Is your chronic pain and IBS connected?
If you are suffering with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia or inflammatory arthritis, there is a good chance that you also have a disordered digestive function. You may have a diagnosis of IBS or just feel generally uncomfortable, suffering from some combination of stomach cramping, bloating, flatulence, loose stools, hard and infrequent stools, heartburn and nausea. Up to 70% of people with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia also have IBS. That is a high prevalence, suggesting more than just a coincidental link between the two. The question is: is your chronic pain and IBS connected? Read on to find out.
You may well have heard of the condition ‘leaky gut’, otherwise called intestinal hyper-permeability. This condition used to sit firmly in the camp of complementary medicine but is increasingly being acknowledged by conventional medical professionals as a possible root cause of a surprisingly wide range of conditions.
What is Leaky Gut?
Our guts are, by design, ‘leaky’. It is this leakiness that allows the compounds in our food into our blood stream for delivery around the body. Further down the digestive tract, water, hormones, vitamins, etc pass through the colon wall in both directions – for use in the body or elimination. The exchange of material from gut to blood steam in the small intestine happens through tiny passageways (known as ‘tight junctions’), keeping large substances out but allowing small ones through. Think cheese cloth. Sometimes however, the tight junctions in the gut wall get larger – tears in the cheese cloth if you like -, allowing substances that require further digestion to enter the blood stream. It is what happens next that connects your symptoms of pain and IBS.
How Leaky Gut Links with Pain
A large portion of our immune system sits in our digestive tract. This makes sense, as it is where outside world meets inside world. The gut located immune system keeps us safe from unwanted invaders from this outside world. However, with leaky gut, there are now larger molecules getting through the tears in your gut cheese cloth and your immune system doesn’t recognise them. It then mounts an attack to keep you safe from these unknown invaders.
Inflammation and the Immune System
This immune system attack is inflammatory. We need this inflammation as it is the way the body destroys bacteria, viruses or unknown molecules, or heals sprains, cuts and bruises. However, if the immune response is coming from molecules of food that are not being digested properly and ‘escaping’ through ‘holes’ in the gut wall, then the immune system ends up being on permanent high alert, causing a constant drip of inflammation. And inflammation is painful.
So, there you have it. A journey from gut to pain. Leaky gut – immune system reaction – inflammation – pain. Are your chronic pain and IBS connected? Yes they are, and now you know a little as to why.
Many of you will have heard about the gut-brain-axis. How about the gut-pain-axis? You heard it here first 😎.
The good news is that you can fix a leaky gut. It is not a quick thing to sort out and requires some effort to change your diet and lifestyle, but I’ve steered clients through this journey many times, during my years of working as a Nutritional Therapist and the results are profound. And feel great!
If you’d like to discuss your own situation, tell me about the pain you are experiencing and see whether fixing your gut could impact on your pain, book a free call with me. It might seem strange, but I love to work with people in pain. I can empathise because I’ve been there. I also know from personal experience and from many clients how good is feels to climb out of it. You can fully enjoy your friends, children, grandchildren once more, start up the hobbies that have fallen by the wayside, make plans for holidays without worrying about how you will feel, start doing some of the exercise you used to love. It is worth investing in your health so you can get your life back on track. Call me to find out more.