It is among the strongest motivational forces in our culture – and for those who’ve experienced it, that may be an understatement. Pain, both acute and chronic, can stop you in your tracks, prevent you from doing the things you need or want to do every day. And sometimes it seems that no matter what one tries, different postures, medications, etc… it just doesn’t seem to go away, rather remaining at a constant level or increasing and decreasing continuously. There are so many questions about pain: “What is it really?” “Why is it there?” and “What can be done about it?”
Overview of Pain
Pain defined: Pain is an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience experienced with actual or anticipated tissue damage.
Pain is actually, believe it or not, actually both beneficial and detrimental:
There are two main types of pain, and they are managed and treated differently.
Acute Pain: Is generally associated with perception and anticipation of pain
Is present 3 months or less
Is caused by tissue damage
Is a result of real physical damage to the tissue
Is intended to improve survival of the individual
Is typically less difficult to treat and resolve
Chronic Pain: Is often an emotional association to pain
Is present for longer than 3 months
Is caused by nerve sensitivity and is an emotional response
Is no longer a result of physical damage (the real damage had typically healed)
Is not a survival mechanism
Is complex and may be more difficult to treat
A major difference between Acute and Chronic pain is that chronic pain is a “Learned” pain. The body/nervous system becomes used to feeling it, and in effect becomes “rewired” and progressively better at experiencing it. This is what makes it more of an obstacle to treat. Not only is there no longer any localized damage actually present in the tissue; we have to go about treating the thoughts and emotions as well.
In Naturopathic Medicine, our focus is on helping the body achieve balance and therefore to heal itself. We aim to treat acute pain so that symptoms can be resolved and chronic pain can be avoided, and we also work to bring resolution to any chronic pain that might be present so that relief can be finally obtained.
Naturopathic Treatment of pain will begin with identification of the cause of pain through in-depth questioning about causes and compounding factors, physical examination, and occasionally lab testing. The focus then turns to addressing your pain and correcting any other factors (for example lifestyle and dietary) that may be negatively impacting both healing and the pain perception.
When pain is finally managed, your Naturopath will work with you to prevent recurrence of pain and maintain optimal tissue function so that you can resume your daily life in a healthy, pain-free way. This may include some or all of: education about exercise and strengthening protocols, dietary monitoring, supplemental therapy and/or maintenance treatments, depending on the individual.
Naturopathic Modalities for the treatment of Pain.
If you or someone you know is suffering from pain, rest assures that there is help available. The keys are persistence and ensuring you work with the correct practitioner who will use the appropriate treatment for you. Naturopaths are knowledgeable, trained and ready to help you achieve complete, permanent pain relief, as well as both physical and emotional balance!
Dr Katarine Holewa, ND