Reduce your chronic pain in endometriosis
Chronic pain which is associated with endometriosis is often frightening, debilitating and excruciating. When at some point it subsides there is always a fear that it might return.
Fighting endometriosis pain can be counterproductive as it causes us to tense up, when the best form of action is to try and relax. Easier said than done, I know, I’ve been there. Let me give you some tips to manage your pain when you are in chronic pain.
Some of these tips won’t work unless you go through the surgery. We are all different but what we can do is to work towards reducing inflammation with diet, lifestyle changes and some complementary therapies.
Also with the acute or strong pain, there is no shame in taking painkillers. If you are in pain and nothing else works, taking medication is absolutely ok.
1. Understand where your inflammation is coming from
In other words, look into your root cause. If you are chronically inflamed, it means that you will be in more pain or the pain won’t subside. Inflammation has a main role in the progression of endometriosis. Try and find what is driving your inflammation by looking into food allergies (worst offenders are usually gluten and/or dairy), nutrient deficiencies, gut health, hormone imbalances like low thyroid or/and estrogen dominance, or/and stress.
This is looking for a root cause. I would suggest you looking for a functional medicine professional and/or qualified nutritionist who can recommend the right testing and analyse your results. When it come to endometriosis and what is driving its symptoms, testing and not guessing is the key here.
2. Nutrition for reducing inflammation
Start with an elimination diet (which should be around 6-12 weeks long) to see if there are any food intolerances. Remember that endometriosis diet is not about food exclusions but personalisation.
What is elimination diet?
Elimination diet is when you remove a group of certain foods that are postulated to include one or more foods which can cause sensitivity and lead to different symptoms related to eating that food. It takes around four weeks to quieten the immune system response to foods which may cause sensitivity. While this is done you should be working on your gut health. There is a high correlation between endometriosis and gut problems, so this is a perfect time to focus on repairing you gut while on elimination diet.
The main foods you eliminate are gluten, dairy, sugar, all processed meat, caffeine, soy, peanuts, eggs, trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils, fast foods, alcohol.
All of the above foods are potential triggers for digestive problems and gut inflammation, which can lead to problems like sleeping issues, bloating, mood problems, weight gain and menstrual problems. Your body can use that newfound energy to repair itself rather than constantly be putting out fires, which means disregulating your hormones.
Elimination phase is just 4 weeks, and then the re-challenge phase starts where you focus on re-introducing foods one at the time every 2 to 3 days for the next couple of weeks and observe any symptoms appearing like:
- changes in energy levels, fatigue, or low mood
- interrupted sleep
- runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, sneezing, or quick onset of sinus infections
- mouth sores or an itchy mouth
- joint pain
- acne breakouts, rashes, itchy skin, and hives
- stomach cramps, bloating, acid reflux or other digestive problems, including changes in bowel movement frequency or consistency
- weight gain or water retention, and/or
- swollen hands and feet
If any of the foods cause you any symptoms, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat them again. This food is not supportive at the minute and it is better to keep it out of your diet a while longer while you are continuing further healing. Maybe in the future you will be able to eat it on occasion or more on a regular basis.
In order to reduce inflammation and chronic pain add foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties like vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidants like berries or green leafy veg, add more fibre foods for estrogen elimination. Add more Omega 3 rich fats like oily fish or chia seeds. Cook with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like ginger and turmeric.
Remove completely processed foods and simple carbohydrates and add more protein and healthy fats like olive oil to your meals. Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake.
And don’t forget about drinking enough water.
3. Deep Breathing
Steady deep breathing is so crucial when you are in pain, as hyperventilating (rapid and shallow breathing) can make pain worse, by interfering with oxygen supply to cells. Rapid breathing is caused by adrenaline pouring into the bloodstream, raising the heart rate and putting you in a more stressful state.
The trick is to put your lips together, relax your jaw and breathe slow and low. Sounds easy, but it requires practice. I practise daily with an app called Othership which is so good for controlling your breath and putting you in a parasympathetic mode (relax state). Try YouTube tutorials too.
I also recommend reading the book Breath: The New Science of A Lost Art by James Nestor . It’s a great read, which lists all the benefits of daily breathing practice and gives great tips on how to do it right.
4. Focus on relaxation on a daily basis
Try gentle exercise like yoga daily, go for walks in nature when you can and take baths with epsom salt baths. Try daily meditation using an app or listen to calming music. I use Headspace app daily, which is a great app if you are thinking about starting meditation. Make sure you take at least one hour from your day where you can focus just on relaxing your nervous system.
Supplementing in a good quality magnesium can help in pain management as it’s a muscle relaxant and it helps to support our nervous system.
Discuss with your practitioner supplements which focus on anti-inflammatory properties like Fish Oil, Ginger, or good quality Turmeric.
As with all chronic conditions, over time the nervous system can become sensitised and overactive. Basically, your threshold for pain is lowered to a point where only a small amount of painful stimuli can result in relapse and extreme pain. Osteopathy will focus on removing any stress or strain through the fascia, muscles, ligaments, and joints.
Osteopaths use manual therapy techniques to help relax your nervous system, remove stress and strain from ligaments, fascia, and muscles to improve overall movement and function.
Hi! I’m Marzena
I’m a Nutritional Therapist and Endo Warrior. Read more about me here.
I show women with Endometriosis & other hormone imbalances how to use Nutrition and Lifestyle to move from surviving to thriving.
Gain clarity on what to do to feel in balance with your hormones so you can have smooth menstrual cycles, get pregnant naturally, feel full of energy and live the life you deserve.
If you feel like working with me follow this link to find out more about my packages.
focuses on the whole person. This means that I try to find a root cause of your health problems by taking a holistic viewpoint assessing your diet, lifestyle, work/life balance, your purpose in the world, toxicity at home, underlying nutritional deficiencies, sleep and relaxation, ongoing stress and more. This all plays into our general health and wellbeing.