In recent years, science’s understanding of pain management has undergone a remarkable shift. Where once it was a ‘one pill fits all’ mentality from the medical profession and beyond, now there’s increasing concurrence that a more holistic approach to pain management and reduction sees the most positive outcomes.
This isn’t what some unfairly assume to be a hippy-dippy approach, involving realignment of various energies, microdosing crystals and hoping for the best. Instead, it’s an all encompassing approach to lifestyle, health and ultimately, any discomfort you’re suffering, via physical, psychological and medical channels.
Though medical intervention is the only route to managing some pain, especially if you suffer from chronic pain that comes with serious conditions like spondylodysplastic EDS, fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis, some lesser pains can be managed with holistic methods. With that in mind, here are 4 natural ways to manage pain as part of a holistic approach.
Harnessing the power of traditional Chinese medicine to treat pain has seen huge popularity in ‘the West’ in recent years, with acupuncture in particular available on high streets up and down the land, as well as via specialist practitioners online at the click of a button.
‘’But that’s just someone sticking needles in you, isn’t it?’’.
Au countraire. Or, as they say in China; ‘反之’. Dating back to 100 BC, acupuncture works by stimulating various sensory nerves which lie under the skin and muscles with a needle in order to trigger the release of endorphins which relieve pain.
Scientific understanding of acupuncture works on the hypothesis that every puncture of the skin produces a minute injury, barely perceptible, which invoke a response from the immune system that takes charge of wound healing and ultimately, pain management.
If you’re looking to try out acupuncture, make sure you do so with a medically licensed practitioner; the British Acupuncture Council are the UK’s regulatory body, and a simple post code search on their website will tell you of registered specialists in your area.
This therapeutic practice which literally translates as ‘scraping’ also descends from Eastern Chinese Medicine. It focuses on attaining ‘sha’, the red complexion following a deep, scrubbing cleanse which indicates the flow of oxygen, blood and energy have been redirected to this region. This flow is said to promote healing in the body.
Essentially a sports massage but using a specially designed scraping stone (which is carved from semi precious stone and has both curved and flat surfaces), a study on the NICE website concluded that Gua Sha appears to be an acceptable, safe, and effective treatment for patients with chronic low back pain.
Therapeutic massage is a general term which refers to any type of massage that’s performed with the goal of removing or alleviating pain, or to reduce stress. And that’s what we’re here for, right? It also looks to promote relaxation and wellbeing in that holistic way, in order to prime the body to fight future causes of pain and stress. To get all scientific, therapeutic massage is a mobilisation of the soft tissues in order to induce relaxation, but you knew that already, right?
Other types of massage including sports massage, deep tissue massage and remedial massage can all be used for pain relief, too. Sign us up!
MINDFULNESS BASED STRESS REDUCTION
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR for short) is a meditative-like approach which encourages the user to be present in each moment and aware of their thoughts, emotions, environment, and the internal and external factors contributing to that. Though MBSR itself is a carefully designed, evidence based 8 week program developed in the 1970s and adopted by medical associations worldwide, its principles can be applied to everyday life succinctly.
In nurturing a greater awareness of the present, and dialing into and channeling our feelings more implicitly, it’s said that those adopting the technique develop and intuitive understanding of the triggers to their pain, particularly mental.
Though these approaches can be incredibly useful to some sufferers in the management of pain, and the avoidance of medication is appealing, it’s essential that you always consult a reliable medical practitioner before using any alternative therapies. Combined with prescriptions where necessary, we hope you find some solace in these methods.