Secrets of Korean Medicine, Part 27: Can Chronic Pain Be Diagnosed as ‘Fake Illness’?
According to [a recent] report on the aging of the world’s population published by the United Nations, there will be 31 countries where the average life expectancy of the population will be 80 years by 2020. In the near future, the era of 100 years as the average life expectancy will arrive.
The problem is that regardless of the increase in people’s life expectancy, those who live long in good health are rare. According to statistical data presented by the International Association on Study of Pain (IASP), one out of every five people in the world is suffering from intermediate to severe chronic pain, while one out of every three patients suffering chronic pain has difficulty in maintaining an independent lifestyle.
In addition, half to two-thirds of those with chronic pain are not able to engage in exercises and enjoy normal and sound sleep. They also experience difficulties in performing daily life activities such as household chores, social activities, and driving. One out of four such people is found to have difficulties in sustaining relationships with family or friends due to the pain they experience.
Accordingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that seeking to reduce pain is a human being’s basic right, and it started a worldwide campaign to help reduce pain.
Why Do We Suffer Pain?
Getting old signifies that the metabolic functions of the body are degrading. For example, although you were able to run 100 meters in 13 seconds, it is now difficult to do so in 20 seconds when you became 60 years old. This change signifies that the metabolic functions have degraded.
In simple terms, metabolism is the body’s ability to effectively get rid of toxins. If this cleansing ability of the body degrades, toxic substances will accumulate in various parts of the body.
Moreover, stagnation in the circulation of energy and in the blood will prevent sufficient oxygen supply. People will experience symptoms of being cold, while the accumulation of small quantities of residual toxins will lead to a feeling of numbness.
Pain can be divided into acute pain that lasts for a relatively short period of less than three months, and chronic pain that persists for a prolonged period of time due to the lack of timely treatment. Through symptoms such as pain, coldness, and numbness, our body is signaling the immune system to clean out the toxins accumulated in the areas where there is pain.
In Korean medicine, there is the concept that the lungs govern the circulation of the body’s energies. The lungs assist in the circulation of the energy collected through breathing to all the parts of the living organism. A degradation in the functioning of the lungs will cause abnormality in the circulation of energy and in blood circulation as well.
This, in turn, leads to the degradation of metabolic functions causing pain in those areas of the body with poor supply of energy.
When one undergoes various examinations at a hospital in order to determine the cause of the pain, the physician will be unable to find the cause and will say that nothing is wrong. One might be diagnosed with what is frequently referred to as hypochondria despite experiencing chronic pain.
Often, chronic pain manifests is areas such as the sides of the torso, the shoulders, and the neck. Usually, people around 50 years old experience what is commonly referred to as “frozen shoulder,” which manifests in shoulder pains and difficulties in moving the shoulder freely.
Maintenance and Repair for the Over-50
When a person reaches the age of 50, accumulated toxins in various parts of the body will induce pain in the joints. They will cause the blood to become turbid (cloudy), and cause the degradation in the circulation of energy. This, in turn will cause phlegm and stagnation in the flow of body fluid, eventually leading to disease.
The ligaments, muscles, tendons, and blood vessels will wear out due to the ceaseless use of the joints over 40 to 50 years. This will lead to a rapid degradation in stamina, increased nutritional losses, and a progression of aging and blood circulation disorders at the same time.
When such symptoms appear, it is important to seek a good doctor. Some doctors will try to fix the problem with steroids. However, in less than a year [on steroids], the body will begin to break down everywhere and eventually suffer serious damage.
In particular, modern medicine focuses on eliminating the pain temporarily through analgesics and muscle relaxants. But in the long term, the symptoms that were initially an inconvenience will become further aggravated because the fundamental cause of the illness has not been treated.
One will experience the accumulation of phlegm in the throat, stuffiness in the chest area, indigestion, stomachache, sores in the sides of the torso, and difficulties passing stools. Other symptoms include difficulty in sleeping, headaches, and inflammation. Women will experience menstrual irregularity accompanied by pain.
As the chronic pain aggravates, one will start to experience severe depression, anger, anxiety, insomnia, and more serious mental problems if the treatment is not successful.
The impact is not limited to the patient but also to their family members and friends. When one becomes excessively sensitive due to severe stress, various parts of the body will become blocked and inflamed.
If one tries to relieve such stress through overeating or binging on food, this will cause chronic indigestion which will further interfere with the harmonious flow of energies in the body. If chronic pain is not treated properly and left unattended, tumors can manifest in various parts of the body, including the stomach, thyroid, and uterus.
Pains Can Disappear
I consider the life force of the human body as divided into two aspects. One is the core life that governs the lungs and the heart, while the other is the systemic life that governs the entire body, including the limbs.
If the immunity of the body degrades due to the weakening of the cardiopulmonary functions, this affects the core life. This means that the ability of the immune system to discriminate between friends and foes is diminished. However, if the lungs are cleansed through pulmonary cleansing therapy, the immune system regains its discriminatory capabilities and can play its part in the restoration and regeneration of the body.
The immune system will be able to accurately determine the locations of toxic substances accumulated throughout the body and clean them out.
When the toxins accumulated in the shoulder joints start to be cleansed, one will experience increased stiffness and pain in those joints. This is not an aggravation of the body’s condition but rather the side effects of detoxing.
In general, one will experience heavy pain and stiffness. However, once the accumulated toxins are thoroughly cleansed, the resilience of the cartilage is restored, and the health of the joints improves.
Normally, if the health of the cardiopulmonary functions improves, the health of its subordinate organs—the kidneys—will improve so that they will be able to filter the blood effectively, and toxins will be discharged through urination. When the kidney function improves, blood circulation and energy flow will improve, and all the symptoms of coldness, numbness, and pain will disappear.
Although we have countless numbers of bodily tissues, generally, the blood vessels regenerate first, delivering sufficient clear and clean blood to all parts of the body through more youthful blood vessels. This generates remarkable changes in health, enhancing the overall quality of life.
When people age, they usually give up on the idea of being healthy and bear the pain, thinking that it is a natural function of getting old.
By getting rid of a pessimistic attitude toward chronic pain and by restoring the immune system through pulmonary cleansing, one will be able to live to 100 years while enjoying an abundance of energy.
Dr. Seo Hyo-seok is the director of the Pyunkang Korean Medicine Hospital, which has seven branches in South Korea, one at Stanton University in California, and one in Atlanta. Dr. Seo entered Kyung Hee University in Korea at the top of his class and after years of research, developed the Pyunkang-Hwan herbal formula, which improves immunity by strengthening lung function. It has helped cure over 155,000 patients of various conditions.
Find out more at Pyunkang.com