By Dr. Susan Janssens, BSc, ND
Spring is finally here, and we are all out raking leaves, preparing our gardens or simply enjoying nature and the sun. In any case, most likely you are using your body in ways that can cause a flare up of some old back strain, shoulder or knee injury causing pain and discomfort. You are not alone, as pain is the single most common reason people see a physician. Pain is a very complex subject, and in this article I would like to discuss some natural and alternative treatment options for chronic pain.
The basics of pain management include:
1) Environmental: It is essential to have an exercise and stretching program that works specifically for your body. Make sure your chairs; bed and footwear are not contributing to your pain.
2) Nutrition: Eat in moderation or eliminate foods that contribute to inflammation. These include: sugar, white flour, trans fatty acids, high omega 6 oils like corn and vegetable oils, dairy and red meats. Avoid food allergens. Consume 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week or 3-4,000mg standardized fish oils per day.
3) Utilize relaxation techniques such as guided imagery, biofeedback, breathing practices and meditation.
4) Physical therapy: Massage, acupressure, acupuncture, hydrotherapy (hot and cold applications), and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
5) Natural anti-inflammatory herbs include: Tumeric, Ginger, Willow bark, Boswellia, and Harpagophytum procumbens. It is important before taking any of these herbs to check for any drug interactions or contra-indications with any other health concerns.
6) Topical pain blockers such as capsaicin cream, and magnesium oil can be used daily for pain management.
Vitamin D deficiency, which is very common where we live, is known to contribute to chronic long-term pain. If you suffer from pain, it is recommended that you have your Vitamin D levels checked and supplement with the appropriate amount of Vitamin D.
If you have tried everything with minimal success, your chronic pain may be caused from nerve fibers being damaged, dysfunctional or injured. Common causes of neuropathic pain include: alcoholism, chronic back, leg, and hip problems, diabetes, facial nerve problems, infection, multiple sclerosis, shingles, and spine surgery.
The best therapy that I have found for treating neuropathic pain syndrome is Neural Prolotherapy (NPT). It is a welcoming breakthrough for pain management. NPT is natural treatment involving multiple small injections of various fluids (such as dextrose or manitol) just beneath the skin along painful tender regions that correspond to small nerves. In the first session you will notice either complete or significant removal of pain and often your range of motion will be restored. The first treatment offers pain relief for anywhere from 4 hours to 4 days or longer. Each consecutive treatment builds on the previous creating longer periods of relief until healing is achieved.
Remember that chronic pain is often under-treated because it can be complex and misunderstood. It is imperative to have a team that offers a coordinated and interdisciplinary approach to the problem. As a chronic pain sufferer since the age of seventeen, I have discovered that the solutions to a pain-free life are available to all of us.
Dr. Janssens is an affiliate of HUM providing naturopathic services, including NPT, neural therapy and prolotherapy for pain management. To learn more about her please Click Here or call 403-288-4880 to schedule an appointment.