Top 3 Causes of Pain

by Steven Carney on November 14, 2016

This is post #130 on the site, about the 3 top causes of pain and how to treat pain more safely and holistically.

This site is a collection of breakthrough articles and resources at your fingertips, so feel free to browse the information here. Whether you have health, life or prosperity challenges, I can help you achieve the life you desire. I offer a unique mix of coaching, support and experience from multiple certifications and success with my own life challenges: a serious childhood illness, blood sugar problems, allergies, low thyroid, etc.

Pain is one of the most common sources of suffering and doctor visits, with joint and back pain accounting for about 65% of medical complaints. Headaches are also a common pain complaint and account for another 10% of doctor visits. Together, these pain problems make up about 75% of all visits!

Whether pain is acute (intense, sharp and usually short duration), or chronic (more diffuse, generalized and persistent over time), pain is also a major source of medical cost. Research indicates that more than 100 million U.S. adults live with chronic pain and that direct costs for chronic pain treatment are close to $300 billion annually, with another $300 billion in cost due to lost productivity, sick days and disability!

Pain pills, whether OTC (Over the Counter) or prescription versions are also top sellers, and Americans now spend about $20 billion of pain pills annually, resulting in significant income and profits for drug companies.

Some helpful links with more information about the basics of pain:

Links with more detail about the costs of pain:

Pain pills rarely cure

One of the main problems with treating pain with pills or procedures is that doctors and patients often fail to get to the real cause (or etiology) of the pain.

Pain is the result of nerves sending a signal; they form a feedback system that tells you an area of your body needs attention or is not functioning properly. But medicine’s approach is often to reduce the symptoms, which is like cutting the wires to your smoke alarm, an irrational approach at its core.

Masking pain signals with pills or procedures without an accurate diagnosis and plan for long-term healing or cure will not address the origins of pain or resolve it permanently. That in turn creates a dependency on pills or procedures, leading to long-term consumption, potential addiction and even death (see High social cost section below for details).

Unfortunately, the very foundation and business model of Western medicine and drug/procedure marketing is to diminish symptoms. And that’s because it’s very profitable for drug companies and medical practitioners like your doctor, even though it’s terrible for patients. Patients have a right to know why they feel pain and what alternatives exist to help cure them permanently.

For those who think surgery is a great solution, such as joint implants or back surgery, the long-term results are often bad as well (more detail and links below). Here are the top 3 causes of pain:

1. Musclo-skeletal pain (also called somatic pain)

As mentioned earlier, joint and back pain are responsible for about 65% of all doctor visits and can include a range of muscle, joint and ligament problems, along with nerve impingement or irritation.

Ironically, these problems can often be driven by lifestyle choices, such as unhealthy nutrition (too much sugar, refined carbs and oils, junk and fast food), a lack of regular activity, previous injuries that didn’t heal properly, muscle and soft-tissue weakness or strain, poor posture, a lack of mobility and flexibility, high stress, poor sleep, etc.

I’ve had my own problems like scoliosis and a bad car accident. I know from research and experience that the following list, used in the right combination for each individual, can be effective for a range of musclo-skeletal injuries and problems. In spite of all I’ve been through, I have no pain or arthritis, although I do see my activator chiropractor every 6 weeks for maintenance.

Remember this: It’s your soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia layers) that hold and support your spine and joints in the right (or wrong) position. The soft tissues are key for strength, balance and optimum movement without pain or joint degradation.

Many back and joint problems can be improved, if not cured through a more holistic approach and appropriate combination of the following areas (Note: your doctor probably has little education or training in the benefits of these very approaches):

  • Improved nutrition (more whole, unprocessed foods, less junk food, etc.)
  • Supplements (vitamins and minerals including adequate vitamin C, D, zinc, calcium with magnesium and vitamin K2, joint formulas, MSM, etc.)
  • Lower inflammation (see section #2 below for more)
  • Chiropractic adjustments (I recommend the activator Method only; it’s more scientific, can be used on any joint and is low-force/pain free)
  • Massage for muscle tension, spasms or scan tissue (the soft tissue that hold the spine and bones in place)
  • Traction for failing spinal discs (helps to improve nutrient intake, waste removal and disc healing)
  • Yoga and stretching (improves joint and soft-tissue flexibility)
  • Rolfing (helps to realign soft tissue and fascia misalignment)
  • Stress management to reduce stress and anxiety

Risky joint procedures

Many people who have knee, hip or back pain are told by their doctors that back surgery and joint replacements are safe and effective. But these procedures are often risky and unnecessary, based on the more healing-focus in the list above (remember, the body wants to heal and return to homeostasis). Back and joint replacement procedures involve a myriad of risks, including long-term problems with chronic pain, lost range-of-motion, infection, clots or even death!

Here are some sobering links that dispel the myths that back surgery or joint replacements are effective, especially over the long term:

Knee Replacement Complications

So my advice is to avoid these higher-risk procedures in lieu of lower-risk and potentially effective healing alternatives. Plus, many of the lifestyle approaches on that list will offer broader health, wellness and longevity benefits! Remember, once you fuse vertebrae or replace joints, you can’t go back. Any future complications will mean more treatments and possible chronic pain, drug dependencies and disability! Buyer beware!

This link is to a new 2017 study showing that Chondroitin Sulfate was as effective as pain medication for knee osteoarthritis pain and inflammation: 

2. Inflammation and swelling

Although inflammation is a fundamental part of the normal healing process, it can increase pain and swelling. Inflammation is caused by an increase of blood flow to the site of an injury (cut, bruise, muscle tear, infection, bone break, etc.), and it helps to bring infection-fighting cells, nutrients, hormones, and other chemicals to repair the injury.

