Pain can have many causes and because of this, it can be very difficult to treat. A common cause of pain is inflammation. Inflammation describes a bodily condition when white blood cells, along with the chemicals they release, attempt to protect the body from foreign substances. Some of these chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissue, which can then stimulate nerves and cause pain.
Inflammation also restricts blood flow, preventing inflammatory bodies from being drained, and therefore exacerbates inflammation. The increased number of cells can also cause swelling of the joint lining and accelerated wearing down of the cartilage – eventually leading to more pain! So, while acute inflammation around an injury or site of infection is protective and beneficial, long-term inflammation is something to be avoided.
The following are guidelines and pointers, and are not guaranteed or suggested for everyone. Please consult with your doctor before starting any treatments and develop a plan that will help you. To drain inflammation, we need to manipulate our body’s vascular and lymphatic systems. This can be done in a number of ways:
When we are exposed to heat, our blood vessels dilate and expand, opening up space for excess fluids to drain. A hot bath 2-3 times per week for 10-20 minutes or a sauna visit, will help improve circulation, and deliver fresh nutrients to tissue. This keeps the inflammatory bodies moving and prevents stagnation in any one place.
Life is, however, a game of balance and for every hot we need a cold. Cryotherapy works by reducing blood flow to a targeted area, which limits the swelling and temporarily slows down nerve activity, thereby relieving pain. Using a cryotherapy chamber, ice bath, or targeting an area with an ice pack can work to prevent inflammatory buildup.
Alternating days of hot and cold therapy is a great way of keeping your vascular and lymphatic systems circulating through while preventing the buildup of fluid.
As mentioned in our Ultimate Testosterone Guide, diet is everything. The foods we consume, one way or another, often come back to haunt us. Processed meats, sugar, sodium, trans fats, alcohol, and vegetable oil can all trigger inflammatory flare-ups and prolong inflammatory conditions if consumed regularly.
An anti-inflammatory diet should include dark leafy greens like spinach or kale, and antioxidant-rich fruits such as blackberries or cherries, avocado, coconut, salmon, and turmeric. Generally speaking, losing weight and reducing blood pressure will also alleviate inflammation, which is another reason to get that diet on point.
Sometimes the little things make a big difference. Regular stretching sessions will improve blood flow and, in turn, help flush out inflammation. Over time, stretching will also help loosen tight muscles, fascia, and tendons. By incorporating foam rolling, compression, or sports massages into this stretching routine, the overall strain on your joints and muscles will be greatly reduced.
Chronic pain and inflammation, in some cases, can make exercise feel impossible. However, it is important to do whatever you can do as often as you can do it. Even a short, 5-10 minutes of walking will push fresh blood throughout your body and aid in clearing inflammation. Coupled with a good diet, exercise will support weight loss and heart health, supercharging your resilience to inflammation.
The Bottom Line
If you suffer from chronic conditions such as pain or inflammation, it is important to seek treatment from a specialist. However, you can utilize treatment strategies at home that may help make a difference, and even enhance the care you are already receiving.
Remember, these are just guidelines – please talk to your doctor before incorporating these treatments. If you think you may be suffering from excessive inflammation, ask your doctor about a blood test. We offer a Chronic Inflammation Panel within our Blood Essentials Test Panel, which can be downloaded here: