By Kelly Trautner ~
Disclaimer: The content in this post should not be construed as medical advice. Care needs are unique to each individual. Persons dealing with chronic pain should seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
Originally Published Aug. 30 2016 on www.camapproaches.com
The ongoing Opioid crisis is spurring broad-based change in the way pain is treated in conventional medicine.
Our society is embroiled in a public health crisis of epic proportions. The number of opioid prescriptions has quadrupled since 1999; though there is no accompanying overall change in the amount of pain reported by Americans. Visible government attempts at addressing prescribing practices are evident in efforts, like a recent letter sent by the Surgeon General and new CDC prescribing guidelines issued in March. While efforts like these (and more) are needed to combat the opioid crisis, but the needs of people who rely on pain management for everyday function must not be forgotten.
Changing trends in prescribing practices must account for the impact of chronic pain on millions of people.
Affecting about 100 million adults, chronic pain is described as pain which lasts longer than six months in duration. According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, chronic pain imposes a severe economic toll, costing $560 billion to $635 per year. Not to mention the cumulative societal costs, which span far beyond these dollar amounts. But the reality for individuals of living in pain has an even more personal impact, often having debilitating effects on one’s physical, social, emotional areas of life. Whatever the ultimate formula used, modified approaches to pain management must be formulated in a comprehensive, compassionate manner that addresses the needs of people to cope with daily suffering.
Alternative approaches to pain management offer hope to those suffering from chronic pain.
Ignoring a patient’s pain is not an option. Physical therapy and other conventional approaches are widely accepted ways of dealing with chronic pain. But patient-centered healthcare that addresses the needs of the whole person can also be addressed through the use of various CAM approaches. While not an exhaustive list, here are five CAM approaches that offer hope to those
- Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for chronic pain, at times by more than 50%.
- Spinal manipulation has been shown to have a positive effect on low back pain and has also been shown to be as effective as other treatments in improving function.
- Meditation : Mindfulness meditation had a positive impact on people suffering from non-specified chronic pain, as well as improvements in depression, anxiety and mental well-being.
- Exercise regimens of various sorts have been shown to affect chronic fatigue, tension, migraine and other types of chronic pain. Tai chi shown to affect pain levels in patients suffering from fibromyalgia.
- Diet is a variable used by many to address chronic pain, like elimination diets that are often recommended for conditions resulting in chronic pain, like back and neck pain. etc.
The need for prescription medications, including opioids, remains a necessity for some with pain so acute that other modalities and treatments will not restore acceptable levels of functioning. But educated providers and empowered patients offer a recipe for success in addressing chronic pain for others. Whether in tandem with prescription pain relief or not, incorporating CAM practitioners in care planning for pain management can restore the promise of quality of life for people suffering from chronic pain.
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Deborah Dowell, MD1; Tamara M. Haegerich, PhD; Roger Chou, MD1 , (March 15, 2016) CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm
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Vickers, DPhil, Andrew, et al. (Oct. 22, 2012) Accupuncture for Chronic Pain. Retrieved from http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1357513
Spinal Manipulation for Low Back Pain. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/spinemanipulation.htm. Last accessed Aug 29, 2015.
La Cour, P. (April 16, 2015) Effects of mindfulness meditation on chronic pain: a randomized controlled trial, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25376753
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Should You Switch to an Elimination Diet to Fight Chronic Pain? (April 14, 2016) Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/04/switch-elimination-diet-fight-chronic-pain/