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The Importance of Electrolytes

The reason for this post is to talk about Electrolytes and how important they are for the body. I also need to let people know what proper electrolytes are.

Electrolytes are so important for the body and we actually need to replenish them on a regular basis. Water alone is not enough to hydrate you properly and therefore we need electrolytes for proper hydration and to carry fluids around our body. They also have so many other important actions.

Every single one of us needs electrolytes to be able to survive. Many of our bodily functions require an electric current to function, and electrolytes provide this charge. Electrolytes are substances that help to conduct electricity when it is dissolved in water. These Electrolytes also interact with each other and the cells in the tissues, nerves, and muscles. A balance of different electrolytes, in the right ratios, is so important for everyone to function daily and to support optimum health.

What are Electrolytes and what do they do for us?

As mentioned before, electrolytes are chemicals that help to conduct electricity current in the body and they also regulate our nerves and help our muscles to function. They also help with the rebuilding of damaged tissue. Muscles and tissue rely on electrolytes to hydrate the cells and the fluid inside them. The heart, muscles and nerves cells also use electrolytes to carry electrical impulses to the cells and other parts of the body.

Their most important function of Electrolytes is hydrating the body, but they also help to balance blood acidity and blood pressure as well. Without proper electrolyte balance people can die. This is why they are so important and people need to know about them. As mentioned before, while water is important for hydration, electrolytes are just as important.

Common electrolytes include are sodium, potassium, calcium , bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride and phosphate. When these substances become imbalanced, it can lead to either muscle weakness or excessive contraction. All our muscles needs calcium, sodium, and potassium to contract. The heart, muscle, and nerve cells use electrolytes to carry electrical impulses to other cells.

These electrolytes also need sugar to help transport them and I will talk about this later. To maintain hydration, there needs to be a balance of electrolytes and sugar, in very specific ratios.

Symptoms of Electrolyte Imbalance

Symptoms will depend on which electrolyte is out of balance. The symptoms of electrolyte imbalances can show as the following:

  • Muscles Spasms and cramping
  • Muscles Twitching
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Not able to quench ones thirst
  • Irregular heartbeat and palpitations
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Bone disorders and aching bones
  • Confusion and lack of mental clarity
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Seizures
  • Numbness
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Feeling faint
  • Dizziness
  • Moodiness and Irritability

Causes of Electrolyte Imbalances

There are many reasons for an electrolyte imbalance and especially those suffering from dehydration symptoms. These include:

  • Prolonged periods of illness, such as vomiting and diarrhea
  • Severe Dehydration
  • Not staying hydrated before and after exercise
  • Prolonged periods in Air-conditioning (due to drying affect)
  • Bladder issues (excessive urination, frequent urination, incontinence)
  • Pregnancy (due to frequent urination)
  • Kidney disease
  • Poor diet and nutrition
  • Incorrect acid and alkaline balance in the body
  • Congestive Heart failure
  • Cancer treatments
  • Some drugs, such as diuretics steroids
  • Eating disorders
  • Menopause
  • Age, as the kidneys become less efficient as we get older

Monitoring and Testing for Imbalances

If you are feeling any of the symptoms above, or have any of the known causes of electrolyte imbalance, taking a proper electrolyte solution is a good idea. If you are feeling symptoms of dehydration, you should take an electrolyte solution anyway.

There are ways to tests for electrolyte imbalances and these are more fined tuned for which electrolyte may be out of balance. This test is called a Electrolyte panel and this is used to screen for imbalances of electrolytes in the blood and measure acid-base balance and kidney function. Your doctor may order this test to also monitor the progress of treatment relating to a known imbalance. Many drugs and hormone treatments can affect our electrolyte imbalance and it is important to monitor these effects.

Oral Hydration Therapy

Most people will know of oral hydration solutions for dehydration, or after long periods of illness. This treatment is used mainly for people experiencing an electrolyte shortage alongside dehydration, normally following severe vomiting or diarrhea.

It is important to know what proper electrolyte solution is because some of the so called sports drinks (Powerade, Gatorade) are not electrolytes and should not be used as such. These are really just highly colored cordials with a bit of extra salt in them.

Those so called sports drinks are not electrolytes and are really over commercialized cordials. They are not even allowed to call themselves an electrolyte solution and nowhere on the bottle will you find the word ‘electrolyte’. They may be able to call themselves re-hydration fluids, but they cannot call themselves and electrolyte, because that would be false advertising. Any drinkable fluid can call itself a re-hydration fluid.

People taking these so called sports drinks thinking they are an electrolyte, could be seriously putting themselves in danger using them thinking they have a therapeutic value.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved a solution to be used in oral re-hydration therapy that contains:

  • 6 grams (g) of sodium
  • 5 g of potassium chloride
  • 9 g of sodium citrate

These are dissolved in 1 liter (l) of water and given orally.

There are now proper electrolyte solutions available through chemists and drugs store.

The ratios of Electrolyte solutions are important

When using a proper electrolyte solution, it is important that the ratios of electrolytes are in the right proportion. It isn’t just about taking an isolated electrolyte, especially when it comes to dehydration. The world health organisation has standards that these electrolyte ratios should be at, especially for proper hydration after illness.

Electrolyte levels can change in relation to water levels in the body as well as other factors. Important electrolytes are lost in sweat during exercise, if someone is urinating too much, through air-conditioning, illness, certain medications, taking hormones and so much more.

The most common electrolytes imbalances are usually sodium and potassium. The concentration can also be affected by rapid loss of fluids, such as after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting. Water alone will not hydrate someone after an illness and if someone is dehydrated. This is why it is important to get proper ratios of electrolytes into a person after an illness otherwise they could become severely ill, or even die.

Sugars Role in Re-hydration

These days people are worried about any solution that contains sugar. I often get people telling me they don’t want to have proper electrolyte solutions because they contain sugar. But, all electrolyte solutions need to have a certain amount of sugar in them. This is the one of the only times I will look at sugar in a positive light. Sugar plays an important role in replenishing and transporting electrolytes around the body and into cells. What many people do not understand is that rapid and effective hydration depends on the active co-transport of glucose and sodium molecules through the small intestine. In other words, this means that the sugar is needed to help you absorb the electrolyte. If there’s no sugar in your electrolyte solution, it will not activate the co-transport of glucose and sodium for your body to rapidly replace fluid and electrolytes you’ve lost through sweating, illness, or other factors. It is all about the ratios of what is in the electrolyte solution and these need to be very specific to have a therapeutic value.

When there is too much sugar, such as in these so called sports drinks, you can be left feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Too many of them can also put your diabetes risk up too.  Because there are not proper ratios of electrolytes in these drinks, you are not getting a therapeutic value out if it either. Research has shown that drinks with high sugar concentrations can lead to unpleasant feelings of fullness, and delayed emptying of the stomach. These sugar drinks can also lead to other health issues as well. Many of them are full of additives and colourings as well. This is why it is important to know what a proper electrolyte solution is, and know the difference between sports drinks and a proper therapeutic electrolyte drink

Coconut Water

While coconut water does contain some electrolytes, we cannot regard it as a therapeutic electrolyte. Too much coconut water can also cause stomach upset as well. Coconut water can be used as part of your daily hydration and is another way of maintaining some crucial electrolytes in the body.

