Non-Pharmaceutical Approaches to Pain ManagementAug 31, 2021 ● By Dr. Meena Malhotra, MD
Photo credit vadym for Adobe Stock
Approximately 20 percent, or 50 million adults in the U.S., are affected by chronic pain, defined as pain on most days or every day in the past six months. Many turn to opioids for relief. Extended prescription of opioids for chronic pain has questionable benefits and significant risks ranging from physiologic dependence and withdrawal, depression and hormonal dysregulation and even cardiovascular events and accidental overdose.
Addressing nutrition and hormonal imbalance improves mitochondrial, musculoskeletal and nerve health, resolving chronic pain at the root level in most cases. In chronic pain patients with central sensitization, a low-glycemic-load diet diminishes the hyper-excitability of the central nervous system. A few common dietary triggers for chronic pain are cow’s milk antigens (alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, casein), wheat, eggs and soy proteins.
Testosterone is a key hormone for musculoskeletal health in both men and women and its deficiency is rampant. Upregulating two enzymes, aromatase inhibitor and 5-alpha reductase, decreases the conversion of our own testosterone to harmful intermediary products, so it can help maintain musculoskeletal health. Testosterone optimization can be accomplished by using bioidentical hormones, as well as with herbs like diindolylmethane (DIM), stinging nettle and quercetin. A diet rich in good fats like avocado, olive oil, ghee, nuts, seeds and fiber helps restore natural testosterone balance, as well.
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