Relieving the cause of pain
By Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor San Diego State University

Posted: September 20, 2018.  Disclaimer The information presented here is for informative and educational purposes only and is not intended as curative or prescriptive advice.

Many of my friends and relatives have complained of backaches, knee-joints and arthritis. Most of them run to their doctor for help.  Yes, most try get temporary relief from pain with medications or joint replacement.

 But the real cause of the pain is seldom if ever diagnosed or treated. The key word here is cause, for most medical practitioners do not treat to find the cause of pain. The problem with such medical practice is that patients taking pain killers continue to do so indefinitely. Relying on long term prescriptions can have deleterious affects on the spleen, kidney and body health.

Pain killers do not solve pain; instead, these kick the pain problem further down the [road] future.  This becomes hopeless.

But there is hope. A few doctors are starting to look at finding the causes instead of relieving symptoms of pain.

 So what is pain really?

pain areas To understand pain we need to be aware what causes pain and where most pain resides, other than depression or headache.  Most pain is found in body joints. The illustration on the right highlights the joint areas that can have pain. So what is it in the joints that causes pain? Here are some possible causes:

     Bad food
     Lack of exercise
     Surplus of toxins
     Deficiency of sunlight or vitamin D
     Deficiency of MSM or organic sulfur and boron
     Deficiency of magnesium
     Deficiency of water
     Unknown deficiencies such as zinc, iodine, vitamin C, boron, B-complex vitamins and other nutrient co-factors
     Pain medication
     Broken ligaments and tendons

Let us explore in more detail this list of causes.

Bad food: is now recognized as causing many chronic diseases and disorders. Bad foods have been identified as red meat, soft drinks, processed foods, snacks and sweets like sugar, pie and chocolate bars. Collectively these are grouped as junk foods. Bad foods feed the bad bacteria in the large intestine that incubate and cause many diseases and disorders.  Most persons have some degree of leaky gut that, in turn, causes some degree of health problems.  Food should be the first thing one would want to change to relieve joint pain and minimize predisposition to chronic diseases.  Eliminate bad foods and substitute good foods such as white meat in limited amount, raw fresh green and seed vegetables and fruit for the bad junk foods. 

Lack of exercise: Lack of exercise may be a major indirect contributor to pain. We have been led to believe that exercise helps to attain physical fitness, build muscles and feel good.  Overlooked in this exercise approach is the value of body movement exercise in moving toxins out of the body and inhaling deeply. Deep inhalation moves the dead air inside the bronchial tubes and lungs, thereby minimizing the infection of pneumonia. 

Many persons exercising, like slow or short distance walking, fail to adequately activate the removal of toxins from body joints.  Many with sore joints and arthritis stop to exercise or move. Therapists are now recommending that sore joints need to be exercised to get the blood circulating [bring fresh nutrients] and also moving toxins out of the sore joints.

Surplus of toxins: There are many toxins or chemical poisons that we inhale, drink, eat and also that the body creates in metabolizing food.  Toxins and other wastes are stored in lymphatic nodes or storage bins in joints and interstitial fluids. The feeling bad affect comes when these toxins pile up in the bins in joints and are not excreted fast enough. So to excrete the toxins in the lymphatic fluid and storage bins, we need to help move the toxins out of the lymphatic system by the movement of muscles contracting and pushing against the lymphatic vessels. The surrounding muscles around the lymphatic vessels squeeze the fluid and toxins out into nearby veins, then out into the blood arteries and into the kidneys and out as urine. The muscles surrounding the lymphatic vessels act as a pump.  