Foods and Electrolytes

There are many foods that we eat daily that contain sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride and magnesium. It is still vital to have these foods to maintain electrolyte balance in the body. Just remember that when you are sick, or are severely dehydrated these electrolytes get depleted and this is why you need an electrolyte solution for rapid hydration.

Fertility, Gynaecology, Pregnancy and Electrolytes

Many of the hormones used in IVF and gynaecology can interfere with our electrolyte balance and why I recommend the use of electrolytes to my patients.

Long term pain, use of steroids, pain medications, hormones etc, can all interfere with certain electrolytes and their absorption into the body. Some medications and hormones actual cause depletion of crucial electrolytes too.

Electrolytes can help with pain management and muscle spasms etc, that many gynaecological conditions, such as endometriosis can cause.

Electrolytes are also needed for a dangerous condition called Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This dangerous condition is caused by hormones hyper-stimulating the ovaries, which can lead to the painful and sometimes fatal condition. Yes, OHSS can kill you if it isn’t monitored and managed properly. One of the things that helps with the prevention, and the treatment of this syndrome, is proper therapeutic electrolyte solutions.

Pregnancy is also a time where electrolytes can be out of balance. This can be due to excessive urination and also because the baby stripping you of nutrients and electrolytes also.

If you are Pregnant, or undertaking IVF, or fertility treatments, have a gynaecological condition etc, electrolytes should be a part of your treatment and management.

Final Word on Electrolytes

Electrolytes are a very important and vital part of a person’s chemical makeup, and an imbalance can affect the body’s ability to function properly. Regular monitoring and consuming electrolytes after intense exercise, profuse sweating, illness and even certain medications can help to preserve your body’s levels.

So next time you are drinking lots of water and not quenching your thirst, it may be time to get some electrolytes into you. If you feel faint, or dizzy, or have muscles cramps etc, this could be one of the reasons also. We all need them on a regular basis. Just make sure they are a proper electrolyte and not the lolly water rip offs that line the supermarket shelves. Please remember to stay hydrated at all times and while water is needed for this to happen, electrolytes are a very important part of this also.

Take care and stay hydrated and healthy

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

Girl Taking Medication

Could You Be Suffering With Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory bladder condition in which there is persisting chronic pelvic pain, urinary frequency and urgency, bladder pain or pressure, and it can also resemble the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, but there will be no infection present. The pain can range from being mild to severe.

Worldwide Interstitial Cystitis affects up to 100 million people and it can affect both men and women, regardless of age. IC is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and chronic pelvic pain (CPP)

Women with interstitial cystitis may experience many of the same symptoms as those with endometriosis. Women can have both Interstitial Cystitis and endometriosis at the same time. Some people with IC may also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia and other pain syndromes

People with IC have chronic symptoms in the urinary tract that last more than 6 weeks in duration. Infection has not been identified as a cause of IC. Physical and emotional stress can worsen the symptoms of IC.

Interstitial Cystitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Chronic pelvic pain that lasts 6 months or more
  • Symptoms affected by the menstrual cycle
  • Pain, pressure, discomfort or unpleasant sensation that may worsen as the bladder fills
  • Urinating often alleviates the pain and may give a temporary sense of relief;
  • Suprapubic pain or discomfort
  • Pelvic pain (lower abdominal pain), sometimes extending to the lower part of the back, the groin and thighs
  • In women there may be pain in the vagina and vulva
  • In men, pain in the penis, testicles, scrotum and perineum
  • Both men and women may have pain in the urethra and rectum
  • Pain with sexual intercourse in both men and women (dyspareunia)
  • Pain on ejaculation in men
  • Pain may worsen with specific foods or drinks
  • A frequent need to urinate (frequency), including at night (night-time frequency or nocturia)
  • An often urgent or compelling need to urinate (urgency)

The pain may be experienced as discomfort or tenderness or irritation or burning sensation in the bladder, in the form of spasms in or around the bladder, or stabbing or burning vaginal pain or simply a feeling of pressure on or in the bladder or a feeling of fullness even when there is only a little urine in the bladder.

In many people, the pain is relieved temporarily by urination, while other people may also feel strong pain following urination.

The pain or discomfort may be constant or intermittent. It may also be felt throughout the pelvic floor, including the lower bowel system and rectum. In some patients the pain may be very severe and debilitating.

Other people, particularly in the early stages, may have milder frequency with/without urgency and without a true sensation of pain. What they may experience, however, is a feeling of heaviness, fullness, discomfort or pressure.

Diagnosis

During the evaluation of potential IC, several tests may be completed to make a diagnosis. These tests may include taking a full medical history, completing a bladder diary, pelvic examination, including a neurological exam and urinalysis to rule out or diagnose an infection

Other diagnostic tests that can be carried out include:

Cystoscopy: This is performed inserting a tube, with a camera attached, into the bladder to evaluate the lining and to look for inflammation and signs of disease. A specialist may also evaluate the bladder capacity with a cystoscopy.

Urodynamics: The bladder is filled to test its capacity by measuring the pressure during filling and voiding. These tests evaluate the function of the bladder, urethra, and sphincter muscles.

Biopsy: During a cystoscopy, a biopsy may or may not be taken to rules out cancer or other inflammatory bladder conditions that can cause pain similar to IC.

Potassium sensitivity test: This is a test in which potassium and water are instilled into the bladder. In healthy bladders, pain is not felt with either solution. In cases of IC, however, pain is typically experienced when the potassium is instilled.

Diet

People with IC may be sensitive to certain foods and beverages. There is a range of items a person may need to excluded from their diet after receiving an IC diagnosis. This will be different for each individual but there are certain foods and drinks that an individual with IC should be aware of potentially needing to avoid. There are food and drinks such as:

  • tea and coffee
  • Soft drinks and soda (including diet drinks)
  • alcohol
  • citrus, citrus drinks and cranberry
  • artificial sweeteners
  • spicy food

Some people with IC may need to a food elimination diet over several weeks to see which specific foods and drinks may be exacerbating their symptoms. There are many foods that do not have an irritating effect on the bladder and contain vital nutrients to help fight disease. This is why elimination diets and specific dietary requirements need to be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

People with IC should also give up smoking if they are a smoker, as the chemicals can affect this condition too.

