Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Is Pain?


Nearly 20 million Americans use prescription pain medications each year. It would certainly seem that we are in an ever increasing state of pain. The way we look at pain today is like a inconvenience, or a condition all in it’s own. We don’t associate pain with an underlying condition, but pain as occurring irregardless of our health. But what is pain really?

Pain is the bodies communication that something is wrong. There is no discomfort felt for which there is not a physiological cause. As we have become more dependent on allopathic medicine and treat the symptom not the problem mentality, we have lost touch with what pain really is. You don’t get a headache because your diet is low in Excedrin, and you don’t get back pain because your not taking enough ibuprofen. These pains come from underlying health conditions, whether they be metabolic or structural issues.

Treating pain rather than the underlying issue is no more helpful than putting a new paint job on a broken down car. Bandaids do not fix broken arms, and pain killers do not fix the reason you are having pain. You are just putting off your health, and using drugs to ignore the symptoms. The underlying problems will only continue to come back worse, presenting more severe, frequent, and numerous symptoms.
Root Causes of Pain
Biochemical Causes

Problems with your bodies chemistry can product inflammation and pain all over the body. Everything from stiff joints, to headaches, and digestive disorders can be caused from the nutrition you’re not getting in your diet, or the bad things you are getting in your diet. Eating too many inflammatory foods, and not enough nutrients to naturally control inflammation can not only lead to pain, but this condition increases cardiovascular and cancer risk factors. This is just one of the reasons that treating this pain with a pain killer rather than fixing the problem can be fatal to your health.
Biomechanics Causes

The way your body moves is based on the efficiency of the nervous system which controls the muscles, the health and strength of the muscle and soft tissues, and the structural alignment of your bones and joints. The majority of joint pain is not the result of joint damage, but rather joint dysfunction during movement. Lets look at knee pain for example. Your knee movement is coordinated by 13 muscles that cross the knee joint. If just one of these muscles is weak, tight, or dysfunctional, it upsets the structural balance of the knee joint during movement. This will lead to pain as this off balance movement starts to wear on the ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues of the joint. It takes very little inflammation in a joint to cause pain, and even less in a soft tissue to cause pain. One of the most common dysfunctions I see is the knee bowing in under resistance. This is a dysfunction caused by a weakness in the Vastus Medialis Obliquus which has a major role in stabilizing knee movement. Failure to strengthen this muscle will cause dysfunction during all movements that involve bending the knees. Taking pain killers to deal with the pain rather than restoring proper knee function will just allow the condition to get worse and worse until a serious injury occurs.
Structural Causes

Some pain is caused by problems with actual structures that can be genetic defects, or from traumas/injuries. These issues are the hardest to overcome, and can require modifications to your exercise program or manual therapies. Soft tissues can develop adhesions that can be treated with ART or FAT techniques. Spinal alignment issues and joint manipulations can be done by a skilled chiropractor. More severe conditions like ligament tears and bone spurs may require surgery to bring you back to optimal function. Ultimately pain medications tend to be least effective at masking structural issues, so these conditions are less likely to go un-treated.

Pain can be caused by one or a combination of the above sources. Often one can lead to another, and biochemical sources of pain will make any biomechanics or structural issue more painful. If you have a healthy diet and lifestyle, not only will your pain be less, but your recovery from acute injuries will be much faster.
Nutrients that help with inflammation

Omega 3’s

Nutrients that Help Decrease Pain Sensation

Powdered greens decrease pain through alkalization
Vitamin D3 – increases pain threshold
Probiotics – decrease all pain
glutamine + Magnesium - lower pain

1 comment:

Alan said...

There is a type of pain you haven't addressed. I suffer from phantom limb pain and from all my research I can find no relief from it. 30 years ago I lost my right arm at the elbow and right leg above the knee and ever since in varying degrees of intensity have had pain. It is very unsettling to stare at the empty spot on the floor where your foot used to be as the intense pain radiates up from it lifting you almost off your chair..