Chronic pain is an indicator that the body is out of balance and unable to heal itself. We all experience short-term pain from time to time, but chronic pain is persistent and can be unresponsive to traditional medical treatment. For a functional medicine practitioner like myself, chronic pain and fatigue syndromes are conditions that require a ‘whole body and mind’ approach that only functional medicine can offer.
Our bodies are a complex network of interconnected systems, and physical symptoms such as fatigue could be expressing an underlying psychological trauma. While stress is not a disease in itself, high stress levels are associated with many serious medical conditions, and the effects of stress and anxiety should not be underestimated.
Pain Management through Functional Medicine
Lifestyle modification can play an important role in chronic pain management because it identifies the source of the pain and doesn’t just treat the symptoms. For conditions like chronic back pain, this is important, as the continued use of steroids and painkillers is likely to damage the body with long-term use.
As part of my 360-degree health assessments, I work with you to develop an individualized treatment that includes:
- Diet changes (e.g., anti-inflammatory vegetables and fruits)
- Supplements that reduce inflammation such as fish oil and curcumin
- Weight loss by reducing sugar, high calorie, and processed food consumption
- Low impact exercises such as yoga or pilates
- Stress relief through meditation/relaxation exercises
- Measures to improve sleep quality
- Education around lifestyle choices
Chronic Lyme Disease
Chronic Lyme Disease (sometimes known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome) can result when a patient who has received antibiotic treatment for Lyme Disease continues to suffer the symptoms of the disease, including fatigue, joint/muscle aches, poor quality sleep, and speech issues. It’s possible that the disease has damaged their immune system, and it continues to behave as though the infection still exists. As part of a full treatment program, I prescribe a course of vitamin and mineral supplements to help my patients build up their immune system strength and return to optimum health.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or post-viral syndrome. Patients can have extreme tiredness, poor concentration, sleep issues, and headaches. CFS can be triggered by a viral infection or a hormonal imbalance and is more common amongst women than in men. The cause can vary, but in my clinical experience, chronic fatigue is often linked with poor gut health and poor nutrition. Our bodies fight a daily battle against toxins and pollutants in our environment and even in our food from spray residues and food additives. It’s no wonder that so many of us suffer ongoing fatigue—our bodies get very little respite from these daily challenges.
Immunodeficiency syndromes are a group of disorders where the body’s immune system fails to function properly, leaving the patient vulnerable to infection. Immunodeficiency syndrome can be genetically inherited or caused by an illness such as diabetes or cancer. Sometimes medical treatments themselves can cause an immune deficiency. Immune-boosting foods such as dark greens, berries, and garlic can help restore the body’s resilience to infection.
Fibromyalgia, sometimes known as soft tissue rheumatism, is a long-term condition that affects the bones and the muscles. Symptoms include fatigue, stiffness, muscle and joint pain. Treatment such as exercise, rest, and stress reduction can help reduce the symptoms but finding the root cause of Fibromyalgia is my goal, and the reasons differ from patient to patient. Some of the most common causes of Fibromyalgia include:
- Gluten Intolerance
- Thyroid issues
- Vitamin Deficiencies
- Toxicity – from amalgam dental fillings or molds
I believe chronic pain and fatigue are symptoms of a systemic imbalance that requires a multi-faceted treatment process. If you’d like to get to the root cause of your chronic pain—contact my clinic to schedule a Caregiver Clarity Call and start your journey to wellness.