Is Chronic Pain Ruining Your Life? Try These Natural Remedies to Counter It
Chronic pain is a serious and prevalent health condition that affects several individuals worldwide. A recent survey revealed that in Canada, around 19% of its population (or roughly 6 million of its people) have reported or complained about suffering from chronic pain in a variety of forms. In the US, 11% of their population, or around 25 million individuals are affected by chronic pain.
People suffering from chronic pain may experience it either periodically or on a daily basis. The intensity can range from mild to agonizing or unbearable -depending on the person afflicted. Chronic pain is often associated with acute pain. What most people don’t realize is that these two differ greatly in terms of what triggered the discomfort and how seriously it can affect the day-to-day endeavors of the individuals suffering from it.
Chronic vs. Acute Pain: What is the difference?
Compared to acute pain, chronic pain can endure for weeks and even months. Whereas, acute pain is characterized by mild discomfort and only lasts briefly and does not last for months. Acute pain is often the result of a physical injury, such as a burn, a cut, or a broken bone. The physical distresses that come with childbirth and surgery also fall into this category.
Although there are physiological conditions linked with chronic pain, there are cases wherein a person suffers from it even without having gone through any surgical procedure or sustained any injury in the past. Worse, if the chronic pain was not caused by an injury but rather, by underlying conditions such as arthritis, back pain, cancer, and other serious, related diseases, there is a strong tendency that the pain continues to persist even after the primary cause of the pain has already been healed.
The reason for this is the continuous activity in the nervous system of the pain receptors that originally sent the pain signals to the body.
What are the common symptoms of chronic pain?
There are several conditions and symptoms that come with chronic pain, and this is because the condition can be unique to each individual going through it. The most common symptoms include:
- Burning and/or sharp sensation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Joint Pain
- Loss of appetite
- Mood Swings
- Muscle Aches
- Unrelenting pain that occurs after a serious illness or an injury
While chronic pain may be experienced or felt in different areas of the body, it can also be experienced in more universal forms of discomfort, and these are usually accompanied by:
- Damage to the nerves
- Pain in the lower back
- Post-surgical and post-trauma pain
- Psychogenic pain
The struggles of constant chronic pain management:
What it’s like dealing with unsettling physical discomfort
Coping with chronic pain leaves long-term effects on the affected person’s lifestyle and overall well-being. When not given the proper treatment and intervention, the impact can be very strong that it prevents the full enjoyment and satisfaction of life. When the body is exposed to extreme, prevailing pain for prolonged periods of time, it could significantly weaken their immunity against other diseases. It limits what a person can do, and even takes a toll on their emotional and psychological health. There have been cases wherein more serious complications sprouted from the severe distress brought by intense and persistent physical pain. In fact, the onset of depression among chronic pain patients is no longer news to medical experts.
Looking at the bigger picture, chronic pain management requires extensive research and a more assertive approach in order to fully address the complexities that come with managing its effects. In other words, diagnosing the causes and appropriate treatment for each case of chronic pain should take into consideration both the physical and psychological factors involved.Taking medication and physical therapy may not be enough. A more effective intervention would also require counseling and exercises for relaxation and meditation to help provide a well-rounded treatment to the underlying causes of chronic pain.
Relying on medication for chronic pain alone may not be the most ideal solution, and this is where natural remedies as pain medication alternative come into play
Physicians and medical practitioners are concerned over the fact that chronic pain is a long-term and prevailing health condition. The more immensely they are affected by the pain, the more likely they are to exhibit a stronger dependence on pain medication and even develop an addiction or abuse to how much prescription and over-the-counter drugs they take in.In fact, there have been studies in the past that support the strong reluctance of health practitioners in prescribing more potent chronic pain medications to their patients.
On the other hand, recommending a limited amount of medication could lead to patients demanding higher amounts of prescribed pain relief. Although the patient, along with their primary physician or healthcare provider, as well as the specialist for pain medication are made to sign an agreement regarding the scope and limitations of the entire treatment, it does not always guarantee a healthy relationship where all parties agree in all aspects.
Digging deeper into the adverse effects of pain medication, one of the dilemmas that resulted from heavy dependence on prescription drugs is the ongoing opioid crisis in North America
Opioids have been rampantly causing severe health crisis in the United States and in some parts of Canada. The opioid epidemic, which prompted North America’s widespread drug overdose has been a serious healthcare concern dating back in 1991. In 1991, the lack of data and research about the effects of opioid in patients was disregarded. It led to high and uncontrolled levels of opioid prescription and promotion. There was such high reassurance of low-risk addiction with the use of opioid that pharmaceutical companies began recommending the said drug even to patients experiencing non-cancer-related physical ailments. Since opioids were very accessible at that time, abuse and illegal acquisition of the said drug followed shortly.
The epidemic continued on and led to a second surge of increased opioid abuse and dependence in 2010. This time, however, a stricter rule on prescribing the said pain relieving drug was implemented. People then resorted to heroin, its cheaper, highly potent and illegal variant. In 2013 and in 2016, the death toll reached an alarming total of around 20, 000—several of which were the result of a synthetic form of opioid known as fentanyl. Over 64, 000 near-death experiences brought by overdose in OxyContin and Percocet opioid painkillers was also recorded in 2016.
