Ah pain. One of the many things that connects every human because we all share it. There are lots of types of pain, and each can be as infuriating as the next! Whether it’s aches, strains, or ghost pains, everyone wishes their pain away.
No one likes it, but pain can save our lives in the right situations. When pain sticks around longer than normal, it signals that there’s something wrong. Naturopathic doctors can not only help you treat pain but help you find what it is your body is trying to signal. In other words, we help discover the cause of your pain, so you can make the changes you need to be pain-free for good.
Here are some of the more common types of pain we see in clinics.
Arthritis is a painful inflammation of the joints. There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Low Back Pain
Low back pain is one of the leading causes of missed work in North America. Sometimes there is a physical cause, like vertebrae that are out of alignment or muscle spasms. However, most of the time there isn’t a direct physical cause, and the lower back pain is simply the result of stress or other emotional factors.
Physical treatments can be a great help in alleviating your back pain. Acupuncture, spinal adjustments and injections therapies can help back pain disappear, as can posture assessment and the strengthening of certain muscles. Stress management can decrease pain, and this means managing both physical and mental/emotional forms of stress.
Sprains & Strains
Most athletes have experienced physical pain as they pushed their body outside their limits. For some it has even ruined careers.
A sprain is what happens when a joint gets injured by moving outside its normal range of motion. Think of a sprained ankle: your ankle bends in a way it isn’t supposed to, which stretches the ligaments unnaturally, and it hurts!
A strain is what happens when a muscle gets stretched beyond its limits. They’re also known as muscle tears and can take a long time to heal properly. Rotator cuff injuries and hamstrings are common sites of injury.
We care for both sprains and strains in similar ways. Ice and rest are critical after the injury, and gentle movement can be started in 1-2 days. Both sprains and strains require proper nutritional support to aid in healing, and naturopathic doctors can help you get the right supplements to get you back on your feet.
Neuropathic (Nerve) Pain
Neuropathic pain, also known as nerve pain, is incredibly frustrating for the people who have it. Sometimes it’s because of diabetes and poor blood sugar management, or it can be a side effect of HIV or the drugs used to treat it. Post-shingles pain is a kind of nerve pain (called postherpetic neuralgia); shingles are more common in young people than most people think, and the pain after an infection can last for months or years. With any neuropathic pain, the goal is to reduce inflammation in nerve cells and to make sure you have enough of the essential vitamins and minerals required for proper nerve function.
How is Pain Treated?
Conventional medicine approaches to pain typically include pharmaceutical drugs that mask the pain. These drugs include anti-inflammatories, painkillers, muscle relaxants, and opiates.
- Ibuprofen and aspirin are examples of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), and their side effects include stomach ulcers and bleeding.
- Acetaminophen is a painkiller (but not an anti-inflammatory) that can cause liver damage.
- Opiates, like codeine and morphine which have addictive potential and cause constipation.
For some people, no matter how high of a dose of medication they take, their pain won’t go away. This is because the cause of the pain is not being treated, but only the symptom of pain.
Naturopathic medicine uses a whole-person approach that involves looking at all the possible causes of your pain. Naturopathic doctors look at the underlying cause of your pain and help treat the cause and manage your pain simultaneously. Naturopathic medicine has several modalities that can be used to help treat your pain:
- Herbal Medicine – Herbs like Devil’s Claw and Turmeric are proven to work as well as prescription anti-inflammatories
- Supplementation – Nutrients like magnesium and Vitamin B12 can help with nerve pain, and both can help reduce inflammation and speed tissue repair
- IV & Injection Therapy – IV and injection therapies can deliver nutrients right to where they’re needed, and tools like prolotherapy and neural therapy are helping people recover in almost miraculous ways.
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture works with your nervous and immune systems to move energy in your body, from places where it’s stuck to places where it’s deficient. In Asian medicine theory, stuck Qi, or energy, is the most common cause of pain.
- Diet & Nutrition – Sometimes inflammatory foods contribute to pain in the whole body. A great example is the nightshade family of vegetables, which includes tomatoes and green & red peppers. These vegetables are well-known for causing joint pain. Commons allergens, like wheat and dairy, can also play a role, and removing these foods can decrease your pain.
We all share in pain so we want to help treat it naturopathically! Book an appointment with us!