A recent report on the treatment of pain in America shows that 35 states don’t adequately address the issue. Which means pain is a major public health challenge for 70 percent of the states. Fortunately, many mind-body approaches can help control pain and improve quality of life. (More about those natural approaches in a moment.) But first, let’s talk pain…
Pain is often a symptom of other medical problems. For example, one-third of cancer patients suffer from chronic pain. But pain is also a complex problem in its own right. It can actually change the nervous system and become its own distinct, chronic disease. According to the European Association of Palliative Care, one-third of patients with chronic pain report it’s so bad they wanted to die.
Older Americans also face a disproportionate burden of pain. A 2010 study found that between 25 and 40 percent of men and women over 65 suffer from pain daily. Plus, the proportion of patients adequately medicated for pain actually decreases with increasing age. In other words, the older you get, the less effectively your pain is treated. To compound matters, men and women with cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s dementia, often can’t report their own pain effectively.
Veterans also suffer from chronic pain. For a June 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers followed 2,500 soldiers recently returned from deployment. Forty-four percent of the soldiers had chronic pain. Plus, 15 percent of them used narcotic pain relievers to deal with it–a percentage much higher than the general population
Mainstream medicine focuses only on the visible and objective. So it seeks to find simple, generic solutions to complex problems.
But pain doesn’t work that way. It’s highly individual and subjective. Plus, it’s based on constitutional factors and/or socio-cultural factors. Most importantly, pain is not just a physical problem. There are profound mental dimensions.
A VA Study in 2010 found a strong association between chronic pain and suicide. These findings were consistent with the findings of the European Association of Palliative Care.
As you know, I often report about how physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals don’t receive proper nutrition training. Amazingly, they don’t receive proper training on pain either.
On average, a physician receives just eight hours of training on how to treat pain. (That’s just one work day for most people. And far less than one work day for physicians-in-training.) By comparison, a veterinarian receives 87 hours of training on how to treat pain. And their patients can’t even talk about it!
So how do we treat pain?
Prescription painkillers can be a viable short-term treatment choice, after major surgery, for example. (Of course, big pharma makes sure physicians get plenty of training on prescribing drugs.) But the use of prescription pain drugs is fraught with peril.
First, the government’s ridiculous war on drugs allows the DEA to interfere with how physicians treat their patients. (That interference goes even beyond the usual kind run by the FDA.)
Second, doctors feel intimidated about prescribing (and nurses feel reluctant to administer) adequate pain medications, even to those dying and in pain from terminal conditions.
Third, these drugs do have high potential for addiction. And they’re dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 46 Americans die every day from prescription painkillers.
As with other medical conditions, chronic pain has repercussions that go far beyond any simple drug fix. So drugs shouldn’t be your only option.
Fortunately, many natural, mind-body approaches can help control pain and improve your quality of life. Yet the average physician knows nothing about these effective, non-drug treatments.
I have found that people respond remarkably differently to non-drug therapies, just as they can to drugs. To find out which non-drug treatments will work best for you, you first need to know your “emotional type.” (Take this short quiz to learn which mind-body approach will work best for you.)
For example, many people benefit from massage. Others benefit more from low-impact exercise such as swimming, walking, or stationary bicycling. More formal approaches include yoga and tai chi. You also need to get good sleep to manage pain. Counseling and physical therapy can help as well.
Unfortunately, there’s no single silver bullet for managing pain. But–according to the new report I mentioned earlier–where you live just might make a difference.
So, which states help residents control pain better?
Alabama, Idaho, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont all earned high marks. The new report found these states have better and more balanced approaches to pain care.
Most of these states fall in more rural, less urbanized areas of the country, where citizens appreciate freedom from big government regulation, interference and “protection.”
Curiously, the biggest nanny states of all–like California, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, and Washington state–are missing from this list of having better pain care.
Their citizens don’t receive good care for pain management, relatively speaking. However, these same states like to brag about how much taxpayer money they spend on good and “accessible” government-mandated healthcare. But it does not result in better pain management, for one thing. Clearly, their residents suffer from more pain–literally and figuratively, in addition to being subjects of, and subjected to, these ineffective, big state governments.
You don’t have to rely on dangerous drugs or government-mandated, mainstream approaches to treat your pain. You do have many affordable alternatives.
You can learn all about these powerful alternatives in my special report called The Insider’s Ultimate Guide to PILL-FREE Pain Cures.
- “Achieving Balance in State Pain Policy: A Report Card,” Pain Policy & Studies Group (www.painpolicy.wisc.edu) 2013