With much of the national focus in the substance abuse treatment and prevention field being on opiate addiction of late, researchers throughout the United States have been looking for alternatives to pain medication. This has lead to examination of treatments including magnets, electricity and non-narcotic medications.
A new study shows techniques like yoga, massage or meditation are so effective at handling chronic pain, that they could be an alternative to pain medication for many. This is important because the painkiller epidemic has continued to spread throughout the country thousands of people are losing their lives each year as a result of prescription opioid addiction.
Integrating a more holistic approach to managing pain is something that has gained more popularity over the years, and lately among medical doctors as well. The healthcare profession has come under scrutiny for the over-prescribing of narcotics, and now many are taking action to help reverse the trend, including a recent plea from the U.S. Surgeon General.
According to researchers, certain holistic methods are more effective than others. The studies show that patients who suffer from back problems are likely to benefit from yoga and acupuncture. Patients who report neck pain are likely to feel pain reduction if they receive massage therapy. Chronic migraine sufferers were also studied, it was discovered that these patients saw relief from the implementation of breathing and relaxing techniques.
“We don’t believe these approaches will be the entire answer, but may be used as an adjunct to help reduce the reliance on opioid medications and associated side effects. What we wanted to get from this review is to understand evidence-based approaches for pain management,” explained Richard Nahin, lead Epidemiologist at National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
The hope is that more research will be conducted to locate more effective ways to manage pain, while still providing effective care to patients. As too many people still become addicted to prescription painkillers, it is necessary to decrease the number of pills available to addicts and provide less harmful ways of addressing their symptoms. This research, combined with an increased focus on effective drug treatment strategies, will hopefully save future generations from succumbing to the prescription painkiller temptation.