Tag Archive for: chronic pain

If you’ve ever suffered from chronic pain, you know how much it affects every aspect of your life.

You can’t do the things you want to do. You don’t sleep well. It affects your mood, even your outlook on life. There’s a certain desperation that sets in, wondering if you’ll ever be back to normal.

Chronic pain can come from an injury that didn’t heal well. It can be from migraines, arthritis, chronic inflammation, digestive problems, and many other things.

The Four Major Pain Types[1]

  1. Nociceptive Pain: Usually from an injury, like back pain, a shoulder injury, or post-surgical pain.
  2. Inflammatory Pain: Caused by an inappropriate immune system response, such as Gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. Neuropathic Pain: Pain from nerve irritation, such as neuropathy or neuralgias. These are often from nerve impingement or entrapment.
  4. Functional Pain: the IDK of pain. There’s no obvious cause of the pain, like fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome.

Regardless of what kind of pain you’re having, there are some things you can do to help. Some of this is pure common sense, but when you’re plagued with chronic pain, sometimes we all forget the basics.

Here’s a loving reminder…

1. Reduce Your Toxic Load

Toxic Load is all the many chemical toxins that we unwittingly dump into and onto our bodies every day. Things like V.O.Cs (volatile organic compounds), sulfates, parabens and phthalates that you find in your shampoo, body wash, laundry detergents and fabric softerners, air fresheners.[2]

Even your makeup may not be safe. Check for PEG compounds, which are linked to cancer, parabens, which cause hormone disruption, formaldehyde/methylene glycol, which cause a whole host of issues.[3]

You are even getting a load of toxins from the packaging of processed foods, which may contain PFAS, aka “forever chemicals”,[4] that get transferred into the food. Yuck. These are seriously bad.

Instead, go for products from stores like Natural Grocers or Whole Foods, which don’t carry products that contain these toxins. Think scents from essential oils vs. chemical “fragrance.” You’ll be helping the environment, too, by making the switch.

2. Get Moving, Goldilocks Style…

In Chinese Medicine, stagnation is one of the main causes of pain for any reason. One of the best remedies for stagnation? Movement.

It can be hard to want to move when you have pain, but the more you sit, the more stagnant you become, and it will likely make your pain worse.

Now, when you have chronic pain, this is a bit of a dance.

You need to keep moving gently, consistently, as much as you’re able, but without exhausting yourself or flaring up your pain. That’s the Goldilock’s piece…finding what type and amount of movement work best for you and is just right.

Generally, shorter bouts of movement several times a day are a good place to start. Gentle stretching, walking, and light exercise as tolerated (avoiding injured areas as applicable.) Swimming, yoga, and sometimes even just dancing to your favorite music for a few minutes are good options, too.

Find what works for you, and be consistent!

3. Eat Better

We all know eating a lot of junk won’t make you feel very good.

For those of us with chronic pain, eating too much (and sometimes any) of the wrong foods can cause a flare-up of pain. Avoiding heavily processed foods, red meat, sugary foods, fried foods, MSG, rich foods and alcohol can go a long way towards easing chronic pain.[5]

So what can you eat to help manage pain?

The Mediterranean Diet is hands down the best diet, year after year for all health outcomes. Luckily, it’s also one of the easiest and most delish diets out there.

  • Mono-unsaturated oils like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or Avocado Oil for when you need a flavorless oil for baking or cooking
  • Green leafy veggies, like spinach, salad greens, arugula, kale, and collard greens
  • Nuts, like almonds and walnuts
  • Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, and sardines
  • Lots of fresh fruits, especially berries, citrus, and apples.
  • A variety of veggies, like carrots, sweet potatoes, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussel sprouts, etc.
  • Whole grains, from quinoa to whole wheat, sorghum, buckwheat, and brown rice.

Of course, if you have a food sensitivity, cater this to fit what you need.

4. Drink More Water

You probably are not drinking enough water on a daily basis. Me, too. Some days we do great at staying hydrated, but other days we get distracted and just forget.

Dehydration is a major factor in many kinds of pain, from headaches to chronic muscle and joint pain. So, drinking enough water should be a goal to help fend off pain (and it’s great for your skin, too!)

Here are some tips to make staying hydrated a habit

  • Start your day with a glass of water first thing in the morning. Keep a glass by your bed and drink it as soon as you sit up in the morning.
  • Carry a non-BPA water bottle with you and sip throughout the day.
  • Have a glass of water with each meal.
  • Eat more hydrating foods, like watermelon, cucumbers, salads, and soups.
  • Keep track of how much water you’re drinking. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks are actually dehydrating, so keep that in mind.

