Backache – novel options to help you manage pain


Key points:

  • Pain warns you that inflammation is at work in your spine
  • The damage caused by inflammation may be worse than the pain.

It is estimated that nine out of ten adults experience back pain at some stage of life, and five out of ten working adults suffer from back pain every year. Lower back pain is responsible for 40% of the sick leave taken in the United States and is considered the single leading cause of disability globally.

Back and neck pain are often due to inflammation and muscle spasm, caused by injuries to the joints, discs and ligaments of the spine. Degeneration of the discs between the vertebral bones of the back from ageing, injury, wear and tear, is a leading cause of chronic and debilitating pain. Besides back ache, disc damage also causes referred pain via the nerve roots. ‘Sciatica’ is a term used for a set of symptoms caused by the compression or irritation of one of the spinal nerve roots in the lower back. Symptoms include lower back or buttock pain, as well as a dull, nagging ache that radiates to various parts of the legs and feet as part of a referred pain syndrome. Numbness and pins-and-needles may also be present. If the disc damage occurs in the neck, similar symptoms may arise in the shoulders, arms and hands.

The role of inflammation

If you crush a grape by standing on it, the outer casing will rupture and the innards will spill out. The same thing happens to the rubbery discs that join the vertebral bones of the spine. Once squashed or ‘prolapsed’, it applies a direct pressure to the nerve roots housed in the body cave that contains the spinal cord. To explain pain through this mechanism makes perfect sense.

However, research has demonstrated that the pain produced by a prolapsed disc is significantly more complex than just mechanical forces. In experiments conducted, scientists have found that simply by introducing herniated disc material to a healthy nerve without any pressure involved, inflammation of the actual nerve tissue rapidly ensues. This causes more swelling of the nerve, leading to even more pressure.

The biochemistry of backache

Research has shown that a powerful pain-producing inflammatory trigger called ‘Tumour Necrosis Factor alpha’ (TNF-alpha) plays a dominant role in causing back ache. Once a disk prolapses, its internal structure becomes disrupted. In accordance with the rules of healing, any injury leads to the immediate release of a cascade of biochemical reactions, collectively called inflammation. Not only does this process cause acute inflammation within the disc itself, but the chemical drivers of inflammation released by this process also rapidly spreads to surrounding healthy tissues and activates a secondary inflammatory process there as well.

Besides the nerves, the muscles, blood vessels and vertebral bones of the spine also become affected. As a consequence of this train of events, various other biochemical agents are released, including an enzyme called Cathepsin G (Cat G), not only a trigger for pain, but for substantial tissue destruction too.

Why inflammation eventually destroys the spine

The integrity and health of connective tissue such as cartilage, intervertebral discs, ligaments and bones plays an integral part in a highly dynamic process that requires resisting mechanical strain and recovering from the friction that is caused by constant movement. Cathepsin G (Cat G) is a protein cleaving (photolytic) enzyme responsible for the breakdown of proteins though a process called proteolysis. Whilst the process of proteolysis serves many beneficial purposes during the healing process, such as the removal of damaged tissue, the unregulated cleavage of protein-based structures also causes significant structural damage to healthy tissue.

Once activated by inflammation, CatG cleaves numerous structural proteins such as collagen, elastin and laminin, the building blocks of cartilage, intervertebral discs, ligaments and bones. In doing so, CatG plays a dominant role in both the repair and destruction of connective tissue at sites of injury or inflammation. Unfortunately, the rate of damage caused by the inflammatory process outweighs the rate of repair. The end result over years is a spine that looks damaged, distorted and somewhat weather-beaten on X-ray, even to the untrained eye.

Treatment options

Since the vast majority of disc-related back ache is inflammatory in origin, it should ideally be treated medically. Surgery should only be an option when a large disc causes compression of the nerve roots, particularly when it leads to muscle weakness and urinary or bowel incontinence.

Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids work because they broadly block key inflammatory enzymes at a high level in the inflammatory cascade. Although highly effective for helping to reduce inflammation and secondary pain, this also explains their high side effect profile, which extends to many organs, especially the stomach and the kidneys. All anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also strongly implicated in the development of heart disease and stroke, with some being worse than others. For example, in 2004, the drug Rofecoxib caused between 88 000 and 140 000 cases of serious heart disease and was subsequently withdrawn from the market.

Novel approaches to manage inflammatory pain

Since the unwanted side-effects of the regular usage of anti-inflammatory drugs, especially over the long term, may outweigh the benefit, scientists have started looking for effective alternative sources, but with a lower side effect profile.  Extracts from Indian Frankincense, contained within RheumaLin, have been used in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic and Middle Eastern medicine as an anti-inflammatory and pain relieving agent for centuries. Accumulating evidence in scientific literature from both animal and human studies supports the use of frankincense resin for a variety of inflammatory disorders including osteoarthritis.

The effects of frankincense resin are biochemically attributed to a group of chemical compounds called boswellic acids.  Research has demonstrated that these acids are powerful inhibitors of CatG. During automated, molecular docking experiments, boswellic acids tightly bound to the active centre of CatG and, as a result, strongly suppressed the proteolytic activity of CatG. This indicates their potential to help alleviate inflammatory pain and preserve joint health by helping to prevent the enzymatic degradation of cartilage and surrounding soft tissues. View our full health product range

Gout Attack Are You at Risk?

Being awoken in the middle of the night by a sudden, searing pain in a big toe describes a typical gout attack, but for sufferers it is no laughing matter and for some it may be so severe that they seek emergency help for pain relief. Once referred to as the disease of kings, gout was primarily associated with wealthy overindulgence but today it is becoming increasingly common. Gout primarily strikes men but during the past 2 decades the incidence of gout in women has roughly doubled, particularly among older ladies.[1] Gout attacks vary in regularity and after the first attack, months or even years may go by before there is a recurrence. However, some sufferers experience frequent, severe flare ups that can result in joint damage if left untreated.

Gout vs Pseudogout

These two painful conditions are often confused as they have similarities but their root causes differ. Gout is a form of arthritis caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in and around joints while pseudogout results from excessive calcium pyrophosphate crystals and is termed calcium pyrophosphate disease (CPPD). In both cases, these crystals have the ability to activate severe and sudden bouts of localized swelling, inflammation and pain. The majority of gout cases involve the first joint of the big toe, otherwise known as podagra but other areas can also be affected including the instep, ankle, wrist, finger joints and knee. Pseudogout tends to affect more of the larger joints for example the wrist, knee, elbow or ankle. Gout attacks usually begin abruptly and reach heights of agony within 8 or 12 hours and then abate, whilst pseudogout attacks tend to occur over a length of days.[2]

Gout Complications

Gout pain should not be taken lightly as without treatment, gout can extend to other areas and, in some cases, lead to the development of severe degenerative arthritis. Suffers can also experience secondary infections, kidney stones and even kidney disease related to uric acid. In severe cases, nerve and spinal cord impingement can occur and a chronic form of gout called tophaceous gout causes uric acid crystals to be deposited in soft tissue areas, forming hard nodules that can lead to joint destruction.

Who is at Risk?

Though gout is far more common in men, advanced age is the single highest risk factor for both men and women and there seems to be a link between menopause, lowering estrogen levels and the possible onset of gout in women.[1] Unhealthy diet is another factor because foods and beverages that are high in purine levels can aid uric acid production. Obesity and hypertension are commonly associated with gout occurrences and the use of diuretics and other medications can also spike uric acid levels. An interesting study was conducted recently that showed that those with sleep apnea (uneven breathing during sleep) are more likely to experience gout. This suggests that there may be a link between cardiopulmonary function and increased uric acid levels.[3-4] Other conditions associated with a higher incidence of gout are high triglyceride levels, uncontrolled diabetes, high cholesterol, anemia and renal insufficiency.[5]

Prevention Tips

There are steps that can be taken to minimise or even prevent repeated gout flare-ups:

1 – Diet Changes and Weight Loss

It is well-known that alcohol, and beer in particular, is often a serious culprit but it is also important to cut back on sweet beverages, especially those containing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Even fruit juices, such as orange juice can raise uric acid levels and should therefore be minimised. A high level of hydration should be maintained by drinking plenty of water. Food triggers should be considered such as shellfish, red meat, organ meat, processed foods and refined carbohydrates, especially those containing fructose. Instead, a gout diet should focus on eating low GI foods and complex carbohydrates.[6] The benefits of dietary changes can have a ripple effect, assisting with weightloss, lowering cholesterol and improving general health.

