Chronic pain is not easy to live with.
And it’s no more easy for researchers to fully understand. It’s also not easy for clinicians working with people living with chronic pain. A clinician who thinks there’s a simple solution is not likely to be the best one to help you!
That aside, let’s not forget the simple stuff! At times, there can be a clear and simple contribution to chronic pain from nutrient deficiency: vitamin A, vitamin Bs, vitamin C…you get the idea!
For example, one study showed that vitamin B12 helped chronic lower back pain.
This study was doubled-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled, which is a good start for trusting the findings. It included people from age 18-65 who had had lower back pain for at least six months. The test group was given a vitamin B12 injection, while the placebo group was given a dummy injection. The test group had a greater reduction in pain and disability, and took fewer painkillers. Interestingly, there had been no attempt to investigate if there were signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency – and it still worked! While giving everyone with pain vitamin B12 injections would be a pretty haphazard approach, it does suggest that if you have had persistent pain, you should consider getting your vitamin B12 levels checked, then working with an integrative nutritionist like myself who understands the subtleties of B12 testing and treatment, and the pathways in the body it affects.
Another study showed that people with chronic, intractable pain in the joint of their jaw were nutrient deficient.
They were deficient in, on average 3 of a possible 10 tested nutrients, including beta-carotene, folate, serum iron, ferritin, zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B1, B6, B12, and C.
Another study showed that vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation reduced not only pain, but markers of inflammation in endometriosis.
I could go on and on – but this is a blog, not a book!
By no means do I wish to suggest that chronic pain is simple. As a clinician working in the field of pain for many hours a day, I know how complex chronic pain can be.It takes a combination of approaches to address all the factors associated with chronic pain.
But I do want to make the point that we should avoid missing the simple things.
Sometimes in the complexity of what the research tells us about chronic pain, it is easy to miss basic nutrition.
That’s why I incorporate nutritional assessment into evaluation of every patient I see with chronic pain, and with the patient’s permission, we explore this avenue of treatment. Almost without exception, the patient feels the benefits.
Thanks to online appointments, it is now possible for me to do a nutritional consult with you even if you can’t get to my clinic in Brisbane!