It’s something most of us experience from time to time.
However while much pain is acute, or short-term – a stubbed toe, burning your hand on the stove, or a bee sting, some people live with ongoing chronic pain which can affect their quality of life.
Today we will look at some osteopathic manual therapy treatments which can be used to help manage chronic pain.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is usually defined as any pain which lasts more than 12 weeks.
The definition of “chronic” is “persisting for a long time or constantly recurring”.
Although it may start because of an injury or trauma, it continues even after the initial cause has healed.
Acute pain on the other hand, is generally a response to a physical issue such as disease, inflammation or trauma, however it goes away once the initial cause has healed.
You often – but not always – know the cause of your acute pain, but chronic pain may be a mystery.
Causes Of Chronic Pain
There are a number of reasons someone could be experiencing chronic pain.
For some individuals the aging process and changes in the bones and joints can be the cause of chronic pain.
Depending on the location of the pain, there could be any number of causes – for instance chronic back pain may be caused by any one of the following factors, or a combination of:
● Poor posture
● Improper lifting technique
● Congenital conditions
● Pressure on the back and knees due to being overweight
● Wearing high heels
● Sleeping on a poor mattress
Another source of chronic pain for could be chronic illness or disease, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia or cancer.
In many cases the source can be difficult to pinpoint, and sometimes involves a combination of a number of potential causes.
Problems with Medical Treatment for Chronic Pain
So, someone has chronic pain.
Can’t their doctor just prescribe something to help with it?
There are certainly medications which can be effective, however these come with their own set of problems.
One of the first treatments many people think of for chronic pain are opioids, however these must be carefully managed in order to attempt to avoid addiction.
Opioid addiction occurs when an individual has a compulsion to continue using opioids even though they are no longer medically required.
Even when used correctly, and as-per prescription, opioids can be extremely addictive which can result in individuals attempting to find them through illicit means when they are no longer being prescribed the drugs.
Another issue with opioids is even though they may treat the pain itself, they don’t help with the source or cause of the pain.
Natural Treatments For Chronic Pain
There are a number of natural treatments which can be used to manage chronic pain.
It should be noted that these treatments are not a “one size fits all” however – the best treatment for any given ailment will depend on the nature and cause of the pain itself.
Let’s take a look at some common natural treatments for chronic pain and how they can be used.
Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for some types of chronic pain.
These include pain due to fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, sports injuries, and back injuries.
The exact mechanism by which acupuncture treats pain is unknown, however it could be because it blocks pain signals coming from nerves, or possibly triggers the brain to release pain-numbing chemicals.
2. Osteopathic Manual Manipulation
Osteopathy is a manipulation therapy which deals with the interconnectivity and relationships within the body.
Osteopathic Manual Therapy (OMT) involves your OMT Practitioner assessing the joints and movement of the body, and developing a treatment plan based on what is – and isn’t – moving.
Regular physical activity can be beneficial for individuals with a variety of chronic conditions.
Physical activity can help to relieve chronic pain, as well as boost energy and mood.
It is always wise to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, and they may give you guidance on exercises to avoid, especially if you are new to exercising on a regular basis.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
A 2006 study in the journal of Surgical Neurology studied the use of Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory and as an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – a class of drugs which includes aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
In a study of patients with non-surgical neck or back pain, 59% discontinued use of their prescription NSAID medications for pain, 60% stated their pain improved and 88% said they would continue to use fish oil.
Use of Omega-3s for pain means avoiding some of the side effects of NSAIDs such as risk of gastrointestinal problems, kidney disease, and adverse cardiovascular effects.
A 2017 study in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews looked at the use of topical capsaicin in high concentrations for chronic neuropathic pain in adults.
It showed study participants who used high-concentration topical capsaicin reported moderate or substantial levels of pain relief compared to those who used a placebo.
Along with improved pain relief, subject also experienced better sleep, less depression and overall better quality of life.
Turmeric is getting a reputation as a powerful supplement these days.
This root, which is a part of the ginger family can be used to help reduce inflammation.
Use it to add spice and flavour to your meals, drink it as a tea, or if you aren’t a fan of the flavour it can be taken in capsule form.
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for a number of functions in the body, including bone strength, cell growth, and immune function.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to fibromyalgia, a condition which can cause chronic pain for those who suffer from in.
If your pain is linked to fibromyalgia, consider low vitamin D may be a factor, and supplements can act as an effective treatment.
Contact Annex Naturopathic
Do you suffer from chronic pain?
Are you worried about the side effects of over-the-counter pain relievers, or the potential addictive properties of opioids?
Perhaps you’ve tried everything else little or no relief and are ready to go a different route.
Annex Naturopathic can help.
Contact us today to set up your consultation and we’ll work together to put together a treatment plan, to help you live pain-free again.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND