Category Archives: Pain Relief

3 Overlooked Causes of Chronic Pain

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

April 10, 2020

Recently, a patient named J.D. came to me searching for pain relief. He’d been from doctor to doctor searching for a solution, with no clear answers in sight.

He’s not the first patient I’ve seen like this. Many folks who land in my office have gone for years and years without ever receiving an accurate pain diagnosis.

In J.D.’s case, all sorts of health conditions had already been ruled out. He didn’t have multiple sclerosis, bone cancer, diabetic neuropathy, peripheral artery disease or even ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

But once the big scary diseases had been ruled out, J.D. felt his physicians simply dismissed him. They acted like he was wasting their time with his continued pain complaints.

They just wanted him out of their office. So, when J.D. came to see me, we took a different approach than many of his other doctors.

We sat down together and talked about what his pain felt like. Where did it occur? How often did it reach a scale of 10?

He described it as a stabbing and burning pain – often accompanied by agonizing spasms and twitches in his feet, legs and fingers.

Next we addressed his lifestyle – the foods he does and doesn’t eat, physical activity, sleep habits and so on. I also inspected his physical appearance – his hair, skin, mouth and fingernails.

Then, instead of sending the poor fellow off for more neurological exams and imaging studies, I drew blood samples. We sent them out for testing. In particular, I was looking for nutritional deficiencies linked to his symptoms and appearance.

It’s this type of detailed examination that sets a functional medicine doctor like myself apart from conventional doctor. We look for the upstream cause of your downstream problem.

In many cases, this comes down to the foods you eat. The most important tool in our toolkit to change someone’s health – mental as well as physical – is what’s on the end of their fork and not at the bottom of a prescription bottle.

Can Addressing Nutritional Deficiencies Cure Your Pain?

So why don’t conventional docs pay more attention to nutrition and lifestyle?

In fact, most mainstream physicians receive very little training on nutrition. At last count, only 26 out of 105 U.S. medical schools required students to take a dedicated nutrition course. This amounts to only 19.5 hour of nutritional training throughout their entire medical school careers!

It’s one reason I trained in functional medicine – to learn how food and nutrition affect all systems of the body. And it sure comes in handy when it comes to diagnosing hard-to-explain pain cases like J.D.’s.

As it turns out, J.D. was suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency – which is much more common than you might think.

In many cases, low B12 levels aren’t due to the foods we eat. Instead, people’s bodies aren’t properly absorbing the B12 in their system.

If your body can’t absorb vitamin B12 you may experience severe, shooting nerve pain from irritated or damaged nerves. This can happen anywhere on your body. But in J.D.’s case, it displayed as peripheral neuropathy.

Restoring enough vitamin B12 levels helps rebuild nerves, inhibits pain-signaling pathways and protects the myelin sheath that cushions your nerves. It also helps ease symptoms of low back pain.

We started him off on vitamin B12 injections, then transitioned to a sublingual B12 spray. (Using the sublingual version bypasses malabsorption issues.)

Recommendation: If you have unexplained and undiagnosed shooting pain accompanied with spasms, numbness and/or a burning sensation, have your vitamin B12 levels check. A serum or methylmalonic acid test can quickly reveal a vitamin B12 deficiency.

I also tested J.D. for vitamin D. And I wasn’t surprised to learn he was deficient in this nutrient, too.

Most people aren’t aware of this, but vitamin D deficiency causes weakness and cramps in the muscles. It also contributes to aches and pains. It can even make your bones hurt.

And here’s a real eye opener: patients who suffer from chronic pain or have fibromyalgia commonly have low vitamin D levels.

Unfortunately, somewhere between two and four out of every five Americans are deficient in vitamin D. (It just depends on where you place the cut-off, and that’s a controversy all of its own.)

It’s easy enough to boost your levels by supplementing with a vitamin D formula that contains the cholecalciferol form (the most active form) of D3.

Recommendation: Ask your doctor for a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Set your goal for maintaining levels of around 65 ng/ml. If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease closer to 75 ng/ml is better.

Even though J.D. wasn’t deficient in magnesium, it’s not uncommon to experience unexplained muscle pain, cramps and neuropathic pain if you are low on this mineral.

