Stumbling Blocks to Pain Management
Pain management is a very ancient science. It has been in practice since 5,000 BC. But even though science has advanced tremendously in the past 7,000 years, the physical sources of painkillers remain the same.
There are essentially three sources that produce chemical molecules that block the sensation of pain in the human body. The first is the poppy plant, which gives us opium and other products called opioids.
The second is the bark of the Willow tree, which gives us salicylates; another source of salicylates is coal tar waste; both these give us a compound that is marketed by pharmaceutical companies as Aspirin. The third is coal tar itself, which gives us acetaminophen – the key ingredient in Tylenol.
Apart from these there are several chemicals that have pain-reduction as a side effect, such as psychoactive drugs like codeine and caffeine (yes, your morning cup of coffee falls in the same category – stimulants or “uppers” – as amphetamine, cocaine and nicotine.)
These drugs each work in their own way to block the pain receptors that are responsible for the sensation of pain. Some of them act as suppressants while others act to promote a feeling of well-being to an extent that masks pain.
But if you are averse to taking any kind of medication, then you might think you are in a fix.
Some people won’t even take a headache tablet even when it hurts really badly. If you fall in this category, there is still hope, even though pain medication can truly be a stumbling block to pain management in such cases.
Why Lose When You Can Win?
Non-medication-based pain management is probably as old as chemical-based treatments, perhaps older, but chanting yourself into a trance-like state and other esoteric practices aside, there are several viable therapies that are based on intricate knowledge of anatomy and the proper structural and functional integrity of a human body in its ideal state.
Yoga is one such science. It is being referred to as a science here because adequate study has gone into the evolution of this practice – thousands of years of study, in fact. Yoga is one of the oldest known forms of meditation that involves whole-body healing.
One particular component of yoga, known as asanas, is essentially a collection of body postures that promotes the health of various organs and systems.
Of interest to those suffering from pain are the asanas related to the musculoskeletal system.
Any basic text on yoga asanas will cover this subject adequately, but it is better to study under a yoga expert at first.
Chiropractic is another non-drug-based treatment method for pain that is quickly becoming the popular choice in North America and Europe.
This science involves the careful and calculated manipulation of joints, particularly those in the spinal column, to eliminate a variety of physical conditions including pain.
Evidence is conflicting with regard to its success in treating specific types of pain, but thousands of patients testify to the contrary.
Acupuncture is an ancient science that is built on precision and exactitude. The basic concept behind this oriental science is that energy flows through the body via specific channels called meridians, and any blockage in the flow of this energy can cause discomfort, disease and pain.
The therapy essentially involves removing these blockages by stimulating certain points along these meridians with the help of needles pierced directly into them through the skin.
Pain-free Life of Freedom
No matter what type of alternative therapy you choose, your focus should be on getting rid of the source of your pain for good – not just the pain, the source itself.
Only when the source of pain has been removed can life truly get back to normal. People who undergo alternative therapies often find that their mental and spiritual perspectives change as their bodies heal and come back to normalcy.
This is a natural phenomenon, and scientific study has shown that changes in the body do, in fact, affect the mind and the emotions – for better or worse.
If you doubt this fact, try to think of having an excruciating migraine and feeling happy at the same time. Difficult, isn’t it? By that same argument, try watching a comedy film that always has you in peals of laughter and try feeling deep sorrow at the same time.
Freedom from pain, therefore, is about mental relief as much it is about physical freedom of movement. A life free from pain is a blessing for someone who has to suffer it day in and day out.
People who have undergone traumatic injuries or surgical procedures often pray for a day of painlessness.
Those suffering from painful, untreatable conditions are constantly seeking spiritual and mental strength to deal with the pain.
Why then, can we not open our minds to alternative therapies and give them a chance, just as thousands of “exotic” people have, before us? Why is Western philosophy is so averse to anecdotal evidence that we are skeptical about anything that looks “too good to be true?”
Pain therapy methods that have been in existence before Western medicine or modern scientific method even existed are not “hogwash” just because the latter cannot prove the efficacy of the former.
Medication or Not?
The fact of the matter is that it all boils down to a person’s attitude about medication in the conventional sense.
Some people are so averse to it that they will tolerate the most intense of pains but refuse to pop a pill; others just need the slightest excuse to hit the drugstore for a refill. Attitudes about medication are as complex as human minds.
Some people will not touch prescription medication, but will happily smoke two packs of cigarettes a day; others will vehemently oppose coffee drinking but will regularly take sleeping pills, painkillers, antidepressants and other drugs just to feel better.
We’re not here to fathom the depths of the human mind; we are here merely to determine the best corrective course of action when pain decides to make its presence known.
Any route you choose has its positives and negatives; what’s important is that you have thought things through and are happy with the decision you’ve made. Even more important is that your pain problem goes away – preferably for good.