Turning to Alternatives, not Drugs, for Pain relief
Many years ago, in response to debilitating headaches which were caused by unrelated activities, I became more aware of how my body was reacting and changed it through self-induced behavior modification. An active effort was made to relax when focused on a task that could cause a tension headache.
Fifty years later, I again felt pain in my back while cooking. Once again, I realized I had to relax my back muscles.
I do not mean to imply that all forms of pain and aches can be cured by self-awareness and through behavior modification, but studies have demonstrated that the mind along with other non-pharmacological remedies can be effective in relieving different kinds of chronic or recurring pains.
Dr. James Campbell, a neurosurgeon and pain specialist believes that patients should not assume that the pain represents something disastrous. Dr. Campbell goes on to suggest that “if pain is not an indication that something is seriously wrong, you can learn to live with it.”
Turning to powerful drugs to treat chronic pain may only exacerbate the problem, as ever higher doses are often needed. The American College of Physicians recently released non-drug guidelines to treat chronic pain. The college proposes that use of remedies such as superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, and in some cases spinal manipulation. For chronic pain, exercise, rehabilitation, acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, progressive relaxations, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction have proven effective.
In the newest studies by Dr. Daniel C. Cherkin and his colleagues at the Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington, both mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive behavioral therapy were comparable in relieving dysfunction and pain severity. In a study conducted two years a later, patients with mindfulness therapy or CBT were more likely to improve in comparison to those who received the usual care.