Most people have experienced pain at some point in their lives and a large majority of people experience pain on a regular basis. Chronic pain (pain that persists or recurs for over 3 months) affects many people and has a significant impact on quality of life. For the majority of these people, chronic use of pain medications is the mainstay of treatment. Although these medications can be extremely effective at reducing pain, and are at times necessary, it is important to acknowledge that they are not treating the underlying cause of the pain – they are simply masking or reducing the symptoms of pain.
Various dis-ease processes can cause pain in the body, and a holistic approach to managing pain includes identifying and treating the cause, in addition to relieving the symptoms. Just as there are many mechanisms that can result in pain, there are many ways to help manage it. Some basic lifestyle changes include: regular low-impact exercise (i.e. stretching, swimming, walking), a whole-foods diet, regular stress reduction techniques (i.e. yoga, tai chi, meditation, deep breathing), improving sleep quality, and keeping well hydrated. Other effective methods of pain management include: Traditional Oriental Medicine and acupuncture, spinal manipulation, trigger point release/massage therapy, vitamin and mineral therapy, hydrotherapy, counselling/cognitive behaviour therapy, botanical medicine, and homeopathy – among many others. It is possible to live without chronic pain and it is worthwhile to explore your options.