How to Naturally Change Your Lifestyle for Better Pain Management
When most people experience pain, they either self-treat at home or visit their general physician. In both of these instances, the approaches are the same. It's usually either rest (often following the RICE recommendation of rest, ice, compression, and elevate) or pain medication. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended. There are certainly instances where these strategies can be helpful and, in fact, the only solution. This is especially true for RICE, which can be effective for a myriad of pain types.
However, both medications and surgeries come with high risks. We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, and that's been caused by a number of factors. Opioids and opiates were originally meant to treat acute and short-term severe pain, such as when someone is recovering from surgery. Studies have shown that even using opioids as recommended and short-term use can lead to dependency or even opioid addiction which can ultimately be deadly. Opioids were certainly not meant to treat chronic or lifelong conditions, but unfortunately, they are sometimes used this way.
Even over-the-counter pain medications have been linked to serious side effects such as liver damage. Surgery, of course, always comes with risks. Depending on the surgery, you may experience significant recovery periods followed by months or even years of physical therapy and supplementary treatments. What if there was a better way?
Alternatives to Medication and Surgery
In actuality, there are a number of alternative and holistic therapies for pain management. Unfortunately, due to bureaucracy and the stronghold the pharmaceutical industry has in the United States, many people don't know about these treatments. They are rarely covered under standard insurance plans, but that's slowly changing.
Seeking out a specific pain clinic or pain management doctor can open up a world of possibilities. These clinics and doctors specialize in offering a comprehensive suite of options to help patients reduce or avoid medication and surgery, or sometimes delay it.
One popular example of an alternative is joint injections or epidural injections. Most people think of an epidural as being used for a person in labor, but it can actually be used to provide pain relief for a number of complaints. Steroid injections can help treat many types of arthritis. These injections last different amounts of time depending on the patient and the issue but are a quick and minimally invasive alternative.
New Ways to Treat Pain
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and platelet-rich fibrin (PRF) injections are offered at some clinics to help repair damaged tissue. It can even be used to help stimulate hair growth and improve the skin! PRP and PRF injections take a patient's own blood and separates the platelets or fibrins, then injects it into the pain site. This encourages natural healing in areas where blood flow is minimal. When the body can't get growth factors, platelets, and fibrin to a damaged area, it's pretty tough to heal on its own.
There's also radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which uses radiofrequency waves to tell nerves to stop sending pain signals. Treatments like these don't actually cure what's wrong with a person but can be used when pain signals are no longer helpful. We feel pain because our body is telling us something's wrong-but sometimes those messages can go haywire. If we're feeling pain and there's no threat or nothing can be done, stopping the pain signals can be nearly as effective as stopping the actual pain.
Building Your Medical Dream Team
Working with a chiropractor, licensed massage therapist, and acupuncturist can also help manage pain. Chiropractors specialize in spinal alignment, and since the back is so complex, mobile, and bears so much weight, it is often the source of pain.
Massage therapists can help relax muscles and connective tissue to reduce pain and improve flexibility and range of motion. There are many types of experts who work in tandem with more traditional medicine and treatments, and creating your own support network is key to finding an approach that works for you.
Advocating for yourself when it comes to pain management is critical. Otherwise, some people may be tempted to self-treat with dangerous vices like alcohol. Pursuing a natural high as prescribed by a medical professional, whether it's from medical marijuana or adopting a healthier cardio routine, can help you not only minimize your pain but also prevent injuries.