Did you know that almost 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain? Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than 6 months. With chronic pain, a person can have pain in their system for months or even years, affecting their daily lives. In addition to this uncomfortable pain, a new study has found that chronic pain may reconfigure the way genes work in the immune system.
If you experience chronic pain, you are probably always looking for chronic pain management solutions. Some solutions we suggest include:
- Walking: it is important to stay active. If you stop being active, the pain will feel worse. Remember that exercise also releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers (and will make you happier!).
- Sleep: Not getting enough sleep can cause your chronic pain to feel worse the next day. If you aren’t able to sleep due to your pain, think about seeing your doctor.
- Diet changes: Some foods can trigger pain. For example, people who suffer from migraines find that foods such as red wine and cheese trigger a migraine. Try recording what you eat for a week and how you feel after to narrow down what your trigger foods are so you can avoid them.
- Supplements: include supplements that are anti-inflammatory. Turmeric Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory that is known to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and promote cardiovascular health.
Does Chronic Pain Affect Your Immune System?
A study published by McGill University researchers in the journal, Scientific Reports, found that chronic pain alters the way DNA is marked in the T cells. The T cells are a type of white blood cells that are essential for immunity. They found that chronic pain not only alters the DNA in the brain, but also in the immune system.
How did McGill researchers come to this conclusion? They examined DNA from brains and white blood cells of rats, using a method that tracks DNA marking by a chemical called a methyl group. This chemical is a significant piece in the growing scientific study of epigenetics, which looks at modifications that turn genes ‘on’ and ‘off’, which basically means reprogramming how they work.
In this study, epigenetic researchers were shocked to find the significant number of genes that were marked by chronic pain. Hundreds to thousands of different genes were found changed by chronic pain. This study tells researchers that chronic pain can have a large impact on other parts of the body, and could have implications on other systems that are not normally associated with the pain.
This study could inform possible new pain medications for chronic pain management. At present, chronic pain is the most common disability worldwide and can create a large physical and emotional toll on those who are working to manage their daily pain. This is why researchers are looking at studying chronic pain and how to improve pain management.