Many patients walk through my office door having struggled with chronic pain and fatigue for many years, having very little idea of what they can do about it.
Often these patients believe there is nothing that can be done to manage their symptoms beyond the standard treatments they’ve already tried.
A surprisingly high percentage of these patients actually have:
- A wrong diagnosis (ie. they’ve been told they have fibromyalgia, and they have severe osteoarthritis)
- Their diagnosis does not fully explain the entirety of their symptoms, or
- They have no diagnosis at all — they have no clue what is causing their symptoms
As a Naturopathic doctor with a focus in treating chronic pain and fatigue, I have seen many patients transform their health using dietary strategies and other naturopathic treatments.
I have seen patients go from a 9 out of 10 (10 = most pain) on the pain scale, to a 0 out of 10 (0 = no pain) in 3 weeks with dietary changes and some basic nutritional supplementation. I have seen patients who have struggled to “fight through the day” with little-to-no energy, to having “never felt better in their life”. These stories are amazing and focusing on “the basics” can be life-changing for some people.
Now, I don’t propose to be able to cure or treat every chronic pain/fatigue condition as a naturopathic doctor — everyone’s treatment journey is different, and not all patients see such dramatic results in such a short period of time.
Some patients are only able to lower their pain from an 8 to a 4 on the pain scale, and other patients may only see a 50% improvement in their energy levels. But I share these stories to show you there is hope for you. Hope for a significantly improved quality of life, whatever age you are, using the foundational principles for how our bodies naturally operate.
So let’s talk about the 3 “unfortunately well-hidden” secrets I have found to treating chronic pain and fatigue:
1. THE TREATMENT THAT WILL WORK IS THE ONE THAT TREATS THE UNDERLYING CAUSE
One of the hardest battles patients with chronic health issues have is figuring out the underlying cause of their symptoms. This goes for many different conditions, including: joint pain/arthritis, chronic headaches or migraines, female pelvic pain, fibromylagia or chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis, chronic stomach/abdominal pain, polymyalgia rheumatica, sciatica, lupus/rheumatoid arthritis/autoimmune arthritis and many more chronic pain conditions.
Underlying causes of chronic pain and/or fatigue commonly missed may include:
- bowel inflammation or undiagnosed bowel conditions (ie. “silent celiac” disease, SIBO, IBS)
- food sensitivities & food triggers
- hormonal imbalances (especially in women who experience menstrual issues or difficult menopausal symptoms)
- undiagnosed thyroid disorders (not showing on standard testing)
- chronic infections (ie. lyme disease, mono/reactivated EBV infection)
- undiscovered autoimmune issues (not routinely tested for)
- mitochondrial impairment
- musculoskeletal imbalances (ie. an undiscovered uterine prolapse, neck tension causing headaches or back pain)
As a naturopathic doctor focusing in the treatment of chronic conditions, I make sure patients have had a thorough investigation done into their health. I do this by ordering lab work — it often happens that something shows up upon further testing:
2. A PERSONALIZED & EVIDENCE-BASED FOOD PLAN IS 75-90% OF TREATMENT SUCCESS!
There are many foods known to cause pain, inflammation and fatigue. Figuring out which foods these are is often a mystery to patients. I have found that dietary changes are often 75-90% of treatment success, and the most success comes from combining food sensitivity investigations with foods found to reduce pain and inflammation in the scientific literature.
What are Food Sensitivities?
- Not a “true allergy” (ie. cause an anaphylactic allergy), but foods that the immune system is reacting to via producing a “delayed response” antibody
- A “delayed response” immune reaction that cause symptoms (ie. pain or fatigue) to arise 1-3 days after ingesting a food
- Foods that cause inflammation in the bowels, often leading to foul-smelling gas and other digestive symptoms (that’s right, gas you pass should not smell!)
- Foods that cause inflammation in the entire body (more inflammation = more pain/fatigue)
What does a sample Food Sensitivity Test report look like?
Every report looks different as the results are based on the number of antibodies a patient’s immune system is producing against various foods.
3. THERE IS NO “ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL” SILVER BULLET “CURE” — THE MOST EFFECTIVE TREATMENTS ARE INDIVIDUALIZED TO A PATIENT’S UNIQUE NEEDS
The most effective treatments recommended by clinicians are the ones given after they are able to gather a full medical history and symptom picture. Especially with the realm of “natural care” and “natural treatments”! There are 101 treatment options available for treating chronic pain and fatigue, but only a few of them will help with any individual’s specific type of pain. Some products work very well for certain select conditions, and others will only give minimal benefit.
I have many patients walk through the door who have tried to self-treat by trying products in a “trial-and-error” style. However, it often happens that in doing this they:
- Spend a lot of money trying ineffective products
- Spend money on the RIGHT herb/nutrient, but its a poor-quality product, not an effective dose or the wrong brand
- Have wasted valuable treatment time — sometimes it has been years trying things that could never help
- Feel defeated that nothing can help them
In my initial visit with patients I gather an in-depth timeline of the symptoms and ask a lot of questions to gather the “full picture” of a patient’s health. My initial visit is 75 minutes with new patients. In this visit I spend time listening to a patient’s story, exploring their medical history and asking in-depth questions about their symptoms.
Why is this important? By doing this, I can assess what treatment might be more effective (or less effective) based on their unique symptoms.
Two different patients may come in with nearly the same set of symptoms, but walk away with two very different treatment plans that are effective. And this is because we are not treating the SYMPTOM, but the entire picture. The body is complex and all the systems of the body are interconnected. I entered into this profession because I saw the amazing transformation it could make in people’s lives. I have seen many patients transform their health using dietary strategies and naturopathic treatments customized to their unique needs.
So my main message is — there is hope for you! Naturopathic medicine can go a long way for you to get to the bottom of your pain or fatigue. Why not explore your options..
If you are interested in learning more — book a free consult and see what treatment options might be available for you.
SINCERELY, DR. NOELLE