How do you Manage Chronic Pain?

Pain is our bodies warning system, alerting us to a problem. But pain can outlive its purpose and become chronic pain. When that happens, it causes even more harm. Let’s see what can be done about that.

Good Pain bad Pain

Short-term, or acute pain, is good pain.  This pain not only draws our Chronic Painattention to a problem, it also protects a damaged area from further harm (more on this later). There’s also long-term or chronic pain. This type of pain has outlived its purpose and is no longer useful. In fact, it now begins to cause its own injuries. But why does pain sometimes persist long after it’s needed?

Let’s explore these things, shall we?

Acute Pain is Your Friend

Imagine life without pain. What would it be like? If you’re suffering from chronic pain, living life pain-free probably sounds pretty good about now. Imagine how it would be to not feel pain…ever. But pain is our bodies warning system, alerting us to a potential problem.

But think about it.

You’re walking along barefoot somewhere, step on something, and slice your foot open. But, you don’t have any pain, so you pay no attention. Then there’s that sunburn, which makes your skin hypersensitive to light and touch. This keeps you from touching that area or exposing it to further light so that it can heal faster.

Or if you dislocate your hip, the pain will (hopefully) keep you from putting weight on it; thus causing more damage. And what about that chest pain that sent you to the hospital. That pain possibly saved your life. Think of the damage caused by not feeling any pain. So then, pain serves an initial purpose.

However, the very pain that saved your life can become your enemy.

Chronic Pain is Your Enemy

So that injury you had a while back is healed, but you’re still in pain. Or maybe some pain just started.  There seems to be no reason for it, but it won’t go away. What causes this?

First of all, chronic pain complaints increase with age.  And there are many causes. For example, just the changes that accompany normal aging can result in joint pain. Yet, on the other hand, older people tend to cope with pain better than younger people. This is due in part to peoples life experiences, and also health expectations in general.

But what damage does chronic pain cause? To begin with, it takes more effort to do daily tasks. Over time, this saps your strength. And that can make social interaction more difficult; as a result, you began to isolate more and more. Now it’s quite natural to become anxious about this. Eventually, depression can set in. However, anxiety and depression increase the sensation of pain; so it takes on a bit of a snowball effect.

But that’s not your only problem

Studies show that chronic pain actually changes your brain chemistry. This leads to memory and concentration problems. But perhaps the damage caused by stress is the most serious. And pain causes stress. And when stress becomes chronic, it causes chronic inflammation. Now you’re vulnerable to a whole bunch of other diseases.

And of course, pain also affects your sleep.

Chronic Pain and Sleep

If you have chronic pain, you’ll also suffer from fatigue and sleepiness. Your memory and quality of life will be reduced as well. The reason it has this effect is at least two-fold. First, chronic pain can cause you to wake up many times at night. But it also changes the amount of time spent in each sleep stage.

This is important because we need to spend a certain amount of time in each sleep stage. For instance, specific hormones are released in stage 3 sleep that help with the growth and restoration of your body. And Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is important for memory consolidation. Additionally, some sleep stages affect your perception of pain.

And while pain causes sleep fragmentation, poor sleep can cause an increase in perceived pain. This starts a vicious cycle. Because the anxiety and depression from pain and lack of sleep increase the feeling of chronic pain.

When Mice Don’t Sleep

When lab animals were deprived of sleep, their body temperature dropped, internal organs shut down, and they died fairly quickly. How does this happen?  One study indicated these mice used up their energy almost twice as fast as other mice that were left to sleep. And because they couldn’t keep up with the energy loss, they died within 32 days!

With humans, hallucinations and paranoia set in long before more serious physical symptoms do. And although no human has been reported to die from sleep deprivation, it still has done some serious harm. Thus the once beneficial pain that alerted you to trouble, has now turned against you and is actually causing damage itself.

So if poor quality sleep leads to increased pain, it follows that getting a good nights rest can reduce pain. But how are you supposed to get some good quality sleep when you can’t even get comfortable?

Let’s look at some treatment options that can help us achieve this.

Treatment Options 

Conventional

A group of medications known as Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs are commonly used to treat pain. Some of these are Motrin and Aleve. However, studies now show there are dangers in taking these medications. These risks include:

1-Increased risk of Heart failure.

2-Ulcers and internal bleeding.

3-Kidney failure

4-Serious allergic reactions

5-Dangers to children and teenagers.

Then there’re the narcotics, such as Tylenol with codeine, and Vicodin. However, these not only slow down your breathing but cause you to breathe more shallow as well. And if you already struggle with breathing in your sleep, these medications will only make things worse. Additionally, narcotics also reduce Stage 3 sleep, which is essential for the growth and restoration of your body.

So, whenever possible, treat the cause of the pain, don’t just numb it.

Alternative 

Exercise and other stressors release a chemical in our brains called Endorphins. The word Endorphin comes from 2 Greek words: Endo (from within), and Morpheús (The god of dreams), where we get the word MorphineThis is why physical exercise can make you feel good. Think runners high here.

But physical activity does more than just release endorphins. Additionally, physical activity (exercise) can prevent, or at least delay, pain;  because pain can increase with immobility. So although being too physical can increase pain, lack of physical exercise has the same effect. Therefore balance is the key.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is another interesting thing you might want to check out.