2 – Regular Exercise

The human body needs movement to assist with various processes and consistent regular exercise helps to control weight, improve joint mobility, lower blood pressure and reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes. All of these also minimise the chance of gout attacks.

Treatment Options

In acute gout cases anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed for pain relief but in chronic cases, the focus is on lowering uric acid levels through the above lifestyle changes and specific medication. In addition to this, certain supplements can be used to reduce chronic inflammation that is associated with joint degradation.

RheumaLin is your natural anti-inflammatory solution as it contains several plant-derived molecules that are highly effective in suppressing chronic inflammation and reducing joint pain.

Find out about RheumaLin and FlamLeve
Download the MNI exercise programme here
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Do you suspect You Have Arthritis? Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis is, without a doubt, a leading cause of pain and disability across the world and it is surprisingly common. A recent report estimated that approximately 24 million people in America alone suffer from severe immobility due to some form of arthritis.[1] The term ‘arthritis’ refers to joint inflammation and encompasses over 100 joint conditions however, the most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Although these two conditions have some symptomatic similarities, their underlying causes are quite different which is why it is important to gain the correct diagnosis and associated treatment.

What is Osteoarthritis?

This form of arthritis falls into the category of degenerative or mechanical arthritis and the primary cause is damage to the cartilage on the articulating surfaces due to inflammation and wear and tear of weight-bearing joints or from a previous trauma in that area. It is more prevalent in women than men and onset is usually age-related with those over 65 most affected.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The root cause of this type of arthritis is abnormal inflammation, usually in the feet and hands, due to an autoimmune disorder. This immune response causes the joint surfaces and tissues around the joints to become damaged causing pain, stiffness and swelling. This condition is not related to age and is also more common in women but, when found in men, it is often more severe.

What is Osteoarthritis = Cartilage Loss?

Normally joint cartilage gets constantly remodelled after joint movement but in those with osteoarthritis this function is altered resulting in abnormal joint cartilage. Over time osteoarthritis causes progressive cartilage loss and a thickening on the subchondral plate.[2] Bony spurs can occur along the joints as well as bone cysts which are fluid-filled holes within the bone. Knees, hips, lower back and hands are common areas affected. Pain often occurs during joint usage and sometimes there is a grating or cracking sensation due to friction between bone and cartilage. Inflammation does occur around the joint tissues and also aids the cartilage degradation process but it is less severe than in those with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis = Joint Damage?

The symptoms of this condition can develop gradually or suddenly and it is characterized by severe inflammation of synovium – the soft tissue that lines joints. This leads to joint damage, pain, stiffness and loss of physical function. [3] It is triggered by an excessive immune response in which antibodies normally deployed to fight foreign substances begin to be directed against tissues within the body. This can affect not only the joints but other organs of the body as well and associated fatigue and fever can result. The immune response causes swelling around the joint that begins to erode the bone and marrow and destroy the surrounding structures. Left untreated, the joint loses its shape and eventually becomes completely immobile and low bone density and osteoporosis can result. [2] 

Comparing the Symptoms

Though there is an overlap in some symptoms, these signs that can assist with differentiating between osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

