Why Look At Alternative Treatments To Pain Medications?
By Dr. Mitchell Yass – Stop the Pain, I Want My Life Back
After being in the physical therapy field for over 18 years, I believe there is a general consensus that using narcotic, addictive drugs to address chronic pain is a bad choice.
But what comes next is very confusing to me. A debate then ensues about what is the better alternative to these drugs; meditation, massage, vitamin therapy, acupuncture, etc. Now, it is not to say that these types of therapy are not less dangerous than taking narcotic medication and that they might have some capacity to minimize the awareness of pain, but they do nothing to actually identify and treat the cause of pain. These types of therapy still make no attempt to identify which tissue is creating the pain signal and resolve the distress of tissue thereby ending the pain signal. They are very general in nature. They are somewhat generic versus being very specific to the tissue that is creating the pain signal.
One of the reasons that these types of treatments remain as often used replacements to pain medication is the false premise that the medical establishment has correctly determined the cause of the pain through a diagnostic test such as an x-ray or MRI. Once these tests identify the cause of pain as a herniated disc, arthritis, stenosis, degenerative disc disease, a rotator cuff or meniscal tear, these types of treatments are proposed because the only real way to address these types of diagnoses is surgery as suggested by the very physicians who diagnosed this cause and magically also perform the surgery. Nobody wants surgery so these alternative treatments are attempted. When they don’t work, the physician notes that the person has tried everything and now surgery is the only option.
The problem using the x-ray or MRI as the gold standard for identifying the cause of pain is they have been proven to be invalid. In fact, the American College of Physicians has recommended that x-rays or MRIs no longer be used to identify the cause of back pain because in 85% of cases of patients coming to a primary care physician their pain could not be attributed to a spinal abnormality such as a herniated disc, stenosis or degenerative disc disease. These tests do not achieve the ultimate goal of diagnostics; they do not identify what tissue is creating the pain signal. Pain being a signal of a tissue in distress must be perceived as just that; a signal. It is not a separate entity to be treated. The tissue in distress needs to be corrected with an intervention to cause the pain signal to end. If a person has pain from a kidney stone, pass the stone and the pain passes. If a person has stomach pain from eating bad fish, get rid of the bad fish and the pain resolves. Pain at the neck, back or peripheral joint is the same premise. I have proven that the tissue creating the pain signal in most cases is a muscle. Unfortunately, MRIS and x-rays don’t pick up muscle strains, spasms or tightness. Targeted strength training is the only true method to resolving pain from muscle.
It is not to say that those who provide these alternative types treatments for pain are not good people with good intentions, it is simply that the only way to resolve most pain is to identify what tissue is creating the pain signal and resolve the distress of that tissue. Treating pain can only lead to a prolonged experience of pain.
Executive Director, Acupuncture Physician
Dr. Riggin is FitFM - Family Wellness , is the Founder and Director of Healing Touch Oriental Medicine. As an inspiring health educator, in-demand speaker and doctor of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Dr. Mary has helped thousands of people completely turn their health around. Dr. Mary co-hosts and produces the wildly popular radio show "Food is the First Medicine" and her presentations and viewpoints on natural healthcarehave made her an in-demand and innovative expert in the natural health world.
Dr. Mary Riggin, produces and hosts Food is the First Medicine Talk Radio Show, and is a popular speaker. Since 1996 she has practiced natural medicine in the Tampa Bay area; her passion and purpose is to help as many people as possible. Listen to her weekly on TanTalk 1340AM in Tampa Bay, or online anytime, anywhere at www.foodismedicine.org.
She is former Vice Chair of the Florida State Board of Acupuncture and was appointed to this gubernatorial position by Governor Lawton Chiles and Governor Jeb Bush. She has been featured on various TV and radio shows and frequently teaches free classes at community and recreation centers throughout Pinellas County.
She is a published author and was featured in the book A Woman's Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Alternative Healing, writes and publishes educational newsletters and brochures, and was elected to serve two consecutive terms as President of the Florida State Oriental Medical Association.
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