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by Dr. Niele Maimone
When you got out of bed this morning, were you pain-free? Or did your hips and knees ache? Did your hands ache as you brushed your teeth? Many of my patients dismiss these kinds of aches and pains, thinking they're just normal signs of aging. The pain that you feel is your body's way of telling you that it's irritated and needs your help.
Joint pain and inflammation - Most forms of joint pain involve some kind of inflammation - either local or systemic. When injured, a chain of events in your immune system known as the inflammatory cascade is triggered. This is what causes the redness, swelling and pain we often see with an acute injury. When this process, known as local or acute inflammation, turns on and then off in response to injury it's a sign of a healthy immune system. Yet when the symptoms of inflammation don't disappear, it tells us that your immune system is unable to turn itself off when it should leading to a state of chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health conditions and degenerative diseases, including asthma, allergies, skin problems, insulin resistance, type II diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, Alzheimer's, auto immune disorders, and arthritis to name a few.
What causes chronic inflammation?
1. Blood Sugar Issues: A diet high in simple carbs, skipping meals or waiting too long between meals can cause insulin surges that, long-term, create a pro-inflammatory environment in the body.
2. Digestive Issues: Stress, poor food quality, drug and antibiotic use break down the digestive barrier allowing large particulate matter to seep into the blood stream causing a cascade of inflammation resulting in pain and allergies.
3. Hormone Imbalance: Changing levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol all play a role in age-related inflammation.
4. Toxic Stress: There are chemicals in our air, food, personal care items, home products and work environments that burden our detox pathways causing inflammation.
5. Psychological Stress: Chronic activation of the "fight or flight" response over stimulates the endocrine system leading to an inflammatory state.
How do I know if I have chronic inflammation? We can test the blood for inflammatory markers, such as CRP (C-reactive protein) to determine whether patients are likely to develop inflammatory conditions. Many conventional doctors aren't sure how to treat elevated levels and end up avoiding these tests altogether. In our practice we recommend dietary changes, nutritional supplementation and physical modalities that can moderate these inflammatory markers.
How do I begin to heal my pain and inflammation?
1. Adopt a healthy diet rich in natural anti-inflammatories. Eat small meals often and choose a diet of richly colored fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Explore natural therapies. Class IV Laser pain relief naturally breaks the inflammatory cycle and releases endorphins (natural pain killers). Natural Medicine, Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Massage Therapy also can be useful in natural pain reduction.
3. Heal digestive issues. By repairing the digestive tract, nutrients are properly absorbed and inflammation is relieved.
4. Rid your body of its toxic load with a detox diet. Removing toxic stress reverses inflammation.
5. Reduce stress. Exercise, meditation, therapy, yoga, prayer - there are so many ways you can relieve stress and lower inflammation markers in your blood. The beauty of stress reduction is that it's never a waste of time - it serves you on every possible level.
You certainly don't have to live your life in pain. With some effort and time to heal, you will be doing the things you love and feeling like yourself again.
Dr. Niele Maimone, DC of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA has been active in natural health & wellness for 10 years. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit www.alignhealingcenter.com.