  • Swelling and inflammation around the joints is usually associated with RA.
  • Pain, restricted joint mobility and joint grating is common in advanced OA.
  • OA tends to be unilateral (on one side) while RA is usually bilateral (affecting the same joint on both sides of the body).
  • Generally, RA affects multiple joints while OA is experienced in only a few sites.
  • Morning stiffness can be an indicator as it is much more prolonged in those with RA – sometimes over an hour in duration.
  • Joint movement may bring on OA pain while moving the painful joint may relieve RA stiffness.
  • RA patients tend to have other symptoms including tiredness, depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, anaemia, dry eyes and occasional low-grade fever. However, it is important note that these may be caused by other simultaneous conditions. [4]

Arthritis Treatment

Diagnosis of a specific type of arthritis is not a simple task and if the above symptoms are experienced it is important to get a thorough assessment from a medical professional. Pinpointing and treating arthritis early are critical to minimizing the impact of the disease in order to prolong ease of movement and decrease the need for surgery. Unfortunately, arthritis is currently considered incurable but these conditions can be controlled through a treatment plan that focuses on relieving pain, reducing inflammation and slowing joint damage for improved quality of life.[4]

RheumaLin is your natural anti-inflammatory solution to combat joint pain and it is gentle on the stomach, making it ideal for the treatment of many types of arthritis. Find out more

How severe is your joint pain? Find out with our FREE Pain Scale


  2. Kori A. Dewing, DNP, FNP, ARNP; Stephen M. Setter, PharmD, DVM, CDE,CGP, FASCP; Barbara A. Slusher, MSW, PA-C. October 31, 2012. Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid ¬Arthritis 2012: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment
  3. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis Basics Accessed 24 April 2014.
  4. South African Rheumatism and Arthritis Association. “Rheumatoid Arthritis”. accessed 22 April 2014

Be Kind To Your Spine Long Term Relief for Back Pain

The amazing spine, coupled with its array of tendons and muscles, enables humanity to defy gravity and walk tall. It is fundamental to give the body structure, support and flexibility and the lumbar spine is responsible for weight distribution, balance and shock absorption. The spinal column is essential for everyday life so when back pain strike it can become very debilitating. It is estimated that between 70 and 80% of adults experience back pain, especially in the lumbar region, at some stage in their lives. In fact, lower back pain is the top cause of disability in people under 50 and the challenge is finding the right treatment approach.[1]

What is Acute vs Chronic Back Pain?

Back pain is broadly considered as either acute or chronic. Acute back pain can be caused by accidents, injuries or strains of pain sensitive structures such as the disk, facet joints, spinal musculature and ligaments.[2] Fortunately, most cases of acute back pain are relatively short-lived as normal connective tissue generally heals within 6-12 weeks but if the pain persists for over 3 months it is considered chronic.

What are Common Types of Chronic Pain?

There are many kinds of back pain and the vast majority are mechanical in nature, including conditions such as osteoarthritis, spondylosis, spinal stenosis and herniated discs. Cumulative chronic pain is often caused by bad posture, long periods of sitting hunched over a keyboard or repeated movements that produce strain, particularly in the workplace. Back pain may also be related to irritation or compression of nerves such as that found in sciatica pain which is experienced as a nagging ache down the leg. It is also important to consider that back pain may in fact be pain referred from internal organs such as the kidneys and prostate. For this reason, it is vital to have a thorough examination to gain an accurate diagnosis.

How to deal with Inflammation:

Pain, on a molecular level, is a biochemical consequence of an inflammation response in the body.[3] This inflammation can be beneficial in the short term as it assists with repairing injured tissue but chronic inflammation activates protein-dissolving enzyme systems which can eventually lead to degradation of spinal components such as the cartilage, bone, intervertebral discs and ligaments.[4] If repeated or consistent inflammation is left untreated, over time degenerative spinal disease, constant pain and loss of function may result. It is evident that chronic back pain needs to carefully managed and the correct approach is needed.

What are the Treatment Options?

Common approaches for treating back pain include the use of medication, physical therapy, exercise, chiropractic intervention and sometimes even surgery in severe cases. Current pharmaceutical treatments rely largely on the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory medication. The problem is that these drugs are known to cause side effects and health risks, especially if taken on an ongoing basis. [5] Chronic pain and inflammation needs to be addressed with an effective strategy, with minimal side-effects, that enables sufferers to become less reliant on anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics.

