THE INFLAMMATION, SCAR TISSUE, DEGENERATION CONUNDRUM: THE THREE HORSEMEN OF CHRONIC PAIN AND DISEASERead Now
THE THREE HORSEMEN OF CHRONIC PAIN
- INFLAMMATION CAUSES FIBROSIS: I've previously provided tons of info on this phenomenon (HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). Be aware, however, that inflammation is a critical part of the healing process. When it comes to the musculoskeletal system in particular, inflammation must sometimes be induced in small, local amounts via "HARSH METHODS" in order to stimulate healing processes.
- INFLAMMATION CAUSES DEGENERATION: A great example of this phenomenon is Tooth Decay (HERE). For decades, mainstream dentistry told patients that cavities were caused by the acid from bacteria. Not that this is not true on some level, but ultimately, it's inflammation that causes teeth (not to mention bones) to rot. But there's much more to it than that. The December 2004 issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences carried a study called Inflammation and the Degenerative Diseases of Aging, which spilled the beans about inflammation and degeneration. "Chronic inflammation is associated with a broad spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases of aging. Included are such disorders as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, ALS, all of the tauopathies, and age-related macular degeneration. Also included are such peripheral conditions as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). Chronically sustained at high levels, inflammation can seriously damage viable host tissue." The "damage" being referred to in the last sentence is ultimately one of two things --- fibrosis or degeneration --- or both. The point is moot, however, because....
- FIBROSIS CAUSES DEGENERATION: Think about it this way using ARTHRITIS or ADHESED FASCIA as an example. Arthritis (arthr = joint) + (itis = inflammation) will always, for any number of reasons, cause an inflexibility and lack of normal motion in tissues. How big of a deal is this? Think about it this way. After almost any kind of surgery, the nurses have the patient up and walking around while they are still groggy from anesthesia. Why is this? It has been known for decades that not only does lack of normal motion cause degeneration (HERE), but it does not take long for said degeneration to begin to set up like an unholy form of concrete.
- DEGENERATION CAUSES FIBROSIS: As joints deteriorate, they move worse. Worse movement causes more degeneration. That same lack of motion also happens to cause increasing amounts of Fibrosis. For instance, DJD causes joints to both thicken and stiffen, leaving the surrounding musculature and connective tissues weak and inflexible, which in turn causes more of the same.
- DEGENERATION CAUSES INFLAMMATION: Cellular death (known as apoptosis or necrosis depending on the context) causes the contents of cells to rupture into the interstitial fluid. Among other things, this causes the chemicals that we collectively refer to as "inflammation" to gain access to a method whereby they can be carried to other areas. One way to describe degeneration would be to say that there is increasing amounts of cellular death occurring. Thus, any time we have increased cellular death, whether due to age or injury, we are going to get a spike in local inflammation, and possibly even systemic inflammation.
What does all of this mean to you, the patient? It means that while Inflammation is the obvious driver of the process, the cycle can, to some degree, be driven from either of the other two corners of the triangle (Fibrosis or Degeneration). It is a true "Vicious Cycle". And in the triangular diagram above, it's even worse because we have three variables feeding each other instead of two. FYI, I used to think of this process in terms of being a more linear-looking loop, which is bad enough as it can also act as a vicious cycle. No matter how you choose to think of it, Inflammation always leads to Fibrosis, which always leads to Degeneration. Repeat.
If treating symptoms actually worked, you wouldn't be reading this post at 2:00 am with tears in your eyes. Sure, the "BIG FIVE" is going to help you with your pain.... But the relief is short-lived, coming with any number of brutal side effects, one of which is ADDICTION. Face it folks; if drugs worked, Americans would have the best health on the planet. But instead, according to our own government's statistics, even though we only make up about 3% of the world population, we consume 75% of the world's drugs (HERE). And you won't believe how bad our collective health really is. Overall, we rank consistently about thirtieth in the world. Despite all our fabulous technological advances in the field of medicine, there's only one way to solve this particular problem. Go to your toolbox and pull out the monkey wrench.
THROWING A MONKEY WRENCH
IN CHRONIC PAIN'S VICIOUS CYCLE
Fortunately for you, I'm into sharing DIY methods for regaining your health and getting out of pain (HERE'S ONE I made for solving back pain). It's all free of charge. That would be free as in "free" ---- no strings attached. I like giving people tools that they can use on their own, and that don't cost a lot of money to implement. The fact is, inexpensive (or free), uncomplicated, and rapid-acting, are exactly what most people are looking for as far as solutions to anything are concerned. And contrary to popular belief, it's possible to accomplish this with even some of the most stubborn health-related problems. But it has to be done properly.
Continually searching for pathology when your problems are "functional" is not going to do it (HERE). More doctor visits, tests, and medications, won't do it either. There is no magic bullet. What I've done for you is to lay some groundwork to provide a simple, generic solution that will help many, if not most of you on at least on some level. And the extra cool thing about it is that UNLIKE THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE, the side effect profile of this protocol is almost non-existent. There's never been a better time than today to turn over a new leaf.
Using even some of the strategies found in THIS POST will allow you to start breaking the vicious cycle at all three corners. But most importantly, it deals with inflammation. If you can't at least put the breaks on the inflammation, you have little chance of truly improving your health and getting out of pain. It's the very reason that some of you reading this have not had the results you were hoping for with your chiropractor, therapist, or physician. Although there may be other things you need to do along the way, the bottom line is that you must break the cycle.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
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