Over the years, we at DSPT have seen our fair share of patients with pain who also present with inflammatory diseases such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Ehler Danlos Syndrome, IBD/Crohn's, Lyme Disease, Thyroid Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis, Type 1 Diabetes, and Asthma to name a few.
Make no mistake about it: these patients complain of pain and suffering as much as or more so than patients with other painful conditions! Also, they will complain of any number of systemic symptoms including nausea, exhaustion, depression, insomnia, arthralgia, myalgia, and cognitive impairment. Their pain may be intermittent or constant and may be associated with allodynia and hyperalgesia. Pain can be localized or "all over."
In these conditions, the autoimmune process invariably produces inflammation as autoantibodies float through the biologic system and arbitrarily decide to attack a joint, nerve, gland, or organ. Autoimmune disease is basically an allergy to yourself, an immune system reaction to a non-toxic foreign substance in the body, something harmless to one person but irritating or even deadly to the next.
Some autoimmune disease may indeed be perverse self-abuse, but there is a more modern perspective, a hypothesis that autoimmune disease is mostly the price of doing business: collateral damage from unavoidable, ongoing battles with pathogens. Or, worse, it could be collateral damage from battles that ended long ago, like stepping on a land mine from an old war.
Subjectively, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the pain of an oversensitive nervous system and the pain of a nervous system that is actually detecting inflammation all over. There are links between chronic prolonged stress and inflammation. In the very short term (minutes), stress is an immune stimulator (inflammatory). But then, almost right away, that effect gets reeled in to prevent collateral damage: you don't want sustained immune stimulation! This suppressive effect is robust, and it's why stress/steroids suppress inflammation. But in chronic stress, the stimulatory phase keeps happening over and over again, and the suppressive phase never quite catches up, and so overall immune system activation gradually ratchets up to the point of causing autoimmune disease.
But have no fear! There's evidence that suggests that various soothing forms of treatment - yoga, meditation, mindfulness - as well as mild to moderate exercise, may reduce chronic low-grade inflammation and the pain it produces! Good thing for us here at DSPT, we have the skills and tools to help treat your pains in the face of autoimmune disease.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. National Institutes of Health. Understanding Autoinflammatory Diseases. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Autoinfla
Proal A. Re-evaluating the theory of autoimmunity; 2019 June 6
Bower JE, Irwin MR. Mind-body therapies and control of inflammatory biology: A descriptive review. Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Jan;51:1–11.
We here at DSPT are here to professionally manage your journey toward caring for and healing your whole self, mind and body. Give us a call to see what we and our network of specialized health care providers can do for you!