keep the blood flowing (Infra Red saunas, Infra Red ray lamps, hot water bottles, hot wheat packs, hot showers and baths).
Avoid COLD. It constricts blood vessels.
Rub circulatory stimulants onto the skin (DMSO, Cayenne pepper oil, essential oils such as Black Pepper, Ginger, Rosemary, Wintergreen, Peppermint)
Hot Ginger compresses (made from hot ginger tea over the area)
Keep your diet free from junk food, sugar, excessive dairy, wheat and meats, which all make blood sticky and clotty.
What is our body without nutrients? We need nutrients to move, digest, think, renew and also to heal injuries.
Pain, whether it be in a soft-tissue, bone or organ, requires nutrients to repair and heal.
One of the most important of these nutrients is Magnesium. Its been shown that people with low magnesium levels have higher CRP (Creatine Reactive Protein) levels which is the bio-marker (measurer) for inflammation.
Some of my favourite nutrient supplements to help heal pain and inflammation -
MSM (Read more here)
Flax Seed Oil (see Budwig Protocol)
Rosehip powder (read more here)
Collagen is also required to fix the 'matrix' of soft-tissue or of other tissue which is in pain. An excellent form of collagen is Bone Broth (for vegetarians try Hemp Seed, Bee Pollen and Whey Powder which also contain high levels of amino acids to assist collagen repair).
GOOD LYMPHATIC FLOW
The lymph system is often poorly understood and under-rated for its importance. The lymph is responsible to carry wastes out of our system. If it is blocked and not circulating properly, wastes from imflammation and metabolic functions just can't escape. This prevents the resolving of inflammatory pain and causes swelling, puffiness, a type of 'fake fat' and fluid retention.
In pain patients, it's imperitive to move the fluid carrying wastes away from the pain site, so that fresh blood and circulation can get in to do its healing job.
The best methods I have found for this are -
Vibrational massage (This gently loosens lymph deposits and re-activates the lymph flow. Its also very pain-relieving.)
Dry skin brushing (daily before showering, moving the gloves or brush in circular motions over joints, and then upwards along legs and arms towards lymph nodes). The lymph system lays just below the surface of the skin.
Walking, moving and gentle rebounding on a mini-tramp (if it can be managed).
Suction chinese cupping (if done gently and moving towards lymph nodes, can also assist in removal of lymph waste).
PROTECTION FROM FURTHER INJURY
Often overlooked, pain is a form of injury, and too often we push on, taking on the well meaning advice of therapists, who recommend that we need to stretch, exercise and get on with living life. To a certain degree this is correct. However if your soft tissue has mini tears which are in the process of healing, they DO NOT need stretching. Over stretching will re-open the wound. The stretching can come later when the injury is healed.
Some tips to follow in the light of this -
Avoid carrying weights more than 5 kg.
If you exercise and stretch, make it gentle! (For now..)
Sometimes immobilizing an area by a splint or brace (even though its not a broken bone) can be extremely helpful to prevent the 're-tearing'.
Allow 12 weeks to heal soft-tissue injuries. Treat them like bone injuries. They deserve the same attention, otherwise they become chronic, unhealed and troublesome.
WHAT IS AN IDEAL DIET FOR PAIN & INFLAMED PEOPLE?
Before Breakfast, Gentle Exercise
Breakfast - A Protein Shake with Pea Protein, Linseed, Sunflower seeds, Almond Milk & Berries
Lunch - Tuna & Salad
Dinner - Salmon & Green Vegetables
Dessert - Yoghurt & Berries
Snacks - Raw Nuts
NATURAL PAIN RELIEF
Even though I do not advocate the use of excessive pain relief (as it can mask the need for healing - and if medicated, can be higly addictive and harmful in other ways), I do recognize the need to curb down the peak intensity of pain at times, as the healing is in action.
For this reason, I advocate natural pain relief in preference to medicated pharmaceutical substances.
Here are some herbal analgesics which I have noted to work effectively (depending on pain levels and dose taken) -
Californian Poppy Extract
Jamaican Dogwood Extract
White Willow Bark (the original plant for making aspirin)
Corydalis (Chinese herb)