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Treating Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is one of the most common problems in the medical practice. According to the National Institutes of Health, pain affects more people in the U.S. than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. More than 50 million people in America suffer from chronic pain conditions. The cause of pain could be attributed to injury, poor posture, weakness in muscles, family congenital conditions, psychological dis-balance, a pinched nerve, inflammation in the gut, a chronic infection or a multitude of other reasons. The emotional response to pain may also be one of the important factors that contribute to pain levels.

The different etiologies of pain require different approaches for treatment. This is an important fact that is often ignored. The standard western treatment plan for chronic pain is similar for all different causes of pain. In fact, in conventional western medicine, very little attention is typically paid to the etiology of pain and the emotional component of chronic pain. The patient is usually given anti-inflammatory or opiate medication, physical therapy or injections. If these treatments see no results, then the patient may have to undergo surgery. If the surgery doesn’t help, the patient is advised to simply learn how to live with the pain. Very often, the people in these hypothetical scenarios end up in a pain clinic and take large quantities of pain medication.

The treatment approach at of the integrative physician approach is based on treating the whole body. It is normally difficult to find the root of chronic pain. When we treat the whole body, the cause of the chronic disease will usually go away, along with the pain itself. The treatment plan is unique to the individual and is determined by physical examinations, laboratory findings and imaging study.

Lifestyle modification is the first, and one of the most important, steps on the road to a healthy, pain-free life. A healthy lifestyle includes getting proper nutrition and exercise, the introduction of foods that possess anti-inflammatory qualities and eliminating foods that produce low-grade inflammation to our body. It is becoming increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is the root of many illnesses, including chronic pain, heart disease, asthma, bronchitis and memory decline.

To help determine which foods may not be good for a patient, a special test may be administered. Diet and exercise are an important foundation for treatment and in helping prevent any future relapses of pain. At the same time, we correct nutritional imbalance with minerals, vitamins, hormones, supplements and amino acids.

Inflammation could be caused by a chronic slow-flowing infection, which is typically very difficult to find through laboratory analysis and, as a result, is very difficult to treat. In this case, we use a new method of treatment that improves the function of the immune system. This strong immunity helps to fight any chronic infection and, as result, helps with chronic pain.

As soon as the immune system improves, the patient typically feels complete or partial pain relief. Some patients, however, may need to continue therapy with osteopathic manipulation; exercise; intramuscular, oxydative therapies; intravenous injection; or acupuncture. Another part of treating chronic pain is addressing the psychological stress that may be impacting the patient.

My approach to chronic pain is different from many others. Each patient has an individual treatment plan and we have many modalities that are made available under one roof, including: acupuncture; manual therapy; intrajoint, intramuscular and intravenous injections; prolotherapy; and oral vitamin and mineral supplementation. Every person is unique, and everyone has and deserves an individualized plan for their optimal health.

Dr. Vladimir Alhov is a physician specializing in pain management at Well of Life Center for Natural Health, a holistic health and wellness center in Bethlehem. He will present a free seminar for people suffering from chronic pain or fibromyalgia on Saturday, February 24 at 1 p.m. For information or to reserve a seat call 610-419-8881 or 800-917-7215 and leave a message or visit WellOfLifeCenter.com.

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