Chronic pain is a genuine medical concern among millions of people. Traditional treatments for chronic pain include over-the-counter drugs, prescription pain medications, and surgeries. But what if those traditional treatments don’t work? What is a chronic pain patient supposed to do then?
There are alternative treatments to look at. Some are viewed more favorably than others, but it can be a hard sell to get a traditionally minded doctor or advanced practice nurse to recommend alternative treatments. That sometimes means chronic pain patients are on their own.
More About Chronic Pain
Although there is no official definition of chronic pain, a general rule states that it is pain that is felt either daily or almost daily for a minimum of three months. It can be caused by a variety of issues. It can also be a symptom of an underlying condition, like osteoarthritis.
Estimates suggest that more than 50 million people throughout U.S. suffer from chronic pain. That is more than 20% of the population. If you are among them, you probably know how difficult chronic pain is to live with.
Many Alternative Treatments
As previously stated, there are alternatives to traditional treatments. One that immediately comes to mind is medical cannabis. According to the Beehive Farmacy in Brigham City, Utah, chronic pain is the number one complaint cited by patients who apply for medical cannabis cards in the Beehive State. Most other states with medical cannabis programs report similar scenarios.
If medical cannabis isn’t your thing, there are other possibilities:
Acupuncture is an ancient treatment rooted in Eastern medicine. It is based on the belief that energy imbalances within the body are the main protagonist in sickness and disease. Acupuncture relies on the strategic placement of tiny needles to restore energy balance.
Another practice with its roots in Eastern medicine is aromatherapy. It is a type of therapy that utilizes essential oils and the aromas they create to offer relief from stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Some say it can help alleviate chronic pain as well.
3. Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative medicine practices commonly recommended by pain medicine doctors include platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, stem cell injections, and prolotherapy. The idea behind regenerative medicine is to encourage the body to heal on its own.
4. Physical Therapy
Although physical therapy is a mainstream practice, some doctors consider it alternative medicine for treating chronic pain. Nonetheless, physical therapy helps relieve pain by strengthening muscles, tendons and ligaments, and bones. The stronger a patient’s body is, the less likely pain will be an issue, especially when pain is tied to soft tissue injuries and diseases.
Chiropractic medicine used to be considered quackery back in the 1970s and 80s. It has since gained mainstream acceptance. It is rooted in the belief that certain medical conditions, including pain, can be alleviated by realigning the spine.
6. Behavioral Therapies
A variety of behavioral therapies can be utilized as chronic pain treatments under certain circumstances. One particular option, known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is designed to help patients think differently about the pain the experience. By changing thoughts and emotions, it is believed that a patient’s perception of pain can be diminished.
Treating chronic pain is rarely an easy endeavor. Pain is so individual in nature that doctors and patients often need to try a variety of treatments to figure out what will work best. The most important thing is that patients have choices. If traditional treatments do not work, doctors should not be afraid to recommend alternatives. Patients need access to them.