As the Opioid Epidemic Worsens, Pain Sufferers are Turning to Natural Remedies. According to an ABC report citing an Institute of Medicine study, it is estimated that 100 million Americans endure daily chronic pain. What does chronic mean? The dictionary defines chronic as constant. Acute pain occurs on a temporary basis, examples of which include a simple headache, pain following an injury, postoperative pain or the common pain felt by receiving an injection or accidentally touching a hot stove. Acute pain is made bearable because we know that eventually the pain will go away. People experiencing the debilitating effects of chronic pain are very much aware that it will not go away
Chronic pain is caused by conditions such as:
- Low back pain
- Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Nerve damage
- Old injuries
Chronic pain may also be present without a diagnosed cause. The pain is constant or almost constant and can vary in severity. People afflicted with this pain have generally tried many methods to relieve it. Painkilling medication can help but only masks rather than relieves the symptoms and must be taken regularly to keep pain under control. Many people using painkillers develop what is known as a tolerance for the medication, requiring them to take ever increasing doses to obtain relief. There may be anxiety about becoming addicted to the medication and worry about the possible side effects that can occur.
Living with chronic pain is debilitating. It can keep a person from enjoying the daily pleasures of life such as a good night’s sleep or a day out with friends. Even an activity as simple as walking one’s dog may seem impossible and household tasks such as cleaning or doing laundry are made more difficult due to pain and the subsequent loss of energy.
There are other choices a person can make to deal with intractable pain. Some of these include natural alternatives such as:
- Physical therapy or gentle exercise
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Herbal remedies
Natural remedies remove the worry about possible addiction and side effects and practices such as yoga and meditation can be participated in daily at home according to a person’s own schedule or need.
Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese treatment, involves the insertion of tiny needles into specific skin areas on the body in order to reduce pain. A trained acupuncturist listens to a patient’s pain history and uses that information to plan the treatment. There are virtually no side effects to such treatment when performed by a well-qualified acupuncturist. Some health insurance companies may cover the cost of treatment.
Physical therapy or gentle exercise
People experiencing chronic pain, particularly back or joint pain may be reluctant to engage in any kind of exercise. In fact, gentle exercise can relieve pain by promoting relaxation and improving joint flexibility. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor and see what kind of exercise is recommended for you.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hypnotherapy can be useful in the treatment of anxiety and pain. Your doctor can refer you to a reputable practitioner. Unlike the portrayal of hypnosis in the movies, the procedure will not cause loss of behavior control and the patient generally remembers what occurred during hypnosis. It is a completely painless and relaxing procedure.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Many people experience pain related stress and anxiety which can be relieved by participating in therapy with a CBT practitioner. CBT or talk therapy allows a patient to become aware of negative thought patterns which lead to undesirable outcomes or behaviors. The goal of therapy is to train a person to replace negative thoughts with positive patterns leading to a change in response.
Meditation or mindfulness is the practice of sitting quietly in a peaceful environment, allowing all distractions to disappear and focusing solely on simply breathing in and out which results in relaxation and renewal. Meditation can be carried out daily or whenever the need arises. Stress and anxiety are relieved and pain can be reduced.
Yoga is beneficial to both mind and body. It can also help relieve chronic pain. There are many types of yoga and all kinds of classes are available, some specializing in gentle yoga for people who are experiencing pain of some kind. Although poses may be learned in a class, a person can continue the practice at home if they wish.
Herbal or plant based remedies have been in use for thousands of years. Many modern medicines have their roots (pardon the pun!) in plants. Digitalis, used in the treatment of cardiac conditions is derived from the foxglove. There has been a recent upswing in the number of people using turmeric to reduce the inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. India has the world’s lowest incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and some attribute this to the frequent use of turmeric in the Indian diet.
It’s reassuring to know that pain relief can be achieved without the use of opioids or other painkillers. No one should have to endure chronic pain when help is available.
Who is NaturalPainRelief.org and Why Do We Exist?
We exist to inform and educate those suffering from temporary or chronic pain to find alternative science-based solutions free from addictive drug treatments and invasive procedures.