Autoimmune Pain Relief: A Comprehensive Guide to Finding Natural Solutions
Are you tired of living with chronic pain caused by autoimmune conditions? Pain is one of the most frustrating and debilitating autoimmune disease symptoms. It’s heartbreaking to see my patients endure this problem. The good news is that a functional medicine approach is highly effective at providing autoimmune pain relief.
In this comprehensive guide, I will unlock the secrets to autoimmune pain relief and provide you with a roadmap to finding natural and effective solutions. Living with an autoimmune condition can be challenging, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can regain control of your life and experience true relief.
From understanding the root causes of autoimmune diseases to exploring holistic strategies, in this blog post I will dive into a functional medicine approach to autoimmune pain. Whether you’re dealing with rheumatoid arthritis joint pain, lupus muscle pain, or discomfort in any autoimmune condition, this guide will empower you to take charge of your health and discover a pain-free future.
What Causes Autoimmune Pain?
Autoimmune pain syndrome is a complex condition. To effectively manage and find relief from it, it’s crucial to understand its root causes and how it affects the body.
At its core, autoimmune pain is the result of the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells and tissues. This abnormal immune response leads to inflammation and damage, causing a wide range of symptoms. Pain is a sign of excess inflammation. But it’s not enough to just know you have inflammation and take anti-inflammatories. We need to figure out the root cause of the inflammation and what’s contributing to it. Not only that, we need to dig deeper and find the root cause of the root cause (more on this later).
Inflammation itself is not actually a bad thing. It’s a healing mechanism in the body. We need inflammation. But when it becomes chronic or excessive, our body can’t keep up with it and that’s when problems arrive.
Anything that triggers an immune response and inflammation can cause pain in autoimmune patients. This can include:
- Blood sugar issues
- Food sensitivities
- Gut problems
- Hormone imbalances
- Overdoing activity
- Toxin/chemical exposures
These are all factors that will influence how the immune system behaves. And it’s individualized for everyone. If you have a tendency for your immune system to affect your joints, then that’s where the pain is going to show up.
Types of Autoimmune Pain
Autoimmune pain can affect various parts of the body, including joints, muscles, organs, and even the nervous system. Pain can manifest in:
• Tendons and ligaments
Rheumatoid arthritis joint pain and lupus joint pain are common, but in some lupus patients lupus pain can happen when ulcers form in the mouth. Headaches or migraines also are common in some autoimmune patients. Pain can be organ specific such as with interstitial cystitis painful bladder syndrome. Interstitial cystitis pain is autoimmune-related and is not due to a urinary tract infection.
Conventional Methods for Autoimmune Pain Relief
Traditional pain relief methods, such as over-the-counter painkillers and prescription medications, may provide temporary relief for autoimmune pain. However, traditional pain medications target symptom management rather than addressing the underlying causes of autoimmune pain. While they can help reduce inflammation and temporarily alleviate pain, they do not offer long-term solutions. Additionally, prolonged use of certain medications can lead to undesirable side effects, such as stomach ulcers, liver damage, and dependency.
Natural Remedies for Autoimmune Pain
Stress has a significant impact on autoimmune pain. It can trigger flare-ups and worsen symptoms. Being surrounded with negative mental stress like work stress or life stress in general and not having any outlets for that stress is a common cause of autoimmune pain. Short, occasional bursts of stress are normal and healthy, but when stress becomes chronic, it has a pro-inflammatory effect in your body. Imagine a bucket that contains all the stress that’s happening in your body. When that bucket gets too full, and there are no holes in the bucket to let some of it out, any little thing can make the bucket overflow (or send you into an autoimmune flare-up).
An accumulation of many different stressors can overflow the bucket, not just one stressful thing. Many different stressors going on in your body at a given time will create an abundance of inflammation. This is why it’s important to reduce stress by meditating, spending time in nature, yoga, reading a book, or doing whatever you find relaxing and peaceful. An adrenal function test can also show your stress hormone levels and how you are coping with stress. If you have problems in this area, you need to take supplements to support your adrenals. The adrenal glands are a key part of your stress response system, also known as the HPA-axis or the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
It’s important to move your body. Your joints need to be moving to flush out the inflammatory fluid in your joints. When inflammatory chemicals build up and stagnate in joints, it can worsen autoimmune joint pain.
Exercise helps increase blood flow, strengthen muscles, improve joint mobility, and release endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving hormones. It can also help reduce inflammation and support the immune system.
I know moving is the opposite of what people want to do when they’re in pain, so they become more sedentary, but that actually just contributes to the pain.
Even when I work with people who have rheumatoid arthritis pain or any autoimmune condition that causes really severe pain in their joints, I get them to do little exercises. These involve sitting on the couch or a chair and moving their hands and their ankles. Moving their body without any weight or resistance can be really helpful for them. Going for a light walk can also help. You can also choose exercises that are low-impact and gentle on the joints, such as swimming, cycling, chair yoga, or tai chi. Start slowly and listen to your body’s cues. If a certain exercise exacerbates your pain, modify, or try a different activity.
