You can tackle chronic pain by changing your lifestyle
TOO few of us understand the impact of our lifestyles on our future well-being and our pain levels, says physiotherapist, acupuncturist and nutritionist Verona Chadwick.
The Lismore practitioner has written a book, How to Live a Life Without Pain, that explores the often overlooked triggers of pain and inflammation.
"The sad fact is too many people have unnecessarily lost mobility and function," she says.
"The fun and spontaneity in life are a distant memory. Day-to-day existence has become an ongoing struggle."
But pain doesn't just come out of nowhere, says Verona.
"If you've ever experienced neck or back pain that shuts you down, drains your energy and just won't get better no matter what you do, if pain keeps you awake at night, or if all your muscles ache, you may be one of many people who have underlying inflammation simmering away under the radar."
Looking for the cause involves quite a bit of detective work. Verona always starts with a comprehensive musculo-skeletal examination and by taking a medical history.
But she says common causes of pain can include poor nutrition, lack of mobility in the early stage of recovery post-injury, emotional stress, poor gut health, food intolerance and lack of sleep.
Another increasing cause is what she says is dependence on sugar and refined carbohydrates that are "toxic to the body and brain".
"I am seeing people in their 20s and 30s with pain sensitivity everywhere and with early onset arthritis because of lifestyle choices," she says.
"Too much sugar is not good for your body; we all know that really!
"Multiple studies have linked high insulin levels to inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, chronic pain, metabolic syndrome, depression, fatigue, sexual dysfunction and cancer. All these conditions result in chronic pain that many sufferers struggle to remedy."
Verona advises all her patients that, to stay healthy and reduce pain, you need to minimise sugars, cakes, biscuits, white bread and high GI carbs like potato; avoid fast food and soft drinks; minimise tea, coffee and alcohol; and increase oily fish for omega-3s and nuts for calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
"Checking your vitamin D levels too and considering taking a probiotic for your gut health are also steps you can take."
Regular exercise, including stretching, walking, yoga, tai chi, or anything that begins by gently mobilising the body, is also essential, she adds.
Verona says recent studies by Arthritis Australia have found significant improvements in pain and physical function in arthritis sufferers after eating a low-inflammatory diet combined with exercise.
Whatever you do, don't just learn to live with niggling pains, she says.
Find out about the hidden triggers and put the fun back in your life.
Self-Treatment Gems to Ease Your Pain
- Your belief system. Be confident and in control, don't let pain control you.
- Deep breathing to relieve stress
- Check your posture
- Natural pain relief including bromelain, curcumin, willow bark and quercetin
- Move it or lose it
- Hot or cold. Use ice if there is obvious heat or swelling present
- Follow a low-inflammatory diet to reduce pain and accelerate healing
- Revitalising massage and trigger point release
- Home exercises to get free-flowing nerves and ease pain
(Credit: How To Live A Life Without Pain)