Natural Methods of Pain Relief – Do They Work?
Modern medicine is now catching up with what other medical practitioners have known for centuries. Mind-body practices work by aiding you to take back control of your pain response through turning off stress response that increases persistent pain. They promote psychological and physiological changes that elicit the relaxation response, therefore, reducing pain levels.
More doctors are now recommending mind-body (mindfulness) therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, chiropractic, herbal supplementation, hypnotherapy, weight training and yoga to help you get relief from dozens of painful conditions.
The trick is to figure out which one or combination of therapies will best work for your situation. What you need is to find a “pain treatment team” that uses conventional and alternative therapies to help you get relief needed.
Here is an explanation of just a few of the mindfulness therapies that are more readily available and have studies that have proven they are effective.
Acupuncture has been used in Asia for centuries to relieve pain and treat many health conditions. It’s currently being used in Western countries to alleviate conditions such as low back pain, nerve pain, migraines and stress headaches, fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and much more.
Traditional acupuncture entails inserting very fine needles at specific “acupuncture points.” Pain is reduced by releasing the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals (endorphins) and by stimulating the part of the brain that increases serotonin, the happy mood hormone.
Acupuncture is quite safe, and the complications are rare. Make sure your practitioner uses single-use, sealed needle packages which will eliminate the risks of blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis or HIV.
Seek out an experienced acupuncturist if you decide to try acupuncture. Ensure the therapist has all of the licensing requirements from a proper governing body. According to Acupuncture Canada “, Not all provinces have set standards. In those that have, the CAFCI designation from Acupuncture Canada is accepted.”
The evidence varies, some studies show that acupuncture relieves pain while others show it has no real effect, but acts like a placebo. One of the problems with these results is the studies are small which complicates comparisons. It’s also possible that acupuncture works for some people and not others.
Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness used by licensed therapists to treat psychological or physical problems. Pain therapists focus on the connection between the mind and body. Many health professionals, consider this to be an alternative or complementary therapy. Regardless of how it is considered by mainstream medicine, there is evidence that it does work for many people.
During hypnosis, the conscious part of the brain is momentarily adjusted as they concentrate on relaxing and letting go of racing thoughts. During hypnosis, a person experiences changes, such as a slowed pulse and breathing, and an increase in alpha brain waves.
A compilation of several studies by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York revealed moderate to significant pain-relieving effects from hypnosis, supporting the effectiveness of hypnotic techniques for pain management. Hypnosis can be helpful for acute and chronic pain. Recent studies have demonstrated its effectiveness for pain related to burns, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis and reduction of anxiety connected with surgery.
During an appointment for hypnosis, you will be with the therapist for 30 to 60 minutes on your initial appointments that should decrease to follow up appointments of 15 to 20 minutes.
Contact the Canadian Hypnotherapy Association for a licensed therapist near you. Look for a practitioner that has experience with your circumstances to ensure the best results.
How Does Exercise Help?
Most people try to ignore pain however that doesn’t make it go away. Another way of avoiding pain is to limit your range of motion which further weakens the muscle and makes joint problems worse (i.e., frozen shoulder/adhesive capsulitis). Pain relievers, cold packs or heating pads are all meant to be temporary fixes and over time can cause complications with the liver and kidneys.
When you are given a correct exercise prescription by a qualified certified personal trainer, kinesiologist or physiotherapist, it can provide long-term relief. These health professionals can help you to postpone or avoid surgery in the right circumstances by strengthening stabilizing muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joint and increasing flexibility. Your personal trainer will gradually challenge you and over time you will find that your range of motion will increase, and the pain will decrease.
Regular exercise has the added benefits of allowing you to stay functional well into your senior years which will allow you to be independent. Structured exercise can also decrease blood pressure, increase serotonin (our natural anti-depressant), increase endorphins (our natural pain killers), helps to maintain a healthy weight, and increases blood flow to the brain which sharpens the mind.
Ensure your personal trainer has all of the certification required by a proper governing body. Ask for their credentials and determine the length of time they have been working with rehabilitation clients. Hiring a certified Personal Trainer through Infofit is one of the best investments you can make with regard to your overall health and fitness. Infofit trainers will assess your current fitness level and develop a custom workout routine to treat your health condition and help reverse the pain cycle.