There are many alternative forms of treatment for chronic pain beyond the standard medications. These treatments when used alone or in combination with prescription medication, can improve an individual's control over their pain and the emotions that come with it.
With the use of alternative treatments, increased physical mobility, strength and wellness can be achieved. An improvement in complaints of anxiety and depression is also seen. With the use of additional treatments that are beyond the prescription pad, individuals are encouraged to take a more active approach to their healing and life-style choices.
It is in your ability to take a more active approach to your healing process.
- Hydrotherapy is an exercise program that is done in a pool setting, usually with warm water. It is supervised by a qualified therapist. At home, you may find relief in the use of your bathtub or shower, or personal home pool.
- Physiotherapy is an exercise program that is designed specifically for your physical needs and is supervised by a qualified therapist. With this exercise program, you will be given a set of exercises that you are to complete at home.
- Infusions/Injections are medical procedures completed by a qualified pain specialist in either a hospital or clinic setting. With these procedures the medication is introduced either through inter-venous for the infusion, or by way of deep muscle injections of a localized anesthetic or nerve blocker. There are cautions with these treatments and they should be discussed and clearly understood before starting.
- Chiropractic is the physical manipulation of the body and joints by a qualified practitioner. Although this form of treatment comes with come controversy over its benefits, some people living with chronic pain find it to be an irreplaceable treatment.
- Counselling can be of great benefit to many people. There is informal counselling such as support groups, 12-step programs, on-line chat groups, or even a good talk with your best friend. Sometimes though, a psychiatrist, or other medical professionals are needed. Psychiatrists have the ability to prescribe medications for you if felt to be of benefit. There are other mental health counselling options such as the Canadian Mental Health Association. If a more formalized counselling is needed, your family doctor can help make the arrangements. The most important thing to realize is that when dealing with extreme levels of emotions, outside help is often needed. An opportunity to talk about your feelings in a safe, non-judgmental environment can help.
- Acupuncture is a treatment where thin needles are inserted into the body at specific points on the body by a qualified practitioner.
- Exercise exercise exercise! Daily exercise can increase mobility, lower blood pressure and promote an overall feeling of well-being. Whether your exercise program is home based or gym based, it is important that you have at least 30 minutes each day of physical activity. This can be anything from a brisk walk around the block, home stretching and yoga, to a work out DVD. If you prefer the gym, there are personal trainers that you can hire to ensure your exercise program is safe and monitored. Whatever you choose as your personal exercise program, it should provide challenges to your abilities but also be within your ability. Some programs may need your doctor's approval before starting.
- Sleep is our body's natural way of healing ourselves. It is important that when living with chronic pain, you get a good nights rest. Sleep can be one of the hardest things for someone living with chronic pain to achieve though. Setting a night schedule that is calming and relaxing to you may help to set the rhythm of deep sleep. It is helpful if you can go to bed with your mind cleared and your body relaxed. The quality of your sleep can be more important than the amount of hours in which you sleep. If a deep relaxing sleep is achieved on a consistent basis, it will aid in the relief of pain and promote healing.
- Massage Therapy is a “hands on” approach to soothing tense and tight muscle groups by manipulation of the soft tissue by a qualified practitioner. You may also find benefit in a massage from a loved one too...physical touch can be soothing.
- Relaxation Techniques/Mindful Meditation are exercises that help promote a calm sense of self. Techniques such as Progressive Muscular Relaxation should only be done with the support of your doctor. Meditation exercises are mindful exercises that help to lower stress and provide mental clarity and relaxation. Examples of these exercises can be found on the internet, or with the use of a DVD or CD disc. Your local library may also have books that will guide through the exercises.
- Yoga/Tai-Chi are exercises that promote an awareness of self. These exercises can increase mobility and range of motion. Before starting any exercise program it is best to speak to your doctor to ensure what you are thinking of is within your abilities and will not cause further damage. Examples of these exercises can be found on the internet, or with the use of a DVD or CD disc. Your local library may also have books that will guide through the exercises.
- Medicinal Cannabis is a controversial alternative but a valid one. There is medical evidence now supporting the medicinal properties of cannabis and it is shown to help with a wide range of illnesses. Edible consumption is recommended to avoid the complications and health effects of smoking.
How you choose to treat your chronic pain is an individual choice. With support and a dedication to self-improvement and awareness, chronic pain can be manageable. There is not one treatment that will work all the time and for every one...but...there are options that we can use in combination to help ourselves. Have you explored all of your options?
This list isn't a complete source of the options available but it's a good start to get you thinking.
Take good care of you and explore your options...take control of your pain and your treatment.