Many of us in the United States, when feeling physical pain, use medication as our immediate go-to. For some, it’s become a habit, a way of coping. But medication has side effects, and there are other, more natural methods to defeat pain. Natural treatments are a very effective option for many conditions.
Types of Pain Conditions and How Natural Treatments Help
Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of joints. Although there are over 100 different types of arthritis, the most common are rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Though most common in women, arthritis affects people of all ages and worsens with age. Symptoms include swelling, pain in the joints, limited range of motion, and stiffness.
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis. It occurs when cartilage wears away from bone and bones rub against each other, causing pain and stiffness. Treatments for mild to moderate osteoarthritis include over the counter medicine, physical activity, and hot and cold therapies. For more severe osteoarthritis, joint replacement may be indicated.
Osteoarthritis is preventable through maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle, a healthy weight, and avoiding repetitive tasks. Natural treatments and holistic medicine can also improve arthritis conditions.
Rheumatoid arthritis results from problems with the immune system, causing inflammation of the joints and joint erosion. Aggressive treatment as early as possible is beneficial to avoid permanent joint damage. The goal of treatment is to get arthritis in remission. Treatment includes disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Back pain is extremely common. A number of factors can lead to back pain: age, weight, smoking, lack of exercise, disease, awkward movement, or heavy lifting. Even depression or anxiety can make a person more prone to back pain. Back pain can be avoidable in some cases through exercise, strength training, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and moving and lifting properly.
With treatment, most back pain goes away after about a month. Treatments vary depending on the severity. These may include over the counter medicine, or antidepressants, narcotics, topical creams, or muscle relaxers.
Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons. It’s most likely to develop in the knee, heel, shoulder, wrist, or elbow. Repetitive motion, often during work or sports, can cause tendinitis, but age, some antibiotics, injury, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis are also risk factors.
Symptoms typically manifest as a dull ache in the affected area, tightness and limited range of motion, and possibly some swelling.
Usual treatment options include resting the affected area, applying ice or heat, taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, stretching, or using a compression bandage. Some people use supports such as a cane, brace, or splint. For more severe cases there are also physical therapy or corticosteroid injections.
A headache is a pain in the head or neck. There are more than 150 different types of headaches, but the most common are tension, cluster, and migraine. Treatment for headaches varies according to the type of headache a person experiences, but over-the-counter medications are common.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen) are often used in the treatment of pain. But this kind of pain relief may come at a price. Long term use of NSAIDs is known to cause gastrointestinal issues, such as ulcers and gastrointestinal perforations. It can also increase heart risk, particularly for those with high blood pressure. Less common side effects include liver and kidney damage.
Natural Treatments & Remedies
Acupuncture is a practice of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in which tiny needles are inserted into various points on the body. The purpose of acupuncture is to alleviate pain from several different conditions, including headache, arthritis, neck pain, lower back pain, menstrual cramps, and labor pain. The needles in specific locations prompt the body to heal itself because of a redirection of the flow of energy in the body.
A 2012 study showed that natural treatment such as acupuncture was effective for treating headache, back and neck pain, shoulder pain, and osteoarthritis.
Research indicates that natural treatment like massage has the same effect on the body as NSAIDs when it comes to pain in terms of reducing muscle inflammation. Massage can actually impede pain messages traveling to and from the brain. Additionally, it can be a very relaxing, pleasant experience. It is known to mitigate symptoms of several conditions, including arthritis, ADHD, diabetes, sleep disorders, and depression.
Cupping, another form of natural treatment is the ancient practice of placing glass, ceramic, bamboo, or latex cups on a person’s skin and heating or suctioning the air inside the cups. The pressure is applied to pain points to increase blood flow and relax muscles, alleviating pain at the source.
Cupping is purported to have many benefits:
- Eliminates the weakness of the body
- Treats fever
- Prevents liver disease
- Treats rheumatic disease
- Treats gastrointestinal disease
- Alleviates migraine pain
- Treats liver disease
Cryotherapy or “cold therapy” involves exposure to freezing temperature for several minutes. It has many health benefits including relief of arthritic symptoms and migraine pain. It has been used by athletes for many years to numb irritated nerves. Cryotherapy can be applied to one area of the body or the whole body.
Physical therapy is a series of sessions guided by a trained, certified physical therapist. What you do at PT for pain management depends on your individual needs and body type, but will involve either passive or active therapy. Passive therapy might include heat or ice pack, manual therapies, or cupping, while active therapy might involve movement-based activities, exercise, or low-impact aerobics.
A huge benefit of physical therapy is that you get individualized attention from a professionally trained practitioner who is versed in pain management. A PT can locate the source of your pain–for example, incorrect movement–and teach you how to correct the movement or develop compensation strategies. Your physical therapist will create a comprehensive treatment plan specific to your needs.
Also known as spinal manipulation, the chiropractic adjustment is when a practitioner applies controlled force to a spinal joint. Headache, neck, and low back pain are the most common reasons people seek chiropractic adjustment.
The benefits of chiropractic adjustments are many. It improves overall joint health, including function and mobility. It strengthens muscles, decreases arthritic activity, inflammation, and pain.
Schedule Your Appointment for Pain Relief!
The benefits of natural treatment options far outweigh any minor side effects, and they provide an excellent complement or alternative to other treatment types. While NSAIDs may be a convenient quick fix, they may not be such a great idea in the long run.
Manage your pain today with Integrative Family Wellness in Smithtown. Our highly trained practitioners can help you with any top natural treatment option. Schedule your appointment in Long Island today by contacting IFW in Suffolk County. Visit us online HERE to learn more about our natural treatment options.