5. Get Regular Acupuncture & Massage Therapy

Research has found again and again that acupuncture is effective at treating chronic pain. [6]

Whether it’s musculoskeletal pain, TMJ, back pain, neck pain, migraines or other headaches, arthritis, IBS, or even chronic period pain, acupuncture has been successfully treating chronic pain for centuries. Your acupuncture treatment can also include cupping, which is great at releasing tight fascia.

Likewise, massage therapy is “recognized as a legitimate therapy”[7] for several pain mechanisms, and is effective at relieving musculoskeletal pain, relieving stress and anxiety related to chronic pain, and helping to stop pain by stimulating competing nerves.

Both acupuncture and massage work best when used regularly in managing chronic pain. At Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness, we offer acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, and visceral manipulation to help you manage and heal from your chronic pain. 

For personalized support with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, or for your free 15-minute initial telemedicine consult, book an appointment with Dr. Jennie.

Book a massage anytime here.

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness

[1] https://www.spinemd.com/name-your-pain-exploring-the-four-types-of-pain

[2] https://www.webmd.com/beauty/what-to-know-about-shampoo-ingredients

[3] https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/harmful-chemicals-in-your-cosmetics

[4] https://www.consumerreports.org/pfas-food-packaging/dangerous-pfas-chemicals-are-in-your-food-packaging-a3786252074/

[5] https://www.medicinenet.com/what_foods_cause_joint_pain/article.htm

[6] https://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20180521acupuncture.html

[7] https://www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-integrative-health/therapeutic-massage-for-pain-relief

Chronic pain affects your whole life.

Whether it’s neck or back pain, migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia, nerve pain or anything else, chronic pain can create anxiety and depression, insomnia and has a huge impact on your ability to do “normal” things. Dealing with the pain itself is exhausting mentally, emotionally and physically. And since it’s not usually visible to others, your family, friends and coworkers may have a hard time understanding why you aren’t your usual self.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, chronic pain is any pain anywhere in your body that lasts for more than three months, whether it comes and goes or is constant. If you suffer from chronic pain, you aren’t alone. Statistics show about 25% of American adults experience chronic pain.[1]

Sometimes the cause is obvious, like an accident or injury. In other cases it isn’t so obvious. Did you know chronic stress, anxiety and depression are related to chronic pain due to suspected endorphin imbalance? In some cases, like fibromyalgia, it’s believed the brain changes to become more sensitized to pain, possibly due to chronic viral infection like Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), and potentially, long-Covid.

While Western medicine has pharmaceutical options to treat chronic pain, they can come with a lot of side-effects with long-term use, like with opioids or corticosteroids. Even NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen are problematic for the gut and liver when used daily. Often, these don’t totally reduce the pain. More concerning, they rarely treat the problem.

So where does that leave you?

The good news is, both acupuncture and massage therapy can treat both the pain and the root cause of many types of pain.

A meta-analysis study, published in 2017 in The Journal of Pain, that reviewed years of studies on the efficacy of acupuncture in treating musculoskeletal pain, headaches and osteoarthritis pain found that not only was acupuncture effective in relieving pain, but that the effects of acupuncture persist over time…meaning the results last![2]

Acupuncture treats the whole person, both the symptoms and the underlying causes of the pain.

Whether it’s an injury, anxiety, a chronic viral condition like EBV, hormone imbalance underlying migraines or just wear and tear with osteoarthritis, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine has centuries of experience in treating pain AND the root cause.

Massage therapy is another natural way to treat and manage pain, especially when it’s musculoskeletal pain.

A review of studies found that massage is effective at treating chronic low back pain, as well as shoulder pain and headaches stemming from neck tension, and can be helpful in treating other chronic pain symptoms.[3] Researchers believe massage may relieve pain in several ways, including “…relaxing painful muscles; relieving stress and anxiety; and possibly helping to “close the pain gate” by stimulating competing nerve fibers…”[4]

At Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness, we offer acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, and visceral manipulation to help you manage and heal from your pain.

We recommend you book a free 15 minute telemedicine consult with Dr. Jennie to determine which combination of therapies will help you the most, and fastest. You’ll usually feel better after your first visit, and after weekly treatments for several weeks, you’ll start to feel better all around, without side effects.

For personalized support with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, or for your free 15-minute initial telemedicine consult, from the comfort of your home or office, book an appointment with Dr. Jennie. 

Book a massage anytime here

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness

[1] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4798-chronic-pain

[2] https://www.jpain.org/article/S1526-5900(17)30780-0/fulltext

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1876616/

[4] https://www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-integrative-health/therapeutic-massage-for-pain-relief