So you may find it strange that a Digestive Health Specialist is writing about pain relief and arthritis… Hmm… Well, what does that tell you? 🙂
What is Arthritis? And why are you lumping other forms of pain in with it?
The word “arthritis” simply means “joint inflammation.” There are generally believed to be two types: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is inflammation caused by degeneration of the joint and is due to chronic wear and tear—often of the knees. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition characterized by inflammation, pain and swelling of the joints—often in the hands.
Chronic experiences of pain, be it arthritis or some other form, are most often amplified, if not caused by, inflammation.
Should you try to get pain-free without drugs?
Unfortunately, often we treat pain with long-term non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen, Aspirin and the like and the medical community treats arthritis with steroidal drugs. Unfortunately, NSAIDs and steroidal medications often result in leaky gut and leaky gut increases risk of food sensitivities and general digestive distress which increases inflammation and joint pain! If you are or were using pain-killers for the long haul and now you notice digestive distress, fatigue and/or brain fog after certain meals, it’s probably because you developed a food sensitivity as a result of developing leaky gut. Now, please note, I’m not suggesting that you go off of any medications or make any changes to your diet without first consulting you medical team (that would be legally irresponsible of me). What I am suggesting though, is that you start introducing your body to the anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle to minimize and sometimes even ELIMINATE your pain!
My other frustration with pain-killers and steroids is that they are a fix for the symptom of pain and inflammation, but not the cause.
Why are you in pain in the first place?
Pain is triggered by inflammation; whether it is autoimmune-induced pain (such as with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.); general, chronic degenerative joint or muscle pain; or acute pain from an injury . So the real question is why are you experiencing inflammation? Why has your immune system responded with inflammation?
Well heck! Anything that triggers your immune system to respond also triggers inflammation. We discussed this in the first video of your free digestive health, inflammation series, that inflammation is natural and good! It’s only when it becomes chronic (constant) that it becomes damaging and dangerous.
We discussed in the video series what that chronic inflammation may come from: a food sensitivity/allergy, bacterial overgrowth, a virus, parasites, yeast and/or toxic exposure.
Getting Pain-Free for Reals
Pain pills don’t address these causes, they only address the pain and darn-it, I completely get that you want to be pain-free. It is so hard to maneuver our fast-paced world in which we have constant demands on us from our family, friends, lovers and work to play, work, perform and perform well and constantly. If you live in Colorado, like I do, it is painful enough to look at the beautiful mountains and live in such a physically active community and not be able to participate in it because it hurts too much to hike, to rock climb, to ski or to bike.
Will the anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle completely eliminate your pain? Will it allow you to get off your meds? I don’t know. I wish I could say that it would. But what I do know is that it will improve the quality of your life and it will reduce your pain and it will increase your energy and it will make your health more resilient. Pain-killers decrease your health resilience and make you more susceptible to health problems down the road.
It’s not a quick fix. And in our world of fast food, 10 minute abs and 4 hour work weeks, that’s not popular to say. Pain pills make pain diminish immediately. What I’m talking about can take months, if not longer to make a dent in your pain and improve the quality of your life. But changing your lifestyle toward health creates long-lasting change that is something you can be proud of and you can share with your family and you can inspire your kids and your grandkids to make healthier choices in their lives and hopefully avoid the pain you have endured.
Where to go from here—what next?
On Sunday, I was waiting to catch a bus to Boulder and in line behind me where two women in their early sixties. One of them was discussing how concerned she was with the pain that had developed in her hands. She found they were locking-up and aching and she was finding it more and more difficult to use them. And she was so scared. Her friend said, “Hmm… that’s too bad. Where do you want to eat?” And the conversation turned. Don’t ignore your pain to the point that you don’t discover what is causing it. Act. And if you know someone that has pain—act for them. Care. Their conversation then turned to all of the Indian food they had been eating lately and what new Indian restaurants they would try next. And how one of them (I was eavesdropping so I don’t know which) really didn’t like the naan at the last place (I’m not interested in calling out any of the restaurants they named), but the cream sauce was good.
Personally, I LOVE Indian food. The curries and spices are incredible (and anti-inflammatory), but there are also a lot of ingredients used that are common food sensitivities for people. I had to wonder, this pain she is experiencing is new and Indian restaurant hopping is new too—are they connected? Be a scientist. Be a researcher. Experiment on yourself. Don’t be afraid to map your routines to identify potential issues. Embrace change. Embrace curiosity.
Have you watched the anti-inflammatory series yet. Well, if not, that’s a good place to start too. Have questions for me? Please, reach out. Ask questions below in the comments. Share what works for your pain so others can benefit from your knowledge.
Educate yourself. Don’t give up on yourself. Our bodies are amazingly resilient and brilliant and incredible pieces of machinery; capable of astounding us with their innate wisdom. Listen to your body. Believe in yourself. Love your body and nourish it with astonishingly beautiful, bright, nutrient-dense foods. Live.