Copy of Blog Feature April 2022 - 2

Getting Rid of Chronic Pain

Here at The Healing Center Denver, our mission as your functional medicine specialist in Denver, CO is to identify the underlying causes of your symptoms and address them individually, using a variety of tools available to us. There are 8 common triggers for chronic pain that most people don’t realize.


“Abnormal spinal movement can be caused by physical trauma (repetitive motion, car accidents, slips, falls, improper lifting, poor sleeping habits), emotional stress (worry, negative thoughts, fear), or chemical imbalances (alcohol, drugs, toxins, pollution.)… Whenever the nervous system is interfered with, the connection between the brain and body is impaired, and there may be malfunction of any cell, tissue, or organ of the body…” The brain itself can also become imbalanced causing dysfunction from right to left or front to back. These imbalances can cause tight hamstrings or even forward head position causing neck and back pain.


  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Pins and needles
  • Hypertension
  • Indigestion
  • Pain
  • Muscle spasms/atrophy
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Swelling

“Ligaments, tendons and spinal discs have a poor blood supply and heal slowly. This is why proper nutrition, rest and… spinal adjustments are needed to completely eliminate the cause of your pain. If your spinal joints are not moving properly, degeneration of your spine and health will be the result.”


“Do you have chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other mysterious symptoms that make you miserable? But does your doctor say your lab tests are fine and you’re perfectly healthy? It could be you have an autoimmune reaction and don’t know it. People can develop an autoimmune reaction to virtually any tissue, enzyme, or protein in their body. Autoimmunity means the immune system has failed to distinguish between foreign invaders, which it was designed to attack, and body tissue, which it was designed to protect. As a result, the immune system attacks and destroys specific parts of the body.


  • Mystery illness
  • Irresolvable symptoms
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Digestive problems
  • Brain fog
  • Poor neurological function
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Poor mood
  • Skin problems

We have autoimmunity testing today that can screen for antibodies against multiple tissues to determine whether an autoimmune reaction is causing chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other symptoms. Antibodies are proteins that tag a foreign compound for the immune system to destroy and remove. When you produce higher than normal levels of antibodies to certain parts of the body (it’s normal for old and dying cells to be tagged for removal), this means you are having an autoimmune reaction against that tissue or enzyme… If so, we then know we can work on balancing an overzealous and improperly functioning immune system. Also, if your test shows an autoimmune reaction but you have no symptoms, you now know that proper diet and lifestyle choices will help prevent the progression of autoimmunity. Today we have many scientifically proven strategies to tame autoimmunity, improve function, and increase your well being. These include an autoimmune diet and nutritional compounds to balance the immune system and quench inflammation.”


Eliminating chronic pain can be as simple as eliminating certain foods, but unfortunately most people don’t get comprehensive food sensitivity testing. What’s even worse is that these sensitivity reactions may not be obvious, such as those that cause delayed reactions.

Common Allergens:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, etc)
  • Eggs
  • Grains
  • Shellfish
  • Beans and legumes
  • Any food eaten most often

A person can become sensitive to any food, especially when leaky gut is present. “Food allergies really are an immune system sensitivity that can trigger pain. But how? Aside from the immediate inflammatory response caused by an allergy, the immune system is also linked to the nervous system in several ways that are still being discovered. One link is through the hormonal system. Hormones allow the nervous system to talk to the immune system and visa versa. Scientists have also discovered a fine network of nerves that connect to the lymph glands. All in all, the entire system is connected, so it should not be a surprise the food allergies really can cause pain.” At The Healing Center Denver, we use comprehensive food allergy and sensitivity testing and implement a variety of dietary protocols for healing leaky gut and inflammation such as elimination diets, rotation diets, NAET Allergy Clearings, and others.


“Seventy percent of your immune system is located in your gut, which is filled with nerves as well as tiny hairs in the walls known as villi that prevent your body from absorbing too many toxins. Taking too many painkillers, or even having food sensitivities like gluten sensitivity, can damage both the nerve endings and those villi, leading to a condition known as “leaky gut.” When your gut “leaks,” undigested food (with sometimes problematic proteins like gluten), bacteria, and other environmental chemicals that can cause those microglia to get stimulated and lead to chronic pain.”

