Many of us suffer daily with intractable pain for one reason or another. Doctors try to help with pain medications. Other medical workers concentrate on physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic adjustments, hypnotherapy, etc.
These modalities are successful in many cases; yet, chronic pain, particularly arthritic inflammation, is seldom dealt with to everyone’s satisfaction. I believe a seldom used mode of dealing with the pain is focusing on nutrition and the way we process food in the intestines. The recent article “Increased Frequency of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Patients with Fibromyalgia and Associated Factors” (J. Rheumatology 2009;36:1720) is not the first article to bring up the association between inflammation and our intestinal function. We have known about inflammation arising in the intestines since Metchnikoff won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1908.
The implications of this article are far reaching; at least in my clinic, where we are able to help patients with arthritis inflammation 80% of the time.
Sadly, most people are not willing to change their diets to minimize the toxic intestinal environment that begets inflammation. Worse, most doctors continue to ignore articles like this one; they are not able to offer patients the choice that some may welcome to decrease pain.
Sometimes patients are told that they have genetic tendencies that cause the inflammation, ignoring the cutting edge reports that each gene may express up to 30,000 proteins. (J. Cell 2000;101:671) This means that any gene may or may not lead to inflammation: it all depends on environmental clues, like nutrition, toxins, and even our thoughts, beliefs, and relationships.
The article “Transposable Elements: targets for early nutritional effects on epigenetic gene regulation” (J. Molecular & Cell Biology 2003;15:5293) simply means that “control from above” (epigenetic) can decrease an inflammatory genetic tendency; if we change our diets, clean up our environments and improve our thoughts, relationships and beliefs we have a good chance to manage a lot of our pain issues. Of course, there will always be cases where more traditional treatments will be needed.
On a similar note: Why does our health care system “hurt?”
Could we stop the pain (manage the cost) in a more sustainable way?
Hopefully someday we will focus on teaching patients these simple concepts.
Maybe someday we will stop spending most of our money on weapons and concentrate on the health of our people.