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Dealing with pain beyond opioids

In a piece in The Washington Post, Consumer Reports addresses our national dependency on opioids to relieve pain and offers consumers alternative treatments.  Consumer Reports writes that nearly a third of adults ages 50 to 80 report filling a prescription for an opioid medication within the last two years, according to a poll conducted by the University of Michigan.  In particular, many older adults may be unnecessarily taking opioids.

Massage is among the non-drug therapies Consumer Reports recommends for lower back pain, which affects nearly half of healthy, active adults 60 or older.  The organization cites a recommendation from the American College of Physicians (ACP) that first-line treatment for lower back pain should include treatments such as heating pads, massage, acupuncture, tai chi, and yoga. Read more.

Alternative ways to manage pain

Here’s another article on alternatives for dealing with pain amidst what has been called an epidemic of opioid use.  The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) writes “As opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose reach historic proportions, medical schools across the country are incorporating training in nonpharmacological treatment options into their curriculums. Major research laboratories are also devoting time and resources to exploring the efficacy of integrative therapies.”

While there is a need for more research into complementary and integrative medicine (CIM)  for chronic pain conditions, the article points to a 2017 report that found strong evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating chronic pain and positive preliminary evidence on the use of yoga, massage, tai chi and other CIM modalities to treat pain.

The goal is to give people more skills to deal with pain rather than rely on opioids.  More teaching about nonpharmacological solutions to pain along with research is necessary.  Meanwhile, adoption of CIM among physicians is progressing, albeit slowly.  Read more.

 

Fascia may hold the key to health cures

A special to The Washington Post by Rachel Damiani and Ted Spiker looks at on fascia, the material that encases tissues and organs.  They refer to an article in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies in which researchers make the point that the fascia throughout our body has the potential to influence everything.

Elasticity is the characteristic of fascia that most dominates discussions about its implications for health.  Current thinking is that the higher elasticity of the fascia allows organs and tissues to function better; whereas stiffer elasticity decreases performance (although scientists have some disagreement on this issue.

One researcher also believes fascia helps to coordinate the body’s movement.  Relative to this, write Damiani and Spiker, research has indicated that structural integration, a type of body work thought to release stiff fascia, has improved balance in patients with chronic fatigue, the range of motion in patients with neck pain, and reduced eye spasms in patients with muscular dystonia.

Furthermore, the fascia may also be involved in a variety of unexpected health conditions and diseases, including cancer, lymphedema, and gastrointestinal distress. Read more