If you have back pain or neck pain, we offer a range of therapies, including rehabilitation, injection therapy, and spine surgery. But it’s what you do outside of our offices every day that might be the best complementary treatment and offer you the most lasting pain relief. That’s because what you eat, how you move, and when you sleep can have an effect on inflammation and back pain.
Chronic Inflammation Is the Enemy
Inflammation is the body’s immune response to an infection, irritant, or injury. When any part of the body is damaged, the immune system sends lots of extra blood cells to the area to protect it and aid in its healing. Those extra blood cells are what cause wounds to become red, hot, and swollen. Once the injury heals, the inflammation goes away.
But sometimes the body develops chronic inflammation that doesn’t go away. And this prolonged inflammation can lead to pain in any number of areas of the body, namely the back or neck.
What causes chronic inflammation? Metabolic syndrome is a big contributor. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase your risk for problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Many people have at least one component of metabolic syndrome. That includes a large waist circumference, high triglycerides and/or low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, or some level of elevated fasting blood sugar. All of these things that comprise metabolic syndrome increase overall inflammation.
So while having diabetes itself should not cause back pain, it can exacerbate pain caused by osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease. Any component of metabolic syndrome acts a pain multiplier.
At Neurosurgery One, we offer injection therapy as a nonoperative alternative to spine surgery. With injection therapy, we can deliver a steroid called cortisone directly to the area of the spine that’s inflamed and causing pain. The anti-inflammatory effects don’t usually last forever, but the injection usually buys patients enough time to get started on a physical therapy or strengthening program.
During this temporary respite, it’s time to ask what is the root of the problem and how can we rid the body of this low-grade inflammation? For that, it’s best to take a holistic approach, including consideration of lifestyle changes:
- live a low-carb life. And practice some form of intermittent fasting, whether you fast for 24 hours once a week or go 14 to 16 consecutive hours daily without food (for example, from 7 pm to 9 am the next day)
- engage in resistance training to help you strengthen not only your core muscles, but also your overall body
- optimize your sleep patterns so you get the recommended seven to nine hours per day most adults need
- manage your stress