Nobody likes to feel sore and achey all the time. If you experience chronic pain, it can contribute to many other conditions and sabotage your mental health. But if you’re looking for natural ways to relieve pain, the first place to look to is your diet. My good friend and incredible Nutritionist, Sam Gemmell, has taken the time to write this guest blog to explain more.
Fatty fish are a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are naturally anti-inflammatory. Most studies that have been published focus on omega-3 supplements. But there are small studies that support consuming it as part of the diet as well. One showed that consuming fatty fish 4 times per week can reduce inflammatory compounds in the body.
3-4 serves of oily fish per week is a good number to aim for. If you prefer plant-based sources, include walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds daily to reap the benefits.
Looking for a healthy source of fat to include in your diet? High quality olive oil has properties that may help to reduce joint-related symptoms. One animal study showed that extra-virgin olive oil reduced joint swelling, slowed the destruction of cartilage and reduced inflammation.
But don’t worry – the benefits are for people as well! One study showed that people who consume olive oil are less likely to have rheumatoid arthritis.
Olive oil can be drizzled over salads, or used to sauté ingredients. But it's not great for deep frying - deep frying isn't good for you anyway!
Berries are the best fruit ever, at least in my opinion! They are chock-full of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation naturally.
One study showed that people who ate at least two servings of strawberries per week were 14% less likely to have elevated inflammatory markers. Researchers also suggest that blueberries and strawberries may offer protection against arthritis.
Want to up your berry intake? Chuck them in your smoothies, porridge, salads or just straight into your mouth.
Spice things up in the kitchen! Pretty much any herb or spice will have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But if we’re going to play favourites, turmeric and ginger are bestfor sore joints and arthritis.
There are many research studies that show supplementing with turmeric can be beneficial for arthritis. But adding it into your diet can still help as well! Turmeric is not well absorbed, so the best consume it is with a source of good fats and some black pepper. Research into turmeric and ginger has shown that both have anti-arthritic effects.
How to use them? It’s simple – sprinkle your favourites spices everywhere! Turmeric and ginger can be added to sweet and savoury dishes.
Tart cherry juice
Tart cherries are packed full of antioxidants that can support your joint health. One study looking at osteoarthritis showed that consuming 475ml of tart cherry juice daily significantly reduced symptoms and inflammation. Tart cherry juice can also reduce inflammatory markers.
But the benefits don't stop there. Tart cherry juice is also a natural source of melatonin, which is needed for deep, restful sleep. If you’re not getting quality sleep, your body can’t repair damage effectively, which can exacerbate pain.
Ready to get into tart cherry juice? Make sure you choose an unsweetened variety. Otherwise, a lot of the benefits will be cancelled out by excess sugar.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my coffee. But green tea is king when it comes to caffeine-containing beverages if you’re in pain.
Green tea contains a potent antioxidant known as ECGC. ECGC has been shown to reduce inflammatory cytokines in research. And although trials are in the early stages, the research also suggests that it could be beneficial in reducing inflammation in osteoarthritis.
I often recommend that coffee drinkers alternate between coffee and green tea – so if you drink 4 cups of coffee per day, try 2 cups of coffee and 2 cups of green tea. But if you're not big on caffeine, even one cup a day can offer health benefits.
Sam is a nutritionist, health writer and wellness speaker based in Melbourne. She loves to spread knowledge about food as medicine, and is passionate about personalised nutrition. You can find out more on her website.
There are many different issues that can cause pain around the jaw and face. In fact, between 5-12% of people experience some kind of dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). But the good news is, TMJ pain doesn’t have to stick around.
What causes jaw pain?
There are many factors that can contribute to pain in the jaw and around the TMJ joint. This can include:
Your jaw pain could be caused by one or more factors, depending on your situation.
Symptoms of jaw pain
If you have dysfunction in the TMJ, pain is an obvious symptom. But there are other symptoms caused by jaw issues to keep an eye out for, including:
You could also experience symptoms that come with generalised pain, such as nausea, lack of appetite, irritability and fatigue.
Assessing jaw pain
If you’re experiencing jaw pain, your best bet is to see your friendly local myotherapist (that’s me!). There are a number of things I will do to assess the pain. We’ll look at:
There will also be some palpation, or feeling, of the jaw. This will tell me whether one side is tighter compared to the other, which may be maintaining your jaws dysfunctional patterns.
What can be done to ease jaw pain
To get to the bottom of the TMJ issues, you’ll need to see a practitioner for assessment and treatment. But if you need some immediate release for your jaw pain, you can try this self-release technique.
