Integrative Approaches to Pain Management

What is Integrative Medicine?

“Integrative health” incorporates the use of alternative  approaches as a complement to mainstream health care. Definitions of “integrative” medicine can vary, but all involve bringing conventional and alternative approaches together in a coordinated way. More and more people are taking this approach but as the marriage of the two is still relatively new the terminology is still in flux, the research is still developing so, when considering it, keep an open mind and exercise care.

Alternative health care practices, otherwise known as non-mainstream approaches, often seem new but many are in fact far from it.

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Medical Marijuana

Marijuana and Pain


Pain, we know, is the body’s way of sounding alarm; it announces that all is not well with our bodies, whether from causes of disease or accident. It is the most common reason that people seek medical care. Pain is a big problem.

And not just for patients. For physicians and all manner of healthcare professionals, pain is a complex, persistent and vexing challenge. It can have any number of causes, many of which are poorly understood, and it does not always respond well to treatment. The medications for pain often prove to be problematic themselves as different types of pain, and individuals, respond in any manner of ways to any given medication. Then there are the side effects, which can be significant.

The search for new and better pain relievers is an on-going quest.

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To Begin

We so often begin the day, our perceptions, our responses, a trip, a task, if you live with chronic pain, with the experience, the awareness, of pain. We routinely no longer even recognize the moment, the immediate, overwhelming sense of pain from which we approach all of life.

Holding pain in our bodies, a unique ” pain signature” for all individuals, can include such characteristic pain responses as a shortening of breath, tightness around the chest, the heart, and in the jaw, and an overall rigidity, the sense of guarding of one’s “hold” of the body. Such manifestations of pain, unfortunately, serve to compound the experience of pain.  The entire cycle is far from the best of beginnings.

However, in each initial moment, in those beginnings, much positive, health inducing, change is possible if we learn to recognize our “Pain Signature” and relax this reflexive protection, tensing, of our bodies. We do this through learning to practice the skill of mindful body scanning.

It is a positive and powerful strengthening step to take the time to investigate, explore, and become easily familiar and aware of our unique “pain signature “.

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