Treatment

The treatment of interstitial cystitis is complex and needs a multimodality approach to treat it effectively. It may require treatments such as:

  • Urodynamic Therapies
  • Physiotherapy with a specialised pelvic floor physiotherapist
  • Pelvic Floor Therapy (Kegels, Yoni eggs, Ba Wen Balls, internal TENS)
  • Surgery, including laser surgery
  • Neuromodulators, such as electrical nerve stimulators
  • Injections, such as Nerves blocks, Antispasmodics and Botox therapy
  • Pain medications- including narcotics, NSAIDS, Anti-inflammatories,
  • Hormone therapy, both oral and intravaginal
  • Antidepressants
  • Acupuncture
  • Pilates and Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Herbal Medicines, including Chinese Herbal Medicines
  • Amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants
  • Sex Therapy and counselling
  • Mindfulness
  • Adopting health sleeping habits

Your specialist or healthcare provider will discuss the best forms of treatment for your individual case. People with IC should also be referred to a Urodynamic and Pelvic Floor Specialist who specialises in this area.

Complications

Complications from IC can vary between individuals and why there is no one treatment fix all approach to this conditions. IC can affect a person life on so many levels. It can affect their bladder volume, their quality of life, their sex life, their libido and have an affect on sexual intimacy and it can also cause them emotional distress. It is a complex condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life both physically and mentally and why a multimodality treatment approach is needed.

Causes

The exact cause of IC is not known, but there are several theories as to what triggers the condition. Some possible causes include:

  • Damage due to previous surgery
  • Defects in the lining of the urinary bladder that cause irritation
  • Overstretching of the bladder due to trauma
  • Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Genetics
  • Allergy

IC is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many people world wide. It cannot be fully cured and requires close clinical management and care. A multimodality treatment approach needs to be adopted that is suited to the individual. When this is done properly, people with IC can still have a good quality of life.

Recommended treatment usually involves diet and lifestyle changes, stopping smoking, drinking less before bedtime, and scheduling planned toilet breaks to ensure the bladder does not get too full.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

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Women with Endometriosis More Likely to Suffer Migraines

Besides endo belly, pelvic pain, period pain etc, one of the other symptoms I see women with endometriosis experience is migraines. While not all migraines are just related to endometriosis and can be from a variety of factors, having endometriosis could give you more of a chance of having migraines.

Recent research published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility has shown that Adolescents with endometriosis are more likely to experience migraines than adolescents without endometriosis. While the focus was on adolescents, it would be safe to say that any woman with endometriosis may be more likely to suffer migraines as well.

In the research, it was shown that adolescents with endometriosis were more likely to experience migraines (69.3%) than those without endometriosis (30.7%)

Among those with endometriosis, age of when the period started was associated inversely with the odds of migraines. The research also found that women with endometriosis and migraines have more dysmenorrhea than those without migraines.

The research showed a linear relationship exists between migraine pain severity and the odds of endometriosis, suggesting heightened pain sensitivity for adolescents with endometriosis. Due to the strong correlation, patients who present with either condition should be screened for comorbidity to maximize the benefits of care.

While the research showed a relationship between endometriosis and migraines it is also important to rule out other factors that cause migraines too, if you have endometriosis. For sufferers of the disease, it is important not to just blame every migraine on endometriosis. Diet, additives, stress, tight muscles, sublaxations, nerve impingement, sinusitis and many other factors need to be ruled out as well, so that the actual cause of a migraine is not missed.

For sufferers of Migraines please make sure you read my article on how to banish migraines too.

https://drandreworr.com.au/banishing-headaches-and-migraines/

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

Banishing Headaches and Migraines

A multi-modality approach was one of the best ways I found to help Headaches & Migraines

Many years ago I used to suffer lot of debilitating migraines and headaches. Actually if I did get a headache, I was thankful because that was never as bad as a migraine, that could make you bed ridden with a head feeling like ten hangovers accompanied with the vomiting and light sensitivity. Even when the migraine had subsided I still felt washed out and like a train had run over me. Thankfully I haven’t had a migraine for many years and all thanks to a combination of chiropractic, acupuncture and diet and lifestyle changes.

Like many migraine and headache sufferers, mine were most likely caused by a neck injury, or whip lash, along with blocked sinuses. Current research shows that most headaches and migraines have a neck injury or neck complaint as a predisposing factor. Some neck injuries could go back to childhood or even a traumatic birth and you might not even know about it.

While neck related issues seem to be a major cause, there are many other contributing factors such as poor diet and lifestyle habits. Too many high GI carbohydrate foods and highly refined foods that interfere with blood sugars, can also cause headaches and migraine. Certain chemicals and additives in foods can also exacerbate headaches and migraines too. Let’s not forget how alcohol can be a big factor in headaches and migraines too.

Lack of fluids and inadequate hydration can also be a big cause of headaches and migraines too. While water is important to hydrate us, water alone is not enough. We need to make sure we get electrolytes into us as well. These need to be proper electrolytes, not lolly water such as sports drinks such as gatorade and powerade.

An imbalance of hormones, or hormonal surges, can also cause headaches and migraines and can be a big problem for women around the time of their menstrual cycle.

One other area that is overlooked is that the sinuses are inflamed or blocked and the associated inflammation and blockage is causing pressure and pain and causing headaches and migraines. This is a big one for many people and sadly, all too often, it is overlooked. A simple CT scan of the paranasal sinuses can see if the sinus cavity is blocked. If the sinus cavity is blocked by polypoid disease, or obstruction, it may require surgical intervention.

Lastly the biggest headache producer of all….STRESS!

Stress will tighten up those shoulder and neck muscles and then constrict all the blood flow to the head and the next thing you know it is headache and migraine city.

Whichever way you look at it, headaches are caused from an imbalance in the body and need to be rectified. Unfortunately too many people use the band aid treatment of painkillers to try and deal with the mighty headache or migraine. Nobody can argue with the painkilling properties of a dose of panadeine forte or a pethidine injection. I’d had many a trip to the doctor to get a shot in the behind. It was either that, or my head felt like it was about to explode. Worse still the pain often gets that bad that dying would be a relief. Well, that’s how it seemed anyway. I’m sure anyone who has suffered a really bad migraine wouldn’t have minded ending it all to get out of pain.

The only problem with painkillers, is they really don’t look at fixing the cause of the problem. Not only that, all painkillers have long term side effects that can be very bad for your health and some medication can be very addictive.

Like any health problem you have to look at treating the cause and not just the symptoms. A headache or migraine is actually the symptom of a much bigger cause. The problem for most people is that they only treat this problem symptomatically or seek help when they get a migraine or headache. It is the good old band aid approach to health care.

So how do you treat headaches and migraines and try and prevent them from coming back?

The answer as I’ve said is using a multimodality approach use the ancient wonders of Acupuncture, the more modern practices of Chiropractic and addressing dietary and lifestyle changes. Of course any other medically related issues need to be ruled out too. Like any health related condition, the management of headaches and migraines require a series of treatments to fix this problem, not a one off when you are experiencing a headache or migraine. Unfortunately I used to be one of those people who only do something about my headaches and migraines when I was suffering one. This was until I learnt that if I had regular treatments while I didn’t have a headache, then the practitioners could get to the bottom of the cause of my problems and prevent a migraine from happening. I wish I’d learnt that lesson sooner.