What Makes Natural Supplements Unique?

It is estimated that more than 35,000 plant species are being used for medicinal purposes around the world. An increasing number of conventional medications are actually based on natural substances and 10-25% of prescribed drugs contain at least one plant-derived active ingredient. Studies of the biochemistry of the plant kingdom have revealed that plant-extracts contain unique phytochemical molecules called phytoalexins which have been shown to boost the immune system and activate biological repair processes to heal damaged tissue at the site of pain.[6]

Boswellic Acid

Boswellia bark extract from Indian Frankincense has been used medicinally for centuries but it has gained scientific attention recently because evidence shows that these phytoalexins have significant anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-arthritic properties for documented pain reduction and improved joint mobility. [7] Unlike many anti-inflammatory drugs, boswellic acid usually doesn’t cause gastro-intestinal problems, instead it can have an anti-ulcer effect.


This phytoalexin is produced by several plant species as a defence mechanism against microbial and fungal infection. Low concentrations occur in several edible plants such as cranberries, mulberries, peanuts and grape skins. [8] Research has indicated that resveratrol has significant anti-inflammatory benefits for neurological tissue such as the brain, brainstem and spinal column and few side effects have been reported. [9]

RheumaLin – Your Natural Anti-inflammatory Solution

RheumaLin combines these plant-extract benefits into one solution that combats inflammatory back, neck and joint pain. With its low side-effect profile, this supplement is safe to use on a regular basis and can be combined with most pain and anti-inflammatory medication when needed.

Be kind to your spine with RheumaLin.


  2. Frymoyer JW. Back pain and sciatica. N Engl J Med. 1988 Feb 4. 318(5):291-300
  3. Medzhitov, R. (2008) Origin and physiological roles of inflammation. Nature 454, 428–435 2
  4. Vaday GG, Lider O. Extracellular matrix moieties, cytokines, and enzymes: dynamic effects on immune cell behavior and inflammation. J Leukoc Biol. 2000 Feb;67(2):149-59.
  5. Cheng, H.F. and Harris, R.C. (2005) Renal effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors. Curr. Pharm. Des. 11, 1795–1804 12
  6. Coutaux A, Adam F, Willer JC, Le Bars D. Hyperalgesia and allodynia: peripheral mechanisms. Joint Bone Spine. 2005 Oct;72(5):359-71.
  7. Ammon HP. Modulation of the immune system by Boswellia serrata extracts and boswellic acids. Phytomedicine. 2010 Sep;17(11):862-7.


Chronic Inflammation – Is This the Root of Modern Disease?

In our last article, we delved into the science behind pain and the difference between acute and chronic pain. All of us experience physical pain. It forms part of the human existence and whether it is due to injury or infection it is often accompanied by inflammation. Why is this and when does inflammation become unhealthy?

How Does Inflammation Aid Healing?

It is interesting to note that inflammation does serve a purpose – it is the body’s natural self-protection mechanism. The Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary defines acute inflammation as the immediate defensive reaction of tissue to any injury, which may be caused by infection, chemicals or physical agents. The aim of inflammation is to remove the harmful stimuli, damaged cells, irritants or pathogens in order to begin the healing process.

The 5 Cardinal Signs of Inflammation (PRISH)

  • Pain: The central nervous system is triggered and the area is likely to be painful and sensitive to the touch.
  • Redness: The blood vessels at the site become dilated to increase local blood flow.
  • Immobility: There is a loss of function due to swelling or stiffness in order to limit the use of the injured area to give it time to heal.
  • Swelling: There is increased capillary permeability and fluid leakage in tissue spaces. In some cases, production of pus or mucus occurs to push foreigners out of the body.
  • Heat: Increased blood flow and dilation heats up the area. White blood cells, which form an integral part of the immune system, enter the scene to fight bacteria, remove and consume dead cells and unwanted particles in order to enable healing.

