Pain: The Cost of Living with it Long-term

We all experience pain at some point in our lives.  It can originate from various sources, and it can also manifest in very different ways!

Typically, we think of pain as short-term, acute, and stemming from an obvious injury. But pain can also become a long-term condition, either constant in nature or even becoming transient in nature (going away and coming back again), neither of which are exclusive to physical pain. Emotional pain is also very real and can lead to the same detrimental effects in the body as chronic, physical pain does. Not to mention that physical injuries can impact us emotionally as well, perpetuating the situation, and suppressed emotional pain can also manifest itself physically as psychogenic pain, if not properly addressed.

Have you ever been told that there’s nothing wrong, you’re in perfect health, and that it’s all in your head, all while knowing that something just isn’t right and that your pain is real? We hear you. It can be extremely frustrating and defeating over time but rest assured that you are not alone in feeling this way.  We understand, and we have some solutions!

What is Pain?

Our bodies are restricted in their ability to communicate with us, so we rely on pain signals to tell us that something is wrong. In effect, our body is saying, “Pay attention and do something about this problem”, or “Stop doing that; it might be making things worse!” Pain can be extremely useful and beneficial, even lifesaving!

Sensations of pain can come from injury, illness, inflammation, stress, imbalanced hormones, or an upsetting event, but it is not meant to last for long periods of time. Acute pain speaks up, serves its purpose, and dissipates. Now, depending on the issue, its severity, and the actions taken to resolve it, this process can happen fairly quickly, or it can take several months. Typically, any pain persisting beyond six months, is considered to be chronic and that is when things take a turn for the worse.

Bottom line? Pain is how the body communicates with us – it can show up in many ways and present itself in many forms. But if you ignore it, or let it persist, it will get louder. Think of a toddler who is being ignored and is now expressing how much they want something or don’t like something for the 3rd time… how about for the 10th time, 50th time, 900th time…?


How Chronic Pain Affects Your Body

Pain is not an isolated symptom, it’s just the one that stands out because it is drawing your focus by being the loudest. Pain is like the kid throwing a tantrum – screaming, kicking, throwing things, and the other less noticed effects are like the kid who is silently taking a sharpie to the walls, or flushing things down the toilet, or maybe a candle was left unattended. Both cause damage and will eventually raise alarm bells, but some take longer to notice, all the while their effects are building and worsening. And you know what they say about one bad apple…

We want to encourage you to not ignore these messengers and not to give up on a solution just because you have hit multiple roadblocks along the way. The ongoing effects of pain, and the inability to manage its cause, will continue to accumulate. If one thing in the body becomes imbalanced enough and for long enough, the rest will follow. This is because the body is fully integrated and works as a whole. So, when something goes wrong, the other body functions will try to compensate, and effectively increase their workload. However, this is meant as a temporary fix, and by definition, is not sustainable. When one domino falls… or a table loses a leg…


Effects of chronic pain include:

  1. Anxiety and depression
  2. Physical and emotional stress
  3. Imbalance of hormones and neurochemicals
    • Hormone production increases initially, then decreases when pain persists unabated for too long.
    • Cortisol imbalance (stress hormone)
  4. Sleep disturbances
  5. Fatigue
  6. Compromised brain function and cognitive processes
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Impaired memory
  7. Decreased appetite
  8. Mood swings and irritability
  9. Activity limitations
  10. Raises blood pressure and heart rate
  11. Muscle tension
  12. High nutrient turnover
    • Without sufficient replenishing, everything in the body is negatively impacted, including bone density!
  13. Decreased immunity
  14. Increased inflammation
  15. Decreased sexual function and libido
  16. Decrease in overall quality of life
  17. An increase in health complications the longer it lasts

On top of these effects, the prolonged pain response can lead to an increase in pain severity, especially when experiencing an activity limitation that affects one’s daily life in a major way.

When pain is not addressed and resolved, it has a cascading effect over your whole being, from mental health impacts to bodily function impairment. Pain left untreated will lead to increasingly more detrimental effects to your health, such as the ones listed above. The effects of chronic pain will essentially lead to the breakdown of your body if it is left untreated for long enough.

But don’t worry…despite the despair you might be feeling, we have some solutions and possible remedies for you, so stay with us just a little longer!


Why There Is Sometimes No Physical Reason for Your Pain

Sometimes there seems to be no physical indication as to why you are feeling pain. This can also be true even if the pain originated from an injury that has since healed physically. Sometimes the pain can continue to cause undue stress and pain long past its healing period.

Whether the pain originated from an injury or came out of left field without a medical explanation, the effects are the same, and the pain could be sticking around due to suppressed emotions manifesting itself in the body.

In this instance, trying to address the physical causes for the pain is not always sufficient. The mind is a powerful contributor to the aches and pains we experience, and suppressing any emotion, whether it is positive or negative, can cause real physical pain. For example, feeling like you have too much on your plate and are ‘weighed down’, can manifest as shoulder pain, or hurt feelings manifesting as a headache.

Ancient Chinese Medicine has been saying this for centuries, physical pain serves as a warning that there is still emotional work to be done. It can also be a sign of unresolved trauma in the nervous system. They’ve even linked specific pain points and imbalances to certain emotions, such as neck pain being connected to guilt, judgement, and self-recrimination.


