Chronic pain is a significant problem for millions of Americans that leads to significant decreases in not only work productivity, but also in the quality of lives of the affected individual and their family and friends. In many instances, people who suffer with chronic pain try to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, or try to mitigate the symptoms with narcotics, which can have detrimental side effects, particularly addiction.
Alternatively, an integrative medicine approach to treating pain focuses on uncovering, and then methodically correcting, the underlying issues that are causing the pain. Unfortunately, from stressors such as work and family to poor sleep, poor diet, and poor exercise habits, there comes a point when the body can no longer compensate, and pain begins to break through.
Often chronic pain leads to the development of muscle patterns which lead to poor skeletal alignment and muscle strain that can painfully affect how we walk and move. This can lead to knots in the muscles called “trigger points”, as well as joint pain and even nerve irritation. These types of pain can be treated using a proprietary blend of a natural FDA approved non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and small amounts of an anesthetic, delivered as an injectable. Through careful palpation and a thorough history of one’s pain, we treat back and neck pain with lumbar (lower), thoracic (mid) and cervical (upper) trigger point injections.
Although back pain is an extensively widespread condition, debilitating diagnoses such as chronic migraines, joint pain and neuropathy can be greatly relieved with similar treatments and additional modalities. To address joint pain, particularly in the knees, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and/or natural lubricating gel and platelet rich plasma injections can be performed using very fine needles that are almost pain free. Neuropathy symptoms such as numbness, burning, tingling, pain, and hot/cold sensations can be improved with nerve blocks in the forearms and calves.
Also, many patients suffering with chronic migraines have experienced relief from migraine headaches but also symptoms such as nausea, visual auras and dizziness, with occipital nerve blocks and other modalities. These treatments are designed to provide some initial pain relief, then aid in reducing the chronic pain cycle nature through a cumulative effect with continued treatment. Protocols often include nutritional modifications, supplements/nutraceuticals, topical creams, chiropractic and rehabilitation than can result in offering longer term pain relief.
The functional medicine practitioner also focuses on performing comprehensive diagnostic testing that elucidates underlying health issues that cause these breakdowns, including but not limited to inflammatory blood markers, auto-immune reactivity, food sensitivity profiles, gut bacteria profiles, cellular energy production, brain neurotransmitters, hormone imbalances, micro-nutrient deficiencies, and more. When we have information about how all the metabolic processes are working, we can formulate plans to re-balance these deviations and establish a healthier body that is less likely to send your brain the signals of “hey, this isn’t working”, which is often interpreted as pain.
Addressing the underlying causes of pain through functional medicine testing to correct internal imbalances is a monumental aspect of an integrative approach, although, it is also vital to treat patient’s bothersome day-to-day symptoms including anatomical issues. We find that by utilizing comprehensive internal and external treatment plans, patients are able to experience improved levels of relief and quality of life.