Get Better Sleep
Sleep is another natural remedy for autoimmune pain. When we work with patients, we want to know if they’re having any sleep problems. Then we figure out what’s disrupting their sleep. Is it cortisol and stress? Is it blood sugar issues? Are there other things that are contributing to them not getting deep restorative sleep? I have written several blogs on how to heal with better sleep.
What’s Missing from Your Body?
In patients with autoimmune disease pain, we find out what’s missing for their body to be able to handle inflammation properly. For example, there could be nutrient deficiencies or problems with how their body can detoxify. It could be malabsorption in the gut or an imbalance in the gut microbiota. It could be an infection. Once we figure out these stumbling blocks, we can address them, so that the body can shift toward a healthier inflammation response.
Going Beyond the Root Cause
To find the most effective autoimmune pain treatment, we need to address the root cause of the root cause. For example, if somebody has a food sensitivity, why do they have a food sensitivity? Is it because of their gut or their digestion? Maybe their gut microbiome is out of balance. Or maybe they’re stressed. If they have a hormone imbalance, is it because of adrenal dysfunction and their stress levels? Is their lifestyle excessively stressful and lacking in stress management?
We must understand what the root causes are for each person and then figure out why those root causes are happening and resolve them. Only then can we work on a nutrition and lifestyle approach to effectively address the causes of each person’s pain.
Personalizing Your Autoimmune Pain Treatment
The type of autoimmune pain a person has influences the treatments I use. Headaches could be caused by hormonal imbalance or they may have to do with food sensitivities. Same with joint pain. For a woman with chronic migraines, we could pinpoint at what phase of her menstrual cycle she has the headaches and then address the hormonal imbalance that leads to her pain. Or we could have the patient do an elimination diet and if they notice an improvement in their autoimmune joint pain, we know that foods in the diet are triggering joint pain.
Autoimmune Nerve Pain
When we’re looking at nerve pain versus autoimmune disease joint pain it could be autoimmune related or it could be triggered by other causes of inflammation like poor circulation, usually from a sedentary lifestyle. Lupus nerve pain or nerve pain in other autoimmune conditions is often due to insulin problems or nutrient deficiency.
Muscle Pain in Autoimmune Patients
If you’re wondering does lupus cause muscle pain, the answer is yes. So do a lot of other autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Muscle pain can be more fibromyalgia-related or a person can just have an area of weakness in their body until that weak muscle becomes painful.
Sometimes the muscle pain comes from somebody whose joints are not stable. For example, if they have bad arthritis in their knees, the muscles around the knee become tight. They may hurt, cramp, and cause muscle pain. Often times the cause of one pain can come from another area of structural dysfunction in the body. For example, if you have shoulder pain, sometimes the actual problem is tightness and poor mobility in the neck, or from the opposite shoulder, or even from the low back.
Best Supplement for Autoimmune Pain
When it comes to herbal supplements for autoimmune pain, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. If the pain is coming directly from an autoimmune-driven problem like in rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial cystitis, or multiple sclerosis, the treatment could be different depending upon the imbalance of the immune system. Whether an autoimmune patient is Th1 dominant or Th2 dominant could sometimes determine what type of immune-modulating herbs will have the most benefit.
Th1 cells are involved in cellular immunity. These cells fight viruses and pathogens inside the cells, eliminate cancerous cells from the body, and are involved in allergic skin reactions.
Th2 cells are involved in humoral immunity. They are thought to boost antibody production and defend against invaders outside the cells.
We can find out whether you’re Th1 dominant or Th2 dominant by ordering a lymphocyte MAP test, which helps you look at all the T-helper cells and parts of the white blood cells to see what cells are more active versus suppressed. Then we can recommend the supplements that are best for you, based on which immune pathway is dominant.
Besides personalized dietary supplement recommendations, a natural remedy for pain and inflammation in autoimmune patients is fish oil, especially when combined with other lifestyle approaches. These supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and therefore may act as a rheumatoid arthritis or lupus joint pain treatment, as well as for other types of autoimmune pain. Turmeric or curcumin supplements are also anti-inflammatory and may reduce pain.
Relieve Autoimmune Pain with Our Help
Living with autoimmune disease pain can feel overwhelming, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Autoimmune diseases can be reversed. Whether you’re suffering from rheumatoid arthritis joint pain, lupus pain, or any type of autoimmune discomfort, as a functional medicine provider specializing in autoimmune disease, I have the expertise and experience to help you find relief.
The first step? Sign up for a free 15-minute discovery consultation. We’ll talk about your autoimmune pain and let you know how I can help. If you come on board as a patient, I will order the right tests to find out the root causes so that we can develop a treatment strategy. The goal is to relieve your pain so that you can have more energy and feel your best.