Massage Therapy & Chronic Pain Series - Part 4
Chronic Pain from Genetic/Autoimmune Issues & Chronic Inflammation
There are many varying conditions that fall under the topics genetic predisposition and autoimmune disorders. These are often irreversible conditions and the focus becomes trying to manage the pain. With some of these conditions the pain can come from the bodies reaction to the genetic/autoimmune issue. So while the issue can’t be stopped the way the body reacts may be supported.
For example with arthritic pain, be it osteo-arthritis (cause can be genetic or trauma) or rheumatoid (autoimmune) the muscles will tighten to guard/protect the painful joints. A small amount of guarding can be useful, but often the muscles get so tight around the joints that they are creating a significant amount of pain themselves and potentially compressing and irritating the joints more. If the muscles are released then the person can experience relief from the intensity of pain they are experiencing. Again the nervous system can play a huge role in autoimmune issues so learning to control the stressors of our lives and doing things which help to calm our nervous system can help with the pain of these issues as well. See part 2 of this series: [Chronic Pain from the Nervous System] for more explanation.
The final topic in my series is chronic inflammation in the body that leads to chronic pain. Chronic inflammation is when the body’s inflammatory process (which is a good thing) gets stuck in the on position after the reason for the original cause if the inflammation is dealt with (a bad thing). Chronic inflammation can come from traumas; regular irritation through poor alignment and job/life repetitive use; food sensitivities & allergies; autoimmune disorders; and bowel diseases just to name a few. They are even starting to re-classify some autoimmune disorders as auto-inflammatory disorders. The focus with these issues is figuring out and dealing with the chronic inflammation. If it is a physical/biomechanical issue then some of the strategies mentioned in part 3 of this series [Chronic Pain from Physical Trauma & Biomechanical Dysfunctions] can be used to help decrease the inflammation and pain. If it is from repetitive use then we can work on ways to support the repetition with changes in how the task is performed, strengthening to help the body manage the load placed on it, stretches and homecare to help with the tightness or inflammation created during the task, and treatment to release any residual changes. Often with people struggling with pain from inflammation changing their diet can help with the inflammation and reactivity of their bodies. Talking with a Naturopathic Doctor about foods that can be causing the inflammation and foods that can help decrease inflammation can be life changing for some people. There is also a connection between chronic inflammation and your immune system, which is the system that controls inflammation in our bodies. Therefore, by supporting your immune system you may also be able to target and decrease chronic inflammation. This is another area a Naturopathic Doctor can support you with your chronic pain.
Being in a state of chronic pain can be exhausting and make you feel hopeless about recovery. There may still be things that you can do to re-gain control of your body. Some people are fortunate to find support that can change the cause and give them relief of the chronic pain and some will at least be able to change the symptoms intensity. Hopefully this series of articles has given you some ideas to think about that you may not have heard before. If any of the topics in this series have connected to your personal experience you might want to consider talking with your health care practitioners to explore the options that may be right for your situation.