Conventional medical treatment of chronic pain relies on drugs and surgical interventions to treat pain. These treatments rarely solve the problem. Pharmaceuticals, at best, temporarily numb the pain. They don’t fix the problem because pain is not due to a pharmaceutical deficiency. Surgical interventions often are based on a misdiagnosis of the problem and often make things worse by causing more damage to the body.
The good news is that you have the power to heal your pain with safe and simple strategies that will also improve your overall health and well-being. There are three essential elements to pay attention to.
- Harness the mind/body connection.
Mind/body strategies, which are the most likely to be ignored in conventional medicine, are based on the well-established fact that when the mind is calm, the body is in its optimal healing state. When you have a fear or worry thought, the body moves into the stress response, also known as the “fight or flight response”. This is characterized by increased muscle tension, respiration, heart rate and blood pressure and decreased blood flow to extremities. The stress response also decreases digestion, immune response, healing and maintenance. Over time, chronic stress also depletes the supply of cortisol, an anti-inflammatory produced by the body, and inflammation increases. Reducing negative thinking and regularly using relaxation techniques promotes pain reduction and healing.
- Optimize your diet
The human body constantly makes new cells to replace aging or damaged cells. These cells, the building blocks of our tissues and organs, require certain foods and nutrients for healthy development; other foods and substances are detrimental to cell development. In addition, the nutrients we ingest are the raw ingredients for our hormones, neurotransmitters, digestive enzymes, and other essential substances that keep our bodies healthy and in balance. Changing what you eat can have a significant impact on your pain levels.
A whole-foods diet that emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins reduces pain and inflammation. Processed foods and sugars and unhealthy fats increase pain and inflammation. In addition, certain nutritional supplements—including omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, and antioxidants—also have pain-reducing properties. There is considerable scientific evidence that certain foods are as effective at reducing pain as medications.
Avoiding toxic food additives, especially aspartame and MSG, is important too. Many pain patients also benefit from a gluten-free diet.
- Engage in appropriate exercise
Many people in chronic pain are afraid to exercise because of fear of re-injury. However, inactivity leads to weakness and deconditioning that can make pain problems worse. Muscles can also be the primary cause of pain. Common causes of pain are muscle tension, weakness, stiffness, spasm, muscle imbalances and trigger points. The remedy is appropriate stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercise. Seek guidance from a physical therapist, chiropractor or other health professional to get the most appropriate exercise program for your condition.
Taking these simple steps can significantly reduce pain over the long term and even cure many pain conditions. If you ignore these interventions, most other treatments will at best provide only temporary relief.
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