Alternative Treatments for Chronic Pain

Often, when an insured begins to suffer chronic pain, the insured’s first thought is to contact his or her doctor to seek out a prescription for pain medication.  At the same time, many insureds do not want to take pain medication because such medication can often have harmful side effects.  In this post, we will be looking at some alternative methods of treating chronic pain that insureds who are hesitant about taking pain medication may want to consider.

Acupuncture[1]

This is a technique where practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin needles into the skin.

The Case For.  Results from several studies suggest that acupuncture is an effective method of treating chronic pain, particularly low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain.

The Case Against.  Studies also suggest that, although acupuncture can help relieve back pain immediately after treatment, it is less effective as a long-term solution.  Additionally, improperly performed acupuncture can cause serious side effects, including infections, punctured organs, collapsed lungs, and injury to the central nervous system.

Hypnosis[2]

Stress often aggravates and increases chronic pain.  Hypnosis seeks to lessen pain levels by alleviating stress levels.

The Case For.  Multiple studies have shown that hypnosis is useful for reducing pain, including an analysis of studies by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine that revealed moderate to large pain-relieving effects from hypnosis.

The Case Against.  Other studies suggest that the positive effects of hypnosis are merely the result of a placebo effect.

Yoga[3]

While exercise is often recommended as a treatment for chronic pain, many insureds fear that rigorous exercise will actually increase, not lessen, their pain.  Yoga offers a gentle way to exercise that doesn’t involve too much stress on joints while still enabling you to strengthen the muscles around your joints.

The Case For.  Duke University Medical Center completed a review of 20 years’ worth of studies and found that yoga is an effective treatment for many forms of chronic pain, including osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia.

The Case Against.  Yoga can be difficult for people who aren’t very flexible, and classes can sometimes be too strenuous for those just starting out.  Beginners should start with basic poses before attempting advanced poses that could exacerbate their pain if not performed properly.

Food[4]

Many people assert that altering your diet is an effective method of fighting pain-causing illnesses.  More specifically, foods that have been linked to lowering pain levels include:

  • Cherries (arthritis, muscle pain)
  • Ginger (migraines, arthritis, sore muscles)
  • Salmon (aching back, neck, and joints)
  • Turmeric (aching joints)
  • Edamame (arthritis)
  • Hot peppers (arthritis)

The Case For.  All of these foods are easy to find and fairly easy to work into your diet.  They are also present a natural alternative to medicines that may have potentially harmful side effects.

The Case Against.  These treatment options won’t necessarily work unless the rest of your diet is fairly healthy.  The potentially helpful effects of these foods will often be offset by the junk food that many people consume.  Consequently, a major overhaul your diet may be necessary in order to see any meaningful results.

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