“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” Helen Keller
In light of today’s opiate crisis and the marked decrease in prescription pain medication, it’s good to
consider alternative approaches to treating pain.
Acute pain is a signal from the body, often accompanied by swelling, warmth and redness, that lets you
know that something is not right. In general, the message is pretty clear. We are injured or ill. We need
to slow down, to let the injured part rest.
The basic treatment for acute injury and inflammation is R.I.C.E.: “Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.”
And: Arnica—homeopathic arnica can have an amazing effect. Last week, my husband hurt his knee
while splitting wood. He was limping pretty badly until I gave him a dose of arnica. Miraculously, the
pain and swelling went away immediately.
But chronic pain, usually not limited to a single injured part, is often accompanied by anxiety and
depression. Chronic pain can alter structures in the brain and affect memory, concentration and
Mind-body practices, like gentle yoga and meditation, can slow down these changes and reduce the
overall burden of pain including anxiety and depression. In fact these techniques can protect the brain
from the harmful effects of chronic pain.
In my medical practice, I have found that acupuncture and anti-inflammatory diets are especially
effective in the treatment of chronic pain. Turmeric, Boswellia, topical CBD cream and menthol
ointments are also helpful.
Since chronic pain can be so isolating, social interaction can also reduce pain. Some patients find that
volunteering at a favorite charity for 2-3 hours per week helps break the self-reflexive spiral that tends
to focus on pain.
Chronic pain may also be related to repressed emotional expressions, as Dr. John Sarno describes in his
book The Mindbody Prescription and Nicole Sachs in The Meaning of Truth. They invite you to look at
your pain in a different light, explore the subconscious and discover what your pain is all about.
In conclusion, if you are one of those millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain, there are
strategies that can help at least reduce your pain, and limit the collateral damage that it can cause.