By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Natural and Alternative Pain Management Therapies
Alternative Pain Management Therapies
WHAT THEY HELP
HOW THEY WORK
| Movement-Based Therapies:
Physical exercises and practices
|Musculoskeletal pain, joint pain, and lower-back pain.||By strengthening muscles supporting joints, improving alignment, and releasing endorphins.||• Physical therapy: Specialized movements to strengthen weak
areas of the body, often through resistance training.
• Yoga: An Indian practice of meditative stretching and posing.
• Pilates: A resistance regimen that strengthens core muscles.
• Tai chi: A slow, flowing Chinese practice that improves balance.
|Nutritional and Herbal Remedies:
Food choices and dietary supplements (ask your doc before using supplements)
|All chronic pain but especially abdominal discomfort, headaches, and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.||By boosting the body’s natural immunity, reducing pain-causing inflammation, soothing pain, and decreasing insomnia.||• Anti-inflammatory diet: A Mediterranean eating pattern high in whole grains, fresh fruits, leafy vegetables, fish, and olive oil.
• Omega-3 fatty acids: Nutrients abundant in fish oil and flaxseed that reduce inflammation in the body.
• Ginger: A root that inhibits pain-causing molecules.
• Turmeric: A spice that reduces inflammation.
• MSM: Methylsulfonylmethane, a naturally occurring nutrient that helps build bone and cartilage.
Using the powers of the mind to produce changes in the body
|All types of chronic pain.||By reducing stressful (and, hence, pain-inducing) emotions such as panic and fear, and by refocusing attention on subjects other than pain.||• Meditation: Focusing the mind on something specific (such as breathing or repeating a word or phrase) to quiet it.
• Guided imagery: Visualizing a particular outcome or scenario with the goal of mentally changing one’s physical reality.
• Biofeedback: With a special machine, becoming alert to body processes, such as muscle tightening, to learn to control them.
• Relaxation: Releasing tension in the body through exercises such as controlled breathing.
Manipulating the electrical energy – called chi in Chinese medicine – emitted by the body’s nervous system
|Pain that lingers after an injury heals, as well as pain complicated by trauma, anxiety, or depression.||By relaxing the body and the mind, distracting the nervous system, producing natural painkillers, activating natural pleasure centers, and manipulating chi.||• Acupuncture: The insertion of hair-thin needles into points along the body’s meridians, or energetic pathways, to stimulate the flow of energy throughout the body; proven helpful for post-surgical pain and dental pain, among other types.
• Acupressure: Finger pressure applied to points along the meridians, to balance and increase the flow of energy.
• Chi gong: Very slow, gentle physical movements, similar to tai chi, that cleanse the body and circulate chi.
• Reiki: Moving a practitioner’s hands over the energy fields of the client’s body to increase energy flow and restore balance.
Hands-on massage or movement of painful areas
|Musculoskeletal pain, especially lower-back and neck pain; pain from muscle underuse or overuse; and pain from adhesions or scars.||By restoring mobility, improving circulation, decreasing blood pressure, and relieving stress.||• Massage: Massage Therapy is the manipulation of tissue to relax clumps of knotted muscle fiber, increase circulation, and release patterns of chronic tension.
• Chiropractic: Physically moving vertebrae or other joints into proper alignment, to relieve stress.
• Osteopathy: Realigning vertebrae, ribs, and other joints, as with chiropractic; osteopaths have training equivalent to that of medical doctors.
Developing healthy habits at home and work
|All types of chronic pain.||By strengthening the immune system and enhancing well-being, and by reframing one’s relationship to (and, thus, experience of) chronic pain.||• Sleep Hygiene: Creating an optimal sleep environment to get deep, restorative rest; strategies include establishing a regular sleep-and-wake schedule and minimizing light and noise.
• Positive Work Environment: Having a comfortable workspace and control over one’s activities to reduce stress and contribute to the sense of mastery over pain.
• Healthy Relationships: Nurturing honest and supportive friendships and family ties to ease anxiety that exacerbate pain.
• Exercise: Regular activity to build strength and lower stress.
Return to Article: Integrative Pain Management and How it Affects Your Life
Pamela Egan, MN, NP, CDE, ABAAHP Diplomat is a board certified Adult & Family Nurse Practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator, and has completed a Fellowship in Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine. She can be reached at 985-892-3031 or www.pamelaegan.com.
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