If you suffer from some form of chronic pain, chances are you’ve searched for alternatives to conventional treatment.
Pain leaves you feeling helpless, and pain medication is sometimes ineffective or, worse, habit-forming.
Fortunately, patients and the medical community have increasingly begun to embrace holistic treatments for pain.
More commonly referred to as integrated medicine, these treatments include any therapy that falls outside of the range of conventional Western medicine, but have demonstrated significant effectiveness.
Conditions that respond well to holistic treatments include:
- Back and neck pain
- Trauma from accidents
- Osteoarthritis and joint pain
- Pelvic and menstrual pain
Holistic treatment options commonly aim to treat the individual as a whole, rather than just the symptoms of a disorder. Here are some of the most promising holistic pain treatment options available today:
A vital element of Chinese traditional medicine, acupuncture is often used to address the pain associated with dental conditions, chronic headaches, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis. The treatment involves the inserting of thin needles at certain points of the body. Believed to alter the flow of chi, or life energy, acupuncture stimulates nerves and muscles, and encourages the brain to release endorphins and other neurotransmitters. The endorphins, then, block the transmission of pain to the brain.
Chiropractic care is a common choice for treating chronic back pain, and has been shown to help with acute pain as well. The practice focuses on the realignment of the neck and spine. One aspect that helps make chiropractic a popular option is the personalized and communicative treatment that chiropractors offer their patients, aspects that many feel are missing in conventional medical treatment. Osteopathic doctors also practice manipulation techniques, similar to those of chiropractors.
3. Herbal Medicine
Both nutritional and herbal supplements may help the body heal and better deal with pain, though, in many cases, the evidence is inconclusive. Herbal remedies, like turmeric and devil’s claw, have shown some effectiveness, as have a number of different vegetable- or plant-based oils. These treatments tend to alleviate pain through their anti-inflammatory properties or their role in promoting joint health. While most herbal remedies for chronic pain are considered safe, consult your doctor before taking them to ensure they’ll not interact negatively with any medication you’re currently taking.
Massage therapy stimulates muscles and circulation, and has shown promise in managing acute pain. This treatment relaxes muscles and tendons, and increases blood flow while stimulating the nervous system. It has also shown the capacity to decrease anxiety. There’s a huge variety of massage forms, ranging from deep tissue massage to reflexology.
5. Mind-Body Therapy
Some alternative care physicians employ mind-body therapy to help decrease stress levels in their patients, equipping them to better deal with chronic pain. This kind of therapy typically utilizes mindfulness and meditation techniques, but may also include visualization, hypnosis, and bio-feedback. In general, this aims to manipulate the mind to help patients diminish their own discomfort stemming from chronic pain.
6. Physical Therapy And Exercise
While not strictly within the field of integrated medicine, both of these approaches aim to strengthen the body to improve muscle health and blood circulation, thus limiting acute and chronic pain. Yoga is a popular option as it’s a moderately gentle exercise with various physical benefits. Make sure to only perform exercises recommended by a licensed health care professional; the wrong exercises can exacerbate existing conditions.
A rather controversial integrated medicine option, homeopathy aims to address the composition of individual patients rather than the diseases ailing them.
In a study concerning rheumatic syndrome, homeopathy appeared to be twice as effective as placebo.
However, the practice isn’t widely accepted as an effective treatment for chronic pain.
The Advantages Of Integrated Medicine
While integrated medicine cannot supplant conventional treatments for disorders involving chronic pain, it can often be used to complement them. Some advantages of integrated medicine include:
- Increased capacity for personalization
- A sense of control over your pain condition
- A healthy way to address pain medication side effects
- An improvement in mood or outlook
- An overall improvement in health
Always consult your doctor before engaging in any kind of complementary therapy.
Similarly, only consent to receive these therapies from reputable, licensed practitioners.
As integrated medicine isn’t as strictly regulated as conventional medicine, some danger exists in having a therapy performed improperly.
While it’s important to do your research and choose the right practitioner, integrated medicine may be the missing piece you need to address your pain condition.
By improving the health of your body and addressing your personal needs, complementary therapies, like acupuncture and chiropractic care, can alleviate your pain and give you back control over your life.