We can probably cite, with stunning accuracy, the side effects of pharmaceuticals advertised on television. But could you identify natural pain relief remedies? And do those remedies really work for chronic pain, and if so, what are the benefits of holistic treatment over traditional methods?
Chronic pain is a leading cause of poor health outcomes among all individuals. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), approximately 25.3 million people experienced daily pain for the last three months. And those enduring severe daily pain were more likely to have increased medical visits because they were in worse health than those who don't have chronic pain. Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) are often found in a variety of workplaces, from offices to retail or manufacturing, according to Healthline.com. The impact of musculoskeletal disorders due to RSIs can't be underestimated. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) noted that these injuries are typically the most often reported causes of lost work time and accounted for 33 percent of all reported illnesses and injuries.
How can holistic medicine and clinical management reduce chronic pain and the poor health outcomes associated with its treatment?
Holistic Medicine: What Is It and Does It Work?
As noted by the International Association for the Study of Pain, holistic or complementary and alternative medicine specifically refers to non-conventional practice of medicine including naturopathy, acupuncture, yoga, chiropractic and massage. The NCCIH reported that more Americans are using mind-body practices like yoga and osteopathic manipulation. However, holistic medicine on its own proved ineffective by a number of measurements.
Natural Alternatives For Treating Chronic Pain
Although we typically think of chiropractic or acupuncture as natural pain relief, the natural pain relief field is actually more expansive. Johns Hopkins University broke it into five groups, including:
- Traditional alternative medicines - This includes Ayurveda and Chinese herbal medicine.
- Music and movement therapy - These stimulate the senses to improve health.
- Diet and herbal therapy - These can be herbal supplements or nutritional food therapy.
- External energy therapies - Some examples include reiki or qigong.
- Body therapies - These include osteopathy and yoga.
Naturally, members should confer with their physician on appropriate treatment protocols. Those considering using supplements, should seek advice from their providers to ensure that the supplements don't interact with prescription or nonprescription medications.
Importance of Effective UM/CM Management Programs
Not to be overlooked in providing effective holistic solutions to members is ensuring you have a strong utilization and case management system in place. Educating physicians, members and other providers of the case management system identifies those who need intervention or support to manage complex and chronic pain. Ensuring your UM team is plugged-in helps members access the most appropriate holistic treatment options. In centering UM decisions on plan coverage and appropriate care levels, the fund guarantees members are afforded medically necessary coverage.
Encourage Members to Explore Holistic Pain Relief Treatments
Trustees should provide guidance to members seeking holistic health treatments, because medicine isn't one-size-fits-all. Members will benefit from the expertise and guidance of the benefit administrators in making informed choices about natural health treatments.
Medical professionals are discovering another benefit to increased use of natural pain relief remedies: reduced overdoses from prescription opioids. As noted by the IASP, the rapid increase of overdoses from prescription opioids leads both patients and providers to integrate alternative therapies into treatment plans. And, of course, holistic treatments can work in conjunction with traditional therapies where appropriate.
These natural alternatives can give members an array of options to deal with their chronic pain without using expensive pharmaceuticals or surgery, that delivers a real cost savings to funds.
Tracey Lewis, journalist and author focuses primarily on B2B health care, financial services and other internal corporate communications. Author of a best-selling pop-culture book published by Random House Books, and a trained oral historian, Tracey also enjoys delving into music, arts and film content. Skilled in SEO optimization and digital storytelling, she knows how to collaborate with communications, policy, research, legal and designer teams to create and execute cohesive content strategies.