I. Inflammation: Friend or Foe??
Find out in my latest blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
In a previous blog, I discussed the process of inflammation, how it contributes to disease processes, and various natural methods on how to turn it down naturally. I also discussed how inflammation in one area of the body affects distant areas. Specifically, how inflammation in the digestive track leaks into the body and settles in joints, organs, and the brain. However, let me caution you before you start shouting curse words at inflammation. It is not the bad guy it’s marketed to be. As a Naturopathic and functional medical practitioner, I have to consider the purpose and cause of symptoms, including inflammation.
The key point of this article is to show that although inflammation is suffering from a bad rap as the cause of all the modern woes, it’s not a good idea to completely shut it down. Politics aside, in the body, moderation is truly the key, especially with quenching out the fire of inflammation.
Inflammation does serve a purpose; it is the body’s action response when there is an invader or trauma to the system.
II. What about Pain Management?
I thought the article in Dr. Northrup’s latest newsletter was fantastic as far as looking at the various features of pain, verses just inflammation.
According to a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in late June, more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. The IOM, a committee tasked by Congress, determined that the cost of chronic pain is approximately $600 billion a year, when you account for doctor visits, medicine, sick pay, and so forth. Back pain is the most common form of chronic pain. Here is another staggering statistic: Over 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their life. Chronic back pain accounts for about half of the people on long-term disability in our country.
Women are susceptible to back pain or exacerbation of back pain at different times in their life.
- During adolescence, girls typically have less muscle mass than boys and, therefore, less shock absorbing abilities. Girls who do gymnastics are at risk for fractures in the spine, called spondylolysis. Overtraining therefore must be avoided.
- Having less muscle mass also puts girls and young women who participate in sports such as lacrosse and soccer at risk for disc bulges. When you play these sports, it puts an uneven load on the spine. This can cause shear stresses (too much movement of the discs, forward and sideways), which can lead to a tear or bulge in the disc–resulting in pain when twisting or sitting for a long time.
- The hormonal fluctuation around the time of your period can cause a phenomenon called pain sensitization, a temporary spike in chronic pain. This is particularly true for chronic discogenic pain (pain from disc bulges, tears, or deterioration).
- During pregnancy, hormones seem to magically protect the disc from herniating. In the past fourteen years, I have only seen one disc herniation in hundreds of pregnant patients. However, women are at high risk for a disc injury a few months after delivering their child, when the pregnancy hormones have dwindled. It’s very common for a woman to suffer from her first disc injury around six months after delivery. Therefore trying to stay fit after delivering the child is essential.
- Low estrogen at menopause increases your risk of osteoporosis. If osteoporosis occurs in the spine, it can cause compression fractures in the back. These are often treatable, and the pain usually resolves relatively quickly. One of the best ways to prevent a compression fracture is by walking thirty minutes daily.
- The combination of decreasing estrogen levels and a sluggish thyroid (hypothyroid), also common around menopause, can cause cartilage loss. Since the cartilage cushions your joints and protects the bones from rubbing against one another, the loss of cartilage can lead to arthritis in the spine leading to a condition called spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis presents as increased pain with walking or standing.
Northrup, C. Chronic Pain in Women–And What You Can Do. by Vijay Vad, M.D. August 2011 E-Newsletter. http://www.drnorthrup.com/monthlywisdom/archive/aug2011.php
Dr. Northrup. Pain’s Deeper Meaning. http://www.drnorthrup.com/healthwisdom/topic_details.php?id=326. Accessed August 2, 2011.
III. New Links on my webpage (including fluoride updates)
Now give me your feedback….
Is inflammation your friend or foe?