One of the top reasons patients come in to see their primary care provider is because they are having musculoskeletal pain or chronic pain. It is common for patients to want a “quick fix” or something that will take away their pain immediately, but non-pharmacologic pain management often has better outcomes and better long-term pain control. Additionally, it has been shown that the long-term use of pain medications have diminishing effects over time and can cause other chronic health problems.
Pain, especially chronic pain, does not always correlate to the physical state of the body but there are many contributing factors including sleep, nutrition, stress, and emotions. A non-pharmacologic approach to pain management includes, but is not limited to, physical therapy, exercise, acupuncture, and psychotherapy.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapists are highly trained and skilled in assessment and diagnosis of causes of pain. They can prescribe exercises targeting your specific impairments and help you with lifestyle modifications and pain management strategies that can safely decrease pain symptoms. The results from physical therapy often have long-term benefits
- Exercise: It is often thought that when in pain resting is the best method to ease discomfort, but it is actually shown to increase pain and cause weakness in the area. Gentle movements and walking can successfully decrease pain and prevent the area that is causing discomfort to become stiff or weak.
- Acupuncture: Alternative modalities and holistic approaches to pain management have varying degrees of efficacy but many studies show that acupuncture is clinically proven to reduce pain with long-term benefits. Many insurance companies are now covering acupuncture services as pain management therapy.
- Psychotherapy: Pain is often rooted in depression, anxiety or mental stress. Seeking care from a mental health professional or engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy can greatly reduce pain symptoms.