The Grapevine

Best Natural Remedies For Pain Relief

The most sought after treatment for chronic pain is prescription opioids, inevitably turning into an addiction in some people. Risk of suicide and overdosing are amplified by opioid medication. In fact, according to the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP), the country accounts for 80 percent of pain-related medication taken worldwide. 

Unsurprisingly, the majority of 2,000 patients suffering from chronic pain in the U.S. admitted they were on potentially dangerous opioids in response to a survey. Furthermore, research found that chemicals in the brain caused emotional upheavals, negativity and desperation after providing temporary relief for up to three months.

Chronic Pain In U.S. Soldiers

A study published this October in the Journal of General Internal Medicine analyzed the health records of about 140,000 returned army soldiers suffering from chronic pain. The military veterans had served the crises in either Iraq or Afghanistan between 2008 and 2014. Dr. Esther Meerwijk, a suicide researcher at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, a service that offers health care to veternas in California, led the study. Her efforts were combined with another study.  

The Substance Use and Psychological Injury Combat Study (SUPIC) is the biggest observational study till date on the returned soldiers from the aforementioned regions, led by Dr. Mary Jo Larson, senior scientist and lecturer at the Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Meerwijk joined the team in 2016. 

"Given my research interests in suicide and suicide prevention, it was suggested we look at suicidal thoughts and attempts as outcomes. Given SUPIC's interest in substance use, specifically opioids, we broadened the analysis to serious adverse events related to opioid use and chronic pain," Meerwijk explained the purpose of merging the studies, as stated in the news release.

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Natural Remedies Reduced Suicidal Risk

During deployment, the soldiers received natural remedies to reduce chronic pain such as massage therapy, cold laser therapy, exercise therapy, acupuncture, osteopathic spinal manipulation, electrical nerve stimulation and ultrasonography, among others. The military personnel were compared and contrasted with soldiers who did not take non-drug therapies for chronic pain. Also, the link to long-term adverse consequences were examined.

The study revealed that those who received non-drug therapies for chronic pain had 35 percent lower chances of inflicting self-injury compared to those who did not use natural remedies at the military camps. They were also 17 percent less likely to attempt suicide and 8 percent less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. 

Best Natural Remedies

Some of the non-drug options for pain relief that ordinary people benefit from are as follows: 

Acupuncture

A study in 2010 said found acupuncture stimulates receptors that suppress pain while simultaneously increasing the production of the neurotransmitter adenosine. It calms the mind, reduces hyperactivity in the brain and causes drowsiness. 

Massage

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 67 studies analyzed the impact of massage therapy on relieving fibromyalgia, spinal pain, bone and muscle pain and headaches, among others. The results were positive and showed that massage reduces pain when compared to people who did not  receive any treatment at all. 

Exercise

Motor control exercises (MCE) help the muscles around the spine coordinate better with each other  to provide better support to the back. A systematic review showed that quality of life had in fact improved since MCE reduced pain and disability for these participants.  

Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing or other mindful breathing techniques, meditation with guided imagery and other methods of relaxation are known to reduce body pain. They are easy to do since clinicians are not needed to guide patients. 

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