September was established as National Pain Awareness Month in 2001, its formation spear-headed by the American Chronic Pain Association. The month of September has also been designated as Drug-Free Pain Management Awareness Month by the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development on the American Hospital Association official health care calendar.
In light of the present-day opioid epidemic, many are coming to the realization that we must focus on effective, non-drug treatments for pain. There are many drug-free methods available for pain control. Some may complement drug therapy, allowing the patient to decrease their use of medications. Some may be a substitute, allowing patients to discontinue their drugs and remain drug-free. Some may allow a patient to avoid taking medications from the get-go.
Some of the more common non-drug therapies include acupuncture, meditation, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage, relaxation, physical therapy, hypnosis, exercise, hot/cold packs and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Less traditional approaches, such as pet therapy, music therapy and water therapy, can also be effective. Chiropractic has led the way in attempts to increase awareness and educate the public in regards to drug-free therapy. Check out the website http://drugfreepaincare.org to learn more about what the chiropractor has to offer. Clinton Romesha, a Medal of Honor recipient, and Retired Brigadier General Becky Halstead share their experiences and support for chiropractic.
Massage, physical therapy, hot/cold therapy and exercise can be amazing pain relievers. When I sustained an injury years ago, after a patient knocked me down – it was massage and exercise maneuvers developed by the rehabilitation team that allowed me to continue nursing. I still today get a massage every week – not for pain, but for relaxation. I often say that the most powerful drug is between your ears. Hypnosis, relaxation, meditation, the love of animals, the relaxation of music and the soothing feel and sound of water, all facilitate healing – including the healing of pain. Acupuncture and acupressure are best known for their effectiveness in pain relief. There is ample research supporting its use for pain and additional research regarding its use in addiction. Check out the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association at https://www.acudetox.com for additional information on the use of acupuncture for addiction.
Although Arnica is the most popular homeopathic remedy for pain, there are numerous homeopathic single remedies and complexes that target different forms or locations of pain. For example, according to the Materia Medica (homeopathy reference book), Ruta is indicated for muscle pain, Hypericum for nerve pain, Symphytum for bone pain and injury and Bryonia for hip pain. Some manufacturers combine several of the remedies for ease of use and increased effectiveness.
According to drugfreepaincare.org, four out of five heroin users started out with prescription opioids. Whatever your pain and wherever your pain, try the non-drug approach first. Prevention of drug addiction is easier to accomplish than treating drug addiction after it has set-in. Explore the various non-drug approaches to discover which one, or a combination of therapies works best for you.
Marge Roberts, BSN MSHP DAHom
CEO, Newton Homeopathics; President, American Academy of Clinical Homeopathy