Sign in with Google+ Sign in with LinkedIn
Chronic inflamation

Can we break chronic pain patterns?

Chronic pain is exhausting. Especially when there seems to be no way out. But as the saying goes: when you’re going through hell, keep going.

Because going through may be the only way to get over it.

A few years back, I was at the peak of suffering from chronic Lyme symptoms. One symptom was non-stop itching and the feeling that zillions of creepy-crawlies were devouring the skin all over my body.

I was at the edge of my tolerance, stressed and about to die, I thought, from sheer misery.

And then something happened. The pain subsided, disappeared unexpectedly.

And it was heaven.

But it was temporary.

The relief lasted only about a half hour, but it was enough to show me that it was possible. That was my introduction to the miracle of the mind-body connection and the power of distraction.

Have you ever experienced “pain fountains”? If you suffer with chronic Lyme symptoms, you may know exactly what I mean.

Let’s just say it. The body-mind connection is a singular, miraculous evolutionary development. A god-given gift. Practice being in tune with it increases our awareness and sensitivity.

Pain in our bodies is also experienced in our minds, and vice verse. The mind can assist the body in healing, yet it can also lock us in a loop of pain that feels impossible to escape.

Dealing with serious illness is one way — one hard way — to learn more about this mysterious connection. A doctor friend described these pain fountains as the patterns formed in our neuronal pathways in response to chronic pain. A sort of dance between body and mind.

In my experience, the pain fountain felt like a recording on repeat, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

But what I didn’t realize — until I experienced it out of the blue — was that pain fountains can be, if not stopped, interrupted. And that interruption can reward an exhausted immune system with a temporary reprieve from the agony of chronic pain.

The result can bring about a deep sense of wellbeing, although usually temporary, and often brief and unexpected.

Like a gasp of air in one who thought they were drowning. Like a good night’s sleep to an insomniac. A break in the pain fountain can ignite hope in the heart. And that is what healing feels like.

Is it possible to set the stage for such a break in a chronic pain fountain? I learned the answer when I picked up a paintbrush and proceeded to thoroughly distract myself from my suffering.

But it doesn’t have to be a paintbrush. It could be knitting needles, or a fishing pole, or a model railroad, or a practice of Tai Chi.

I stumbled accidentally into the powerful effect of creating art. What do you love to do? I suggest you do it, no matter how awful you feel. It can’t hurt, and it might just break the pattern and help you find healing.


Art & Acupuncture: 2 ways to get chronic pain relief

Comments

Chronic Inflamation

Chronic inflammation is the troll under the bridge. It's the nasty culprit creating a dangerous—even deadly--environment in our bodies. Inflammation is at the heart of a long list of disease, including Alzheimer's, asthma, multiple sclerosis, gout, fibromyalgia, cancer, and Lyme. Chronic inflammation can exist inside our bodies for years, suddenly wrecking havoc in our heart, kidneys, or liver.

So what's causing it? I've been reading Kenneth Singleton's terrific book, The Lyme Disease Solution. As he explains, when Lyme bacteria or its co-infections infect the body, the same as when other microorganisms attack--such as parasites, fungi, mold, and viruses—inflammation results. Sometimes you can see it. Sometimes you can't. As I understand it, a little bit of inflammation goes a long way. It is our immune system's natural reaction to infection. A cut on a finger is painful. It swells a bit and turns red. These factors indicate that the immune system is doing its job. White blood cells rush like EMTs to the site of the action. In a healthy person, the infection is stopped. The redness fades and the swelling goes down as the cut mends.

However, if the bacteria isn't killed by the actions of the immune system, the inflammation can become chronic.

“...whenever we are dealing with chronic infections like Lyme, we must be careful not only to treat a person with appropriate antibiotics, but also to address the chronic inflammation problems that have been triggered by Lyme.” Singleton, K. The Lyme Disease Solution (pp. 186-187). Kindle Edition.


The Do's and Don'ts
First, the don'ts. Don't give a helping hand to the inflammation troll. The following activities suppress or kill the endorphins that will help you heal.


Smoking. If you smoke, quit! Here's your good excuse.
Drinking alcohol. Same goes here.
Consuming fried foods, doughnuts, pastries. If it doesn't build healthy cells, it isn't good for you.
Consumption of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Fifty pounds or more overweight.
Nursing a victim mentality and a negative attitude.
Being unable to forgive.
Averaging less than seven hours sleep per night.
Not drinking enough water.
Little to no sun exposure.

The good news? We can take action to prevent the inflammation troll from ruining our party. With shifts in dietary, lifestyle, and exercise routines, inflammation can be reduced or eliminated. The immune system produces these wonderful little gizmos called endorphins. They assist the NK (Natural Killer) cells in fighting the bad guys.

There's a short list of helpers to make our immune systems create more endorphins. You're gonna like it: Belly laughter, massage, chocolate, acupuncture, adequate sleep, and regular exercise. Eat fresh veggies, salmon (or Omega 3-s/Fish oil supplement), range-fed or organic meat consumption, and healthy oils, like olive. Indian curry, in particular the spice turmeric (curcumin), is a well-known anti-inflammatory agent. (However, please consult your doctor to see turmeric is okay for you. People with gallstones are not advised to consume turmeric.)

On the long list, you'll recognize these emotional and cultural keys that assist endorphin production, as well. We've seen them all before, but they're not trite. Not by a long shot. Indeed, these common-sense tips are central to healing body and mind:

Count your blessings.
Cultivate a positive outlook, and a spirit of generosity and giving.
Take time daily to pray and/or meditate—rejuvenate your spirit.
Do some deep breathing in fresh air.
If possible, get exposure to sunlight for ten minutes a day.
And nurture healthy relationships and social circles. You know, the kind that fluffs your feathers and fills up your love and laughter reserves. Seek out the company of people who make you feel good, not drained.

Antibiotics are necessary to kill the Lyme bacteria. Yet in many cases, they are not enough to return the body back to homeostasis, its natural state of balance. This is where lifestyle and dietary changes are needed to help us get a handle on inflammation.

Comments