Treating Pain

The treatment of pain is an essential component of healthcare. A vital sensory indicator, pain can nonetheless overwhelm, baffle, and incapacitate sufferers, especially when present for a long time or in high quantity. Even small nagging aches and pains can debilitate a person if left unresolved for long periods of time. 

The sensation of pain loses its value as an accurate indicator when we cannot fix its source for whatever reason. Pain then becomes something we need to treat as its own problem because it affects our ability to enjoy life and function at our best. The ways we deal with pain, however, can pose their own problems. New and exciting treatments are on the horizon, and some ancient remedies might be able to help as well. Ancient therapies, such as massage and acupuncture, show great promise in treating pain. Contact an acupuncturist, like an acupuncturist in Chapel Hill, NC, if you are interested in getting natural treatment for your pain. 

Side Effects of Medication

One of the problems with pain treatment is that many of the medications we currently use have awful side effects. Doctors are understandably hesitant to prescribe drugs that can lead to addiction, GI distress, and mental cloudiness, especially for something as misunderstood as pain. Pain is misunderstood because it is so personal and hard to quantify, and your doctor may not know how much pain you experience. Additionally, pain occurs on many levels because the pure sensation of pain exists on so many levels. For instance, we prick our finger and nociceptors fire, transmitting electrical responses along nerve axons to the spinal cord, then to the brain, the somatosensory cortex, the anterior cortex, the prefrontal cortex, and the dorsal horn. Vagal fibers from the brain travel to the gut, then the stomach gets involved. The mysterious concept of pain has boggled people since the beginning of time.

Central Sensitization

One reason pain is so difficult is that pain sufferers often experience something called central sensitization. Central sensitization occurs when repetitive injury to a region causes spinal cord neurons to transmit pain signals to the brain even when the damage is long gone. Other issues with pain management stem from the gut-brain connection. The bacteria present in a person’s gut can actually influence that individual’s response to pain. Additionally, each person’s brain and emotional makeup, and even the doctor-patient relationship, can affect the nociceptive response. Some patients appear stoic, others hypersensitive to painful stimuli. Effective, individualized, and safe pain control is the ultimate goal. One of the ways acupuncture and massage can help is by relaxing the brain-body to allow the body-mind to heal itself.  

Treatments for Pain

The January 2020 National Geographic Magazine describes several new methods of nociception. For instance, the usage of Virtual Reality for pain management. Currently in use at several large hospitals, this non-drug pain control option offers an effective means of dealing with surgical distress. Another pain treatment option is deep brain stimulation in which electrodes placed on the brain subdue the pain response at the brain level. It is exciting that new drugless methods of nociceptive relief exist today. 

Studies show that the doctor-patient relationship has a role in a patient’s level of pain. Patients who have doctors they trust to understand their pain and treatment goals tend to do better. When doctors have proper tools to manage their patient’s pain, this may help to open the world of pain control and improve the healing relationship on both ends. 

Thanks to Acupractic Natural Healing Center for their insight into some of the facts about treating and managing pain.