Inflammation and Natural Pain Relievers

iStock_inflammation_SmallInflammation is our body’s natural response to injury. It’s a physiologic process that is part of our immune response. It can cause redness, swelling and pain. The inflammatory process brings white blood cells and other substances to the site of injury to kick start the healing process. This works exceedingly well for acute injuries like cuts and scrapes. Unfortunately, this is the only response our body has to injury. Other injuries like stress or exposure to toxins also have the same inflammatory response. Toxins can be a variety of things that your body reacts to including: allergens (pollen, dander etc), smoke, chemicals and even food. These sorts of causes can lead to chronic inflammation which can have detrimental effects on the body. Chronic inflammation damages blood vessels and surrounding tissues. This has been linked to a myriad of disease including diabetes, cancer, stroke and Alzheimers. It has also been linked to auto-immune diseases since your body is in a state of constant immune response: your body is fighting itself. Decreasing your overall inflammatory response to a variety of sources can increase your long-term health.

To deal with inflammation and pain, many turn to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin and COX-2 specific inhibitors. While NSAIDs can provide acute pain relief and reduce swelling, they do not promote soft-tissue healing. They may even inhibit bone healing, worsen degenerative joint changes and prevent the body’s ability to stop bleeding. They can also cause problems from short-term mild stomach upset to serious stomach bleeding and ulcers if used long-term.

Many factors can increase inflammation including insufficient sleep , mental stress, too much or too little exercise, as well as diet. To reduce inflammation in your body and decrease your risk of chronic diseases, consider maintaining a healthy lifestyle which includes proper nutrition and exercise. For managing acute pain, consider natural alternatives to NSAIDs.

Chiropractic care can replace NSAIDs as a means of relieving pain or reducing inflammation in many cases. Our doctors are trained to relieve pain and improve joint function through natural therapies, such as chiropractic adjustments, myofascial release techniques and physiotherapy modalities like taping, ice, heat or e-stim. We also help you plan an individualized exercise program and give you nutrition and supplement advice to ensure long-term health.

A typical American diet is very inflammatory. It often contains too few vegetables, too much sugar and red meat and many food allergies and/or sensitivities. Reduce inflammatory components in your diet by increasing your intake of low-calorie, nutrient dense foods, such as lean meat, fish, skinless chicken, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. In general, avoiding red meat, sugar and any allergies or sensitivities you have will also reduce inflammation. Consumption of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce chronic pain and inflammation and limit the need for prescription NSAIDs. Omega-3 acids are contained in green leafy vegetables, flax seed, flax seed oil, canola oil, oily fish, seafood, seaweed, and fish oils. Some supplements, such as a multivitamin, magnesium, fish oil, vitamin D, and probiotics, can also be beneficial.

For managing chronic pain, the following natural anti-inflammatory products may also be helpful:

  • Studies show that 2g of omega-3 fatty acids daily reduced joint pain and the need for NSAIDs in 59 percent of patients with neck and low-back pain.
  • Boswellia affects several different enzyme systems and is very effective for arthritis and muscle pain.
  • Turmeric may be protective against inflammation, Alzheimer’s, liver problems, and cancers.
  • Ginger, in addition to reducing inflammation, is good for those with poor circulation or nausea.

Talk to our LGCWC doctors before trying natural anti-inflammatory products. As with any other healthcare intervention, herbs and other supplements should be selected individually, based on a patient’s history, assessment, and lab work.

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