It doesn’t matter if pain is dull, sharp or mild – it always begins in the brain. Even if muscles, ligaments and tendons are damaged , we must keep moving these tissues, little by little, so that healing happens quicker. “Sliding and gliding” of joints helps people with arthritis because muscles get stronger and improve flexibility.
Most injuries get better after 3 to 6 months but sometimes the brain still feels pain – even when healing has finished.
This is called complex pain and it may have many causes such as;
- The way we think or feel – our emotions
- Food in our diet
- Stress – family, work, money problems
- Diet – the foods we eat.
- Lifestyle – lack of exercise.
Some foods cause too much inflammation in the body, and can make arthritis pain worse. So we should have less of these foods;
- Simple sugar – chocolates, biscuits, lollies, soft drinks, fast foods
- Saturated fats (fast foods) and trans fats (biscuits, cakes, pies, chips, margarine, ice cream)
- Alcohol – makes pain worse.
- MSG in takeaway foods
- Omega 6 fatty acids – oils made from corn, safflower, sunflower, soy and blended vegetable oil – make pain and inflammation worse!
So things like stress, diet, emotions and lifestyle wire up our nerves and trick our brain into feeling and keeping pain in our head – even after our body has healed.
Sometimes we need medicines to control pain but we should try to use less and less – because codeine painkillers only trick the brain into feeling better, and don’t fix problems like stress, our emotions, smoking, bad diet, and lack of exercise.
So we need a plan to wind down the strain and retrain the brain!
These are some the things we can do;
- Work less, take more short breaks or holidays, change your job
- Reduce stress and wind down the nerves – turn off the TV, computer and mobile.
- Reduce smoking or try QuitCoach
- Eat a healthy diet
- Do more exercise – yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, walking, running, swimming, anything
- Go out with family and friends – don’t just Facebook or Twitter them
- See your doctor as past emotional problems make it harder to reduce pain
Remember, when you start exercising – do the stuff you enjoy, start slowly and do more and more, little by little, every week.
If in doubt, talk to your doctor or even better still, see a physiotherapist to help you exercise the right way.
(Medicare provides 5 free vouchers per year for exercise programs recommended by your doctor http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/Chronic+Disease+Allied+Health+Individual+Services)
Remember, when your whole body moves, the muscles, heart, kidney, and lungs work together to retrain the brain so that you feel less pain.
Author – Emmanuel Pippos, Consultant Pharmacist