An Alternative Approach to Chronic Pain Relief
By definition, chronic pain is pain that consistently lasts longer than six months, and it’s a serious problem in the United States. It affects over 100 million people, diminishing productivity and quality of life. Billions of dollars are spent each year on prescription and over the counter pain medicine. The opioid epidemic has a frightening grasp on this nation and it’s not going away anytime soon. However, we are fortunate to also live in a time of easy access to alternative therapies to manage – and even eliminate – pain. Here are a few alternative approaches to pain management.
Functional Medicine. Functional medicine works much differently than acute medicine. Acute medicine serves an important purpose. If you’re in car accident, acute medicine is what you need. Depending on the degree of injuries, you may have an immediate need for prescription pain medicine to manage acute symptoms. But as time goes on, if the pain does not subside, it’s important to get to the root cause of it rather than simply continue to numb it. Chronic pain conditions all create an incredible amount of not only physical stress but emotional stress. This leads to an overload of cortisol. Cortisol, in the beginning, is your friend – it will help your body shift gears to handle the stress and/or pain. But over time, it will become inflammatory. Inflammation is a major factor in the body’s response to chronic pain. This does not just refer to the inflammation coming from the pain region but rather a systemic inflammation in the body resulting from several causes. Functional medicine will get to the root of these causes, with the goal being to eliminate them, and to eliminate the pain.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture works by applying needles, heat and pressure to specific points on the body to ease any blockages and redirect the vital life force known as chi or qui. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies suggest that acupuncture works to significantly reduce chronic back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and headaches, and improve functional mobility and quality of life. It is also being used as a complementary therapy to control painful symptoms in the treatment of cancer. Unlike opioids, your body does not build a tolerance to this natural compound, and because it does not affect morphine receptors, is not addictive.
Chiropractic. Chiropractic techniques benefit individuals who live in pain, including those with conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder pain, back pain, neck pain, headaches, arthritis and fibromyalgia. When chiropractors perform spinal manipulations and manipulations of the extremities, they promote your body’s ability to self-heal. The treatments don’t just mask the symptoms; they help combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals and promote DNA repair on a deep cellular level.
Mind-body therapies. Meditation, yoga, guided imagery and other stress management techniques may also help relieve chronic pain by causing a shift in the autonomic nervous system. Even brief interventions can have a significant impact on pain.
The art of wellness. Art and music affect every cell in the body instantly to create a healing physiology that changes the immune system, blood flow to all the organs, and an individual’s perception of pain. Music therapy helps in a wide range of pain conditions, by improving mood, encouraging relaxation and elevating the pain threshold. Color therapy is showing promising potential in relieving hand, elbow and lower back pain.
In Good Health,