We identify and address or rule out leaky gut, to stop this mechanism from feeding into the vicious cycles of chronic pain and inflammation.


“Specialists who deal with back pain have long known that infections are sometimes to blame, but these cases were thought to be exceptional. That thinking has been overturned by scientists at the University of Southern Denmark who found that 20% to 40% of chronic lower back pain was caused by bacterial infections….

The Danish team describe their work in two papers published in the European Spine Journal. In the first report, they explain how bacterial infections inside slipped discs can cause painful inflammation and tiny fractures in the surrounding vertebrae… They lurk around hair roots and in the crevices in our teeth, but can get into the bloodstream during tooth brushing. Normally they cause no harm, but the situation may change when a person suffers a slipped disc. To heal the damage, the body grows small blood vessels into the disc. Rather than helping, though, they ferry bacteria inside, where they grow and cause serious inflammation and damage to neighboring vertebrae that shows up on an MRI scan….

In the second paper, the scientists proved they could cure chronic back pain with a 100-day course of antibiotics. In a randomized trial, the drugs reduced pain in 80% of patients who had suffered for more than six months and had signs of damaged vertebra under MRI scans.”

We seek to identify and support the elimination of clinical and subclinical infections, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, mold, and candida/yeast, which all can contribute to the inflammation that contributes to chronic pain.


Although it may not be conventional to thing of emotional trauma as a source cause of chronic illness and pain, doctors and researchers are realizing that deep-seated emotional pain from trauma or abuse can cause chronic pain. There are many reasons that this may be so. The most common, is that thoughts and emotions are actual molecules in the body. Though there are many classes of these molecules, the most common are peptides that are called information carriers, which work much like hormones, carrying their instructions to every cell in the body. This is how fear can stimulate a full force fight or flight response in seconds.

These molecules must be metabolized just like food, water, air, toxins and our own metabolism byproducts, and just as the body stores toxins or fat, these molecules often become stored as well. If someone was in a low state of resistance at the time of a stressfully charged event, anything that consciously or unconsciously triggers that time will cause the body will return to that same physical state. Dr. Kaplan states that “emotional trauma, physical injury, or environmental toxins appear to stimulate microglia, molecules that live in the central nervous system that spew out a continuous supply of inflammatory chemicals whenever they’re stressed. Your body’s response to this constant inflammation manifests itself in two significant ways: chronic pain and psychological disorders like depression and anxiety.”

We use a variety of quick and easy techniques to release stored emotions, such as the Emotion Code and Body Code System, and resolve the stress or trauma. Many of our patients feel immediate relief and an increase sense of peace through our methods.


“Surprising, but true: Overusing pain killers dulls your body’s response to pain, so you need more, and more potent, painkillers to alleviate chronic pain. But that just leads to increased sensitivity to pain in the long run. Dr. Kaplan says this problem is particularly bad with prescription opiod painkillers, such as Vicodin or Oxycontin. Using painkillers to deal with chronic pain is “shortsighted,” Dr. Kaplan writes.”

We address inflammation and pain sensitivity using natural methods that address the underlying cause. Pain medications suppress or inhibit physiology, while we work to support physiology back to a state of balance.


“Our perception of pain increases when the quality of our sleep is poor, Dr. Kaplan writes. Deep sleep is a time when your muscles have an increased blood supply, which helps with tissue growth and repair. You can see an increase in generalized muscle pain, he adds, within just a week of not getting regular deep sleep. And sleeping pills don’t help, since they just put you to sleep without improving the quality of sleep, which means you might not reach those deep, pain-relieving stages you need to feel better.”

We increase the quality and regularity of sleep cycles using a variety of methods to support the adrenals, brain and central nervous system, and blood supply to aid tissue growth and repair.

Contact us today if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Starling.