Can Holistic Therapy be used for Pain Management?

Pain is a part of our lives whether we want it to be or not. Whether it’s a paper cut, a pulled muscle, a fall you take, it’s part of our daily lives. Typical situations allow the pain to only last for a short period of time, once you are healed the pain typically stops. However there is a more intense pain that is known as chronic pain which is completely different. According to WebMd, “Chronic pain is different. Your body keeps hurting weeks, months, or even years after the injury. Doctors often define chronic pain as any pain that lasts for 3 to 6 months or more.” This can be due to a number of different contributing factors including; Past injuries or surgeries, back problems, arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer, nerve damage and many other conditions.
Chronic pain is not something that just affects you physically but also emotionally. It challenges you in so many ways because of the limitations you are faced with due to having to adjust or accommodate the symptoms of the pain you are experiencing. When you are in recovery this is so much more difficult. For some, their addiction may have been fueled by the need to manage the pain they are experiencing. Most doctors prescribe pain medications which include opioids to help manage the pain the individual is experiencing. This is not a good solution for everyone especially when you are in recovery. Self medicating is something that is common in the addiction population and having chronic pain is no different than the other contributing factors that play a role in the desire to self medicate. So what do you do now that you are in recovery? How do you manage your pain while you are trying to also manage your recovery and live a sober lifestyle?
Holistic Therapy for Pain Management
Holistic therapy is utilized a lot throughout treatment programs for those in Drug and Alcohol treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, A Holistic Therapy approach focuses on the relationship between mind, body, and spirit, attempting to understand and address how the concerns in one aspect of an individual can lead to concerns in other areas. Individuals who are in treatment for Drug and Alcohol understand that there are a combination of changes they are going to experience. These changes can include physical, behavioral, and emotional changes as well as the ability to work on their physical cravings. Understanding this allows the individual and professional to fully treat the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – as well as help manage the pain that is being experienced in the moment.
Holistic Therapy provides a variety of approaches that can benefit the individual whether it’s through essential oils, exercise, breathing exercises, or hypnotherapy. In particular for pain management some techniques can include;

Mindfulness Awareness and Meditation
This is the act of bringing their attention to their breathing in order to connect with what’s happening in the present moment. This can be very beneficial for those who experience an increase in anxiety or panic. Taking a few minutes out of their day to clear their mind and practice focusing on their breath can be very beneficial. Meditation may improve sleep, memory, and attention span; it also helps regulate your emotions. Best of all, it can be done at home, at any time. Depending on the meditation exercise the individual engages in it can take as little as 5 mins. Even better there are several apps you can download on your phone to help you with this (headspace app, calm app, and the Insight Timer app).

Exercises and/or Yoga
If the individual is looking for something a bit more physical, consider yoga. Like mindful meditation, this technique involves quieting their mind and focusing on breathing while they flow through a series of physical poses that build strength and flexibility. Other low impact exercises like pilates and swimming exercises are also beneficial because it increases the core stability and control that could help manage your pain.

Aromatherapy and Massage Therapy
A therapeutic massage can be very beneficial for an individual who is experiencing pain as it is a type of holistic therapy that helps manage the pain and stress you are experiencing presently. This type of massage focuses on one specific area and applying a right amount of pressure to help address the needs you have at that time instead of a full body massage. Aromatherapy is a form of massage therapy that is also beneficial because it helps relieve muscle tension, stress, and pain as well as the individual’s mood in the moment. It involves the use of gentle and soft pressure while also utilizing essential oils which enhances the relaxing atmosphere.

Acupuncture
Acupuncture works by applying needles, heat, and/or pressure to specific points on the body. It allows the body to focus on healing itself and faster in the moment.

Essential Oils
Essential oils can be inhaled or applied directly to your skin when you mix it with a carrier oil (water, coconut oil, juju oil, or other types of oils). Many specific oil types like lavender, peppermint, Rose Oil, and Bergmont oil to name a few have been identified as being beneficial for you when you are experiencing swelling and pain. By massaging the oil blend into the area that is hurting you you are allowing the oils to work on that target area.

These approaches again are only a few that are identified presently and can be useful. It is important to remember to follow up with a professional/therapist who is trained in Holistic therapy for proper guidance. Holistic Therapy may not be beneficial for everyone, treatment is patient centered however having an open mind and being willing to try to challenge yourself in your recovery process is the first step to a very successful recovery process.

Resources:Hopkinsmedicine.org; Therapeutic MassageUSPainFoundation.org; Holistic Approaches to Chronic PainWebmd.com; Alternative Approaches to Pain Management
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