Deficiency of vitamin D:  Our bodies were designed to get most of the benefits of vitamin D from sunlight. A reminder that vitamin D is not a nutrient vitamin; instead it is a hormone that can activate many body functions. There are many studies pointing out that lack of enough sunshine and vitamin D can increase sensitivity to pain.  Stated differently, vitamin D and adequate sunshine each day can help to prevent pain.  Leavitt: Vit D prevents pain 2008  Railton: Vit D update 2018

The current RDA of 400 IU for adults and 600 IU for those over age 70 is grossly inadequate. The average American consumes about 230 IU/day. Furthermore, vitamin D levels tend be lower with advanced age and in northern latitudes, dark-skinned people, infants and increasingly in adolescents. Sunscreens, when used effectively, inhibit 98 percent of vitamin D production. Anticonvulsants, steroids and cholesterol-lowering medications all interfere with vitamin D metabolism. Fortunately, 20 to 30 minutes of whole-body exposure to the sun can produce thousands of IUs of vitamin D. For people with limited sun exposure, especially those with darker skins, supplementation with 2,000 IU or more a day is recommended by vitamin D scientists.

According to the editor of Pain Treatment Topics, "Our examination of the research, which included 22 clinical investigations of patients with pain, found that those with chronic back pain almost always had inadequate levels of vitamin D. When sufficient vitamin D supplementation was provided, their pain either vanished or was at least helped to a significant extent." Studies have even shown that a herniated lumbar disc can result from an hereditary defect in the vitamin D receptor gene. Patients with osteopenia and osteoporosis are often vitamin D deficient."  Leavitt: Vit D prevents pain 2008    Turner: linking vit D with pain 2008

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can vary between individuals [biochemical differences], but they typically include pain in the joints, muscles, or bones; fatigue; breathing problems; and low mood or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  Railton: Vit D update 2018  

Deficiency of MSM or organic sulfur and boron:  Organic sulfur can no longer be has been ignored by nutritionists. The body forms over 150 large compounds with sulfur. Although sulfur has many silent healing functions, it's most important role is working with vitamin C to form collagen. It is essential for healing and minimizing pain. When rigid fibrous tissue cells swell and become inflamed, pressure and pain result. Since MSM can restore flexibility and permeability to cell walls, fluids can pass through the tissues more easily. This helps equalize pressure and reduce or eliminate the cause of pain. Harmful substances such as lactic acid and toxins are allowed to flow out, while nutrients are permitted to flow in. This prevents the pressure buildup in cells that causes inflammation and pain.  In a small arthritis trial conducted at UCLA by R. M. Lawrence, pain scores exhibited a 60 percent improvement at four weeks and an 82 percent improvement at six weeks compared with placebo, which exhibited improvements of 20 and 18 percent respectively.

MSM has also been used to decrease pain in knee-joints.  Kim: MSM relieves knee-joint pain 2005

Boron is largely ignored but also essential for proper body healing and minimizing pain. When given as a supplement in conjunction with the drug Etanercept (trade name Enbrel), it was found to also reduce inflammation caused by arthritis, and it is now prescribed to some patients with arthritis.  Pradhan: Boron & joint-pain 2017  Boron, especially together with magnesium, can rapidly relax muscles and take away the pain. Morris points out that most arthritis and osteoporisis is treatable and preventable.  Morris: Arthritis curable & preventable 2017

Deficiency of magnesium:  Magnesium has over 350 body functions and combines with amino acids. It relaxes muscles thereby relieving pain.  Dean: Mg miracle 2007 Medical doctor Teitelbaum points out that in adequate amount, magnesium suppresses pain. It does this by relaxing muscles.  Teitelbaum Mg for pain relief 2010  The National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and other researchers, after great deliberation, research, and literature review, estimate 50% to 85% of the population of the United States is deficient in magnesium intake. Magnesium functions as a co-factor and is responsible for the correct metabolic function of over 350 enzymes in the body.

Deficiency of water:  We need an adequate amount of daily water to flush out the toxins out of the body. 

Injury: An injured part of the body naturally causes swelling and pain to immobilize the injured part of the body. This is a normal body process of healing and protecting the body from further injury. The body gives itself its own first aid. While the pain persists, it happens as a natural healing process.