You will also need to address any dietary, hormonal and lifestyle issues that may be also exacerbating, or causing your headaches and migraines too. You also need to rule out any medically related issues as well and this can be done alongside other treatment modalities at the same time.  This is how I now treat people and why I use a multimodality approach to assist people and give them the best results.

Just like many people have a misconception about getting Acupuncture, because they have a fear of needles or it may hurt, many people have misconception of Chiropractic. For one, just like acupuncture, it doesn’t hurt. and two, it isn’t about cracking bones. No bones are cracked, only gently realigned by expertly trained doctors whom have spent 5 years at university to do so. Before your first treatment, a good practitioner will usually take a series of x-rays to evaluate what needs to be done before ever adjusting the body. This way the practitioner can accurately and precisely pin point the exact cause of your particular problem. Just like with any healthcare professional, a series of questions is asked to get precise evaluation of the overall cause of your particular issue and then only after a treatment plan formulated, is the patient actually treated. Just like Chinese medicine, chiropractic looks at he cause of the problem to treat the symptoms. This is why they go so well together.

When I finally did get my headaches and migraines sorted, I found that it was a combination of acupuncture, chiropractic, diet and lifestyle changes that gave me the best results. This is why to this day that I firmly believe that with any health condition, headaches and migraines included, that a multimodality treatment approach is the only way to go. All of this can be done alongside medical treatment options as well. Of course the cause of migraines and headaches are different for each individual and this is why individual assessment and management protocols are needed for each person. This is why people need to see an appropriate healthcare professional and not try to manage headaches and migraines on their own.

If you need help with Headaches and Migraines, give our clinic a call and let’s assist you with getting the help that you so desperately need.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Specialist)

-Women’s & Men’s Health Advocate

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

Alternative Ways to Assist Pain and Help with Pain Management

After my recent posts of the management of pain, pain medications and how pain affects so many people lives daily, it is pretty clear that there are lots of people out there in pain. Worst still it highlights what I have known for many years, is that many people who are in pain, or have inflammatory pain conditions, are not being managed really well. Unfortunately many are also trying to manage their own pain conditions and may even be dependent on pain medications. Some of these medications taken long term may in fact be exacerbating their current symptoms, or actually making their pain and inflammation worse. Some of the medications may in fact by shutting off the body’s ability to know that it isn’t actually in pain anymore, but the body actually thinks it is. It is such vicious never ending cycle for many people and there seems to be no long-term, or short term, solutions for many who have to endure the physical and emotional consequences of all these things combined.

The one thing for sure, is that pain often isn’t managed well and there need to be more done to help those in pain. But, it also requires those in pain to seek proper help too. Again it is a bit of complex issue and many in pain often get dismissed initially as well, or are looked at as people who are dependent on pain medications just seeking more pain meds.

Pain does need proper management and if pain is not managed properly, it can do more damage than the medications health professionals, and the person in pain, are worrying about. But sometimes the blanket pain medication treatments don’t work, or they just aren’t enough, and this is why when it comes to pain, it need to be managed with a multi-modality approach. It really cannot just be all about taking medication, or telling people to just go and learn to live with their pain and all will be OK. It won’t be OK and we need to start to educate all concerned that there other options that may assist the current medical treatments and management strategies.

Let’s look at some of the alternatives to pain medications and how these things can help assist those in pain and can be used alongside medications to give better control of pain and also help in reducing dependency of pain medications.

1.Watch your diet

Eating the right foods may provide some protection from the symptoms of pain and the disease state that you may have. The role of diet in inflammatory conditions has been investigated in recent years due to the influence of diet on some of the processes linked to certain disease states that are causing pain and inflammation on a daily basis. Many of the so called anti-inflammatory diets out there are now outdated and have outdated nutritional and dietary advice that don’t really help much at all.

People in pain need to adopt an anti-inflammatory (grain free, primal, ketogenic style diet) to assist with settling any inflammation in the body and also helping the immune system.  This also needs to include prebiotic and probiotic bacteria to help with digestive function, immunity and gut health.  Regulation and restoration of gut function and the microbiome is so important and assisting with pain and inflammatory conditions.

Excess bad carbohydrates increase insulin response and this then causes the body to store fats and stops the burning of fat. This also leads to inflammatory conditions and more inflammation in the body. Excess body fat, now known as obestrogens (because it is estrogenic) needs to be controlled and managed through diet and exercise too. Excess fat and excess weight all lead to inflammation and stress on the body and this can also exacerbate pain and pain pathway.

Certain environmental estrogens, known as endocrine disruptors,  such as preservatives, plastics, pesticides and insecticides that can be ingested through certain nutrients have been suggested as risk factors for exacerbating pain and creating inflammation in the body too

2.Try complementary medicine and complementary therapies

Many people with pain and inflammatory disease states find symptom relief from using a range of different complementary and alternative medicines. There is some good solid research to show that certain natural medicines may help with the management of pain and inflammatory disease states and the associated symptoms. There is now some good research to support many natural medicines treatments such as Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, vitamins, omega 3 oils, probiotics, chiropractic/osteopathy, Yoga, Pilates and more.

Out of all the natural medicine therapies, Acupuncture and Chinese medicines has been one of the most researched and have shown to be the most beneficial and to assist those suffering pain and chronic inflammatory disease and their associated symptoms. Acupuncture has been widely researched to assist with many pain conditions and is now even used in some emergency departments around the world, for acute and chronic pain. Chinese herbal medicines have been used for centuries for pain and inflammatory disease and modern research has shown that certain Chinese herbs and herbal medicine formulas may assist with pain and painful conditions.

Certain strains of prebiotics and probiotics have also been shown to help with the immune system, microbiome, bowel, and digestive associated symptoms of some pain conditions. Probiotics have also been shown to not only help with digestive and immune function, but also with the psychological function as well. It does need to be specific strains of probiotics though. Correction of the microbiome, but using pre and probiotics may assist in reduction of inflammation in the body and thus assist with pain and painful disease states.

There are also western herbal medicines and naturopathic herbal formulations that can assist with pain and assist with pain management. There are also certain amino acids and nutritional medicine supplements that have been shown to assist with managing pain and inflammatory conditions. Like any conditions, management need to be done on an individualised approach and what works for one person, may not work for another.

Chiropractic and Osteopathy have been used for centuries to assist with pain and pain conditions. By correction of the sublaxations and correction of posture, this can assist in better nerve functioning, better blood flow to muscles and also help with pain reduction and reducing inflammation.

Just like with medical treatments, when it comes to complementary medicines, it is important to find someone who is a qualified practitioner and who specialises in pain management. Just like in the medical model, this can also be hard to find. Please find someone who is a registered healthcare practitioner, or part of an association for qualified healthcare practitioners.

