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Chronic Pain and Nutrition

Pain affects your ability to enjoy life and focus on what you are doing. Acute pain associated with an injury or surgery goes away with time and treatment.

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed, affecting your relationships, work, sleep, and mental and emotional health.

Here at Hazeldean Family Chiropractic, chronic pain is one of the major reasons why patients seek us out. Low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and migraines are the most common complaints, causing daily discomfort.

Regular chiropractic adjustments go a long way towards helping to realign the spine and alleviate some of the pain.

However, it’s ultimately up to patients to make the lifestyle changes required to sustain good health. What you do after you leave your chiropractic office is just as important to help you reduce discomfort and pain. Obviously, a regular exercise routine is key, as are good postural habits. Your Chiropractor can provide advice and helpful tips in this regard.

Less obvious is the fact that what you PUT in your body is just as important as what you DO with your body.

Let’s talk about nutrition

box of veggiesWe tend to associate any discussions about poor nutrition with body weight. The media is rife with reports about the obesity epidemic in North America. Public Health Canada has reported that in 2017, 64% of Canadians over the age of 18 were overweight or obese, and about 30% of children aged 5 – 17 were overweight or obese.

A sedentary lifestyle plays a role, but the major culprit for Canadians is diet. Unfortunately, a poor diet does more than pack on the pounds. Many people who suffer from chronic pain are not aware that what they eat may well be the source of their pain.

The typical North American diet is deficient in fruits and vegetables and contains excessive amounts of meat, refined grain products, and dessert foods. Such a diet – laden with salt, sugar and fats – can have a variety adverse effects on the human body.

Your body’s defence mechanism

When something damages your cells, your body – in an attempt to heal itself – releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system. This is the body’s response to toxins, infections, and injuries. Consistently poor food choices result in inflammation.

Chronic inflammation happens when this response lingers, leaving your body in a constant state of alert. Over time, chronic inflammation will negatively impact your organs and tissues, stressing your body’s biomechanical structure. (Biomechanics is the science of movement of a living body, including how muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together to produce movement.) Ultimately this will exacerbate the chronic pain and disability associated with musculoskeletal conditions.

Planning your strategy

Understanding the connection between chronic pain to inflammation, and inflammation to diet, is key.

Targeting and eliminating specific foods is only a start. It’s also important to seek out alternatives that keep you eating well for life. An anti-inflammatory diet favors fruits and vegetables, foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, lean protein, healthful fats, and spices. It discourages or limits the consumption of processed foods, red meats, and alcohol.

Many people lack the time or willpower to change their eating habits. Here are some tips:

  • Keep a “food journal” detailing any noticeable differences when eliminating certain foods
  • Have a friend team up with you, and motivate each other
  • Pick up a variety of fruits, vegetables, and healthy snacks during the weekly shop
  • Replace pop and other sugary beverages with still or sparkling mineral water
  • Gradually replace fast food meals with nutritious homemade lunches

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