Chronic pain can involve any number of medical conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic abdominal pain, and fibromyalgia. Many of these chronic pain conditions have many components, some of which are physical in nature, while others have their roots in emotional and mental issues.
There is a lot of interplay between chronic pain and emotions. When you are dealing with chronic pain, there are often depressive symptoms from having to deal with pain all the time. There are also things like worrying about your health conditions and anxiety around the pain that make chronic pain conditions difficult to deal with.
Doctors who only focus on the pain and not on the emotional, cognitive, and mental components of chronic pain conditions and its effects on the sufferer’s life miss an important part of living with such conditions. When only the pain is focused on, the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and worry are not addressed and this can affect the effectiveness of the treatment used to deal with the pain. Sometimes pain medications alone are not enough to deal with the complexities of chronic pain syndromes.
Why a holistic approach is best
If you are suffering from a chronic pain condition and feel as though the totality of your condition is not being addressed, you may wish to see a holistic doctor instead for your problem. A holistic doctor looks at chronic pain conditions in a completely different way than conventional doctors do.
Holistic doctors do not just treat the pain; instead, they treat the whole person at once, believing that it is the balance of all the different parts of the person that is necessary for the person to truly heal from their pain issues. Holistic doctors look at these parts of the person when dealing with their pain issues:
- Lifestyle factors
- Physical factors
- Emotional factors
- Cognitive factors
- Relationship factors
- Spiritual factors
The holistic doctor recognizes that pain is a complex entity that is affected by all the different parts of the person as listed above. They believe that your lifestyle plays a role in your perception of pain and that emotional factors also regulate the way you see and interpret pain in your life.
The holistic doctor will ask you a variety of questions when you first see them for your chronic pain condition. He or she will ask you about your physical symptoms, including the location of your pain, the quality of your pain, and which things make the pain worse or make them better.
They will ask you about your lifestyle, including your dietary habits, exercise habits and sleep habits. They will ask you about your relationships and any problems in the relationship that might interfere with your perception of pain. They will ask you about your spiritual beliefs as they play a role in your healing.
The Goals of the Holistic Doctor
The holistic doctor will know a lot about you after asking you the above questions and examining you with regard to your pain. They will have a wide variety of treatment options that will address every part of you and not just the pain.
They probably will have an exercise prescription for you, knowing that just the right kind of exercise can improve your perception of pain. They may have a dietary prescription for you, knowing that some foods are better than others are when it comes to things like abdominal pain syndromes and fibromyalgia. They may ask you to see a psychotherapist for depressive symptoms or recommend some herbal therapies or homeopathy therapies that address the pain.
Some holistic doctors are more Western trained and will provide you with prescriptions for medications that will address the various symptoms you have. Others are more Eastern trained and will consider therapies like acupressure and acupuncture for the management of your pain.
Alternative and all natural therapies recommended will depend on the individual’s needs and may include:
- Massage Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- A Custom Exercise Program
- Nutritional Counseling
Regardless of the way the doctor was trained, holistic doctors will attempt to address the whole of you and not just the pain issues. They will follow up with you closely, adjusting your treatments until you find a treatment regimen that keeps you the most comfortable.