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Chronic Pain is Often Broken Inflammation

Chronic Pain is Often Broken Inflammation
March 23, 2015 Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

IMG_2918Are pain management efforts actually working against people? A number of people that I see suffer from chronic pain. They have been told their pain is from damaged cartilage, bone on bone, bad discs, or that something is pressing on a nerve.

The technical truth is that their pains are from uncontrolled inflammation, and surprisingly the best way to end the pain is to restore their natural inflammation process.

We often hear of inflammation being a bad thing in the body that people need to be rid of. But natural inflammation is a good thing because it keeps people’s bodies in working order by repairing their tissues and organs hour after hour, day after day, year after year.

For example, human heart valves open and close 30 million times per year. Without inflammation diligently repairing the valves, people would all go into heart failure in a short amount of time.

Daily inflammation is not their enemy, daily inflammation keeps them healthy. It is only when inflammation is not controlled properly that it causes people chronic symptoms.

There are 3 basic phases of inflammation: (1) initiation, (2) repair, and (3) resolution. The first instinct, in this modern age of drugs and quick fixes, is to quickly stop the pain.

Common medications known as NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, celecoxib, etc.) help reduce pain in the second repair phase but surprisingly prevents the third resolution phase from working.

Medications might temporarily improve how someone feels but are more apt to cause them to have the inflammatory pain longer; people get stuck in the repair phase. And in a state of constant battle nothing gets resolved but everyone keeps fighting.

Beyond NSAIDS, steroids also reduce inflammation pain. Oddly, a doctor may give an injection of steroids that provides relief of back, knee, or hip pain for months but then advises that the patient will need surgery if the pain returns. Huh?

The pain relief that the patient received from the steroids proves that the real problem is actually an inflammatory control problem and not the problem of an anatomical abnormality needing surgery.

The steroid alters the inflammation not the anatomy, and that is the secret to chronic pain resolution.

We don’t just “catch” inflammation. The perpetual pain cycle begins with injuries to our Autonomic Nervous System (the brain’s master control mechanism for the body and immune system), a disruption of our intestinal bacteria (altered by prolonged antibiotics and/or vaccines), and a food supply that promotes inflammation.

There are two branches of the Autonomic Nervous System. One is the Sympathetic Branch that controls our “flight or flight” instincts. The other branch is the Parasympathetic Branch that controls our entire immune system as well as the “rest and digest” functions.

When the Parasympathetic Branch malfunctions it is unable to regulate the inflammation that causes fibromyalgia, tingling and numbness, restless legs, and pain surges. Parasympathetic dysfunction may be tested, treated, and restored in ways that do not include narcotics, steroids, and surgery.

How do people shut off chronic pain without using narcotics, steroids, and surgery? The first step is isolating the injury to the Autonomic Nervous System through non-invasive FDA approved testing that takes about 20 minutes in my office.

A computer software system, along with EKG leads and a blood pressure cuff, identifies and measures the Parasympathetic brain signals that have been disrupted. Depending on the pattern or severity of the disruption a person may need short-term medication to allow the Parasympathetics to heal and reverse the pain process.

The Parasympathetic Branch controls a person’s rest and digest functions and often with Parasympathetic dysfunction people develop a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestines called SIBO. Symptoms of SIBO include heartburn, food intolerance, eczema, and anxiety.

Short-term medication may be necessary to get their bacterial overgrowth under control, and long-term nutritional maintenance may be necessary to maintain their healthy blend.

Interestingly, many people have a direct correlation between inflammatory pain and supplements that change their intestinal bacteria blend. My wife, for example, feels like her fingers and wrists are broken if she takes probiotics. Within days of stopping the probiotics her inflammatory pain is gone.

Repairing the broken inflammation process is further accomplished through food choices. Not flashy, but effective. People need significant Omega-3 fatty acids in their daily meals from wild fish, grass-fed beef, and nuts because Omega-3 is actually converted into the chemicals that are responsible for “shutting off” inflammation.

Inadequate amounts of Omega-3 in the diet result in inadequate control of inflammation.

Most people do not get consistent amounts of Omega-3 from their food so taking daily fish oil supplements are mandatory. The Omega-3 in fish oil is simply unable do its job when the dose is too low, the balance of EPA/DHA is not correct or when taken sporadically.

The next nutritional step is to eliminate the chemicals in food that keep people inflamed. Omega-6 fatty acids from soy and soybean oils, vegetable oils, margarine, and shortenings are converted into chemicals that are responsible for “turning on” inflammation. The modern western diet contains 20 times more Omega-6 than someone needs.

This means people get 20 times more Omega-6 (bad guys) when compared to the Omega-3 (good guys), and it is this imbalance that leaves people with inflammatory systems too easily turned on or perpetually kept on.

People have to take on an active role to identify and eliminate the Omega-6 that promotes inflammation. That means reading food labels and making an effort to eliminate Omega-6 at every meal.

Does restoring that third phase in the inflammation process through better food, fish oil, and Autonomic recovery really work and shut off chronic pain? Yes.

