Suggestions for Chronic Pain and Inflammation

Pain is a very complex phenomenon that combines information from the nervous system with emotions, thoughts and social context.  Pain is also highly individual and subjective and can be related to depression, anxiety, diet and stress.  There are also many conditions that cause for chronic pain.  These include but are not limited to: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, irritable bowel disease, fibromyalgia and chronic headaches.  The pathophysiology of chronic pain is complicated,  not wholly understood and also differs dependent on the individual and thier underlying condition. Therefore, I am not going to get into these details  in this post.  However, I am going to offer some alternative suggestions for pain management.

1. Food Sensitivities

A food sensitivity is different than a food allergy. Individuals with food sensitivities have DELAYED reactions to specific foods that are triggered by IgG antibodies.  In an IgG reaction the IgG antibodies attach themselves to a food antigen creating a antigen antibody complex. If present in high amounts these complexes can accumulate in cells and can lead to inflammation, in turn promoting pain or disease.  Many naturopathic doctors and some medical doctors can run tests to measure your levels of IgG in regards to various different foods. Additionally, special diets can also help to identify specific foods that may be causing an IgG reaction.  If you have IBS, IBD or any other condition associated with inflammation discuss the possibility of food sensitivities with your naturopathic doctor.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps individuals to identify and develop skills to change negative thoughts.  It also encourages a problem solving attitude and involves homework to keep track of thoughts and feelings associated with pain. CBT has been shown to be effective in alleviating jaw pain, migraine headaches, and in rheumatoid conditions.

3. Trans cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS machine)

The TENS machine produces an electric current that stimulates the nerves over or around the area of pain.  It has been shown to be effective for some individuals in helping to control acute and chronic pain by either interfering with the pain response or by desensitizing the nerves involved in pain signalling. It is best to try the TENS machine with your ND, MD or physiotherapist to explore if this method of pain management is of benefit to you.  If so, you can purchase one from some drugstores or online and use frequently at home.

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a procedure that involves the stimulation of specific point on the body be inserting fine needles into the skin.  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture corrects the imbalance of qi, or vital life force, that flows through us and thereby promoting wellness.  In a review article of 24 studies, acupuncture has been shown to have a 70% efficacy in treating pain compared to placebo.  Both naturopathic and traditional chinese medicine doctors can administer  acupuncture in Ontario.

5. Supplements

There are various supplements that have been shown to be effective in managing pain and decreasing inflammation.  However, appropriate and effective supplementation is based on the individual and their underlying conditions.  Talk to your naturopathic doctor about what supplements would be best for you.

  1. Van Delmen AM, Fennis JF, Bleijenberg G. Cognitive Behavioral group therapy for irritable bowel syndrome, effects and long term follow up. Psychosom Med 1996;58:508-514.
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  3. Arathuzik D. Effects of cognitive-behavioral strategies on pain in cancer patients. Cancer Nurs 1994;17:207-214.
  4. Johnson M, Martinson, M (2006). “Efficacy of electrical nerve stimulation for chronic musculoskeletal pain: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”. Pain 130 (1): 157–165. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2007.02.007
  5. 5. Reichmanis M, Becker RO. Relief of experimentally induced pain by stimulation oat acupuncture loci: a review. Comp Med East West 1977;5:281-288.
  6. Photo Creds: thediarymom.blogspot.com, http://www.istoppain.com, http://www.building-muscle101.com, http://www.supplementfarmer.com
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