Aside from addiction and dependence, among the risks and health problems that arouse from this outbreak include infections of the blood, heart and skin, HIV/AIDs and hepatitis B and C. The most unfortunate thing about the said epidemic is it continues to wreak havoc and disrupt healthcare balance up to the present.
In response to the worsening opioid abuse, the US Congress consented to the following solutions:
- A boost in the speed of research on possible non-addictive prescription alternatives to opioid
- Stricter monitoring programs on prescription drugs to prevent the high accessibility of patients to opioid
- Increase funding and support for centers for comprehensive opioid recovery
- Enforce the special safety packaging of opioid to help limit the dosage to a supply that lasts for 3-7 days
- Permitting Medicaid to pay for up to 30 days of substance abuse treatment
But, is this really enough?
Some scientists are continuously researching safer substitutes to opioid, and medical marijuana is one option that is strongly being considered.
Replacing opioid with medical cannabis for chronic pain
Both cannabis and opioid were derived from herbs and have synthetic counterparts. For years, scientists have been continuously reaping the health benefits that medical marijuana can bring. The positive effects of medical marijuana in regulating and relieving pain are undeniable. The compounds found in marijuana have been found to strongly influence how the body deals with intense pain and discomfort. The CBD compound found in marijuana is responsible for inhibiting and alleviating inflammation and pain in the body. At present, medical marijuana is now used to relieve a wide variation of chronic pain. For some patients who have switched to medical cannabis, the usual side effects of taking opioid have subsided and the quality of their lives dramatically improved. In addition, a rapid decrease in the use and overdose of opioid has been reported following the amendment of cannabis laws in some states.
Medical marijuana does not pose the risk for addiction, and thus it contributes to minimizing the high tendency of dependence and addiction to opiod and other doctor-prescribed pain medication.
Resorting to natural alternatives for chronic pain relief have had no negative claims as of yet. The keyword being ‘natural’, it means that it has not yet been modified or altered by chemical processes, thus limiting the instance of leaving adverse effects to the patients.
Listed below are some of the most common and readily available natural remedies for chronic pain:
A member of the ginger family, turmeric contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This bright yellow spice’s bioactive compounds provide several health benefits, and excellent relief to chronic pain is one. Its main active ingredient, curcumin, has been found to effectively slow down the inflammatory reactions in the body, particularly in individuals suffering from arthritis, backache, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, gout, headache and ulcer. Turmeric can either be brewed as a tea, or made into a soup.
Meditation and Yoga
It is true that activities nurturing the mind, body and spirit help diminish the effect of chronic pain. Yoga and meditation both involve deep breathing exercises and physical activities that enhance body flexibility and strength. In addition, yoga is one of the most popular ways people use to diminish their stress levels.
Heat is used by therapists to relax stiff and inflamed muscled in the body. It likewise helps expand the blood vessels to facilitate better circulation and blood flow across the different parts of the body. When there is strong flow of blood on the area affected by chronic pain, lactic acid and waste build-up are collected into the bloodstream. In turn, the chemicals and internal factors contributing to the intensity of the pain being experienced is lessened. Hot baths, applying a heating pad or hot compress, as well as a paraffin wax treatment are some ways to use heat therapy for chronic pain management
Chiropractic involves toning and regulating the alignment of bones in the body. Much focus is also given to the spine. Among the spine’s main functions is to provide support and facilitate good posture in the body. As such, when it is misaligned, it could hamper pain tolerance and even mobility for some individuals. With regular chiropractic therapy, misalignment of the spine can be readjusted to instigate stronger and more prevalent self-healing processes in the body.
There are certain foods that trigger pain and inflammation, making an anti-inflammatory diet a must for people suffering from chronic pain. Opting for an anti-inflammatory diet would mean avoiding foods with high sugar content, along with those that contain corn starch and syrup, and trans fats. In exchange, foods rich in high-quality protein, healthy fats, and whole grains should be eaten on a regular basis. Fruits and vegetables such as apples, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, beans, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, golden beets and pumpkins are likewise said to aid in reducing intense body distress.
Can these natural remedies be used as a replacement
for doctor-prescribed chronic pain medication?
The obvious answer is yes. Some patients suffering from chronic pain religiously took in all the meds that were prescribed to them by their doctor. But after experiencing zero progress, they opted to use natural remedies instead. Particularly, one patient switched to CBD and in less than a month, experienced dramatic improvements in their physical condition. The healing process was quicker compared to when they used prescription drugs for their chronic pain.
All in all, chronic pain management in the form of natural alternatives is easier to acquire and do not raise the risk of opium or prescription-drug addiction and dependence. However, seeking the advice of healthcare professionals helps pinpoint other important factors that may be causing chronic pain in an individual. Medical intervention, natural pain remedies and a healthy lifestyle should always go hand-in-hand in combating serious ailments like chronic pain to help normalize a person’s life and make way for a more satisfying and hassle-free routine.