For too long western medicine has portrayed medications as the pinnacle remedy in treating diseases and conditions. Medications are more than likely present in every pain management case that we see. Unfortunately, many pain medications have unwanted side effects not to mention the high probability of pain medications being addicting. As pain management physicians, we encourage patients struggling with pain to consider all of their alternatives before resigning themselves to long-term drug use; nonetheless, please consult your doctor first as to what alternatives are best for you.
Diet & Exercise
If you are familiar with any of our past blogs, you will note just how important diet and exercise can be in influencing chronic pain. With that being said, with the support of your physician, we encourage you to take a look at your overall level of activity and the types of food you frequently eat and see what changes can be made to reduce symptoms of chronic pain without having to rely on pain-relief medications. For example, an anti-inflammatory diet involves eating a lot of low-starch vegetables, fish, some fruit, limited amounts of dairy & whole grains, moderate amounts of red meat, and almost no flour or sugar. This sort of diet may seem foreign based of the typical foods you eat; yet small and simple changes over time can offer immense benefits. For more information on this topic, please see our blog post, “Tips On How Your Diet Can Reduce Chronic Inflammation”. Again, making changes to your diet can be a challenge, but it is well worth it. One clinical trial concluded that some patients started to have substantial pain relief and overall feel better in as little as two weeks. Participants also reported lower blood pressure, lipids, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Concerning exercise, numerous studies have found that even minimal amounts of physical activity has been shown to reduce pain symptoms. Pick a couple of your favorite activities: walking, cycling, swimming; anything that you feel comfortable doing may have a tremendous benefit on reducing your dependence on medication. Yet before you go signing up for the next yoga, talk to your doctor and get their approval beforehand.
Research has shown that manipulation therapy and physical therapy may be effective methods in relieving pain throughout the body (back, neck, shoulder, knees, chest, etc.). During a manipulation therapy session, the physician delivers uses their hands to manipulate patients’ bodies into proper alignment as a way to ease the pain. During a physical therapy session, a healthcare provider will guide the patient through various exercises and stretches meant to alleviate pain. Another well-researched alternative to medication for treating pain is acupuncture. Acupuncture is the practice of strategically placing thin needles on the epidermis throughout the body to stimulate nerves and relieve pain. A meta-analysis completed in 2012 found acupuncture to be useful for the treatment of chronic pain. They found significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicating that acupuncture is more than a placebo. However, we must note that these differences were relatively modest, suggesting that factors in addition to the specific effects of acupuncture may be important contributors to its overall therapeutic effects.
It is possible to overcome disabling pain and resume an active life without medications. If you think you might benefit from these steps, talk to your talk about implementing one of these alternatives to your pain management regimen. Besides the alternatives we mentioned, what alternatives have you found to be effective? Please let us know!
Tags: chronic pain, diet, exercise, medications, meta-analysis, acupuncture
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