by Lynn Hinderliter CN, LDN

Living in the shadow of constant, grinding pain is a dehumanizing experience which imprints itself on the character, and even on the face. Some people are transformed by it to sainthood, but they are few.

I hope to provide the inspiration for you to take the problem into your own hands with renewed hope. It is so easy to give up in the face of unrelenting pain and fatigue, but  just knowing that  we ourselves  can do something to affect the situation gives it a more positive spin, and as you persevere with this new life style, it is my wish for you that hope will become reality, and life will once again become a daily joy rather than a daily agony..

The three most relevant things about pain is that one, it is idiosyncratic:  no one can judge to what degree the same condition will hurt two different people;  two, while it is an important messenger, letting us know unequivocally that something needs to be fixed, it is also both a major producer of stress in the body and a  cause of depression;  and three,  there is hope.

The statistics are overwhelming as this article from the American Academy of Pain Management shows

Pain is a silent epidemic in the United States. An estimated 50 million Americans live with chronic pain caused by disease, disorder or accident. An additional 25 million people suffer acute pain resulting from surgery or accident. Approximately two thirds of these individuals in pain have been living with this pain for more than five years. The most common types of pain include arthritis, lower back, bone/joint pain, muscle pain and fibromyalgia. The loss of productivity and daily activity due to pain is substantial. In a study done in 2000 it was reported that 36 million Americans missed work in the previous year due to pain and that 83 million indicated that pain affected their participation in various activities.….. Untreated pain has significant impact on the pain sufferer and their family. The Chronic Pain in America: Roadblocks to Relief study, demonstrated clearly that pain has a negative impact on an individual’s quality of life.Pain diminishes their ability to concentrate, do their job, exercise, socialize, perform daily tasks and sleep. All resulting in an unrelenting downward spiral of depression, isolation and loss of self esteem.

…. Pain is complex and defies our ability to establish a clear definition. Pain is far more than neural transmission and sensory transduction. Pain is a complex melange of emotions, culture, experience, spirit and sensation.

In 1986, the International Association for the Study of Pain grappled with this pain conundrum by defining pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.”

This definition speaks to the inherent subjectivity of the pain experience. As Turk and Melzack observed in 2001, “There does not appear to be a simple isomorphic relationship between the amount of pain and the extent of the tissue damage.” This is particularly true when referring to chronic pain, both moderate and intractable. Thus, it is reasonable to believe that the unique characteristics of each individual impact their experience of pain. (Lynn: my emphasis)

…. four out of five Americans believe that pain is a part of getting older, and approximately sixty four percent would see a doctor only if their pain became unbearable. Sixty percent of the respondents said that pain was just something that you have to live with. A surprising twenty eight percent indicated that they felt that there was no solution for their pain ..

(FULL TEXT AT  for references, see this text.

Most commonly, sufferers will initially try to address the pain themselves with over-the-counter chemical remedies, trusting that these will not only help, but also that they are relatively benign,  Unfortunately, this is not so.

A case in point:  I was talking the other day to an old friend of my husband, who had contacted us after 30 years of silence:  he had been a paratrooper, and having been told to “live with the pain” of his damaged joints, spent those years popping painkillers daily.

  • He had suffered a heart attack
  • He had been through prostate cancer.

Folic acid and heart health (
♦ Folic acid and prostate cancer (

If you are in the habit of taking pain killers regularly, protect yourself with some extra folic acid.

Consider also the alarming link between the common pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol) and liver problems. Here is an interesting quote:

Data from the U.S. Acute Liver Failure Study Group registry of more than 700 patients with acute liver failure across the United States implicates acetaminophen poisoning in nearly 50% of all acute liver failure in this country. Available in many single or combination products, acetaminophen produces more than $1 billion dollars in annual sales for Tylenol products alone. It is heavily marketed for its safety compared to nonsteroidal analgesics. By enabling self-diagnosis and treatment of minor aches and pains, its benefits are said by the Food and Drug Administration to outweigh its risks. It still must be asked: Is this amount of injury and death really acceptable for an over-the-counter pain reliever? (

The recent events surrounding the Cox-2 inhibitor Vioxx are fresh in everyone’s mind, a sad state of affairs that I commented on in my Blog in 2004.  In England, Doctors have been instructed by the Government to take their patients off ALL medications of this type. This makes sense:  all Cox 2 inhibitors affect the same pathways, and therefore there is a reasonable supposition they will have the same cardiovascular risks.  Not so well known (perhaps, she says snidely, because it involves women – still to a certain extent underserved by medical research) is the danger to fertility posed by Cox 2 Inhibitors.

Recently the FDA rejected yet another drug of this type, suggesting that there is no safe way to control pain using this appraoch.

But there is hope for Pain – and the most effective approach is multi-faceted.

Fortunately we are emerging from the dark ages when health professionals thought of their patients’ pain almost as  a nuisance,  something that  had to be put up with – by both parties!.  Compassionate caregivers now will recommend a number of approaches which hold out promise of relief, from acupuncture to meditation, including many alternative remedies, topical and internal, which have substantial research to support their use.

Guidelines for pain control : for optimal results, DO ALL THESE THINGS.

A Selection of supplements

  • MSM – (read my article about its manifold virtues here) – which has several studies under its belt to show it effective against pain.

  • Natural Cox 2 Inhibitors usually blends of herbs which have traditionally shown anti-inflammatory effects

  • Jarrow’s PAIN RELIEF, an innovative combination of nutrients.

  • Omega 3 Fatty acids – an inappropriate balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids causes inflammation, and most American diets promote that imbalance. There is a direct connection with depression, too.

  • Turmeric –  a super-herb, in my opinion.  It gives curry its color and some of its flavor, and is an excellent anti-inflammatory.

  • Traditional Chinese Remedy for Pain – read an interesting article about the approach of this age-old medical system to pain.

  • Ayurvedic Joint Care a combination of traditional Indian herbs for discomfort.

A Selection of topical creams:

Find the recommended supplements here



American Association of Pain Management

Acupuncture and Back Pain

Licensed Acupuncturists for Pain Relief

Meditation and Pain Control 

Chronic Tensions Headache Program

Help for Fibromyalgia Pain – sorry about the purple prose: he does know his stuff!

Ayurveda and Arthritis
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pain

Acupuncture and Pain

Meditation as an aid in Pain

Non-denominational  Meditation instruction

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