Integrative and Alternative Therapies For Pain Relief in Senior Citizens
Chronic pain is challenging to deal with, no matter your stage. The problem is, as you continue to age, your body starts to break down tissue and it usually results in the experience of more chronic aches and pains. This is especially true when you have limitations on the type of pharmaceutical medications you can take. Some patients turn to more natural and alternative methods of pain management to help.
While integrative and alternative therapies are becoming more accessible and considered by patients, there is still some understandable hesitancy. This is because many are still learning and educating themselves on what options there are to help with chronic pain relief.
Let’s talk about some of the more popular alternative methods available for senior citizens, and how they can help with effectively managing pain.
Not All Integrative/Alternative Therapy is Not Good Therapy
Before getting into chronic pain relief, understand one principle. Not everyone will have quality service. This is common for those who have a one-and-done experience with alternative medicines and therapies. Good research and references can help solve this problem.
You can ask friends, or work directly with your doctor to get referrals when going the alternative route. Consider feedback from people online who may be dealing with the same chronic illness as you, and how alternative therapy helped to manager or even fix the problem. Pooling all of your resources and doing research will help you make the most informed decision for your health.
According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture is incredible because it can help relieve pain for 30 diseases. It’s also one of the most interesting solutions for pain relief. Certified therapists can stimulate the nearby nerves and release chemicals such as endorphins and neurotransmitters.
These chemicals send a message to the brain to block the pain and open up natural pathways in the body. This comes from traditional Chinese medicine. According to WTHN's New York City acupuncturists, your journey to better health should be personalized instead of universally applied, and hence require focused stimulation for the concerned issue.
We commonly see acupuncture as a treatment for arthritis, tendonitis, headaches, and lower back pain, among many more common or chronic pain problems.
Natural Herbs and Supplements
Taking other herbal supplements is another way to help fight chronic pain as you age. For instance, turmeric has incredibly strong anti-inflammatory properties. Thus can be used to target joint pain and problems like arthritis. Other herbal considerations include Devil’s Claw Root, White Willow Bark, Comfrey, etc. Note that these supplements have strong psychoactive ingredients, and you should consult with your doctor to avoid taking too much or cross-contaminating with other medications.
Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Work
Massage therapy is another alternative medicine that can relieve chronic pain. Chiropractic work falls parallel to massage therapy. Chiropractors are all about relieving back pain but can also be helpful for neck pain. This is done by manipulating the spine and essentially releasing air pockets. They safely crack your back and other areas.
Massage therapy increases blood flow through the muscles and is a great way to relieve stress and tension. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits by releasing lactic acid buildup from the body. It helps break up scar tissue that may develop through exercise or injury. As long as your massage therapist is aware of any injury, it can be a great solution to dealing with chronic pain.
Reiki healing is a different type of massage work that is worth mentioning. Reiki is a self-healing journey and is an energy-based therapeutic technique. With the goal in mind to relieve tension and decrease anxiety, the body's natural immunity, and response improve.
Other Therapeutic Healing
Reiki is not the only energy-transfer therapeutic approach out there. There is a lot of work with chakras, crystal healing, and other traditional massage approaches that come from worldwide. This includes practices like properly meditating.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Depending on the type of chronic pain you are experiencing, a few alternatives include making healthy lifestyle choices with diet and exercise. For instance, exercise can have several benefits, such as improving your mobility and relieving pain through activities such as yoga. Yoga is excellent choice for many senior citizens as a method of exercise, particularly because many of the movements are low-impact, so there is a low risk for injury.
Also, consider that certain foods cause inflammation, just as others promote cell turnover and muscle repair. Adding lean protein and vegetables to your diet more consistently can impact physical health on managing chronic pain. Depending on your needs, some doctors may suggest going on a paleo, vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian diet. You can speak to a nutritionist to help provide essential diet changes that can help you reduce painful inflammation as you age.
It’s also important to note that those with gluten intolerances can experience chronic pain from body inflammation when eating it. Getting tested for food intolerances can major impact your body and immune system.
The most important thing when it comes to managing and relieving your chronic pain as you get older is to have options. When you can only take over-the-counter or prescribed medications, you open yourself up to other potential issues.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a bandaid and not a permanent solution, since many medications come with side effects that can even exacerbate the issue. Consider having a more open mind to alternative and integrative therapies, and trying out differing techniques that may help manage your pain. Having the ability to experiment with different solutions provides a better chance that you will find something that works best for your pain.
While you should still always consult your doctor, speaking to other doctors can also help you get a second opinion, too. Sometimes the area of alternative medicine, integrative therapies and more natural remedies can be intimidating for seniors, because it is outside the traditional approach.
However, nothing is more important than your own health. That’s why keeping an open mind and starting to explore your own path through research and conversations can be the first step in helping you get the appropriate care for your body.