Exercise as Medicine: Exercise Reduces Nerve Related Pain

How many of you suffer or know someone who suffers from chronic nerve related (neuropathic ) pain? Some of the most common types include: sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, radiculopathy/itis, stenosis, migraines, compression syndromes, or peripheral neuropathy. Now, how many of these individuals are stuck taking medication like; antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or painkillers like opiates or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications?

I have witnessed several incidents of individuals suffering from chronic pain getting stuck in the vicious cycle of medication. Take one medication to relieve inflammation, another to reduce pain, another to depress nerve action, then compound this with taking additional medications to control the side effects (i.e. acid reflux, sleep deprivation, constipation, etc).

I have always been in favor of the holistic approach to health. Let the body heal itself with exercise as medicine, diet or natural remedies. Earlier this year a study was published in Anesthesia and Analgesia, which talks about the benefit of exercise as medication for nerve related pain. After reading the article I had to share, even if it is a laboratory study.
The study examined rats with neuropathic pain then put the rats through exercise programming. The results demonstrate significant reductions in neuropathic pain following exercise. Exercise reduced characteristic of typical neuropathic pain. In addition, the exercise significantly reduces the expression of inflammatory proteins and neuropathic pain. Cytokines are a common cause of chronic inflammation and often neuropathic pain is a result of chronic inflammation. Exercise can reduce cytokine release and chronic inflammation.

Don’t get me wrong I appreciate Western Medicine. However, where have we gone? We have turned our back on the easiest and most beneficial thing we can do for our body – exercise. Start exercising and stop the dependency on drugs.

Reference:
Yu-Wen Chen, Yung-Tsung Li, Yu Chung Chen, Zong-Ying Li, Ching-Hsia Hung. Exercise Training Attenuates Neuropathic Pain and Cytokine Expression After Chronic Constriction Injury of Rat Sciatic Nerve. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 114 (6): 2012.

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