3.Boost intake of omega-3 fatty acids

The is lots of research on the health benefits of taking Omega 3 fatty acids and a diet high in these healthy fats. Omega 3 fatty acids may assist many inflammatory conditions such as depression, cardiovascular disease, arthritic conditions and many conditions where inflammatory processes are then leading to pain.

Researchers have also found that the type of fat included in your diet makes a difference in your risk factors for inflammation and pain conditions. Studies have shown that people whose diets were heavily laden with trans fats increased their risk of the expression of inflammatory disease by 48 % when compared with individuals who ate the least of these. By comparison, women whose diets were rich in omega-3 oils lowered their risk of inflammatory conditions by 22 % compared with those who consumed the least amount.

Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, almonds, and walnuts, may be helpful for pain and inflammatory conditions. Another way to get Omega 3 fatty acids is through supplementation, but please make sure you are using a practitioner only grade omega 3 supplement to ensure higher potency and better quality control.  Just remember, it is all about reducing inflammation.

4.Exercise

Often, people who experience pain fear exercising, in case it causes more problems for them. But over time, regular physical activity may decrease the pain and discomfort that you feel. High-intensity exercise and resistance training may assist in helping to reduce the reducing the symptoms of pain and reducing inflammation in the body.

While resistance training and high intensity interval training may assist in pain management and reducing inflammation in the body, some of the more gentle forms of exercise, such as Yoga and Pilates, may also assist in reducing pain and inflammatory response in the body too. Yoga and Pilates can stretch and strengthen your muscles, help with core strength, help with circulation, which all may be beneficial for pelvic pain management and stress reduction.There has been lots of research into the benefits of Yoga and Pilates and how it can assist pain and inflammation.

No matter what exercise, you choose, exercise may help those with pain and inflammation in many ways, including:

  • encouraging the circulation of blood to your organs
  • maintaining nutrients and oxygen flow to all your body systems
  • assist with decreasing pain and inflammatory response
  • assist with reducing stress
  • releasing endorphins in the brain, which are pain-relieving, “feel good” chemicals

Research has shown that those who engage in some sort of regular exercise have fewer symptoms of pain and less inflammation that those people who do not participate in regular exercise.

5.Managing Stress Levels

Stress and emotional factors are probably one of the most under rated causes of pain and inflammatory response. Stress and emotional factors are big factors in any disease and can make any disease worse. Not only can stress and emotional disorders be exacerbated by pain and inflammation, but so can pain and inflammatory symptoms be exacerbated by stress and emotional disorders, in a never-ending cycle. Pain and inflammation could contribute to making your stress levels, or emotion issues worse, due to the impact that the associated symptoms have on all aspects of your life, including family and personal relationships and work.

Stress management, Counselling, Mindfulness and Relaxation techniques may all assist in reducing stress and emotional disturbances that exacerbates inflammation and pain pathways and painful conditions.

People with pain and chronic pain and inflammation need to manage stress by using mindfulness and relaxation techniques. These can help you to increase your awareness of your body, refocus on something calming, and reduce the activity of stress hormones and inflammation in the body. It is all about learning coping mechanisms and what works best for you, not what works best for others.

6.TENS and Neuromodulators

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is an inexpensive nonpharmacological intervention used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions. These small battery-powered devices deliver alternating current via cutaneous electrodes positioned near the painful area. The parameters of pulse frequency, and pulse intensity are adjustable and linked to TENS efficacy. TENS activates a complex neuronal network to result in a reduction in pain

Neuromodulation is the process by which nervous activity is regulated by way of controlling the physiological levels of several classes of neurotransmitters. Many pain management specialist now use a common form of neuromodulation involves using a device to deliver electrical current in therapeutic doses to the spinal cord to disrupt pain signals from the spinal cord to the brain, converting them to a more pleasant tingling sensation. This has been proven a safe and effective therapeutic approach for managing chronic pain of the arms and legs, neck and back often after spine surgery, or for other neuropathic conditions.

In Summary

It is important to know that people with pain and disease states that are causing chronic pain, will need a multi-modality, or team approach to deal with this disease. The team you need and modalities that you will need will be dependent on your individual symptoms. This will mean finding practitioners who will listen to you and also be open to trying some of the alternatives to some of the pain medications and opiates alongside pharmaceutical medications. As I said before, these alternatives may assist in treating your pain and managing your pain long term and also help with reducing some of the pain medications you may have been dependent on. Try and find healthcare professionals that can offer you a multi-modality approach for ongoing care and support and who also have a team of other people who specialise in the disease you are suffering from too. Again, the approach that you and your pain management specialist, or healthcare provider, choose to take will vary depending on your signs and symptoms.

Before starting any pain management, or new treatment, it is important to know all of your options and the potential outcomes of all of them and to know that the people that you are seeing are specialists in your condition and know how to manage the disease properly. That can often be the hardest thing to find and why you need to do your homework and see people who are specialists in this area of medicine. Too many people are missed and dismissed purely because they are just seeing the wrong people in the first place.

Lastly, if you are in pain and have a pain condition, please do not try and keep managing it yourself, or try to self-medicate. You need to be managed properly and should be getting the advice of a professional, not your friends, family or social media buddies. Pain needs to be managed and it needs to be managed properly and this also goes for pain medications as well. If you are still in pain and pain symptoms are getting worse, this means that you need to get something done about it because your disease may in fact be getting worse, or your body may not be responding to medication any longer.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

Lets Talk About Pain, Pain Medication, Dependency, Detox & Withdrawal Symptoms

Recently I did a post on over the counter pain medicines and how that as of February 2018, that some of these codeine based pain medicines, will now no longer be available over the counter in Australia. I know that in other parts of the world, these medications are not available over the counter anyway and in some countries even paracetamol is not available as readily as it is here in Australia.

The post surely did get people talking and it surely highlighted some very important points. It also highlighted how many people are in pain daily and something that I have known for a long time. I actually know that pain and people with pain conditions, aren’t managed very well. It also highlighted that many people are self managing pain conditions and that many do not realise that they in fact dependent on medications, alcohol and other drugs. Many also do not realise that the pain and symptoms they are experiencing daily, may in fact be withdrawal and dependence symptoms from their medications and substances they are using, including alcohol, and may have nothing to do with their condition at all. It is a very complex issue and there needs to be more education around this very sensitive issue.

Now, before we get started and before anyone tries to bring the personal/emotional side of things into this, I need to be very clear on this and set some boundaries up front. I need everyone to listen to this, so it is clear and that what I am about to say is coming from personal experience, clinical experience and someone who cares and is just trying to help with the right advice and right education around this issues.

