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.
Pain is a subjective experience determined by a localized response and a behavioral response. The localized response is driven by the pain receptors (mechanical, heat and chemical receptors) and nerve endings in the tissue of the injury or damaged area. This information is transmitted to the spinal cord via afferent nociceptors. At the spinal cord the message is relayed through a well-defined pathway to the higher centers in the brain. It is at the higher centers that the behavioral response is stimulated to begin behaviors that are directed at relieving or terminating the experience of pain.
The importance of Vitamin D cannot be ignored. Vitamin D is a natural conversion of blood cholesterol in the presence of UVB spectrum sunlight hitting the skin. Specifically related to intestinal permeability, Vitamin D3 has been shown to preserve epithelial barrier function in the presence of intestinal injury, be it Crohn’s disease or ethanol-induced or poor lifestyle choices. The free source of vitamin D3 is full sun exposure to a majority of your skin, without burning. Yet, during certain times of the year or even job requirements, it is not possible to get the needed skin exposure to produce adequate and therapeutic amounts. You can check your area for when the sun is above the 50 degrees altitude in order to provide UV B exposure for Vitamin D conversion. Spending five to ten minutes for fair skin during peak UV B exposure on a large portion of skin is the most effective and efficient. It’s important to gauge your skins response to avoid burning.
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.