So again, doing things to reduce pain can help you sleep better. And when you sleep better, pain is further reduced. In all this, the real challenge is to allow the good acute pain in, but keep the bad chronic pain out.

Conclusion

Acute pain protects us from further injury. But chronic pain just causes more damage. We need to be able to reduce chronic pain as best we can, while not affecting the benefits of acute pain. If you’ve found something that has helped your chronic pain, please leave a comment. You can help others suffering from this as well.

Till next time…Blessings.

 

Can Poor Quality Sleep Really Cause Every Disease?

In this article, we’ll take a look at a different aspect of sleep and stress. I’ll show you how stress causes inflammation, and inflammation can ultimately cause many, if not all diseases.

Balance is the key

First of all, too much sleep is just as deadly, as too little sleep. This is because either state puts stress on your body. So then, balance is the key, and therefore, balance equals health.

Look at it this way. Our bodies are balanced when things that should be working are working. However, when things that should work, aren’t working; or, when things that shouldn’t be working are working, an imbalance is created.  And sooner or later, disease will set in.

By the way, if you’re thinking I’m exaggerating by saying too little or too much sleep is deadly, I’m not. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at stress and inflammation as they relate to sleep.

 Inflammation and Sleep

Poor quality sleep causes stress And stress causes a whole series of events to take place. However, we’re going to focus on a little guy called cortisol.

Cortisol regulates your immune system. Too much or too little over a period of time can cause frequent infections, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and chronic inflammation.

So even though Cortisol initially works to reduce inflammation, it eventually sets in motion a process that leads to chronic inflammation. And while inflammation is a part of wound healing, it can eventually cause disease, including cancer.

Also, reducing inflammation leads to suppression of the immune system, exposing us to disease. Yet inflammation itself can also lead to disease! It does this by ‘hiding’ mutated cells so that they go undetected by your immune system.

Remember, it’s all about balance.

I think further clarification is necessary here. That is that inflammation and infection are two different things. An infection can cause inflammation. But inflammation can take place without an infection, which is the focus of this article.

Let’s take a look a closer look at this.

Inflammation and Diseases

When you get an injury, your body responds by making your blood vessels ‘leaky’. This allows certain blood cells to go to the infected area and to properly deal with the invading organism; resulting in redness, swelling and tenderness to the area. Once the invader’s  dealt with, swelling goes down, and things return to normal; or at least they should.

But what if they don’t? What if you’re constantly under stress?  We’ve already seen how inflammation can turn deadly. Therefore,  poor sleep causes stress, and chronic stress causes damaging inflammation, and chronic inflammation could be the cause of every disease. So then, poor quality sleep could be behind most, if not all diseases!

Or put another way. Balance equals health, and imbalance equals disease. Therefore, good quality sleep (balance) equals health; while poor quality sleep(imbalance) equals disease.

The following is a list of some of the diseases caused by inflammation:

1-Allergic diseases, like Asthma, Eczema.

2-Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s.

3-Heart disease.

4-Chronic Inflammation is also a critical component of tumor growth. Although it takes inflammation 20-30 years to produce cancer. Cancer’s also a risk factor for heart disease.

sleep and inflammation

 

 

 

 

In addition to all this, inflammation even causes us to age faster!

So then, if it’s all about balance, what’s the best way to cure disease?

Treat the Cause, not the Symptoms

Guess what? Good quality sleep is an excellent treatment for inflammation.

Again, if disease is caused by imbalance, then restoring balance should restore health. But modern medicine deals with symptoms, not the cause itself. Therefore, by getting to the cause of the disease, many, if not all, diseases could possibly be cured without medicine. Or, are there man made drugs that do restore balance?

Allow me to rant a bit here. And I speak only for myself. But I wonder if entities that stand to make a lot of money selling drugs for diseases are censoring information that prove natural forms of treatment are more effective than modern medicine?

In either case, here’s a list of foods that affect inflammation.

Foods that promote inflammation

Pasteurized dairy products, red meat, refined carbohydrates, sugar.

Foods that reduce inflammation

1-Fiber, Fruits, and Vegetables.

2-Garlic is good because it has a high sulfur content, and sulfur inhibits inflammation.

3-Herbal teas, including green tea which has mild anti-inflammatory properties.

In addition to this acupuncture can effectively treat stress. And studies also show that moderate physical activity does reduce inflammation as well.

Conclusion

We saw how poor sleep causes stress,  stress causes inflammation, and inflammation causes disease. Now if inflammation is the cause of all disease, including premature aging, then a good night’s sleep can keep you healthier. Remember, it’s all about balance. Too much or too little of a good thing becomes a bad thing.

Therefore if inflammation is the common denominator of all diseases, including aging And if inflammation is an imbalance, then restoring balance, not medicine, is the key to curing disease.

And one of the ways to restore balance is to get good quality sleep.

So, what do you think are some good ways to restore balance? Or do you think it’s more involved than that? And can modern medicine really restore balance?

Please leave a comment. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this.

Any feedback from you will help to improve this blog.

Also, be sure to visit and like my blog on facebook.

Till next time…Blessings.