So before we start I need to get a few things straight

  1. I have lived with a painful condition and have used pain medication and been dependent on pain medications. I have also withdrawn off pain medications
  2. I have loved ones who have pain conditions, who suffer daily and have also used pain medications to get through their day. Also know many of these have learned to manage and overcome their disease and pain too.
  3. People in pain, need help to get out of pain and pain medications are one way of doing this
  4. Many people who are in pain are actually dependent on pain medications and are completely unaware that they are dependent
  5. It is completely OK to take pain medication when someone is in pain. It just needs to be monitored a little better than it has been in the past.
  6. Please take the personal out of this and just sit back and listen
  7. I am not here to judge, or attack anyone
  8. This post is purely from heart, from caring and also about helping people with education so that they can get help if they need to
  9. The first part of any change and getting help is admitting you have an issue, or a problem, in the first place.
  10. The is no guilt, shame, or anything wrong with admitting you have a problem, or a dependency
  11. For the sake of this post I am going to used the word “Dependency”, rather than the words “Abuse” or “Addict”
  12. Perception is reality and sometimes ones perception is not reality, or based on all the facts
  13. Not all pain is from the withdrawal of medications either, but some of it could be.
  14. We are here to support people and care for people, not attack them. Anyone found attacking another on any posts surrounding this subject, will be deleted.
  15. Lastly, to get help, you need to see a qualified healthcare practitioner and you should only ever rely on information from a qualified health expert, not from your friends, your support groups, or anyone without a proper qualification in things to do with medical, medicines, or health conditions.

Right, now we have set the boundaries and we are clear, we can move forward and I can start explaining about pain, pain medications, pain pathways and also withdrawal symptoms

Before I start, I need everyone to open, his or her, minds a bit and think of how you feel when you have had some alcohol. Let’s not forget that alcohol is a drug and it can make you feel good initially and then not so good if you have a few glasses, or more. You can also become dependent on it too, and yes, it can be abused.

So, say you have a few glasses of alcohol, how do you feel while you are consuming it and shortly after?

This is for the average person, but most people would feel a little warm and tingling and feel quite good wouldn’t they?

But, even with a few glasses, would you necessarily wake up OK the next morning?

Some people might wake up semi OK, some might feel a little less than OK?

For some, a few are nothing because they are used to having way more. Some of these people may in fact be dependent and actually have an alcohol dependency.

So, say you have more than a few glasses of alcohol, how might you feel the next morning?

More than likely you may feel a little dusty, or for some, you may in fact have what we all know to be a hangover… is that correct?

You might feel really tired, irritable, nauseas, sore, have a headache, or a really bad head that feels like it might explode, and all the senses are just a little on hyper-drive and you would feel a little off??

Now that we are clear that alcohol can give you a hangover and make you a bit sick and that alcohol is in fact a drug, let me ask you this?

If alcohol is a drug and it can give you a hangover, even after one night of taking it, and taking just a few glasses of it, then why would not a medication, that can produce all the initial effects of alcohol, then not cause you a “Hangover Effect” the next day as well????

Just have a think about that for one second and let it really sink in.

Hmmmm, what are you thinking now?

Well, I am sure this is where we get some people going “But, but, but!”

Well there are no “But’s”. This is the hard but honest truth. Any drug, being prescription, over the counter, off the street and illegal, can cause you a withdrawal and hangover effect. Also, the longer you take those drugs, the more you take them etc, the more you need to take and the more dependent you become on them. This doesn’t mean I don’t get why people take these medications. I do get it and I get all the reasons behind it too. This is just to explain everything logically and properly to people so that they also get that they may not be managed properly and that they may also be dependent on medications, which are actually in the long term, making all their symptoms worse, or actually causing the ones they have now.

Just so people don’t forget, please go back to points 1 and point 2 in the ground rules I set before. I have lived with pain and I have loved ones who are in pain and yes, I have taken pain medications and so have my loved ones.

Ok, so we are now all on the same page and are clear here, yes, many of the medications that people are taking daily, or periodically, or once off, or chugging down by the packet load, or are actually causing them rebound symptoms and withdrawal symptoms, when those drugs wear off.

We also need to recognise that some people are only taking medications every so often, when they need them too and this is more for people who are medication daily, or frequently. But even still, people do need to be away of rebound symptoms from taking medications, even periodically.

When we talk about “withdrawal” and “rebound symptoms”, let’s all go back to the alcohol story. We know that the hangover symptoms occur because of a rebound and withdrawal affect from the alcohol messing with the symptom, causing dehydration, causing inflammation and then causing all manner of symptoms from nausea, headaches, tiredness and even muscle and joint pain. The same goes for when you take any pain medications, especially those that are opiates, or contain codeine, or convert to morphine in the body.

Are we all getting this yet??

Right, then lets move on.

Now, the longer you take a medication the more your body gets used to it and the more that you may have to take to get that same therapeutic affect on the body and the pain that you are trying to manage. But, the more you have to take, the more dependent you become on that medication and the more worse you are going to feel when the medication wears off and tries to leave the body. Then it is going to take longer to ween off the medication, when you finally realise that you are dependent and that you need to so something about it. That is if you have that realisation, or finally admit there may be an issue.

One of the things that I have mentioned many times before, is that sometimes the body has been in pain that long, that the body doesn’t realise that it isn’t in pain any longer, that you also need to turn that response off, because it has actually become a habit, rather than the body actually still being in pain. The other issue is that the pain medications may in fact now be what are causing the pain, through rebound symptoms and withdrawal.  This one is a bit tricky to explain to people, but in essence what we need to do is actually tell the body it isn’t in pain any longer, so that it switches off that response in the brain. To do that we need to detox an individual and then see what pain really does exist still and then manage those remaining symptoms. I will talk about proper medical detox further in the post.

Now let’s look at how pain medications, opiates and some elicit drugs work

Pain medications, Opiates and other pain relieving drugs, all change the way the brain responds to pain and they can also produce a “high” feeling by disrupting the reward and pleasure centres in the brain. This is why they can make you feel a bit stoned, or a bit light headed and why you should not drive, or operate machinery etc, while you are taking them. They can dehydrate and constipate you too, so this is why you should only take as directed and also make sure you drink enough water, take some electrolytes and take it easy too. Let’s not forget the serious side effects of medications that can put overload on your liver and other vital organs and actually shut them down, if taken for long enough, or in a super high dose.

The central nervous system, which includes the brain, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, has opioid and pain medication receptors that receive opiate drugs and other pain medications, and these drugs bring a variety of physical and emotional effects. Your heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and body temperature are usually all lowered while pleasant feelings are increased. It can cause the opposite effect too, where some people get hyper-activated responses too.

Repeated use, or abuse, of pain medications, or an opioid drug, can actually change the way an individual’s brain chemistry works and then lead to physical and psychological dependence. The body may not feel “normal” anymore without the drug’s interaction, and withdrawal symptoms may start in between doses or when an individual stops taking the pain medication, or drug they are on.

What Are Pain Medication, Drugs and Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms?

