Dealing With Pain? You’re Not Alone
The American Council on Science and Health reports that the Centers for Disease Control has found that approximately 50 million American adults — or about 20 percent of the population — suffer from chronic pain. This is defined as being daily or near-daily pain that lasts six or more months and has a detrimental impact on daily life activities.
In the United States, an estimated 22 percent of appointments made with primary care providers are made by patients who are seeking relief from pain. As of 2014, Americans spent approximately 17.8 billion dollars on prescriptions for pain medications, and health economists project that chronic pain costs the economy more than $650 billion dollars each year.
Here at FHE Health, we know that the price of pain management goes well beyond a dollar figure. Many of our program participants have struggled with addiction to prescription, over-the-counter and street drugs that they’ve used in an effort to combat pain and the effects of stress. We’re committed to introducing our patients to effective, drug-free holistic solutions to the complex issues related to substance abuse, mental health, stress and pain.
Massage Therapy Recommended as a Pain and Stress Management Option
A review of 67 studies that examined the use of massage therapy as a way to treat physical pain was published the Pain Medication journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. The review concluded that “based on the evidence, massage therapy, compared to no treatment, should be strongly recommended as a pain management option.”
The University of Minnesota reports that massage therapy causes a variety of positive physiological changes in your body. It can help relieve physical pain and reduce stress by triggering what’s known as the “relaxation response.” This is an “involuntary yet predictable response of the nervous system to massage techniques and touch.”
When the relaxation response is triggered through the deliberate motions used by massage therapists, your heart rate may slow down, your blood pressure may drop and levels of cortisol can be reduced. At the same time, bio-available levels of the chemical serotonin rise within the brain, promoting feelings of relaxation and an overall sense of well-being.
Massage treatments can increase blood circulation which can provide relief from pain caused by diabetic neuropathy, swelling and other conditions that are impacted by the circulatory system. Improved circulation leads to an increased oxygenation of cells throughout the body, leading to the more efficient clearing of pain-causing inflammation in the muscles and joints. When stiff, sore muscles are treated with massage, patients may experience a reduction in painful spasms and muscle contractions.
For patients who have undergone treatments for cancer that include the removal of lymph nodes, targeted massage therapy can relieve the painful swelling caused by lymphedema.
Combating Pain and Stress With Exercise
When you’re feeling stressed or in pain, heading to the gym or out for a walk might be the furthest things from your mind. However, research has shown that exercise can be a surprisingly effective solution for stress and physical pain.
Much like with massage therapy, exercise can also promote the release of bio-available serotonin stores and help reduce cortisol levels in the body. This can lead to lower levels of perceived stress and anxiety — without the use of medications or other substances. A recent study published in Front Psychiatry concluded that “exercise and regular activity positively impacts the pathophysiological processes of anxiety.”
And while it may seem counterintuitive, moving stiff, sore joints and aching muscles can actually work to relieve swelling and discomfort. This is because even light exercise promotes blood circulation throughout the body, which helps increase oxygenation of your cells and clear out waste.
The American Arthritis Foundation explains that moderate physical activity gets the synovial fluid flowing in your joints, keeping your joints lubricated. This is much like how you need to spray oil on squeaky metal door hinges to keep them working properly.
An added bonus to many physical activities is the fact that exercise classes, team sports and even going on a walk can be a great time to connect with friends and build your social support network. Connecting with others through positive, healthy activity is a key part of being resilient and combating stress-related issues such as substance abuse.
Spending Time With Friends
If you’ve ever noticed how spending time with friends makes you simply feel better, the relief from your stress and pain wasn’t just in your head. Scientists are now beginning to explore the link between social connections and measurable health parameters such as the perception of pain, hypertension and chronic disease.
Research has shown that mice who had recently undergone neurosurgery experienced a faster reduction in nerve-related pain when they were kept in close proximity to their peers. Mice that were isolated remained in pain and had elevated levels of inflammation for significantly longer following the surgical intervention.
Studies on human subjects have also concluded that “chronic and transient episodes of loneliness are associated with more negative daily social relations and pain.” On the other hand, spending time with positive friends and loved ones can help reduce feelings of pain and stress.
And connecting with others isn’t just a great way to heal your body — it can actually boost your brain health as well. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP),socializing may even improve your memory and help ward off age-related degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Want to Learn More? Contact Us Today
If you’re among the millions of Americans who struggle with pain on a regular basis, you could be at risk of becoming addicted to pain medications such as prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. The alternative drug-free solutions may be right for you; however, simply going cold-turkey off of pain meds can be dangerous — that’s why you simply can’t do it alone.
To learn more about our innovative, cutting-edge treatment options for people who are dealing with mental health and addiction issues, contact us online or call us toll-free at (855)441-2449. FHE Health intake counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide you with answers to your questions about anxiety treatments.