In the United States, approximately 80 million people have been diagnosed with some type of heart disease, and nearly 15 million people are battling cancer. However, there is one condition that outnumbers them combined in terms of prevalence: chronic pain.
It is estimated that about 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as pain that persists beyond an expected “healing time frame” from an injury or illness. Some chronic pain cases are mild to moderate, and some are severe and debilitating, interfering significantly with day to day life.
The total cost to our nation for dealing with this pervasive issue is about 635 billion dollars, according to the Institute of Medicine, which is part of the US National Academies.
The most common types of chronic pain suffered by Americans are musculoskeletal joint, bone and muscle pain. Some of these cases center around injuries and illnesses, while others come about due to age-related factors. In some cases, the cause of the pain is traced back to a specific condition, while in others, the cause remains unknown.
Dr. Philip A. Pizzo, the dean of pediatrics, as well as of microbiology and immunology, at Stanford University School of Medicine states, “a third of the nation experiences chronic pain… It’s more than we pay as a nation on cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
Despite the overwhelming number of sufferers of chronic pain in this country, many people report being dismissed by their doctors when they complain of pain. On the opposite side of the coin, many others are prescribed potent and addictive narcotics to deal with pain symptoms, which has led to a nationwide epidemic, as these drugs are frequently abused.
Instead of turning to dangerous drugs – or feelings of helplessness when the pain won’t go away and the doctors won’t listen – consider that there is one underlying factor behind many types of chronic pain that, if addressed, could lead to a great easement of symptoms, and that factor is chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an invasion, characterized by joint and tissue swelling. When inflammation persists, it can lead to all sorts of chronic ailments, including heart disease and autoimmune conditions, as well as to inflammatory, chronic pain. Fortunately, nature holds some powerful tools for combating the scourge of chronic inflammation.
To add to your healthy diet, there are a number of superfoods that possess anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to soothe multiple types of chronic pain. There are also certain essential oils which may greatly aid in pain relief – just make sure you are using a pure, therapeutic-grade oil.
One ancient practice that some research has found effective in chronic pain relief is mindfulness meditation.
In a study performed earlier this year, University of Utah researchers found that this practice could not only ease pain symptoms, it also lessened instances of opioid misuse among participants. Along with easing pain, meditation can help to relieve the stress that can trigger or worsen chronic inflammation in the first place.
Yoga and acupuncture are two other time-tested methods which may help to naturally ease chronic pain. However you choose to tackle your pain, we strongly recommend that you give a natural method a try first before going the route of dangerous prescription medications.
To explore which alternative therapy may best suit your pain type, talk to a natural health professional, or the health professional of your choice, about your individual situation. Most importantly, never give up hope.
-The Alternative Daily