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Identifying Inflammation

When dealing with chronic pain, it's always helpful to visit a practitioner to get a proper diagnosis. Knowing why you have pain will help you to develop a targeted, more effective approach to dealing with it. You will also want to rule out more serious conditions that may require additional medical care.

Conventional medications have broad anti-inflammatory action so that it may not really matter what the underlying pattern or cause is in order for the medications to work. Herbs however are a different story as pain-relieving herbs are specific to the individual and type of pain being experienced.

The general anti-inflammatory lifestyle approach applies to almost anyone: eat an anti-inflammatory diet, avoid foods that irritate you, move regularly, sleep well, and reduce stress. Simply maintaining these core concepts will minimize or eliminate most chronic pain. However, the herbal approach will be much more specific to the person, and some trial and error may be needed to find what works. Sometimes, frustratingly, you never know the cause. But the more you do know, the easier it will be to find an herbal approach that helps.

Inflammation is an overriding theme in pain, but the underlying causes vary widely. When you stack up a variety of inflammatory factors, your risk of pain increases. The following unhealthy habits and conditions encourage inflammation. By reducing or keeping these to a minimum, you can often achieve a dramatic reduction in pain and inflammatory symptoms.

  • Injury or overwork

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Stress

  • Lack of movement

  • Diet high in sugar, bad fats, food sensitivities, processed foods

  • Foods from the nightshade family (for some individuals)

  • Blood sugar imbalance (too high or too low)

  • Caffeine withdrawal

  • Nutrient deficiency

  • Bad posture

  • Autoimmune response

  • Overloaded detox system

  • Infection

When you are ready to undertake the journey back to a pain-free life, take time to overhaul, focusing on your overall inflammatory state - again, as with most things, beginning with diet, lifestyle, and mind-body balance.

Listen to your body as you go; it will educate and motivate you to do what's best for you. Start with simple steps that reduce your tendency toward inflammation, like eating whole foods, avoiding processed foods and sugar, figuring out whether you have food sensitivities and avoid them, meditating, and going for regular walks or to yoga classes. Herbs and other natural remedies that combat inflammation in the body will make the transformation easier.

As you reduce your body's level of inflammation, you should start to notice improvements in your pain level and overall health over the following weeks and months. You might notice an overall reduction in pain or that acute episodes happen less frequently and pass more easily. It may come in waves - two steps forward, one step back - but should continue to improve over time as your body adjusts to a healthier lifestyle.

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