line between traditional and complementary medicine has blurred.
Patients seeking relief from chronic pain want to know all of their
options before turning to medications, injections or surgery.
alternative. Itís East meets West," says Mary Reynolds, a
national board certified acupuncturist and pain management instructor.
medical qi gong at Solcare, a wellness center in Glendale. Qi gong is
a nonmartial arts form of tai chi and can be helpful to people
experiencing headaches or pain in the wrist, lower back or ankles.
know if we just sit around, we get stiff and sick," says
Reynolds. "You need to bring blood and oxygen to the head to
release toxins that can cause pain."
exercises are easy to follow (even for Alzheimerís patients) and can
be done while seated, notes Reynolds. Typically, patients take a 45-
to 60-minute class once a week for at least five weeks.
Dr. Oscar Wille,
medical director of the Columbia St. Maryís Center for Pain
Management, agrees that exercise is important.
"There is a
wealth of evidence about the beneficial effects of regular low-impact
aerobic exercise for chronic pain management," Wille says.
In fact, Wille
says, the most important nonmedical interventions for chronic pain are
the same things experts have long suggested for managing chronic
illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes,
namely not smoking, getting proper sleep and having ways to properly
deal with stress.
role? Reynolds says processed foods can contribute to inflammation.
Wille, meanwhile, points to studies linking some vitamin deficiencies
to pain related to nerve damage. But, Wille says, "There really
is no clear evidence that taking one specific supplement or eating one
particular food is going to result in a reduction in pain."
important nonmedication approach to chronic pain, Wille says, is often
overlooked ó psychological techniques such as specific relaxation
exercises, deep breathing or meditation.
the mind-body connection is critical to successful chronic pain
management," he explains. "The best results come from
working with a trained pain psychologist, who can incorporate elements
like biofeedback and guided imagery."
A team approach
ó doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists and pain
psychologists ó is what works best, Wille says.
There is no
single fix or cure for chronic pain, according to Wille. Some
therapies may not be covered by insurance, leaving patients with
with chronic pain have typically tried many treatments without
success, and so often begin looking further and further off the beaten
path for something to offer them relief," he adds.
"Unfortunately, a suffering person, desperate for relief, can
become an easy target for someone elseís financial gain."