The marvelous thing about inflammation is that it is our ally and we actually need it in order to remain healthy. Once people start working with their natural inflammation repair process and not against it, they begin to conquer chronic pain in the manner that nature intended.

For more information on Autonomic recovery, SIBO, and the nutritional fight again chronic pain you may call my office at 623-208-4226 or learn from my website www.DrBuckeye.com.

I am a classically trained internal medicine physician from UCLA and my private office is located in the greater Phoenix area. My research background has been focused on the Autonomic Nervous System, brain metabolism, and metabolic inflammation. I now use this training and experience to reverse disease.

© 2015. Dr. Patrick Nemechek and Jean R. Nemechek. All Rights Reserved

13 Comments

  1. Brent Foust 1 year ago

    A good read! Chronic pain is a result of inflammation. The medications like Ibuprofen belong to class of drugs called as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. These medications are effective in treatment of acute as well as chronic pain.

  2. Naomi 2 years ago

    I’m curious if you have dealt with any sphincter of oddi dysfunction patients? Your protocol really helped my sister and her kids so thank you.

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 2 years ago

      Not certain how a clinician would specifically know that was the problem. Nonetheless, the sphincter of Oddi is most likely under autonomic control and could possibly benefit from our protocol.

  3. Joy 2 years ago

    I see this is an old thread, but hoping it will still be seen. We are using the NP in our family. Recently we heard of a friend suffering with trigeminal neuralgia. I had never heard of it, but a short skim of info online made me wonder if it would respond well to your types of treatments? My layman’s brain is somehow connecting it to the face version of fibromyalgia… which we know your protocol can help. Am I making too long of a leap, or can trigeminal neuralgia also be helped? This friend has of course tried everything else with no success.

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 2 years ago

      Yes, I’ve had many patients with trigeminal neuralgia improve and even fully recover.

    • Joy 2 years ago

      Thanks so much!

  4. Aditi 2 years ago

    Thank you.

  5. Aditi 2 years ago

    Hello Doc. Missed this reply. Thank you. While I am somehow confident that the food intolerance would be treated in the long run with the protocol, do you think the dust/mold allergies can be resolved too?

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 2 years ago

      Common allergies do not improve.

      Food intolerance is mainly from bacterial overgrowth while environmental allergic reactions are an immune system issue unrelated to bacterial overgrowth.

  6. Aditi Shanbhag 2 years ago

    Hello Doc, when you say one needs to actively avoid Omega 6, does it also include eggs (seems they have a high %). Thank you for clarifying.

    [ I have chronic pancreatitis. And have developed multiple intolerances/allergies to food, dust, mold etc. Hope to visit you someday. I am currently in India. Thanks for giving all of us hope 🙂 ].

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 2 years ago

      Just avoid the major sources that come from the high omega-6 oils and the oleic acid in the olive oil will protect you from the rest.

      Your food intolerances and chronic pancreatitis can be magnified by bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

  7. Marty Kindrachuk 5 years ago

    I have lived with a hungry stomach/nervous energy for a number of years. What I mean by this is that if I want to sleep at night I need to eat about 1 1/2 pounds of animal protein. If not a combination of hunger pangs and nervous energy will not let me sleep, and, worse yet, will leave me exhausted by morning. Carbs and sugars are a culprit but even when massively reduced over a long period of time, only take the edge off and reduce animal protein consumption, but does not eliminate the combination of 3 issues (hunger pangs, nervous energy and excessive food intake). For clarity, the hunger pangs can surface on its own but if I don’t eat abundant animal protein within an hour or 2 the nervous energy surfaces (but the nervous energy never surfaces on its own). About 8 years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatitis (but I have had this condition for 17 years), my blood pressure elevated beyond normal ranges 4 years ago, and because of the high amount of animal protein I consume my weight has increased (before condition I was 172 pounds and now around 220 pounds on a 5′ 9″ frame). I don’t consume much alcohol in a year (maybe the equivalent of a couple of bottles of wine spread out over special occasions). I have noticed that I have massive sugar cravings.

    Has anyone else presented themselves to you with a similar condition? Do you have an opinion on the problem? I live in Alberta but have a winter home in the Phoenix area. I just returned from Arizona last week from Christmas holidays but will be back in April (annual golf jaunt with golf buddies). We will be down for about 3 weeks. How many visits would you want to see me during these 3 weeks?

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 5 years ago

      Marty,

      Assuming most of your basic lab testing by your doc there is normal, the food cravings are often an indication of autonomic dysfunction that makes it difficult to properly regulate oxygen to the brain. In response to low brain oxygen, patients crave food, salys and sugars most often, have increased thirst, are often very fatigue, have poor concentration and often have trouble sleeping.

      In one visit we can determine the exact type of dysfunction and work out a treatment plan with most follow-up visits being done by Skype. Your scenario is not too unusual for the patients I commonly see. If interested, contact me at drnemechek@drnemechek.com

      Dr. N

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