Although inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process, sometimes inflammation remains active after healing and immune function fails to normalize. Many adults have what’s called, low-grade systemic inflammation, which is like smoldering coals after a fire is mostly out.

When inflammation fails to turn off (resolve), the body is at risk for more tissue and DNA damage, including auto-immune problems (see next section for more). You can get a test for inflammation, called a hs CRP test (most adults over 40 are 3 or above, I recommend under 2).

Believe it or not, nutrition can increase, or help to lower inflammation. For example, common junk and fast foods tend to increase inflammation. Why? Foods high in sugar like soda, juice, candy and other sweets and desserts (with over 10 grams of sugar per serving) all trigger inflammation. Refined carbohydrates like wheat (breads, rolls, junk cereals, bagels, cookies, crackers, pasta, etc.) Do the same, as they quickly turn into glucose. Processed foods are also high in omega-6 veggie oils, which also increase inflammation!

When you eat those foods all day, you are fanning the coals of inflammation and you will also be prone to consistent weight gain (which also increases inflammation because fat cells are metabolically active and they trigger inflammatory cells called cytokines). Those in turn add more inflammation, and stoke the fires of low-grade, systemic inflammation even more! You won’t necessarily feel low-grade inflammation but it can steal your health!

Know this: Systemic inflammation is seen as a major contributor to many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, arthritis, type-2 diabetes, auto-immune problems, cancer and depression! So it goes beyond those more low-grade problems like weight gain and low energy after a carby snack. Unchecked inflammation can kill you over time! Millions die annually of those very diseases.

At the same time, a diet high in unprocessed veggies, greens, fresh fruits, berries, quality proteins like grass fed meats, fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, omega-3 eggs, herbs and spices can help to lower inflammation and keep it low.

The bottom line is this: When you focus on more whole, healthy foods and avoid processed ones, you will cut inflammation and the resulting tissue damage, pain, and lower your risk for most chronic disease and DNA damage!

Here are more links with details about inflammation and lifestyle:

3. Auto-immune problems

People often get an auto-immune problem from an infection that doesn’t resolve properly or when inflammation is fueled by diet and other lifestyle causes like inactivity, stress and poor sleep, when most healing takes place.

This low-grade inflammation can disrupt normal function and cause pain, swelling, tissue damage, nerve impingement or other symptom in localized areas. Rather than turning off as it should, low-grade inflammation can become evolve into a chronic disease as immune cells attack normal cells and tissues instead of pathogens or injured cells.

These are some common auto-immune problems, often driven by, or exacerbated by unhealthy lifestyle choices:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Celiac
  • IBS
  • Asthma
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Type-2 diabetes
  • MS
  • Depression/anxiety

You might be surprised to see depression and anxiety in a section on auto-immune problems, but in essence, depression is known to be driven largely by inflammation and lifestyle, and it can be treated effectively by it.

When I was in my early 30s, I had severe depression (like most people in their 30s, I ate my share of fast food and processed foods). I was put on various drugs like Imipramine, Prozac and Lithium. None of them worked very well, and I was often more suicidal; the side effects were often too intense, disrupting my life to a significant degree. The theory behind these prescription drugs was that depression was caused by a chemical imbalance, but it’s never actually been proven! See the depression link below for more details.

BTW, with a much better lifestyle with better nutrition, cutting sugar and refined carbs, exercise and movement, supplements, etc., I have not suffered from depression for over 20 years! I’ve also worked with clients who lowered their depression/anxiety meds after cutting sugar and junk food.

Autoimmune Disorders: When Your Body Turns On You

Vitamin D and Optimum Health!

Depression and Health

The high social costs of pain

The FDA and other researchers have compiled annual deaths from prescription drugs, when taken as directed. The numbers are shocking! Numbers range from about 125,000 to 150,000 for those who take drugs prescribed by their doctor, which adds up to an astonishing 3 million deaths over the last 10 years!

Research into the specifics of prescription pain pills finds that about 45,000 people die annually! That’s 45,000 lives lost due to modern medicine’s misguided and destructive approach to treating the symptoms of pain with drugs, while largely ignoring the root and permanent solutions (I realize that for some traumatic injuries like accidents, acute pain may require short-term treatment for pain for a month or two, to help people remain functional and suffer less).

Even then, longer-term healing plans should be addressed (see above sections for more effective lifestyle tips and solutions that are low risk).

Here’s a more general link about the 500,000 deaths caused by medicine annually (which includes more about deaths from drugs and addiction):

Medicine is the Top Killer

In closing

Pain is one of the most common sources of suffering and doctor visits. Whether acute or chronic, many holistic alternatives exist to help improve pain, although they are rarely understood or utilized by most doctors. Low-grade, systemic inflammation is often a root cause of pain, and it can lead to chronic disease, auto-immune problems, and disability.

Don’t let inflammation or aging lead to organ, tissue and joint damage. Look at your lifestyle first. Are there areas of improvement? For most people, the answer is “Yes!” A holistic approach can be a foundation for better health, less inflammation and slower aging.

Avoid the pro-inflammatory diet outlined above, with high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and veggie oils. Moving toward more filling and healthy whole, unprocessed foods to lower low-grade inflammation and the pain and damage that results. Exercise, movement, stress management and quality sleep will encourage better healing and functionality.

Except for severe trauma, most people can improve their levels of pain, especially those in chronic pain, by lowering inflammation and improving joint biomechanics. Being dependent on pills will never help in the long run. The origins of the pain need to be assessed and improved.

Questions or comments? You can message me at: steve@endsickness (dot) com

© 2016 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now


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