Today, more and more people are looking for alternative medicine to manage and heal pain and chronic pain. There has been a shift to seeking the power of alternative medicine because people are aiming to avoid using pain medications, surgery, and other invasive options that come with a wide variety of unpleasant side effects.
Alternative medicine use is on the rise and has been steadily since 1998. Nearly half of the population in developed countries use CAM (complementary alternative medicine) to treat a variety of ailments. Most of the people using some form of CAM are aiming to manage chronic pain and recurring pain conditions.
Pain conditions are notoriously difficult to treat due to the varying nature of chronic and recurring pain. There is rarely one simple fix-all treatment that will make chronic pain dissipate and often a combination of treatments must be used to effectively manage or heal pain. It is often challenging to find what solutions will help manage specific pain conditions from individual to individual that is both effective and helps heal pain for the long run.
Much of the time people initially seek conventional treatment. Either the conventional option is not fully working and/or the side effects of conventional medicine are outweighing the benefits of the treatments. For instance, surgery can sometimes lead to different pain post-operation and there is often a lot of downtime after a surgery that can affect quality of life.
Furthermore, medications to treat pain are typically the first course of action. Medications to manage pain include opioids, which are strong medications that are highly addictive. Other medications like antidepressants, sedatives, anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, and NSAIDS are often prescribed to patients as well. While these medications may help to manage and mask pain, they also come with a host of challenging side effects that can severely affect one’s quality of life. Side effects often include addiction and dependency, headaches, nausea, dizziness, constipation, weakness, memory problems, confusion, and more.
People, therefore, seek alternative medicine because they are dissatisfied with the current treatments they are receiving. In fact, reports indicate that people seek alternative treatments when the current treatments are ineffective, there are adverse side effects, and treatments are impersonal and too technologically oriented.
Since alternative treatments are becoming much more popular for treating chronic pain and patients are finding success in healing pain through these routes, what forms of alternative medicine can heal pain the most effectively? We will take a further look at specific treatment options below and how they help people with pain conditions.
Mind-Body Therapy or Mind-Body Medicine is one of the more well-researched and evidence-based alternative medicines to date that is proven to help pain conditions. There is no doubting the mind and body connection and how they are in a reciprocal relationship.
Biofeedback is a mind-body therapy that can treat a wide variety of conditions but is often used in treating chronic pain and back pain. Studies show that biofeedback treatments do indeed reduce pain intensity while also keeping pain at bay in follow-ups within an average of eight months.
Biofeedback teaches patients to use their bodies to help control automatic body functions such as one’s heart rate, breathing, and brain waves. Once a patient has the ability to control these functions, they can also directly manage pain, stress, and other medical conditions. If chronic pain is coming from muscle tension, spasms, etc., one can train their body to stop these functions through relaxation techniques.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine that has also been more extensively studied and researched compared to other natural therapies. Acupuncture is the art of inserting small thin needles into the skin in an effort to stimulate muscles, nerves, and connective tissue all over the body. The effect of this method is to achieve the alleviation of pain, stress, and any tension within the body by restoring and rebalancing the body’s systems.
The Journal of Pain published a study that confirmed the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating chronic pain. They found that acupuncture treatments have a clinically proven effect for improving pain and the effects of treatment can last for upwards of a whole year. However, along with other published studies, there is a further need to researching the effectiveness of acupuncture and how is scientifically works to reduce pain and help with other conditions.
Another popular option for pain, particularly for back pain, is chiropractic care. Although there is on-going research being done and more studies are needed to confirm evidence for effectiveness, there have been major strides in the right direction.
There have been more studies on chiropractic care and clinical research has been conducted to highlight the benefits of chiropractors. Some of the most recent studies have found that chiropractic manipulations do help with certain pain conditions, particularly in the back.
In 2012, the Spine Journal found that “back pain and neck pain were the most prevalent health problems for chiropractic consultations and the majority of users reported chiropractic helping a great deal with their health problem and improving overall health or well-being.”
In the end, alternative medicine has made a lot of headway in recent years and it is only on the rise. As people are looking towards living a healthier and more organic-conscious lifestyle it is only inevitable that patients suffering from chronic pain that is not being effectively healed and managed by conventional medicine to seek alternative medicine as a viable option.
Alternative options such as mind-body therapy, biofeedback, acupuncture, and chiropractic adjustments are some of the most popular options with the most amount of evidence-based results for treating pain and other health conditions.
It is always important to speak with a doctor about the best options for your specific needs, health, and pain conditions. All patients’ needs and levels of pain are different and specific treatment plans must be created by a professional.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Guest author, Dr. Brent Wells is a practicing Chiropractor based in Alaska with a keen interest in neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.