Unknown deficiencies:  There are probably many co-factorial nutrients that have not been mentioned but are an essential ingredients for healing.

Pain medication: Pain drugs [NSAIDS] are a toxic poison to the body in spite of their pain killing ability. The main side effect of NSAIDS [aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, Tylenol with codeine and oral Demerol] that they can cause bleeding, black stools and irritation in the stomach. This bleeding usually occurs after long-term use but can also occur with short-term use. Long-term use can also affect the kidneys, (for these reasons, acetaminophen is probably safer for long-term use, although taking too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage). NSAIDs have both a pain-relieving and inflammation-stopping effect; this is the opposite of what natural body healing does.  Cunha: Pain medications 2017

Broken ligaments and tendons:  There may be some real broken ligaments and tendons around joints that become inflamed and cause pain. This happens as the body is trying to repair and heal the injured joint.

The above list of possible causes of pain is not intended to be complete.  The above information has dealt with each topic in isolation as causing pain to make it easier to understand the importance of each factor. But that is not the way that the body works. The body works as a total or whole and complete system coordinating all the nutrients as co-factors. So the body needs all the nutrients to be present in order for all of them to work and prevent pain. Just taking magnesium supplements will only partially prevent pain. So a good balanced diet is critical to preventing pain. 

The author would be remiss not to point out that the recommended daily allowances for nutrients is vastly inadequate in most instances. Such inadequate dosages as supplements or in the diet would not relieve pain. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is about 700 - 800 IU  but research recommends about 5000 - 6000 IU each day.  Similar claims are made for vitamin C. The point being made here is that most recommended daily allowances have not been fully researched as preventive measures and are not bad recommendations. Furthermore, Most persons do not eat a preventive diet that would minimize pain.

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Cunha John P, Standiford Helm II and Melissa Conrad Stoppler, "Pain medications," eMedicinehealth. December 4, 2017.  Cunha: Pain medications 2017

Dean Carolyn, " The Magnesium Miracle," Jigsaw Health, 2007.  Dean: Mg miracle 2007

Kassessinoff Tatania, "Unlikely bedfellows - Sleep, vitamin D and the microbiome with Dr. Stasha Gominak," PlayerFM,  Gominak: Vit D and health 2018

Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, Buratovich N, Waters RF., "Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial," March 2006; 14(3):286-94. Epub November 23, 2005.  Kim: MSM relieves knee-joint pain 2005

Leavitt Stewart B., "Vitamin D – A Neglected 'Analgesic' for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: An Evidence-Based Review & Clinical Practice Guidance," Pain Treatment Topics, June 2008. Leavitt: Vit D prevents pain 2008

Marino Melissa, "Collateral Damage," Lens [ Vanderbilt University ], December, 2004.   Marino: Inflammation 2004

Morris oy, "Most arthritis & osteoporosis is preventable & curable - and has been since 1968," Linked in, September 11, 2017.  Morris: Arthritis curable & preventable 2017

Pradhan Deepti, "Tackling joint pains — the underappreciated role of boron," Huffington Post, Nov 10, 2017.  Pradhan: Boron & joint-pain 2017

Railton David, "Vitamin D: Recent research uncovers new benefits," Medical News Today, August 1, 2018.  Railton: Vit D update 2018

Teitelbaum Jacob, "Magnesium for Pain Relief," Psychology Today, September 16, 2010.  Teitelbaum:  Mg for pain relief 2010

Turner MD: "The preliminary results suggest that inadequate vitamin D may play a role in creating or sustaining chronic pain." Pain Med. 2008;9:979-984.   Turner: Pain caused by lack vit D 2008

Turner MK, Hooten WM, Schmidt JE, Kerkvliet JL, Townsend CO, Bruce BK., "Prevalence and clinical correlates of vitamin D inadequacy among patients with chronic pain." Pain Med. November 11, 2008 9(8):979-84. Epub 2008.  Turner: linking vit D with pain 2008