Chronic Inflammation and Modern Disease

Inflammation as part of the body’s immune response is initially beneficial but if it becomes continuous it can cause tissue damage, persistent pain and even disease as it no longer only affects the immediate area but can impact the entire body. In fact, ongoing research has shown that chronic inflammation is becoming increasingly common and it is strongly associated with most of our modern health problems.

Risk factors for chronic inflammation include:

  1. Obesity

The incidence of obesity continues to grow worldwide and researchers are studying the link between excess weight and inflammation. Research indicates that lean connective tissue assists with maintaining equilibrium within the body but obese connective tissue results in a decrease in anti-inflammatory proteins and an increase in inflammatory hormones within the cells. [1, 2] This can lead to chronic systemic inflammation and many associated health problems such as hypertension and high cholesterol.

  1. Inactivity

Not only can lack of exercise increase the likelihood of obesity, it is also a risk factor for chronic inflammation. Both obese people and those who have low fitness levels have raised inflammatory markers. [3]

  1. Poor Quality Sleep

A study by the Emory University School of Medicine found that poor quality sleep, whether it is too short or disrupted, increases the production of inflammatory hormones and causes changes in blood vessel function. [4] Researchers have found that people who have fewer than six hours of sleep generally have higher levels of three inflammatory markers and tend to have a higher incidence of heart disease and strokes. 

  1. Stress and Mood Disorders

Our modern high stress lifestyles have a ripple effect, not only on our psychology, but our bodies as well. Studies have shown that individuals under constant stress have increased levels of inflammatory hormone production. [5] At the same time, chronic pain and inflammation constantly trigger the nervous system which can eventually alter the transmission pathways, effecting the functioning of the brain. This may cause higher pain sensitivity, mood instability, lack of energy and focus and sleeping difficulties. [6] If left to fester this can become a vicious circle of anxiety and depression, sleep deprivation, increased pain and susceptibility to further health problems.

Common Health Problems Associated with Inflammation

Sadly, chronic inflammation left unchecked can lead to many serious and unpleasant health conditions including heart disease, rheumatoid and osteo-arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthmas, auto-immune diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, some cancers and allergies.

Inflammation Management

If you are suffering from chronic pain and inflammation, it is important to consult with the relevant medical professional. Early intervention is key to prevent irreversible tissue damage. Treatment options are varied and will depend on the nature of the condition but often include lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise, physiotherapy, surgery, counselling, pharmaceutical drugs and supplements.

RheumaLin is your natural anti-inflammatory solution containing plant-derived ingredients that have been recognised for their ability to help alleviate inflammation, reduce pain and improve joint mobility. For more information Go to: Click here for more info on Rheumalin

Click here Get the FREE MNI Exercise Programme to combat inflammation and improve overall fitness levels.


  1. Ping Jiao and Haiyan Xu. Adipose inflammation: cause or consequence of obesity-related insulin resistance. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity 2008:1 25-31
  2. Kassi E, Pervanidou P, Kaltsas G, et al. Metabolic syndrome: definitions and controversies. BMC Medicine 2011,9:48
  3. Clarke J. Halfman, Ph.D., D.A.B.C.C. Laboratory Medicine and PathoPhysiology: Chemical Mediators of Acute Inflammation. August 1997
  4. Melissa R Meyers and Noyan Gokce. Endothelial dysfunction in obesity: etiological role in atherosclerosis. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes 2007 14:365-369
  5. Steven Simon. Opioids and Chronic Pain Management Paradigm: Time for a Change?
  6. Julio C. Fernandes, Johanne Martel-Pelletier and Jean-Pierre Pelletier. The role of cytokines in osteoarthritis pathophysiology. Biorheology 39 (2002) 237-246


Is Chronic Pain a Disease? What Causes the Pain Response?

Words can do little to really describe the misery of constant or severe bodily pain and it effects on quality of life. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”. [1] But why do we experience this terrible sensation and what causes chronic pain in the body?

What is Pain perception?

