First, it is important to get you out of pain. It is also important to address the root cause of the pain, especially if it is chronic. If the pain is acute it is of course important to get you out of pain quickly, but also make sure that inflammation is addressed as well as structural re-alinement so that the pain doesn't become chronic.
Here are some of the ways I address pain:
- Acupuncture-acupuncture is great for many ailments, but it is probably best known for treating pain. Needles are very thin and usually have minimal feeling for the patient. Patients usually need an average of 8 treatments to help relieve pain, but will usually feel results after just 1 or 2 treatments. Needles may be placed at the site of pain, but are also more often placed in areas where there isn't any pain. According to traditional Chinese energetic meridian theory, using needles even away from the pain can often be the most effective. Needles placed in the ear are also extremely effective for pain. The acupuncture needles may sometimes be stimulated by a gentle electrical current, which is a great strategy for pain relief. The electrical stimulation is usually pleasant to people receiving the therapy.
- Cupping-cupping is a type of bodywork where plastic or glass cups are applied to the painful area and the air is removed from the cup, creating a suction. It is great for moving blood and lymph through the painful area, thus decreasing pain and stagnation. Many people have heard of cupping because of the characteristic marks that are sometimes left from the therapy. On a side note, cupping can be used for other things besides pain, such as detox or the common cold.
- Patches & Ointments-There are several types of Chinese herbal patches and ointments that can help with pain relief, especially in acute injury. There are also nutritional substances that when applied to the body can relax tight and sore muscles, such as topical magnesium.
- Diet and Nutritional Supplements-I may recommend an anti-inflammatory diet or nutritional supplements that decrease inflammation to support your pain relief program. Food allergies may need to be identified through special testing because unidentified food allergies can contribute to systemic inflammation and chronic painful conditions.
- Herbal Medicine-Herbal medicine, especially Chinese herbal medicine, has many great strategies for addressing both chronic and acute pain. Does your pain flare up when it rains? Does your pain flare up when you sleep? Is your pain in the upper or lower part of your body, or in the low back? All of these things mean something in Chinese medicine and we can address them with herbal formulas.
- Exercises-I may prescribe certain exercises like stretches, foam rolling or relaxation exercises.
- Meditation-numerous studies show that meditation and mindfulness can help a great deal with chronic pain. For those patients that are interested, I may recommend a meditation program to assist with pain relief.
- Referrals to Other Practitioners-I am a firm believer in multidisciplinary care. I love to refer out to massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, psychologists and other professionals who I believe could assist you in getting out of pain. Often using a multidisciplinary approach is what works the best!
What has been your experience with natural pain relief? What has worked best for you? What methods would you like to try?