Chronic pain can seriously interfere with your life. Not only do you experience the physical symptoms from your condition, but many people also experience complications in other areas of their life. Chronic pain can lead to depression, anxiety, financial instability, and more. Since chronic issues can be so complex, it can be challenging to find a treatment method that helps manage your pain.
Functional medicine helps with chronic pain by seeking to address the underlying cause of the pain, rather than just the symptoms of it. Here’s what you need to know about chronic pain and how the functional medicine approach treats it.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is pain that lasts for over three months. It can either come or go or it can be persistent. You can experience it anywhere in your body.
When most people think of pain, they think of acute pain. This is the pain from an injury that goes away as the injury heals. If the pain does not go away, it can become chronic.
Sometimes, people can suffer from chronic pain even if they have not been injured or ill. This is called psychosomatic pain, which can result from stress and other issues, without a physical medical explanation.
What Are Common Types Of Chronic Pain?
While chronic pain can manifest all over your body in many different ways, some types of chronic pain are more commonly seen than others. These include:
- Headaches and migraines
- Back pain
- Neurogenic pain
- Pain in scar tissue
- And much more.
People can experience multiple types of chronic pain simultaneously, such as migraines and arthritis or more than one illness.
What Is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is a type of medical approach centered on the patient. The goal of functional medicine isn’t just to figure out where you are experiencing pain and provide you with treatment for your symptoms. It is to uncover the underlying cause of your pain.
Functional medicine takes the entire picture into account. You will spend more time with a functional medicine doctor than you would with a traditional doctor because they will ask you about your health history, your specific health concerns, what your lifestyle is like, and more. Depending on the person, your symptoms could be caused by something very different than similar symptoms in someone else.
When you see a functional medicine doctor, they will personalize your treatment plan to you. They look at things like your stress levels, your sleep, your activity levels, and your nutrition. With lifestyle and behavioral interventions, you can address the root cause of your issues and find relief. For instance, if your diet is full of inflammatory foods, this could be the root of many different health issues.
Functional medicine can be used in conjunction with traditional medicine. The goal of any doctor is to help you feel better. They will recommend treatments designed to help you and refer you to other specialists who may be able to help.
How Does Functional Medicine Help With Chronic Pain?
Functional medicine is effective for treating many different health concerns, from arthritis to hormone imbalances to thyroid disorders and more. It also works for treating chronic pain.
Functional medicine may not be something that you associate with pain management. With its focus on lifestyle and behavioral aspects, you may assume that if you’re in pain, this is not the type of medical practice you can benefit from. You may think that painkillers and surgeries are your best shot.
Depending on your specific pain, the ideal treatment method varies. For some people, traditional medicine helps them immensely. For others, functional medicine or a combination or traditional medicine and functional medicine gives them the relief and ability to manage the symptoms that they need.
As we just mentioned, depending on you, the ideal treatment varies. This is one of the best parts about functional medicine. The goal isn’t just to understand what the issue you, give you recommendations, and send you on your way. It’s to truly understand what you’re feeling and what could be contributing to it.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to chronic pain generally, and definitely not when it comes to functional medicine. Your doctors will take the time to truly get to know you, your concerns, and any factors in your life that could be worsening your pain. They will recommend a treatment plan specific to you.
This includes taking your wants and needs into account. For instance, a little movement each day can help with pain management, but if your doctor recommends that you do a type of movement you don’t like, it will be much harder to see your treatment plan through. They will ensure that your treatment plan suits you and is realistic for your preferences and needs.
If something doesn’t work, you should feel free to mention it to any doctor, but especially a functional medicine doctor. The most important part of chronic pain management is that your treatment is working for you. Your doctor won’t just tell you to do or take something, but they will listen to your input and collaborate with you in order to ensure that your health plan suits you.
Your doctor will use all the latest research and their clinical experience in order to take your input into account and then come up with alternatives that center your health and well-being. They’ll seek to uncover what your health goals are, and then look at details like your nutrition, your sleep schedule, your environment, and more, to see what could be adjusted in order to help you.
For instance, if you aren’t moving much, and movement could help your pain, your doctor won’t just tell you to go on a 30-minute walk. They’ll ask what types of activities you enjoy, to make incorporating this part of pain management easier and more enjoyable for you.