And as with vitamin D, people with fibromyalgia often have low levels of this magnesium in their bodies.

When fibromyalgia patients supplement with as little as 600 mg of magnesium malate daily, their fibromyalgia scores show improvement. This includes levels of pain, function, stiffness and fatigue.

In general I recommend 5 mg of magnesium per pound of body weight. Take it in divided doses throughout the day. I like the magnesiums that end in “ate”… glycinate, orotate, malate, gluconate, threonate etc. The malate specifically for fibromyalgia. Just remember that citrate can cause loose bowels – even at a low dose.

I also encourage you to soak in a warm Epsom Salt bath. It’s a perfect remedy for your aches and pains. Not only do these salts help relieve soreness, they also flood your body with magnesium sulfate that gets absorbed into your body through your skin. Just add two cups to your bathwater.

Recommendation: A magnesium RBC blood test is the most precise magnesium blood test you can get. It measures the actual magnesium levels in your cells.

If pain is your enemy, don’t forget to cut inflammatory foods like refined carbs, sugars, artificial sweeteners, omega-6 fatty acids, gluten, processed meats and MSG from your diet. Replace them with healthy, plant-based foods and clean animal proteins that stave off inflammation.

And don’t forget to exercise with regularity!

SOURCES:

Adams KM, et al. Nutrition education in U.S. medical schools: latest update of a national survey. Acad Med. 2010 Sep;85(9):1537-42.

Andrès E, et al. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency in elderly patients. CMAJ. 2004 Aug 3;171(3):251-9.

Buesing S, et al. Vitamin B12 as a Treatment for Pain. Pain Physician. 2019 Jan;22(1):E45-E52.

Yilmaz R, et al. Efficacy of vitamin D replacement therapy on patients with chronic nonspecific widespread musculoskeletal pain with vitamin D deficiency. Int J Rheum Dis. 2016 Dec;19(12):1255-1262

Shipton EA, et al. Vitamin D and Pain: Vitamin D and Its Role in the Aetiology and Maintenance of Chronic Pain States and Associated Comorbidities. Pain Res Treat 2015 19;2015:904967.

Na HS, Ryu JH, Do SH. The role of magnesium in pain. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011.

DiNicolantonio JJ, et al. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018; 5(1): e000668.

Bagis S, et al. Is magnesium citrate treatment effective on pain, clinical parameters and functional status in patients with fibromyalgia? Rheumatol Int. 2013 Jan;33(1):167-72.

3 Tricks to Heal Your Bad Back

core muscles, back strength, back pain, low back ache, bridge pose, exercises for strengthening back

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

March 2, 2020

When I talk about staying physically active and getting regular exercise, a lot of folks say “Doc, I’d love to but can’t. I have a bad back.”

Well, I’ve got news for you…

You might not have a bad back. You might have a bad front! Let me explain. Continue reading

You May Not Need Back Surgery After All

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

December 13, 2019

Did you ever see the 1957 classic The Incredible Shrinking Man?  Well, it’s a fun film if you’re into science fiction.

It shows a man shrinking over time for some unknown reason. There’s a small grain of truth in this idea.  Because most of us can expect to shrink a bit over time.

As the years go by, gravity tends to compress the discs in our spine resulting in back pain and a shorter stature.

In fact, many people aren’t even aware of their slow shrinking… Continue reading

What your feet say about your health

why do my hands and feet tingle, is it okay if my legs fall asleep a lot, what is peripheral neuropathy, top causes for peripheral neuropathy, is it a pinched nerve or something else?

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

September 20, 2019

As a kid, I remember thinking that my sleeping foot was the funniest thing.  I sat there looking at my leg while it slowly woke up — a hundred tiny needles poking me the whole time.

I could feel my foot coming alive again…

Now, this happens to everyone.  So I’m sure you’ve sat too long in one position and had a leg fall asleep…or an arm when you lean against it too long. It’s uncomfortable for a few minutes, but then the tingling feeling goes away.

But, what if that numbness in your foot or arm doesn’t go away?  What does it mean if those strange feelings are always there? Continue reading

Outlawed drug now legal in all 50 states

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

January 18, 2019

These days more and more patients are asking me about cannabidiol (CBD oil).

