How Do Naturopathic Doctors Help Patients Manage Chronic Pain?

People suffering from chronic pain can treat their pain through medical treatments or through the use of naturopathic treatments. Medical treatments for chronic pain often include prescription opioids, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, physical therapy and/or surgery.

Lots of these conventional medicines and interventions don’t always achieve the degree of relief that someone with chronic pain is seeking and lots have negative side effects.

Opioids are highly addictive which can result in many problems for some users. A person with an opioid prescription must manage their usage correctly because if they do not, they may suffer from addiction, misuse and could even suffer an overdose.

With that all being said, lots of people suffering from chronic pain will turn to holistic approaches provided by licensed naturopathic doctors. These drug-free approaches have gained popularity over the years and many people who go this route appreciate the personalized pain management plans that are developed for them, by their naturopath. 


Personalized Naturopathic Treatment Plans 

Naturopathic chronic pain treatments are usually developed to meet the specific needs of each individual. A doctor will consider a patient’s lifestyle, injuries (current and past), nutrition, hobbies, physical activities and stress-causers when developing their plan.

A naturopathic plan can include but is not limited to nutritional supplements, dietary recommendations, botanical medicines, physical rehabilitation, mind and body exercises, acupuncture, osteopathic manual manipulation, massage and physical exercise.

CBD oil has also become a great factor in combatting chronic pain and the anxiety associated with it. Popularly used supplements include omega-3 fatty acids, capsaicin, turmeric and vitamin D. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil which is a popular anti-inflammatory.

Naturopaths have compared omega-3’s to ibuprofen and have discovered that it has the same effect for reducing arthritic pain. Capsaicin is another widely used natural medicine which comes from hot chilli peppers. It decreases pain signals in the body and is commonly used to decrease the severity of migraines.

You may think turmeric is just a spice used in curries, but it also contains curcumin which is an active anti-inflammatory that naturopaths will turn to, to treat chronic pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 


Why Choose to Manage your Chronic Pain Naturopathically? 

Healing from chronic pain is not as easy as taking a magic pill. Opioids that are prescribed for chronic pain are successful in numbing the person who takes them, but real relief requires more work.

Rather than just trying to dull the pain that someone is experiencing, naturopaths aim to tackle the whole problem by focusing on the root causes.

By doing this, the individual experiencing the chronic pain can overcome it instead of a temporary relief provided by pills. Like I mentioned before, effective chronic pain management is achieved through multifaceted approaches that are tailored to the individual’s needs.


Chronic Pain and the Impact on the Brain 

Pain that someone experiences after putting their hand on a hot stove is very different from chronic pain. When you injure yourself, your body will feel pain which is important as it serves as a protective alert against danger.

However, chronic pain is something that is continuously felt over a long period of time and in many cases, it continues after a person’s injury is healed. When it gets to this point, chronic pain is no longer serving to protect you, instead it becomes a dysfunction on its own.

Unfortunately, those suffering from chronic pain are more likely to experience structural changes in their brains. This can include disruptions in the brain’s hippocampus which is responsible for learning and memory, or the loss of gray matter which can result in cloudy thinking and bad decision making.

These structural changes create neural pathways in the brain and repeated activation of these pathways will likely result in continuous feelings of pain associated with negative thoughts. This can become a vicious cycle which will cause depression if left untreated. 


Opioids and Chronic Pain 

Opioids are great at blocking the pain signals that are sent to the brain because they mimic the pain-reducing neurotransmitters that is produced naturally by the body.

Unfortunately, if you take opioids long-term, they will limit your body’s ability to produce its own neurotransmitters that suppress pain. Opioids are very addictive and can affect all functions of a person.

Chronic users and people who rely solely on opioids will suffer from increased pain sensitivity over time which is very ironic. In the last century, opioids have caused an addiction crisis which is why many people are turning to more natural approaches for chronic pain solutions.

It is important for people to remember that the brain plays a very important role in chronic pain. The answers to finding the root cause of chronic pain lies both in the body and the brain. A long-term strategy to managing chronic pain requires more than just taking opioids so speaking with a naturopath to find a suitable and personal approach is a good idea.

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