Recently I’ve been dealing with back pain – and not just an odd ache, but a constant discomfort that has affected my ability to move and play/live the way I want to……I’m even taking a break from netball (yep – it’s not been fun).
But, as life has thrown this speed bump at me, it has also bought with it an opportunity to learn and develop, & funnily enough (or not so funnily) as a Naturopath & Yoga Teacher I’ve also attracted a number of clients dealing with similar issues.
Now the trouble with conventional pain relief and anti-inflammatories, is that while they may stop the pain (temporarily), they also stop the healing. Remember, inflammation is a HEALING response, so if you stop it, you stop or at least slow down the repair process……I don’t want to stop my body’s healing – but man, I do want to stop the pain!!!
So what can we do? Quite a lot as it turns out.
1 – Acid/Alkaline balance. This one is integral, not only to pain relief, but pretty much to any process in your body: from detoxification, to connective tissue repair, exercise recovery, or cancer prevention/treatment. An alkaline system is a system where disease states struggle to exist. Think lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, lots of greens, and fresh colourful produce. I’ve also been taking a super alkalising mineral supplement (it is seriously the ‘bomb’!) .
2 – Fish oils and Essential Fatty Acids These essential fatty acids are systemic anti-inflammatories (they work everywhere!) and can’t be made by the body. This means they must be present in our diet (best choices are small oily fish or a high quality supplement), for our system to reap the wide ranging benefits of these SUPER oils. They help with the lubrication of the joints and just happen to help with a whole load of other stuff – everything from maintaining healthy cholesterol, overall cardiovascular health, to even supporting blood sugar signalling. It usually takes around 6 weeks for you to notice the effects – so while they are not a short term solution, they are certainly worth using as part of a pain management plan. Please choose a brand that is sustainably sourced, and from small fish (i.e. less contaminants, and more easily replenished fish stocks).
3 – Anti-inflammatory and pain relieving herbs. Luckily we have a whole host of goodies to choose from our herbal medicine dispensary. My favourites include Turmeric, Boswellia, Californian Poppy, Jamaican Dogwood and Ginger. These can be added to your food (i.e. especially ginger and turmeric), or for stronger doses, you can use herbal medicine formulations in tablet, capsule or liquid.
4 – Magnesium. This would seriously have to be my FAVOURITE mineral – its benefits are far reaching – but as far as pain goes, it is particularly beneficial for our muscular and nervous system. It reduces muscle spasm (which often accompanies or causes pain), and over active nerve receptors. It is also really helpful for painful periods. PLUS – it aids energy production, blood sugar regulation, nervous system support and nourishes the cardiovascular system (it’s one of those ‘this helps with EVERYTHING kinda minerals), but an important consideration for any pain.
5. Vitamin D. This is particularly important for immune regulation – so if you know your pain is part of an autoimmune issue (Rheumatoid arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Multiple Sclerosis etc), your Vitamin D status is particularly important. This is often part of a routine pathology screen, but PLEASE, aim to be in the ‘optimum’ range, rather than barely ‘normal’.
6. Yoga I’m not sure where I would have been in this last 6 months if I hadn’t had my yoga practice – i’ve had the glorious opportunity to really practice what I preach in managing a pain issue. Lots of lengthening, softening, surrender…….and trust…….trust that my body knows best and that it will heal in it’s own time (not necessarily when I want it to!!). Not pushing beyond what i’m capable of at THIS MOMENT IN TIME has also been a continual practice of awareness and patience.
7. Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Very rarely is any health issue purely ‘physical’. If you are doing all the ‘physical treatment’ and things aren’t improving or shifting, there is an opportunity to look a little deeper and ask yourself if, in fact, there is an imbalance elsewhere in your life that has manifested itself as a physical symptom. I’m certainly not an expert in this area, but there is lots of information and resources around that can help you uncover some deeper message from your physical symptoms. (I often come back to the work of Louise Hay and Caroline Myss). Sometimes even just the acknowledgment or discussion of this area, can bring about great shifts in your own healing.
Pain relief/management really does deserve a multi-faceted approach. For more information or to discuss your personal treatment options, please contact me and we can make an appointment to discuss your individual situation.
In Health, Happiness and Flow,