Interestingly, the science of pain is complex and not everyone experiences pain in the same way. Studies have shown that physiological and psychological factors can influence pain perception[2]:

  • How does Age affect pain?
    The brain’s circuitry tends to degenerate with age and therefore older people tend to have lower pain thresholds.
  • How does Gender affect pain?
    Research shows that women tend to be more pain sensitive than men, perhaps due to hormonal changes and genetic factors. Men, though, are often more stoic and do not report their pain unless it is severe.
  • How does Fatigue affect pain?
    Exhaustion also appears to play a role as pain is amplified due to the stress on the body from lack of sleep.
  • How does Memory affect pain?
    Pain is often linked to our associations and fears and how we have experienced pain in the past can influence our body’s response.

Why we Experience Pain:

When our bodies are damaged in some way, pain signals are sent to the brain as a mechanism to warn us to stop what we are doing or to remove ourselves from the dangerous cause in order to prevent further injury. This pain serves a continual reminder thereafter to assist with the healing process by ensuring we take special care of the injured area until healing is complete. Acute pain therefore is there to protect us but if this condition becomes chronic, the pain can become destructive both physically and emotionally.

Acute vs Chronic Pain

These two categories of pain are acute and chronic. Acute or nociceptive pain is normally sudden and follows a typical pattern. Nociceptors are the free nerve endings found just below the skin, in tendons, joints, and organs and they serve to detect pain and alert the central nervous system to immobilise the area and begin the repair process. [5] This type of pain is generally short-lived and responds well to pain-relieving treatments when needed.

Types of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is prolonged and can be described as either inflammatory nociceptor pain or neuropathic pain or it may involve a mix of both types.

  • Inflammatory nociceptor pain is triggered by tissue damage and there is the resulting inflammatory process and physiologic responses that promote healing.
  • Neuropathic pain is produced by damage to the neurons in the peripheral and central nervous systems. This results in an overstimulation of the nociceptors which amplifies the experience of pain. When there is inflammatory nociceptor pain, the chronic inflammation may actually cause damage to neurons and produce neuropathic pain. This type of pain often persists for an extended period of time, long after the original trauma has been dealt with. [3, 4]

Consequences of Pain

When this type of chronic pain occurs there is no longer any protective value to it. Instead, the nervous system becomes oversensitive to stimuli, bringing with it repetitive or constant pain. Now the pain is no longer a symptom of a disease process but becomes like a disease process itself! [5] Prolonged pain can lead to a downward health spiral due to the stress placed on the body. Many of the body’s systems including cardiac, respiratory, gastrointestinal and immune systems are often weakened and this can result in illness. In the case of joint pain, muscles surrounding the area tend to stiffen and even atrophy due to prolonged misuse, bringing with it a loss of endurance and flexibility. [6]

 Pain Management

Constant pain is very draining emotionally and there is a often an inability to enjoy the things you used to. The good news is that if you are struggling with chronic pain there are many treatment options available which can often be used in combination. These include weight management, exercise, physical therapy, medication, surgery as well as complimentary treatments such as well-researched supplements. RheumaLin is your natural solution to combat inflammatory back, neck and joint pain and because it is gentle on your stomach it can be used for extended periods of time.

How severe is your pain? Find out with the FREE pain scale test here.

Get the FREE MNI Pain Relieving Exercise Programme to target particular areas of pain: Download Free Exercise Plan


  1. Theoi Greek Mythology: Exploring classic mythology in classical literature and art. Accessed 23 June 2014.
  2. International Association for the Study of Pain. Accessed 2 June 2014
  3. Craig Freudenrich, Ph. D. How Pain Works. Accessed 1 June 2014
  4. Evan F. Ekman, MD. Surgical Approach 1: A Strategy for Minimizing Perioperative Pain – Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair and Pre-surgical Analgesia. Accessed 3 June 2014
  5. Danielle Reddi, Natasha Curran, Robert Stephens. An introduction to pain pathways and mechanisms. Accessed 4 June 2014
  6. Steven Simon. Opioids and Chronic Pain Management Paradigm: Time for a Change?