What You Can Do About It

There are many tools, treatments, and therapies that are incredibly useful and effective in addressing pain severity and frequency, but they become even more effective when they are used in combination with each other. Listed below are some ideas to get you started. And remember, you can always start with a couple of items and add in more as you go when you get more comfortable and start to make new, positive habits. Also, there is no magic wand, but with the right tools, consistency, and an open mind, you will get there. Chronic pain develops over time, and so it will take time and a purposeful effort to reverse, but it can be done!

  1. Stress reduction techniques:
    • Listen to music that makes you feel good
    • Journaling
    • Dancing
    • Breathwork
    • Pet/cuddle cute animals
    • Socializing with those you love
    • Human contact
    • Physical activity
    • Meditation
  2. Qigong – reduces stress and is very healing
  3. Increase your feel-good hormones
    • Anything that makes you happy, gives you purpose, and makes you feel fulfilled.
    • Sex is very healing too!
    • Laugh more
  4. EFT Tapping
    • Great for reducing pain, releasing negative feelings and trauma, and more!
    • Checkout The Tapping Solution
  5. Eat nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory whole foods that support your body
  6. Stay hydrated (I know you probably hear this a lot, but it is so important!)
    • When we are even just 3% dehydrated, all cellular functions suffer, and brain function is reduced significantly.
  7. Counselling
  8. Reduce your sugar intake
    • It’s inflammatory and damaging to your body like glass shards in your veins, and it increases the pain response.
  9. Reduce or eliminate dairy and gluten
    • These can be inflammatory as well.
  10. Start/maintain a health exercise program
    • Everything from cortisol regulation, improved circulation, lymphatic drainage, hormone production, digestion, happy hormones, increased joint lubrication, improved sleep, moving stagnant energy, toxins, etc.
  11. Regular sleep schedule that is 8-9 hours
  12. Acupuncture
    • Great for overall health, immunity, and pain relief
  13. Massage Therapy & Manual Osteopathy
    • Helps relieve muscle tension and stress.
    • Restores movement and encourages blood flow.
    • Supports detox and healing.
  14. Energy Healing Therapies

The longer pain lasts, the more it roots itself in your physiology, becoming increasingly difficult to treat over time. That being said, Ancient Eastern Medicine techniques like Acupuncture, and energy healing therapies like Reiki, work with the body as a whole to get to the root cause, so we can pickup the fallen dominos; figuratively of course. 😉


Acupuncture for Pain

The great thing about acupuncture is that it doesn’t require a diagnosis to be incredibly effective and supportive. Based on your symptoms and their interconnections, your practitioner will know what to do, and your body’s response handles the rest.

Acupuncture ignites the body’s natural healing abilities, clears energetic blockages, reduces pain and inflammation, improves circulation, and works to restore balance to the body overall, which will effectively get to the root cause of your pain.


Massage Therapy & Manual Osteopathy for Pain

Everything from physical activity to injury and stress affect your muscles and fascia (thin connective tissue that surrounds everything in the body and holds them in place). They can become tense, knotted up, strained, and tender. This then leads to restrictions, weakness, and pain, that can worsen if left untreated.

Massage Therapy and Manual Osteopathy are two manual therapies that work directly with the muscles and fascia to release tensions, improve movement, increase the flow of blood and other fluids, reduce stress, and support the body’s healing mechanisms.


Energy Healing Therapies for Pain

Energy healing has been around in Eastern cultures for centuries and is based on the premise that everything is energy, and that energy is our life force that keep’s our cells healthy, functioning, and alive.

Nothing in our world is still; everything is composed of molecules that are in constant motion, vibrating at various frequencies, and this includes our bodies. These vibrations can emit positive or negative, balanced or unbalanced, and open or closed frequencies. When our organs and other body parts are misaligned energetically and radiating low-vibrational frequencies, it can materialize into physical ailments such as pain, sickness, and disease. Injury, inflammation, toxins, and emotional trauma are also responsible for creating energetic blockages in the body.

Energy healing therapies like Reiki, Biodynamic Energetic Therapy (BET), and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) help to balance, heal, and release blockages from the body. This restores and maintains flow, balance, harmony, and vitality within the body, so that it can work more efficiently to repair itself. The body knows best, but sometimes it needs a helping hand!


Nutrition for Pain

Nutrition plays an incredible role in pain management because it is the key to a properly functioning body. Without nutrients, our bodies literally cannot survive, and there is a huge difference between surviving and thriving. Nutrition can support your body in unbelievable ways from bringing down inflammation to supporting optimal function of every organ and system.

Equally as important as what to put into your body, is also, what to not put into your body. And while there are many things that are bad for us across the board, based on your individual needs, there are other things that should also be avoided to support your recovery.

Talk to one of our practitioners today to get started on a personalized nutrition plan that is tailored to your needs. You will feel a systemic difference that will have you falling in love with food in a whole new way!


Moving towards action!

Overall, chronic pain is very taxing on the human body, and at the end of the day, this leads to an increase in health care costs and lost productivity. Remember, pain is a translated message from your brain saying, “Pay attention inward now!”.

Often when we feel a mild discomfort, we tend to ignore it, and hope that it will go away because, well, it’s not that bad and we don’t have time. Unfortunately, the reality is that if you don’t make the time to treat it in the early stages, you will likely have to make time for something more severe and long-term down the road, and no, it will never be a more ‘convenient’ time… Don’t wait for your pain to start throwing a tantrum in the middle of the store. 😉

And if you have already been living with chronic pain and are experiencing these effects, that’s ok too. It’s never too early, and it’s never too late to fix our bodies. Reach out to us today and see how we can help you turn back the clock. Ready to book an appointment? Check out our availability online.