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Published June 13th, 2018
Ways to reduce pain without medications - part 3 of a 4 part series
Foods that combat inflammation Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet:  tomatoes  olive oil  green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards  nuts like almonds and walnuts  fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines  fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges

In an ongoing effort for state and federal governments to limit access to opioid-containing pain relieving medications, a number of guidelines have been recently enacted that recommend that doctors prescribe less or even no pain medication. Many patients find that despite years of pain relief from pain medications, their doctors are suggesting that they stop their medication or even refuse to prescribe them anymore. Many primary care doctors have become very reluctant to prescribe any pain medication to even long-term patients.
Many patients want to know what to do and how they can treat the pain conditions that they have in light of these new recommendations and restrictions. I hope that the information provided below and in previous articles will be helpful to patients looking for ways to reduce suffering related to any number of pain related conditions.
Number One: Change Your Diet
"We are what we eat!" My experience is that most patients underestimate how much the food and drink that is put into the body influences the level of pain that is experienced, the mood that predominates, and overall quality of sleep.
Quite a few scientific studies have shown that a number of foods increase the amount of inflammation in the body and this level of inflammation then sensitizes nerves and muscles to produce a higher level of overall pain. In addition, there is an evolving body of thought showing that pro-inflammatory foods cause our gastrointestinal tract to become "leaky" and allow environmental pathogens access to our bloodstream.
Many people over time develop dietary habits that consist of a higher than healthy percentage of sweets and rapidly absorbed carbohydrates. The beauty of dietary therapy is that with a bit of willpower everyone can do it and it is basically free (we have to eat anyway). Keep in mind that persistence pays off - it takes about 30 days to establish new habits but over time the body adjusts and starts to enjoy the tastes of more healthy foods.
There is ongoing debate about what the "optimal" diet may be, but what is quite clear is that trying three months of less inflammatory foods may well result in a dramatic decrease in pain, inflammatory markers, high blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
I want people to keep in mind that adopting a "healthier" diet of any kind means using good sense about what is good for the body. Eating lots of processed foods like nutrition bars and a plate full of bacon is not likely to help you feel better. I feel quite strongly that if people would take the time and effort to change their diet that almost anyone can have less pain, a better mood, and an improved quality of sleep.
Number Two: Injection Therapies and Innovation
Many patients feel hopeless if there is not something that can be done to help their pain. All too often patients have tried and failed a surgery that was designed to help things. It is important to know that there are a host of innovative techniques that can greatly help to diminish pain and suffering.
Modern medicine has the ability to block or deaden nerves, abolish severe soft tissue spasms, or even stimulate the spinal cord to block pain signals coming from other areas of the body. Even more recently we have developed medication infusion programs that have the ability to completely "reset" the bodies maladaptive nerve signaling pathways.
Regenerative techniques such as platelet rich plasma injection or stem cell injections have the chance to revolutionize joint and spine surgery. None of these types of therapies involve the long-term use of dependency promoting drugs and they can absolutely change a person's long-term quality of life. Our experience is that most patients have not been offered a comprehensive set of options and have been told such things as, "There is nothing more we can do so you'll just have to rely on pain medication for the rest of your life."
I want to encourage you to please make sure that you have exhausted all the other options before heading down this path. Because very few doctors receive training in pain treatment during medical school or residency training, it is crucial to talk to an expert about possible options. Unfortunately, there are many providers that claim to be "the experts" in treating pain.
It is important to ensure that your doctor completed a pain medicine fellowship at an accredited top tier university program and has earned a board certification that is recognized by the American Council of Graduate Medical Education.
At the end of the day remember that "Pain may be inevitable, but suffering is optional."
Read part 1 and 2 of this series, "Ways to reduce pain without medications," in the Lamorinda Weekly online archives at lamorindaweekly.com.
Disclaimer: The opinions and statements above are the opinion of Richard Shinaman, MD and are not intended to diagnose or treat any patient or person with a medical condition. No person can determine what might be best for you as an individual without evaluating you and hearing your individual story. Everyone is different. Using any or all of the techniques described is done so at your own risk. You should discuss starting or stopping any treatment with your own medical provider.

Dr. Richard C. Shinaman, of Pain Medicine Consultants, is board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine. Dr. Shinaman trained in anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Stanford University. He completed an accredited pain medicine fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. He has been a very busy and valued member of the medical community in Northern California for over a decade. His overall goal is to try and help people to suffer less and live more. He has published book chapters and a number of scientific articles on the treatment of painful diseases and how to treat them. More information can be found out about his current medical clinic at painmedicineconsultants.com. Most patients can request a consultation through the online web portal. His practice contact number is (925) 287-1256.

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