Treating and Trusting Your Gut: The Power of Probiotics vs. Chronic MSK Pain

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Struggling with Musculoskeletal Pain?

Chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) pain affects millions of people worldwide, disrupting daily activities and often leading to a diminished quality of life. For those struggling with chronic pain conditions, traditional treatments such as pain medications and physical therapy may not offer adequate relief. However, new research suggests a promising method to supplement existing pain management strategies: probiotics.

The Role of the Gut Microbiome in Chronic MSK Pain

The gut microbiome is an intricate network of microorganisms, predominantly bacteria, that support one's overall health by stimulating immune function and ensuring smooth bodily operations. This network is part of the enteric nervous system, often referred to as the "second brain" due to its significant role in overall health and well-being. Beyond these functions, the gut microbiome plays a crucial role in the "gut-brain connection," where the gut and brain communicate about various bodily states, including pain.

Imbalances in the gut microbiome can disrupt this gut-brain connection, leading to increased pain signals and chronic pain development. Abnormal levels of certain gut bacteria can also elevate systemic inflammation. For instance, an imbalance can cause the leakage of harmful substances like bacterial endotoxins and lipopolysaccharides (LPS) into the bloodstream, which is linked to increased joint inflammation and exacerbation of chronic MSK pain conditions such as osteoarthritis.

What Are Probiotics, and How Can They Help?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when ingested, help regulate the gut microbiome. Found in fermented foods like yogurt and in dietary supplements, probiotics balance the "good" and "bad" bacteria in the gut, modulate the gut microbiome, and strengthen the gut-brain connection. Downstream benefits from these changes may include the reduction of chronic MSK pain.

There are various types of probiotics, each serving different functions. Common probiotics used to treat chronic pain include Bifidobacterium, Akkermansia muciniphila, and Lactobacillus genera. It's important to note that not all probiotic strains are equally effective; for example, one strain of Lactobacillus might alleviate chronic pain while another may not. Therefore, it's crucial to consult with a doctor to determine the most suitable probiotics and dosages for your specific needs.

Overview of How Probiotics Work

To reiterate, probiotics work through several mechanisms that can impact chronic pain: 

  • Balancing Gut Bacteria: Probiotics help restore the balance of gut bacteria, which can reduce inflammation and pain. 
  • Strengthening the Gut-Brain Connection: By improving the communication between the gut and brain, probiotics can modulate pain signals. 
  • Reducing Inflammation: Probiotics can lower the levels of harmful substances that cause inflammation and pain in the body.

The Impact of Probiotics on Chronic MSK Pain

Research indicates that probiotics can significantly impact chronic MSK pain management. Studies have shown that probiotics can reduce systemic inflammation and improve gut health, which can alleviate pain and improve overall quality of life. Patients using probiotics have reported reduced pain levels, improved mobility, and a better overall sense of well-being. Additionally, clinical trials have demonstrated the potential of specific probiotic strains in reducing the severity of pain and inflammation associated with chronic MSK conditions.

Trust Your Gut and Visit Ospina Medical

Probiotics are rapidly emerging as a promising treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain. By regulating the gut microbiome and, consequently, systemic inflammation and the gut-brain connection, probiotics offer a novel approach to managing chronic pain. While more research is needed in this field, discussions with your doctor about the right probiotics for you before is important.

Our team at Ospina Medical is committed to providing the best care possible. With advanced holistic and interventional expertise, Dr. Matthew Kohler can help get you connected with probiotic resources and treatment plans so you can better achieve relief and continue living happily and pain-free. Book your consultation today!

Written By: Harshitha Mageshkumar

Edited By: Camden Rowe

Medically Reviewed By: Matthew Kohler, MD

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.