When you feel pain, do you automatically reach for a pill? Maybe it’s time to rethink that reaction. The idea that pain relief resides only in a bottle of pills is a common misconception, Harvard Medical School experts say. While medication often plays an important role in quelling pain, there’s a large arsenal of drug-free pain-relief therapies and techniques. The Institute of Medicine estimates that 116 million adults experience chronic pain each year. It has called for “a cultural transformation in how the nation understands and approaches pain management and prevention.” Improved pain management should include a combination of therapies and coping techniques, the institute said. A recent New York Times investigation revealed that the use of strong pain killers used too early and for too long can delay a person’s return to work and drive up the cost of treatment.
Many natural and herbal remedies exist that treat pain effectively. A naturopathic approach to pain management first involves figuring out the source of the pain. Pain is generally a symptom that your body uses to inform you that something is wrong. While pain killers can numb that pain signal, many times they don't actually fix the cause of the pain and this usually results in a return of the pain after the pain killers wear off. This cycle often leads to regular pain medication use. This can cause the development of chronic pain because the underlying cause is not being addressed and the body is constantly trying to send a signal that something is wrong.
Now, for different kinds of chronic pain like arthritis, migraines, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), or fibromyalgia there are different root causes. For example, 10 patients with chronic migraines could each have a different underlying cause of their symptoms. However, in a regular medical setting, the same pain killers would treat the symptom for all 10 patients but the migraines would keep coming back until the underlying cause is addressed. In naturopathic medicine, the approach is different. The underlying cause for each patient's migraine is assessed and a unique remedy is provided for each patient aimed at addressing the underlying cause. Once the cause is addressed, the symptom which is pain disappears. Naturopathic techniques are varied and usually include a combination of diet herbal and nutritional supplements.
Additionally, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, massage, or cognitive behavioral therapy may also be used. The use of pain killers in an acute situation is appropriate short term. However, if the pain persists and becomes chronic, then the use of pain killers may actually cause the underlying condition to worsen if it is not being addressed. Natural therapies work well in combination with drug interventions to manage pain while addressing the underlying
issues. Also, when pain killers are used over a long period of time, their therapeutic value diminishes. Since long-term pain killer use has numerous side effects and has a risk of causing dependency, they should only be taken in acute situations for short periods of time unless there are extenuating circumstances. The best approach to most cases of chronic pain is to identify and address the underlying cause. If you or someone you know has been suffering from chronic pain. Schedule a consultation to see which one of our programs will benefit you most. Click here to schedule.
Tips for Natural Pain Management
Exercise - Moving your body even when it hurts can help to keep pain and inflammation in check by increasing the circulation of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your muscles, nerves, bones, and organs.
Diet - Sugar, salt, and preservatives increase inflammation in the body. Adding Omega-3 fatty acids (such as those found in fish and flaxseed), leafy vegetables, and whole grains to your diet can reduce inflammation within the body.
Rest - During sleep your body focuses on self-repair, so it's vital to get a good night's rest.
Anti-Inflammatory plants and herbs - Incorporating turmeric, green tea, ginger, and fish oil, vitamin D, magnesium, etc into your diet can reduce inflammation and swelling in the body.
Chiropractic and Massage - Physical manipulation of painful areas can relax tense muscles, increase circulation, improve alignment and increase flexibility. Chiropractic therapy and massage therapy are both great ways to achieve this kind of relief from chronic pain.