Chronic pain and its management are major public health concerns. Pain is an unpleasant sensation that occurs when tissue is damaged or inflamed and serves as a warning to protect the body from further injury. Say’s Dr. William Siefert, however, it can also become chronic if it persists even after the underlying cause has been treated or resolved. According to the National Institutes of Health, chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans annually and costs more than $600 billion in treatment costs and lost productivity each year.
How can we manage our pain?
Pain is a complex phenomenon. In order to understand how it can be managed, it’s important to first understand the underlying causes and mechanisms of pain. Pain can be treated in many different ways depending on the type of pain being experienced and its cause. For example:
- If you have osteoarthritis (OA), which is an age-related degenerative joint disease caused by breakdown of cartilage in joints, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium (Aleve). These drugs reduce swelling around injured tissues and help relieve stiffness caused by OA.
- For migraines, doctors prescribe triptans like sumatriptan (Imitrex), which constrict blood vessels in your brain to ease migraine symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light/sound/taste
What are the possible benefits of alternative pain relief methods?
The benefits of alternative pain relief methods are numerous, including:
- Reduces stress and anxiety. Stress has been shown to contribute to many chronic conditions, including back pain and arthritis. When you’re in pain, it’s easy to get stressed out about it–and the more stressed out you are, the more likely your body is going to feel even worse! Alternative therapies can help reduce this stress by teaching patients how to relax their minds while they’re under treatment (or even at home).
Are there any risks associated with alternative pain relief methods?
In general, alternative pain relief methods are safe to use. However, some people may find that they are not effective for them or that they cause negative side effects. For example:
- Mindfulness and meditation are not suitable for all people with chronic pain. Some studies have shown that these practices can be beneficial in managing certain types of chronic pain; others have found no evidence of effectiveness at all.
- If you’re considering mindfulness therapy, it’s important to discuss with your doctor whether this approach would be appropriate for your condition before starting any program of self-management.
Mindfulness and meditation for chronic pain management
Mindfulness is defined as a state of active, open attention on the present. It can be cultivated through the practice of meditation and other training techniques. Research suggests that mindfulness may help to reduce chronic pain by increasing your ability to tolerate discomfort, improving your ability to regulate emotions and thoughts, increasing awareness of body sensations and helping you take control over them (1).
Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness (i.e., transcendental), either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself. There are many types of meditation but all involve focusing one’s attention on something specific (such as breathing) for an extended period of time
The quality of life for people with chronic pain is often poor, and so it’s important to explore all options when it comes to managing this condition. The evidence suggests that alternative pain relief methods may be helpful in some cases, but more research is needed before we can definitively say whether or not they work. In the meantime, there are still many traditional pharmacological approaches that are effective in treating both acute and chronic pain symptoms according to their severity level