Did you know that one in four Americans suffer from pain per the National Center for Health Statistics? Pain is the primary reason for seeking health care services. In 2010, the annual cost of pain was greater than the annual cost of heart disease, cancer and diabetes COMBINED. This pain is often caused by chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
Common treatments for painful and inflammatory conditions includes Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) medications like Advil or Motrin or Celebrex. The mechanism of action to decrease pain is in the NSAIDs ability to block the COX-1 or COX-2 pathway which is why it reduces inflammation and pain. A common side effect of NSAIDs is gastrointestinal disruption especially with chronic use. More recently there was a study published demonstrating an increased risk of cardiac arrest with the use of NSAIDs.
Another common medication is Acetaminophen (Tylenol) to address pain. Using Tylenol instead of NSAID reduces pain, it too carries rare but severe adverse reactions to the liver, blood and skin. The FDA has warned of these reactions that may even result in death.
Opioid pain relievers are also used for chronic painful conditions by blocking the pain message in the brain. Although this seems promising, it too doesn't address the inflammatory condition, but more concerning is the side effects. The most common side effect is a decrease in gastrointestinal motility which results in severe constipation. To resolve this issue, you could simply take another medication called Movantik to reduce the opioid-induced constipation. Now you are taking two more medications and you are still at risk for addiction and death.
If you have pain and inflammation, there are many SAFE and EFFECTIVE alternatives to those listed above. Here are the most effective and safe steps to reduce inflammation naturally:
1. Eat whole fruits, vegetables and protein naturally gluten and refined sugar free.
2. Move your joints through the full range of motion regularly.
3. Get 8-10 hours of sleep regularly.
4. Take anti-inflammatory supplements after/during steps 1-3.
Below I will describe my favorite supplements that specifically address inflammation and pain in addition to eating well, moving well and sleeping well.
First, a few disclaimers:
To learn more about how I choose the best supplements, read this. Here are the BEST supplements for reducing inflammation and pain. I will cover Curcumin (Turmeric) and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Curcumin is the active ingredient from the Indian spice turmeric which makes curry have the bright yellow color. As an herbal remedy it is historically used as an antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and pain killer. Turns out this spice is a natural COX-2 inhibitor to reduce inflammation. Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut, reduce inflammatory cells, increase healing, and reduce chondrocyte (a cell of the joint surface) death . To date there are no known interactions with prescription drugs noted on turmeric, but it's always safe to ask your doctor. Typical therapeutic dosing for an adult in powdered form is up to 10-12 grams dispersed through out the day.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega 3 fatty acids are primarily found in cold water fish, eggs, cod liver oil and also flaxseed oil. Fish oil or Omega-3 fatty acids reduce pain as they reduce inflammation, protect the joint, and provide protection to the nervous system. They enhance immunity, reduce inflammation and improve healing. Omega 3 fatty acids also potentially thin the blood, so caution should be taken if you are going to have surgery. The dosage range of optimal fish oil has not been established but typical dosing is 1-2 grams daily(up to 3-4 grams/day). Remember, eating cold water fish 2-3 times a week from wild sources is likely of equal value to supplementation.
Controlling the inflammatory response will help to reduce your pain and even allow healing. Remember to supplement only once you have adjusted your lifestyle to include whole nutrient rich foods, movement and rest. If you find that you continue to have pain, then maybe it's time to seek assistance from physical therapy.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove chronic use of dangerous pharmaceuticals.
Replace with whole nutrient rich foods, movement, sleep and supplemental support to reduce inflammation.
Restore a pain free life.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On.
Omega - 3 (fish oil)
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.