My wife and I were at a gathering last night and the topic of pain management came up since that’s what we are passionate about. As we were talking about our beliefs about pain and what constitutes effective pain management we described the importance of working with the whole person.
Unfortunately, most people undergoing traditional pain management usually get symptom management. Most often the symptoms (pain signals) are “treated” with medication—90 percent of people undergoing pain management in the United States are prescribed opiates. The opiates will give some relief from the pain but usually it just masks or covers the problem. The medication was never meant help the person manage the psychological/emotional, social, or spiritual components of chronic pain.
Chronic pain affects you physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually—body, mind, spirit.
- Physically, chronic pain raises stress and drains physical energy
- Psychologically, chronic pain affects your ability to think clearly, logically and rationally, to manage feelings and emotions effectively
- Socially chronic pain affects your ability to use consistently responsible behaviors, thus affecting others
- Spiritually, chronic pain can keep you separate from your inner self and/or Higher Power.
Holistic health is a term used by alternative medicine advocates to describe medical care that views physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of life as closely interconnected and balanced. Martha Cleveland (1999) in her book Chronic Illness and the Twelve Steps: A Practical Approach to Spiritual Resilience, maintains that dealing with the emotional and spiritual components of chronic pain is an extremely effective treatment approach.
Another approach is Kundalini Yoga a system of meditative techniques and movements within the yogic tradition that focuses on psycho-spiritual growth and the body’s potential for maturation. Human beings have both a physical self (based on the health of our brains and bodies) and a non-physical self (based on the health of our value systems and spiritual lives). Most people who have learned to effectively manage their chronic pain find that they need to invest regular time in developing themselves spiritually (in other words, exercising the non-physical aspects of who they are).
My new book Managing Pain Before it Manages You: Using the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System covers the importance of using a multiple-disciplinary team approach that includes the Bioplogical, Psychological, Social, and Spiritual components of pain. If you want to learn more about this treatment systme please check out our website at www.addiction-free.com and go to our publications page to check out my book.