And today I can tell them something I couldn’t a month ago: Hemp-derived CBD oil is now legal in all 50 states!

You can legally buy it. You can legally use it. And no prescription is required. Continue reading

8 Easy Ways to Tame Back Pain

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

October 12, 2018

  • Safe, instant and effective relief for back pain
  • Give your back the exercise it needs
  • Learn how to pamper those achy bones and muscles

If you walk into the doctor’s office complaining about back pain, there’s a four out of five chance your doc will prescribe one or more medication to help ease your pain.

At minimum, you’ll likely be told some type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) is in order. But the truth is these drugs don’t actually work very well to alleviate back pain.

Worse, all of them increase your chances of a heart attack or stroke. This is true even if you only use them for a few days. They also damage your kidneys, gut and can cause liver failure. Estimates from the literature reflect over 15,000 people die in the U.S. each year from GI bleeds while on NSAIDs.

If your pain is severe, you may also receive a prescription for an opioid or benzodiazepine. Oh blessed relief!

Not so fast. These narcotic drugs lose their effectiveness when you use them regularly. Plus, they’re extremely addictive. (Just watch the news. Almost every day there is a new headline about the raging epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths.)

None of these are great options. And not a single one of them will actually fix your aching back.

The fact is back pain generally improves on its own within just a matter of weeks. And after a month or two, it entirely resolves all by itself. This is true whether you take any sort of medication or not.

As a result, your goal should be to find safe and effective ways to relieve the pain. Ways that don’t carry the long-term risks association with pharmaceuticals. Lucky for you, I have some great suggestions that not only provide pain relief, but also strengthen your back to help prevent further problems.

Give Your Back the Exercise it Needs

It’s hard to think of exercise when your back hurts. And you definitely don’t want to engage in strenuous activities like sprinting, jumping jacks, squats or lunges. When your back is in bad shape, it needs something milder.

Tai chi and yoga can both work wonders to relieve both chronic and severe back pain. In fact, these gentle forms of exercise work just as well as physical therapy for reducing pain, improving function and lowering the use of pain medicine.

Another thing I like about these types of programs is that the brain-body connection can help train your body how to move correctly. As these natural and more graceful movements become automatic, you are less likely to experience back pain in the future.

There are also a few exercises you can do at home to ease your aching back. Some of the most effective include…

Leg stretches. Lay down flat on the floor with your legs straight. Bend your right leg at the knee and bring it in toward your chest. Use your hands to press the knee as far into your chest as possible. Hold for a count of ten and release. Repeat on left leg. Do this 3 or 4 more times.

Pelvic tilts. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdomen and curve it slightly upward with your back pressed to the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Bridge exercises. Lie flat with your legs bent and your arms straight/flat at your sides. Exhale, tighten your abdomen and slowly lift your hips off the floor. Gently roll your spine up one vertebra at a time from butt to shoulders until you’ve raised the last (upper) vertebra. Your back should be in a straight angle from shoulders to knees. Hold for a few seconds, then release your abdomen and reverse the process until you are back to resting position. Repeat 10 times.

All these exercises go to work immediately to stretch your back and hip muscles, relieve constriction and improve flexibility. They also strengthen your core muscles, which act like a “girdle” to help prevent future strains, sprains and pulled back muscles.

Pamper those Achy Bones and Muscles

In addition to giving your back the exercise it needs, I also recommend giving it a little pampering.

Most people don’t think of chiropractic care as pampering. But when something pops back into exactly the right place while you’re on the table… when you can suddenly and miraculously stand up straight again… well, it can be pretty blissful.

I recommend looking for a full service chiropractor who also offers massage and STIM/ TENS unit treatments. These added offerings help loosen you up beforehand, which makes it much easier for the chiropractor to perform an alignment.

Regular massages (outside of the chiropractor’s office) can also be helpful.

You see, when your back is in the throes of pain, it causes your muscles to spasm and tighten. And guess what happens next? These stiff and rigid muscles place direct pressure on your vertebrae. This not only contributes to agonizing back pain, it can also delay recovery.

A professional massage can help relieve those knotted muscles so that you heal more quickly too.

