July 2017 Newsletter
This month I want to talk to you about the process of healing.
You see, most of what we do when we are injured or sick is designed to suppress symptoms:
You will see this pattern all through healthcare. We have X symptom associated with Y condition, ergo X must be stopped.
- Ice packs after a sprain
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain
- Cold and flu tablets for, well, cold and flu
- Anti-histamines for hayfever
- Muscle relaxants for spasm
But what if this is looking at things the wrong way?
What if X symptom is actually part of the healing process?
What if suppressing it makes things worse in the long term?
Again, this goes back to something I've written about many times before.
People over react and over treat in the short term, but under react and don't change the things that matter in the long term.
Let's look at a few examples, and then, as always, you can make up your own mind.
The biology of inflammation. Is this bad?
To Treat Pain Or Not?
Let's take acute pain as a first example.
I see lots of people with acute pain, which is obviously unpleasant. However, let's ask ourselves why we are experiencing pain in the first place.
We know that pain is a protective output of the brain. Therefore, we have to ask, what is our brain trying to protect?
Is it an injured body part? If so, it's likely that the pain will subside as the injury heals.
Is it trying to protect you from overdoing it, like when you get a sore back after working in the garden for 6 hours straight for the first time in 12 months?
Is it trying to protect you from emotional or psychological distress?
All of these are possibilities.
Considering this, does it make sense to simply suppress the pain? Well, in actual fact, sometimes it does, as long as you are aware of why you are hurting in the first place, and you eventually deal with it.
What About Inflammation, Isn't That Bad?
There is no doubt about it, chronic inflammation is involved in the development of multiple diseases like:
In these cases, lifestyle and environmental factors play a big role, and the aim should be to minimise chronic inflammation as much as possible.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's
However, in acute injuries, is inflammation bad? Or is it part of the healing process?
To me, it makes sense that in the case of acute injury, inflammation is not something that should be suppressed. Of course, there is no such thing as a blanket health recommendation, so we would have to assess on a case by case basis, but in many cases, taking NSAIDs to suppress inflammation can delay healing! Kind of opposite to what we want, isn't it?
Look At Things Differently
Instead of thinking that what the body does when we are sick or injured is bad and must be stopped all the time, why not think about things differently?
Is the body doing this for a reason?
Will this be good in the long term?
Are there any barriers to healing which are prolonging the symptoms?
Are there any ways we can facilitate the natural recovery of the body?
Don't Be Silly
It's kind of sad that I have to write this, but alas, that is the world we live in.
Don't ignore symptoms!
Letting the body heal naturally is very different to leaving things untreated, hoping for the best and then ending up worse off.
All I'm trying to do with this newsletter is to change your perspective that often, our symptoms are the for a reason, and we must understand that reason to know whether they are good or bad.
If you are in doubt, always consult with an appropriate medical practitioner.
Latest From The Blog (And Social Media)
On the topic of healing, I wrote a blog last month titled Factors Influencing Treatment Outcomes. Personally, I think that too many people over estimate the role of a health practitioner in their recovery, while underestimating the other factors at play.
On social media, this was probably my most popular post in June: https://www.instagram.com/p/BU2_HsQlpDj/
Updates From The Clinic
I will be taking a short break mid July, so there will be a couple of days I won't be available for consultations.
The dates I won't be available are July 18, 20 and 21.
If you are booking an appointment online, they simply won't show up, so there is nothing to worry about on your end.
Until next time, stay healthy.