Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wham: Mind/Body Therapies Effective for Chronic Pain in Older Adults

For years, holistic healthcare practitioners such as Naturopaths and open-minded MD's have recommended certain non-drug therapies to their patients suffering from years and years of chronic pain. And yet, despite the success of many of these programs on chronic pain sufferers, there have been a lot of detractors who believe that this is just so much eyewash.

Now, a new study published in the Blackwell publication Pain Medicine provides a structured review of eight mind-body interventions for older people, including well known practices such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, tai chi and yoga. All eight of these treatments were found to be feasible for older adults, and no adverse events or safety issues were reported.

The article goes on to provide evidence that, in particular, progressive muscle relaxation may be effective for older people with osteoarthritis pain, while meditation and tai chi appear to improve function and coping with low back pain as well as osteoarthritis.

Chronic pain is most common among older adults. These chronic sufferers are often unable to receive adequate treatment because their physicians have a very limited training in pain management. There is also the problem of a greatly increased likelihood of side effects from pain medication.

Many naturopaths, in particular, have been trained throughout their medical upbringing to include these non-drug alternative therapies in the chronic pain regimen for older patients. But, older adults are often concerned about moving to a new physician. Change is difficult for them, and anyone counseling an older adult about this kind of healthcare issue should make them aware that Naturopaths work very closely with MD's, and in fact many modern healthcare clinics have these professionals working side-by-side.

“The trials we reviewed indicated that mind–body therapies were especially well suited to the older adult with chronic pain,” concludes lead author Natalia E. Morone, M.D., MSc. “This was because of their gentle approach, which made them suitable for even the frail older adult. Additionally, their positive emphasis on self-exploration was a potential remedy for the heavy emotional, psychological and social burden that is a hallmark of chronic pain.”

Anyone who suffers from chronic pain, not just an older adult, should seek consultation with a Naturopath or Holistic MD in order to explore other options besides pharmaceutical pain relief, cortisone injections, etc.


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