Soothing your aching muscles in a hot tub with jet sprays can help too. (If you don’t have access to one, you can get similar benefits by soaking in a warm bath containing Epsom salts along with some peppermint, spearmint or eucalyptus.)

For added relief, I recommend the application of a mentholated topical cream that contains 0.75% capsaicin to painful areas.

Taking a daily curcumin supplement can help, too. This powerful anti-inflammatory is widely recognized for its ability to relieve pain and inflammation. Look for one that is standardized to 90 to 95 percent total curcuminoids. And make sure it includes bioperine, a black pepper extract that substantially increases bioavailability.

SOURCES:

Chou R, et al. Medications for acute and chronic low back pain: a review of the evidence for an American Pain Society/American College of Physicians clinical practice guideline. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Oct 2;147(7):505-14.

FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA strengthens warning that non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause heart attacks or strokes. Safety Announcement. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. July 2015.

Cho E, et al. Prospective Evaluation of Analgesic Use and Risk of Renal Cell Cancer. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011; 171 (16): 1487.

Hauser, RA. The Acceleration of Articular Cartilage Degeneration in Osteoarthritis by Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs. Journal of Prolotherapy. 2010;(2)1:305-322.

Chou R, et al. Nonpharmacologic Therapies for Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review for an American College of Physicians Clinical Practice Guideline. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Apr 4;166(7):493-505.

Yoga eases moderate to severe chronic low back pain. National Institutes of Health. News Event. Jun 2017.

Kong LJ, et al. Tai Chi for Chronic Pain Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 25325.

Don’t Fall Prey to the #1 Cause of Disability

heal back pain, exercises to reverse back injury or back pain, strengthen your core for back pain cure, spinal discomfort

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

September 29, 2017

  • 4 out of 5 people will experience back pain in their lifetime
  • Prevent your back from failing when you need it most
  • Stand tall, lose weight and learn how to lift

Unless you regularly experience back pain, chances are good that you don’t give your back much thought. You take it for granted that your spine will support you, day in and day out, for your entire life.

Well, here’s a reality check for you.

It’s estimated that up to 80% of all adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. This means you have somewhere around a four out of five chance of falling victim to some sort of back problem in your lifetime.

These are horrible odds! To make matters even worse, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It’s related to more disabilities than any other health condition. Continue reading

4 Nutrients that Shut Down Knee Pain

mobility issues, problems moving, bad knees, causes of knee pain, causes of joint pain, stiff knee causes

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

August 16, 2017

  • Common knee pain treatments that don’t work
  • 4 nutrients that shut down knee pain
  • The one thing your knees need every day

If you suffer from knee osteoarthritis, there is a long list of things you shouldn’t do… and an equally long list of things you should do.

So today I’m going to make things extremely easy for you. First I’ll show you what doesn’t work to ease knee pain… then I’ll clearly explain what does. Continue reading

Anxiety Remedy Beats Many Common Medications

Natural relief for migraines, ginger and migraines, what to take for acid reflux, health benefits of ginger, does ginger work for upset stomach, what to take for nausea

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

August 4, 2017

  • Natural treatment for all that ails you
  • Ancient spice for aches, pains, migraines and acid reflux
  • Ginger fights cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more

Today many folks have come to rely so heavily on medical intervention for what ails them that they often forget to look toward natural remedies first.

For example, you might take heartburn medications for acid reflux or peptic ulcer. Maybe you take an NSAID pain reliever for minor aches and pains… or a prescription drug for migraine relief. And even though you know that all of these meds come with hefty side effects, you take them anyway.

Well, what if I told you there was a single spice that could help all of these issues? It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. And modern research is proving that these folks knew what they were doing. Continue reading

2 Vitamin Deficiencies that Cause Constant Pain

pain in neck back and muscles, how to prevent constant pain, fibromyalgia symptoms, pain relief

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

January 25, 2017

  • Why does your body ache all of the time?
  • Boost your vitamin D levels to slash pain levels
  • Get more magnesium to soothe your aching body

When you wake up in the morning, do you have to move around for awhile to get rid of morning stiffness?

As the day wears on, do aches, pains and tender points plague you?

Do you get headaches, feel fatigued or suffer from poor sleep?

You may have been told these symptoms are “all in your head.” Well, I’m here to tell you that they probably aren’t. Continue reading