Your Blood Can Tell You About Your Pain

By Tiffany Rowe.

Pain can come in myriad forms, from burning to pinching to stinging to aching. Doctors can diagnose different issues using these differences in sensation – but only if patients can accurately describe how their pain feels.

Chronic pain patients have intimate knowledge of their discomfort; most spend every moment becoming more familiar with their hurt. Unfortunately, chronic pain patients can’t always explain their agony well enough for physicians to make diagnoses on descriptions alone. Thus, doctors must turn to other test for determining what could be wrong – like blood tests.

Your blood isn’t just a means of transporting oxygen and nutrients around your body. Your blood also carries important information about your health, and by testing your blood, doctors might be able to identify the source of your chronic pain. Here are a few common blood tests that often help chronic pain sufferers find relief:

Thyroid conditions are often difficult to diagnose because the thyroid affects nearly every system in your body. As a result, different thyroid sufferers experience vastly different symptoms, many of which are attributed to other issues. In addition to your pain, if you are experiencing changes in appetite, bowel troubles, skin and hair conditions, fluctuations in weight, or difficulty feeling awake or focused, it is worthwhile to find a walk-in clinic offering blood tests for thyroid issues.

CRP stands for C-Reactive Protein, which is a substance the body produces in the liver to respond to inflammation. As you might surmise, having high quantities of CRP in your blood indicates that you have an abundance of swelling, which can not only cause stiffness and pain but also threaten your life. If your doctor can’t identify obvious sources of inflammation, a CRP test might be critical for finding evidence of dangerous inflammation in and around your heart.

Your erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), also often called your sed rate, is another test for inflammation. Like the CRP, the ESR test will determine whether you have inflammation in your body, but it can also be used to track the severity of your inflammation. Typically, doctors run CRP and ESR tests at the same time to obtain a full picture of your body’s inflammation response.

Vitamin D
Chronic pain rarely encourages sufferers to spend time outside, but your time indoors might be a major contributing factor to your pain. Your body synthesizes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, and a long-term lack of vitamin D increases your risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma, and cognitive disease. Achiness (or chronic pain) accompanied by a loss of ambition, sadness, and weight gain is a good reason to get a vitamin D test. Fortunately, the remedy for vitamin D deficiency is relatively simple: go outside often and drink more milk.

Vitamin B-12
B-12 is a difficult vitamin for most people to obtain sufficient amounts of, and if you don’t eat red meat or you enjoy a few alcoholic drinks every day, you might be suffering from a B-12 deficiency. Unfortunately, B-12 is vital for several important bodily functions, especially those of the nervous system, and an insufficient amount of B-12 has serious, long-term consequences. The sensation of pins and needles at different extremities, difficulty moving, and pale skin should send you to this blood test, fast.

Folic Acid
Another B vitamin, folic acid assists the body in producing essentially all the blood cells your body relies on to spread oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. Women are often familiar with folic acid because it is a primary prenatal vitamin, but women are also more likely to be deficient in folic acid. Fortunately, a test for B-12 will also test for folic acid levels.

Magnesium is on the fast-track to become the latest and greatest cure-all – like turmeric was just a few months ago – but unlike other fad health treatments, the body needs magnesium. Without enough magnesium, your body had difficulty using other minerals, like calcium and potassium, which results in improper muscle and nerve function as well as erratic blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Still, too much magnesium has equally severe consequences, so before you self-medicate with magnesium-rich foods and supplements, you should get a blood test.

Though women are often lauded for a higher pain tolerance, in reality, men are better equipped to combat pain thanks to their greater levels of testosterone. Still, men and women experiencing chronic pain might have unnaturally low testosterone, which requires treatment to rectify. Understanding your testosterone level requires a relatively simple blood test which will likely look for other hormone imbalances, as well.

Tiffany Rowe lives in Las Vegas and blogs on a number of topics and works with