Certain over the counter medications (such as codeine based meds), prescription painkillers, Opiates and heroin, can produce withdrawal symptoms just hours after the last dose, and the symptoms can last for a week or more. Sometimes these symptoms can be minor, but many times they can cause all manner of symptoms, which I will list below in detail. Some symptoms can be major and unassisted withdrawal may, or may not be life-threatening. When someone doesn’t withdraw properly it can also lead to relapse and further dependence on a medication, or drug. Medications and therapy, accessed in medical detox, may make relapse less likely. I’ll talk about why it is necessary to do a proper medical detox first, before seeing practitioners outside the medical detox model.

What Are Pain Medication ad Drug Dependency Symptoms?

Pain medication and drug withdrawal symptoms can last about a week, or even longer for some, and may include:

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Muscles aches
  • Insomnia
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Diarrhea
  • Bowel Pain and Rectal Pressure
  • Severe bloating
  • Fluid Retention
  • Sweating
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Many other symptoms not mentioned here

Detox and Withdrawal Duration

Withdrawal is the collection of side effects that occur when a drug is removed from the brain and body of someone who is dependent on it, while detox is the actual removal of the drug itself.

Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of days to up to a week or longer. For most pain medications and prescription opiates, withdrawal symptoms take shape 8-12 hours after the last dose and it peaks in the first 72 hours. The time within the withdrawal period depends on the medication, or drug taken. This is where rebound symptoms can occur.

The first week of withdrawal is typically the worst, but some symptoms may actually last longer. Symptoms typically last up to one month, but can linger for several months. Some effects can be permanent if there is a genuine abuse of a medication. Symptoms that can last longer than one week include tiredness, muscles aches and tiredness, depression, anxiety, and trouble with sleeping.

This diagram shows the withdrawal of these medications and time frames of side effects from withdrawal after the last dose is taken.

Medical Detox

Detox may begin before withdrawal symptoms start and while the drug is still active in the body. This way the drug can be safely removed. During medical detox, individuals are monitored around the clock for 5-7 days, vital signs are continually checked, and medications may be used to control more difficult withdrawal symptoms. If an individual is heavily dependent on pain medications, opiates, or took large amounts of the drug for a long time, or has a family or personal history of addiction, medical detox may last up to 10 days. Medical detox ensures that an individual is stable before moving on with a comprehensive substance dependence treatment and management program.

Relapse after a proper detox can increase the risk for a potentially life-threatening overdose since the brain and body may not be used to the same amount of drugs that was used before. Each year around 30,000 people worldwide die each year as the result of a prescription pain reliever overdose. Each year around 500,000 people worldwide seek emergency department treatment for a reaction to the abuse, or dependency of pain medications or drugs to help with pain. By decreasing pain medication side effects and dependency on these medications as drugs, an individual may be less prone to seek out these same pain medications and drugs again after detox. Medical detox can help sustain abstinence and potentially prevent a tragic, relapse-related consequence.

While there are non-medical forms of detox, I wouldn’t recommend someone doing these until a proper medical detox is done. Proper support and around the clock care is needed in the initial stages of a proper detox and this really cannot be provided out in private practice, or by complementary medicine practitioners during this initial stage. I am all for people seeing natural medicine practitioners and using natural medicines but this needs to be done after the initial medical detox. That first phase needs 24-hour care, medicines, psychological care and so many things that would be really hard to find out in a non-medical environment. There are some specialised centres that use a multimodality approach, using medical science and complementary medicines, but these are few and not always cheap to access either.

Sure, after the initial medical side of things, go your hardest and you should be seeking natural alternatives to pain medications and looking and diet and lifestyle choices to help deal with pain. You should also be seeking alternatives to pain medications and seeking therapies that can help manage your pain, such as acupuncture, herbal medicines, pilates, yoga, counselling etc. All these things are important for ongoing care and helping deal with disease states and ongoing pain. But if you have reached the point where you are dependent on a medication, or drug, you are going to need lots of help and you will need help with proper detox first. Please, do not think that those packet over the counter detoxes from a chemist etc, are a proper detox. They are just a herbal laxative that cleans out your bowel. Always speak to a qualified professional to get proper advice about detox and microbiome restore.

Having lived with pain and having actually properly detoxed off meds years ago, it wasn’t until I was off all meds and things managed properly while detoxing, that I realised that some of my daily pain, was actually withdrawal effect of my pain meds. I don’t think many people realise that this happens and all the nausea and migraines and headaches and increased pain, is actually withdrawal. Only once pain is managed well, a proper medical detox done and then a plan put in place, do people realise how much the meds were actually part of their daily struggle and it was all withdrawal. Then you can use proper pain management strategies and alternatives for pain and also preventative strategies too.

I hope this has given you all a better insight into pain, pain medications and withdrawal symptoms and if you aren’t being managed properly for your pain and pain condition, then you need to talk to your healthcare professional about this. Everyone’s pain and pain symptoms are going to be different, even if they have the same disease state, or inflammatory condition. This is why individual treatment plans are much more effective than a treating the masses approach.

I’ll do a separate post of some alternative to pain medications and drugs shortly, as it is whole post in itself. I will be collaborating with integrative medicine practitioner and mindfulness expert Rosa Bunn on this topic. 

In the meantime have a read of my post about me knowing what it is like to live with pain

https://drandreworr.com.au/knowing-all-too-well-what-it-is-like-to-live-with-pain/

I have written quite a few articles on pain and pain management and I urge you all to have a read of them all, so that it gives you some understanding of where I am coming from and also some helpful pain management strategies

  1. https://drandreworr.com.au/getting-a-handle-on-pain-with-proper-pain-management/
  2. https://drandreworr.com.au/stop-telling-women-that-period-pain-is-normal/
  3. https://drandreworr.com.au/early-intervention-early-management-is-vital-for-gynaecological-conditions-menstrual-issues/
  4. https://drandreworr.com.au/period-pain-is-not-normal-and-doctors-in-australia-and-the-rest-of-the-world-need-to-start-listening/
  5. https://drandreworr.com.au/asking-the-right-questions-about-period-pain-gynaecological-issues/
  6. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170618103517.htm
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318532.php

Take care and if you do need help with pain and pain management and getting of pain medications, you can always come and see me and book in a proper consultation and I can help you and point you in the right direction too. Sometimes we all need a little help in the right direction and sometimes the first step is admitting you have a problem in the first place. Oh, yes, I also get that many of you have been missed and dismissed also and this is why you are where you are now.

Telling it how it is and keeping it real. I get it and I understand.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

red rust 1181856 1920

Rust Never Sleeps And Neither Does Endometriosis

Rust never sleeps and neither does endometriosis. When rust gets into a piece of metal, it starts to slowly eat away and corrode its unsuspecting host. Nobody really knows where it will pop up next. At first the tiny implants of rust cannot be seen, but underneath the layer of metal, the rust is at work, slowly devouring and eating away at the core of this metal piece.

