The best approach for pain management, especially long-term chronic pain, is holistic. Pain-killing medication is avoided — as well as their associated side effects, such as an addiction to prescription pain killers. Holistic therapies are often more effective, too. The American Society of Addiction Medicine states that, of the 20.5 million Americans age 12 or older who had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million people had a substance use disorder involving prescription medicine. The holistic way is totally natural, and the benefits are far beyond pain management. As the population ages because of longer lifespans, chronic pain has become a bigger issue, the most common of which is lower back pain, followed closely by migraines and neck problems.
Less stress using a holistic approach
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) has advised that there is growing evidence suggesting complementary approaches are working for pain management. Holistic therapies change the way the person perceives pain, and this can be as a direct result of reduced stress levels following the therapy. Anxiety and depression are known to increase the perception of pain. Often, it is a combination of holistic therapies that works best for an individual.
Practicing mindfulness and spirituality for pain relief
By including spirituality in your life — perhaps through meditation or mindfulness — a greater meaning and purpose can unfold together with a calmer sense of wellbeing. Spirituality enhances mental and physical wellness, and the subsequent effect on pain management is achieved. Spirituality does not have to be connected to religion, so it can be carried out by both religious and non-religious people.
Holistic therapies also include self-awareness, which is closely connected to mindfulness. Mindfulness is nonjudgmental and enables the surrounding situations to be identified. Following this, self-awareness, sometimes in conjunction with meditation, identifies a space to relax and accept a particular situation. A calmer and more aware individual, with mental wellness, will find their pain is much more easily managed.
Holistic for pain-free body strength
Yoga is another popular holistic therapy that focuses on both developing physical coordination and flexibility alongside muscle strength. It can be particularly helpful in managing physical pain, as it not only works by reducing stress levels and pain perception, but also by strengthening and flexibility development, which can improve many pain-causing conditions — especially of a wear and tear nature. e.g., osteoarthritis. Other therapies found useful are acupuncture and massage.
Find your holistic pain-free combination
For most people in pain, especially chronic pain, their unique combination of the various holistic practices available will work. Sometimes it takes a little time to find this unique combination, but by experimentation and trying new therapies, you will usually be led to the correct mix. With your pain managed, you can enjoy a happy future.
Jenny Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it all and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind.