Pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain as an “Unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage” (1).
Pain is not an accurate measure of physical injury and there does not need to be tissue injury for the pain to be felt. Pain tells us that there is a problem, it does not tell us why we have it. Pain is the symptom of something else. To understand this it’s important to look at how and why we feel pain.
The brain is constantly taking in what is going on around us. The brain must sort through all the information it is receiving by weighing them up against our emotions, past experiences and future expectations to determine an appropriate response.
If the brain is uneasy about something, it may respond with pain in an effort to get us to change our situation. Pain is essentially a protective mechanism designed to create behavior change.
Over time we can become sensitive to pain if the body becomes familiar with certain stimuli. The body almost has an expectation of pain and therefore fires up nerves that should be quiet. This can make treatment difficult and frustrating as the source of the pain becomes difficult to find. Conventional drugs such as NSAIDs may treat the symptom but these are not without there side effects such as increased risk of peptic ulcer diseases as well as exacerbating other chronic issues including heart failure (2).
Pain is a story and to understand it we need to embrace the whole person. A nutritionist can delve into your story past and present to come up with a treatment plan that is going to suit your current situation.
Diet is key!
There is a link between chronic pain and foods may people consume on a daily basis. Many commonly eaten foods actually inflame the body more and add to the level of discomfort and pain you experience.
Food intolerances can cause chronic headaches, sinus or abdominal pain. A nutritionist can help you identifying food triggers through a structured and systematic elimination and reintroduction or functional testing.
Some common foods that may be reactive include:
- Gluten-containing grains: Wheat, Rye , Barley, Bulgur, Couscous, Spelt, Kamut, Semolina, Triticale, Einkorn.
- Dairy products
- High Oxalate foods
Besides possibly eliminating food triggers it may be necessary to improve digestion and gut bacteria. Better digestion allows for healthy elimination and it is essential your bowels are working optimally to rid the body of toxins.
Strategies for managing pain will differ per person depending on their current health status and what needs improvement. If you are carrying extra weight it may be helpful to come up with weight loss strategies as extra weight can make pain worse.
With conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, we want to not only reduce pain but we want to manage pain and minimize further deterioration of joints and this will involve incorporating foods that preserve the health of joints.
A number of other strategies may include:
- Managing stress
- Improving sleep quality
- Losing weight
- Working with other modalities together such as a chiropractor or massage therapist
- Incorporating appropriate exercise. Lack of movement can cause more pain in the long term.
Are you ready to stop feeling like your body is letting you down and preventing you from living a vibrant life? If the answer is yes then you are in the right place.
Contact me for a consultation and together we will improve the quality of your life!