It is like a weed. You can cut it out, poison it, and do what ever you can to prevent its return, but once it is there and those minute little seeds have shed and spread, not matter what you seem to do, it seems to just keep popping up everywhere. I have explained this in another post called “Weeding Out Endometriosis”

It is silent and can often take years to take full affect and be visualised, but once it is there and it full swing, it causes weakness, corrosion, toxicity and all manner of havoc for the piece of metal it has now invaded. Just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it is not there either. It is the master of stealth, but eventually is will rear its ugly head everywhere, all the while it is has been working its way underneath the surface and its endless tentacles and teeth reaching out and eating at the very core of its host. As the famous musician Neil Young once said “Rust Never Sleeps”. It is perfect assassin for it needs no sleep, and it has a mission of destruction and chaos to anyone who stands in its way.

While rust may never sleep, neither does Endometriosis. Endometriosis is just like rust. It is also like a pesky weed, with a never-ending lifecycle. It spreads; it drops seeds (implants) everywhere it goes. It causes pain, it can be silent and with stealth and at the same time, spreading without causing a single ounce of pain for a significant portion of the population. All the while it is causing havoc in other parts of the body, creating the illusion that there must be something else there.

It is the master of illusion. It makes many think it is something else (IBS, Bladder issues, UTI etc). It invades without a trace and can even be the master of disguise, evading even the most notable physician, but all the while it is feasting and causing chaos under the surface, just as rust does.

Just like rust, sometimes you can cut out a small piece of it and get every single minute part of it at the same time. Other times you can cut it out, and then underneath the microscopic, undetectable implants just pop up somewhere else and starts its vicious lifecycle in another location. Some times it can hide altogether, yet still be there under the surface causing havoc. Other times it will present itself to be seen everywhere and scatter itself so far and wide, you will never ever catch up with all of it.

While sometimes the smallest amount of it can cause immeasurable pain, sometimes the largest amounts of it will go undetected and cause no pain at all.

Actually, a significant portion of women affected with Endometriosis will have no pain at all. We only hear of the women with pain and this is totally understandable. But we also need to let people know, many have no pain at all. It isn’t until the person is investigated properly (via a laparoscopy), that they find that they may be riddled with it.

Endometriosis just isn’t in the endometrial lining. It is most outside the uterus, or embedded deep into the endometrium. It can get on your tubes, in your vagina, on your bowel, into your intestines, up into your lung, around your pericardium and heart, into your brain and they have even found it in people’s fingers. It is truly like a weed, like the rust we started talking about. It can spread everywhere and as said before, can evade even the most noted medical mind. If you don’t know what you are looking for, it will try and evade you forever.

But like rust, with the right treatment, Endometriosis can be found, captured, seen for what it is, have its true colour exposed, have its weakness exploited and have its symptoms vanquished to the nether regions of the destructive world it appeared from. Yet, many fail to explore, or implement the right treatment, choosing to mask it, or pretend it has gone, and all the while it is being allowed to inflame, fatigue, cause pain, play with your emotions and basically wish that life as you know it would magically just end. This can be the life of many who unknowingly trust that just cutting out the rust, or trying to mask the symptoms of it, without destroying and preventing the tiny implants of it underneath the surface from appearing and taking hold again.

Like any disease, prevention is the key to treatment. You cannot prevent endometriosis (not yet anyway) but you can prevent the things that can make it flare, or make it grow, or make it worse. Take away the fuel, and the fire can never take hold. The same goes for endometriosis. You need to take away the foods and substances (alcohol, smoking, chemicals is the environment) that are fuelling the endometriosis to grow in the first place.

If the endometriosis has taken hold and is causing issues, you need to then have it cut out and removed. There is a point where no matter what medications etc you take, nothing is going to settle that inflammation and pain down and well and corrective and investigative surgery. The only way you can diagnose endometriosis is through a laparoscopy. Scans and blood test do not diagnose it. Even sometimes with surgery, endometriosis can be invisible to the naked eye, but make no mistake, it can still be there. This is why biopsies are taken to see if the microscopic implants are there causing pain and havoc, underneath he surface. But even then, it can infiltrate deep into the muscles and around the nerves to remain undetectable, even via a biopsy. But make no mistake, at some stage, it will rear its ugly head to be seen and to be heard. For those that know the symptoms, they will know it is there, when all other measures of investigations fail.

Once the visible disease is found, it needs to be removed and then you need to try and prevent its return. The only way you can do this is suppress the microscopic implants and the very thing they feed off. Never make the mistake of thinking that surgery is where all your treatment ends. It isn’t. This is where the real work begins.

While estrogenic response is a know factor and the main driver, we also know that insulin feeds inflammation and also causes problems with estrogen and hormone metabolism and distribution. If you get the diet under control, reduce the inflammation through lack of insulin and sugars, then you also help regulate the hormones and this will help with the symptoms and growth of endometriosis. You need to eat as clean as possible and this no refined foods at all. Lots of proteins, nuts and seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables, good oils, pre and probiotics and water.

Herbal medicines can assist and also help control with the control of the microscopic implants of endometriosis and also help symptoms. They can also assist and help with hormone regulation and help with insulin resistance and also help with reducing inflammation. This is why the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommend women explore the use of herbal medicines and acupuncture and part of the overall treatment plan for the guidelines of treatment of endometriosis.

You also need to look at stress and emotional factors that are driving the inflammation in the first place. Learn some coping skills, learn to relax, find that quiet time, do some yoga, or some form of relaxation. Do whatever it takes to find that stillness in your daily life. You can’t treat and manage a disease without looking at the emotional and lifestyle component of it as well.

So, before you go and try and mask the symptoms of endometriosis and the actual diseases itself, with the pill, mirena, or other current medical approach, ask yourself this. What are you doing to prevent the drivers of the disease in the first place?

Endometriosis requires and multi-modality approach to treat and manage it effectively. If you don’t take this approach, then it will nearly always come back. Yes, you need to surgery, but, you still also need to prevent and treat the actual cause of the disease in the first place. This will then treat the microscopic implants from ever coming to life and causing more misery for everyone concerned.

Having a loved one riddled with endometriosis, I am going to do everything possible I can to help prevent the return of symptoms of this horrible disease for this most cherished and loved individual. A multimodality approach will be used and I hope that one day we can eventually take control and assist in vanquishing the symptoms of this disease into oblivion where they belong, like I have done for so many other people in my years of practice. But, with any disease it also requires compliance of the patient too.

There is no cure for endometriosis, but with proper assistance and the right treatments and health management, women can become asymptomatic (no symptoms) and live a normal life away from the symptoms of this horrible disease.

What are you doing to control your endometriosis?

Do you want to just mask it, or get proper help in managing it?

If so, you need to implement a multimodality approach that I mentioned above and help with having a normal life and hopefully be symptom free. I will mention some of the multimodality treatments in future posts.

Just remember, rust never sleeps and neither does endometriosis.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Crusader

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016