Everyone I know has pain, at least occasionally.
Sometimes, we all have to just accept a little discomfort and press on with our lives.
That is not the same as living with chronic pain.
You probably know several people who live with some amount of chronic pain. Whether caused by a degenerative condition such as arthritis or a functional problem such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain can steal the joy of life.
In many cases, pain sufferers have sought help from a number of providers with mixed results.
Frequently, they have tried over-the-counter products, anti-inflammatory prescriptions, possibly narcotics or other pain medicines.
Sometimes, it seems that nothing has brought any lasting relief. It is not uncommon in my practice to hear that a patient has been told, “You will just have to learn to live with the pain.”
One of the professional organizations I support is the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
This organization comprises medical doctors, psychologists, nurses, chiropractors, physical therapists and other health care professionals that deal with chronic pain patients.
Traditionally, the primary avenue of approach for most pain specialists has been and continues to be pharmaceutically based. The hot topic is usually which drugs to prescribe for pain patients.
I’m glad to see at least some attention is now being given to promoting non-pharmaceutical approaches to pain. Although not every patient will respond to drug-free approaches, those that do will find many benefits.
For many patients, treatments such as physical or occupational therapy can bring about considerable improvements in functional abilities. Often this results in improvement in performing routine activities of daily living and a decreased need for medication.
For others, it may be time to consider alternative treatments, which are any type of care that is not typical medical treatment.
The three most widely utilized alternatives are chiropractic, acupuncture and massage. All of these providers are regulated and licensed in Tennessee.
Although chiropractic care is usually covered by insurance without a referral, acupuncture and massage may not be.
There are also benefits to be found in activities patients can do on their own, often with little or no expense.
Researchers have found the emotional state of a patient has a significant impact on their overall level of pain.
Doing things that improve mood can reduce pain. In one study conducted in 2004, it was reported that group singing had a positive effect on the pain level reported by patients compared to those not involved with the activity.
Patients who regularly engage in recreational activities, even relaxed strolling, experience less pain than those who are completely sedentary.
Obviously, it is important that a person be physically capable of performing an exercise routine to avoid injury or aggravation. It is also important to drink water regularly, as dehydration can increase pain.
For people with severe problems, it may be important to ask a health care provider to assist with these types of approaches.
The most important thing to consider is that in many cases, it is possible to learn to live without the pain.
Next week, I’ll share a secret that can save you thousands of dollars and make you feel better as well. Until then, keep moving, sing a little, and drink water whether you are thirsty or not.