I’ve touched on budgeting for treatments and therapies before, but today I want to talk about why they are important, and if they are necessary. I want to focus in on each one and see the benefits, because if we spend our time and money on these things, we want to know that they are going to help. Right? Even a small benefit can be worth it. A temporary lapse of pain, a short break from anxiety. Whatever it is, anything that can provide relief for a chronic pain warrior should at the very least be considered. So let’s take a look at some key therapies for chronic pain relief, and see what benefits they bring.
Image from: http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/alternative-therapies-from-around-the-world/
What is It?: is a primary care specialty in western medicine that, by using mechanical force and movements, Manual therapy, exercise therapy, electrotherapy and various physical therapies who practice evidence based treatments, remediates impairments and promotes mobility, function, and quality of life through examination, diagnosis, prognosis, and physical intervention. (wikipedia)
Mobility is extremely beneficial for chronic pain, and physiotherapists will help you find movements and exercises that will help with the pain, with the ultimate goal of reducing it. The key here, is to make sure you are doing the exercises your physiotherapists gives you, as instructed. Am I perfect at this? Definitely not, but I try to get them done as often as I can. In addition, physiotherapists can provide additional relief through acupuncture, massage, heat therapies, and laser treatments. The laser treatments work particularly well for me, and though they don’t bring permanent relief, the temporary (last from 1-7 days minimum) it brings is extremely helpful.
Image from: http://applecreeksportsmedicine.com/may-national-physiotherapy-month/
What is it?: a form of alternative medicine mostly concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine. (wikipedia)
Again, chiropractors can help you increase your mobility, often giving exercises (which as above, are up to you to do consistently) to keep you strong and agile. Exercise is a known to help give relief to chronic pain, and chiropractors will stress this. They will also provide relief through massage, and most importantly, through adjustments. For example, I have been having some intense jaw pain lately, and through a neck adjustments, I was able to get some relief. The neck is connected to the jaw after all. Their knowledge of what joints are connected, can help (again, often just temporarily) in making sure everything is aligned. In addition, suggestions on things like posture (one I have taken seriously) can help with joint and muscle pain.
Image from: http://chiropractorbackpain.com/
What is it?: involves working and acting on the body with pressure. (wikipedia)
Even if your muscles aren’t the primary source of your pain, massages can be helpful in so many ways. They can provide stress relief, and get rid of tension you may not even know you have. Plus the relaxing atmosphere, allows for a chance for you to practice mindfulness, as I do every time I have a massage. If you do suffer from some muscle pain, this is a chance for those muscles to have some pain relief, especially if you do deep tissue/therapeutic massages (not that there is anything wrong with relaxation massages, it all depends on what you want). My ideal massages are anywhere from four to six weeks apart, and make me feel so good in so many ways every time.
Image from: http://www.fultonmassagetherapy.com/tag/tingling-in-hands/
What is it?: a form of alternative medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body. (acupuncture – wikipedia)
Many naturopaths will do acupuncture as part of a treatment plan. Though it is optional, if you are seeing a naturopath I definitely suggest it. It has a number of benefits from relaxation and stress reduction (similar to massage – especially if you see a naturopath they will often have you practice mindfulness or do some psychotherapy with you while doing the treatment), and can release tension, particularly in nerves. Apparently, about six months ago, my liver was inflamed because it was holding a lot of anger. I’m sure some of you think this is hokey, but between the acupuncture and practicing some self love, my liver returned to normal. Naturopaths will also suggest diet and exercise changes, which as described in previous posts should definitely be taken into consideration. Particularly I love practicing self love, and doing yoga. Though some of the diet changes have been very difficult for me as an extreme foodie.
Image from: http://www.diversifiedhealth.ca/category/acupuncture-therapy/
What is it?: the use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction, to help a person change and overcome problems in desired ways. (wikipedia)
The mind is where we perceive pain, and additionally many people with chronic pain also suffer from anxiety and depression, the cause-and-effect relationship often unclear. Having a non-judgmental person to talk to can be extremely powerful for both your mental state, and your physical. My experiences in dealing with chronic pain, and with seeing a psychotherapist, have actually influenced some potential career changes for me. I want to help people who feel like I feel, not feel this way. I’ll keep you all updated as I pursue these goals, but for now, I want to stress (yes stress) how important it is to take care of your mental health, while you take care of your physical health.
Image from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/20/kinds-of-psychotherapy-try_n_4466536.html
Does everyone with chronic pain need all these treatments? I’m not sure, perhaps not. I’m not an expert, but it’s definitely worth checking them out and seeing which ones are most beneficial to you. Keep an open mind, and remember, there is a lot of evidence, that if you believe these things will help you, they have a better chance of doing so. If there are other therapies you have tried that work, please reach out via commenting or emailing so they can be incorporated into future posts.