Many people who suffer from chronic pain are seeking alternatives to addictive medications that often have risky side effects. The over-prescription of opiate painkillers in recent years has led to a vicious cycle of abuse and addiction for millions. Clearly, drastic and immediate change is needed in the way we treat chronic pain. Thankfully, many of the alternative pain treatments that were once scorned by doctors are now recognized as viable alternatives at many top pain centers.
The line between mainstream pain treatments and alternative treatments is becoming more and more blurred, and modern studies show evidence that many alternative therapies can be just as effective, if not more so, than drugs or surgery. In fact, thanks to advanced technology and Healthcare IT, more and more doctors are working side by side with alternative practitioners to combine treatment strategies.
If you are interested in trying an alternative treatment to manage your pain, start by talking to your doctor. Not every type of treatment will be useful for every kind of pain, so you want to make sure you try the one that’s best for you. A treatment that works for back pain and headaches may have no effect on something like diabetic nerve pain or fibromyalgia. Here’s a rundown of the most common alternative treatments that may help with chronic pain.
This form of ancient Chinese medicine was once seen as bizarre, but in recent years it has become much more mainstream as an effective treatment for chronic pain. Modern scientific studies show that treatment by an acupuncture clinic can be effective against chronic pain caused by a variety of conditions, including sports and back injuries, osteoarthritis, and even fibromyalgia.
During an acupuncture treatment, signals are sent to the brain signaling it to release feel-good hormones, like endorphins. Acupuncture is also thought to stimulate nerve growth factors, which helps nerves to regenerate. In addition, the treatments reduce inflammation. More than 29 modern studies have shown that acupuncture can relieve pain by as much as 50%.
Although going for a walk might not necessarily be considered a treatment, exercise can have significant benefits for people suffering from chronic pain. Modern studies have shown that physical activity can even boost your mood and energy. As with any other treatment, you should talk to your doctor before you start. He may have some guidelines for you to follow, depending on your health condition.
Chiropractic manipulation is another treatment that was frowned on by mainstream medicine in years past, but it’s more and more accepted, thanks to modern studies showing its effectiveness. It can be especially helpful for lower back pain, and it’s thought to be quite comparable to more invasive approaches.
Modern studies have shown evidence that certain supplements and vitamins can help with some types of pain. Fish oil is recommended for reducing pain and inflammation. For diabetic nerve pain and arthritis, topical capsaicin can give immediate relief, although it will need to be reapplied frequently. For osteoarthritis and pain in the joints, especially the knees, glucosamine can be helpful. Just remember that some supplements can interfere with pharmaceuticals and can even be dangerous if you have certain health conditions. Always talk to your doctor first.
There’s no doubt that having a massage is relaxing. But, it can also ease pain from several conditions, including neck and back injuries and rheumatoid arthritis.
Reducing stress levels is crucial for managing pain. There are a number of safe stress-reducing techniques you can try for your chronic pain.
- Hypnosis: As many as 13 studies have shown that hypnosis can be helpful for cancer pain, repetitive strain injuries, and back pain. The patient is given suggestions of comfort and relaxation while under hypnosis. They are often taught a cue that they can use to get pain relief quickly.
- Guided Imagery: Modern research has found evidence that guided imagery can be especially beneficial to those suffering from cancer pain, chronic headaches osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.
- Relaxation Therapy: Relaxation therapy includes techniques that release tension from the body and induce calmness. Recent studies show that it may also be helpful for reducing pain.
- Biofeedback: This technique teaches you how to control bodily functions like your blood pressure and heart rate. Modern science shows that it can help with pain from many conditions, including headaches.
Alternative Pain Management: Working with Your Doctor
For anyone living with chronic pain, seeking out alternatives to drugs or surgery makes a lot of sense. Just remember to work with your doctor so that the alternative treatment can be incorporated into your overall pain management plan. Never try an alternative treatment without your doctor’s knowledge. Many doctors will be happy to work in conjunction with an alternative therapist, and they will likely consult together on your case.
It’s good to stay up to date on all the latest research into alternative pain management because modern medical science is always developing something new. Something that was discounted as ineffective in the past may turn out to be very useful in treating your pain.