Britons are taking too many painkillers. Shock research by The Sunday Times has revealed that Brits ‘are in the grip of an opioid epidemic’ – even the British Medical Association has used these words. There has been a huge rise in prescriptions of the most powerful painkillers, soaring addiction rates, and even overdoses and deaths. There are, however, non-drug alternatives to painkillers. And here at The Hub we specialise in complementary methods of reducing or even eradicating pain.
NON-DRUG ALTERNATIVES TO PAINKILLERS
- Sound therapy
In a study in Ontario 19 women suffering from fibromyalgia, a crippling condition that causes excruciating pain, volunteered to have sound therapy. The condition, which causes pain throughout the body with muscle stiffness, fatigue and difficulty sleeping, is notoriously difficult to treat. So sufferers are constantly on the lookout for ways to manage and ease their pain.
The volunteers (aged 51 on average) reported dramatic improvements in their fibromyalgia symptoms after 10 sessions of half an hour’s sound therapy twice a week over five weeks. Questioned before and after each treatment by doctors using clinically recognised testing methods (the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, Jenkins Sleep Scale and the Pain Disability Index), the women reported some compelling proof that sound is a natural painkiller:
- 81% reduction in their pain
- 90% improvement in their sleep
- a significant increase in the time they were able to sit and stand without pain
- improvement in their mobility from 25% to 75%, plus better muscle
So dramatic were the benefits of the sound therapy (published in Pain Research Management, Jan-Feb issue 2015), that 73% of the patients were able to reduce their medication. 26% even discontinued it completely. And the average number of days they took off work from four days per week to just one day per week after the treatment.
The Neurological Integration System (NIS) works on the principle that the brain is the key to the body functioning at its best. As we age and with illness and injury pathways within the body become blocked or dormant, and NIS is a means of switching those blockages back on. By reconnecting the brain and body we lessen or even eradicate pain. Guy Blomfield, our NIS practitioner, has an excellent track record in helping those with chronic injuries and pain – many people report huge benefits when no other treatment has helped.
- Polarity therapy
Our polarity therapist Jane Seaman works wonders for pain by switching off the sympathetic nervous system – this is our ‘fight or flight’ response and if you’re in pain this will be permanently activated, keeping you constantly on ‘high alert’ – and balancing the parasympathetic system. People can shift from being stress balls to snoring blissed out and pain-free on the couch!
The National Institute for Clinical Health and Care Evidence (NICE) recommends acupuncture for chronic tension headaches and migraines. But we know its scope is much wider as a natural and effective alternative to painkillers: there is good evidence that acupuncture is helpful for relieving musculosketal problems, all types of chronic pain, plus joint pain, dental pain and post-operative pain.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 per cent. Accomplished meditators can reduce it by over 90 per cent. Mindfulness can help to ‘turn down the volume’ of pain, enable you to relax, release endorphins (our natural painkillers) and switch off pain memories that aggravate illness and injuries, leading to even more pain.
What we offer at The Hub: Annie Davison offers a monthly mindfulness class, an informal hour to get a taster on what mindfulness entails and how it might help with your pain. We will also be offering a full 8-week mindfulness course soon – give us a call to register your interest.
There is a myriad of research indicating that yoga is beneficial for pain, most particularly for back pain, headaches, pain after surgery and fibromyalgia.
When researchers at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle tested the benefits of viniyoga against stretching on 228 adults who had moderate back pain, they found sufferers could move more freely and experienced less pain. They even came off painkillers after three months of weekly classes, and were still off their meds three months later after stopping the yoga.
Several studies have found that guided visualisation, often used by yoga teachers, reduces post-operative pain, decreases the frequency of headaches and improves the quality of life for people with cancer and HIV.
Research at the Oregon Health & Science University has found that a course of yoga, comprising gentle poses, meditation and breathing exercises, can reduce the worst symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Researchers divided 53 fibromyalgia sufferers into one group who took part in an eight-week yoga programme and another who carried on with conventional medication and exercise. The yoga group showed huge improvements not only in pain, fatigue, stiffness and balance, but also poor sleep and memory, depression and anxiety. Pain levels were reduced by 24%, fatigue by 30% and depression by 42%.
What we offer at The Hub: We have a full range of yoga classes, including yoga for beginners and classes suitable for all ages and levels of fitness. Visit our yoga page for further details.