Start with your fingertips pointing upwards on the base of the jaw. Press your fingertips down firmly (but not painfully!). You might feel a hard sensation - that is the tightened muscle. In one long, slow movement, roll your fingertips up the jawline, over the cheek and cheekbones, along the temples and up to the hairline. Do this slowly and deeply, taking 1-2 minutes from jaw to hairline. Open and close your jaw wide like you’re yawning. Then repeat the process 1-2 times.
In myotherapy, treatment of jaw pain may include mobilisation, myofascial release, trigger point work and intra-oral release. Intra-oral release is an internal treatment – I’ll get gloved up, and then use my finger or thumb to release the tight muscles of the jaw from inside the mouth. This can be painful – I’ve had it done to me as well! - but it is effective for the majority of clients with TMJ pain.
In my own TMJ treatment experience, I was having extreme tightness and pressure build up in the joints of my jaw. When I opened my mouth my jaw swung noticeably towards the left. When it got bad, it was a struggle to eat things like nut bars or anything that requires a lot of chewing. It took time, but between seeing my own Myotherapist and doing the self care exercises he gave me, I've mostly corrected the dysfunction and its very rarely painful anymore.
If you’re ready to release your TMJ tension, book yourself in for a session today.
Pain is sucky – no matter what it is. But sometimes it’s good to know your pain, so you know how urgently you need to act on it. One of the most common questions about pain is how can you tell if it’s muscle pain or nerve pain?
The best option is always to ask someone who can check for you – like me! But there are some ways you might be able to tell the difference.
It’s pretty common to experience muscle pain. It might be as subtle as an ache after a workout, or it could be agony if you’ve torn a muscle. The way to recognise muscle pain is that it is generally:
Nerve pain is usually of greater concern, as your nerves hurting is a sign that something is compressing or impinging a nerve somewhere in the body. If you’re experiencing nerve pain, it is generally:
The two types of pain can exist separately, or you might experience a mix of both. But both are a sign that the body is not happy with something.
I’m In Pain Right Now. What Can I Do To Relieve It?
Pain is a signal that lets you know something might not be right and needs protection. If it’s a mild pain, there’s no need to panic. But if it’s unexpected pain, nerve pain or related to a chronic condition, your first step is to book in with your practitioner. Getting treatment right away helps to reduce your pain quicker. Your practitioner can advise you on some safe at home care practices, but if you can't get a booking at short notice there are still steps you can take.
Whether its muscle or nerve pain, the basic DIY first aid for your pain is the same. So until you are able to get it looked after, you should:
These will help to ease the pain and prevent further damage until you’re able to get in and get it checked out properly.
You’ll see that I didn’t include ice in there. There is emerging research that shows that ice may not always be the best option for treating injuries and pain. So if you want to add on some temperature relief, it’s up to you – you might feel like ice gives you some relief, or you might prefer a heat pack, or you may find best relief using an alternating combination of the two. Once I’ve assessed your pain, I will let you know which might be better for you.
The guide below is a quick way of doing the investigative work on whether your pain is muscle or nerve related, but its always best to consult with a health professional rather than trusting good old Doctor Google.
You don’t have to just grit your teeth through any sort of pain. As a qualified myotherapist, I can help to relieve your symptoms and get you back on track to health. So book in an appointment today – you won’t regret it!
Is myotherapy painful if it's done 'right'? Should massage hurt in order to be effective? These are the sorts of things I get asked all the time. As a practitioner with a strong interest in the world of chronic pain, I get very passionate about this topic. So apologies for the rant ahead!
Somewhere along the line, people started to equate pain and gain. It's in the workplace, in the gym, and now even on the treatment table.
There are many who think a 'good' massage or myotherapy treatment should make them wince. They think that:
But is this really the case?
Does pain really equal gain? I don't think so – particularly not for people already in pain.
If you're already experiencing pain, your nervous system is already on overload. And that means you're already vulnerable to more pain. Pain is not a healthy thing in large amounts!
In fact, when your body experiences pain, you'll have:
I don't know about you. But I think that if you walk out of a chronic pain treatment with more inflammation, fewer nutrients and more stress – it might not be a good choice for your healing.
On the other hand, a gentle treatment that lowers stress hormones and inflammation might be just what you need.
Can you have a pain-free treatment?
I believe that you can have a low-pain, if not completely pain-free myotherapy treatment. There's a few ways you can make sure that this happens:
You might still experience some sensations like tenderness on trigger points, or mild discomfort during a stretch. But that's not quite the same as pain – I'll explain in a later post.
Are you still worried about pain during a treatment? I want to hear your concerns and let you know how I can help. Send me a message, and we can talk about how to keep you pain-free.
Ready to get yourself a gentle AND effective treatment for your pain? Pop on over to the booking page to get started.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.