Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that nearly half of all adults in the United States suffer from every day. We know women suffer from chronic pain more than men and also use more health care services to try and manage their chronic pain.
Globally, millions of people suffer from chronic pain and it places a tremendous burden of suffering on individuals. Living with chronic pain disrupts the family, work, and our social life along with placing a significant strain on health care resources. Concerningly, “chronic pain has clearly reached epidemic proportions worldwide…”(Azevedo, Luis et al. 87). Similarly, Luis et. al. (87-98) also emphasize the staggering economic costs attributed to chronic pain and the serious impact on providing health care services.
Although we cannot fully avoid chronic pain in our lives, there are distinct areas that add to our risk of developing chronic pain over our lifetime. Chronic pain is significantly provoked by major lifestyle choices such as how much we exercise, what foods we eat regularly, how much alcohol we consume and our use of tobacco. Not surprising and we have certainly heard it all before.
Chronic pain is difficult to treat and depends on healthcare strategies, individual lifestyle choices, adherence to plan-of-care items and many other factors. It is important to note that certain types of individuals face unique and burdensome challenges to chronic pain management including children, older adults, and individuals who also struggle with drug addiction (Bambauer et al. 2016).
In most instances, people suffering from chronic pain see their primary care physician or family doctor for diagnoses and to manage their condition. However, research is showing that this form of healthcare alone is often inadequate in effectively treating chronic pain and does not provide manageable relief for those who are suffering. We know that poor pain control, opioid dependency, and serious quality of life issues arise when chronic pain is not well managed.
Recent published work in the UK by Hadi et al. demonstrated that an interdisciplinary team (a team with dedicated health providers from multiple areas of health care) showed effectiveness in managing patients with chronic pain. The combination of the primary care physician, nurses and pharmacists showed promise and the importance of a diverse team. In their study, patients reported increased satisfaction with their care, appreciated the time to discuss and review their particular concerns, and used both pharmacology and nonpharmacologic strategies to reduce and manage their pain.
Importantly, patients reported that the interdisciplinary approach provided empathy and someone who would listen and offer support. Furthermore, the study also showed the potential of an interdisciplinary type of care for chronic pain management to reducing wait time for specialized care, increase the use of specialized pain services and most importantly reduce pain intensity as reported by patients and improve their ability to physically function (Hadi et al., 2016).
It is imperative that we continue to seek out effective ways to diagnose, treat and help individuals with chronic pain so they can manage their health and other aspects of their lives while living with such a debilitating condition. Also, our healthcare resources are not unlimited and the burden on the system and use of resources in chronic pain is staggering. We must continue to find effective ways such as the interdisciplinary approach to better help people who are suffering and use resources best we can to maintain quality standards of care in the area of chronic pain.
Baumbauer, Kyle et al. Managing Chronic Pain in Special Populations with Emphasis on Pediatric, Geriatric, and Drug Abuser Populations. Medical Clinics of North America. Vol. 100. vols. sciencedirect, 2016.
Azevedo, Luís et al. “The Economic Impact of Chronic Pain: A Nationwide Population-Based Cost-of-Illness Study in Portugal.” The European Journal of Health Economics 17.1 (2014) : 87–98.
Hadi, Muhammad et al. “Effectiveness of a community based nurse-pharmacist managed pain clinic: A mixed-methods study.” International Journal of Nursing Studies 53 (2016): 219–227.
Nutrition research is examining the role of certain nutritional elements of the food we eat and their impact on reducing oxidative stress and inflammation as a result of injury or infection. Oxidative stress literally means the performance of our cells is compromised by the existence of too many oxygen molecules.
Research is helping us better understand more about heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity and cancer by focusing on the metabolic processes that result in oxidative stress and inflammation. We know that when we eat fruits and vegetables, we are able to reduce our risk, particularly in the areas just mentioned.
What are we really doing when we eat fruits and vegetables? Overall, we are either supporting or trying to restore normal function at the individual cell level.
When we examine specific components of food in nutritional science, we are using specific characteristics of different foods and examining their association with processes that can help prevent, slow or reverse various health conditions.
Today, we are looking specifically at red raspberries. Red raspberries have been studied for their bioavailability and characteristics such as their phytochemicals in both human and animals studies in order to investigate how their consumption may impact health outcomes. The research concerning red raspberries has focused on polyphenols, carotenoids and various other phytochemicals.
One of the questions we are interested in asks: “What is the bioavailability” of these elements, in other words, when we eat certain foods such as red raspberries, how much of the specific characteristics such as polyphenols that are hypothesized to reduce inflammation are actually available to us.
Red raspberries are also known as Rubus idaeus L. They contain various healthy components such as a very high level of fiber, Vitamins C and K, along with magnesium, calcium and iron. A common characteristic of red raspberries is their phytochemical or biologically active compounds which have been studied and shown to have an impact at the cellular level. Remember we are trying to impact the cellular activity with certain nutritional components in order to maintain normal cellular function or to reestablish normal function if something is not working properly.
In particular, researchers are interested in the antioxidant properties of red raspberries because of the anthocyanins and ellagitannins. Terribly complicated names; however the important information is that the animal research shows that because of anthocyanins and ellagitannins having specifically high concentrations in red raspberries compared to all berries, they are good at reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, along with stabilizing metabolic processes. This is demonstrated in the research by looking at measurable outcomes such as reduced blood pressure, lipid profiles, and symptoms of diabetes.
More work is required and specifically, more studies using human populations is an important priority to focus on in nutritional research. Also, it is necessary to gain an understanding of how much of the important and helpful nutrients are available to ensure it makes sense to encourage the consumption of certain foods. After all, no one wants to eat pounds of a particular food to get the benefit. In the meantime, we do know for certain we must all choose more fruits and vegetables each day in our diets and be sure to include red raspberries for their unique contribution as the research to-date in this area shows promise for our overall health.
Burton-Freeman, Britt, Amandeep Sandhu, and Indika Edirisinghe. “Red Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links.” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) 7.1 (2016): 44–65.
Nasef, Noha A et al. “Anti-inflammatory activity of fruit fractions in vitro, mediated through toll-like receptor 4 and 2 in the context of inflammatory bowel disease.” Nutrients 6.11 (2014): 5265–79.
Wood RJ. Bioavailability: definition, general aspects and fortificants.2nd ed. In: Caballero B, Allen L, Prentice A, eds. Encyclopedia of human nutrition. Oxford (United Kingdom): Elsevier; 2005. p.195-201