Sep 20 2016

Chronic Conditions are a Pain in the Butt

Last week we talked about how effective acupuncture is at treating chronic pain. Many people turn to over-the-counter or prescription drugs in order to alleviate pain. These include:

  • aspirin
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • naproxen (Aleve)

While these drugs are relatively safe, they can have negative side effects if used for extended periods of time. For starters, the body can develop a tolerance for these medications. This means that people either take the drugs in larger/stronger/more frequent doses, or they turn to opiates (like morphine, Lortab, Vicodin, Demerol, or oxycodone) to address their pain. This is especially true for people who have chronic conditions like migraines, arthritis, TMJ, or fibromyalgia.

Unfortunately, pain pills often cause as much trouble as they alleviate. Ulcers are a very common side effect of habitually taking any type of pill. Our stomach and intestines have a layer of mucus that protects them from the body’s natural digestive juices. Although medications aren’t the only contributing factor to the development of potholes in the digestive tract, ulcers occur when the protective layer gets worn down trying to deconstruct the chemical compounds of pills.

Constipation is another common side effect of pain relief medications. According to Harvard Medical School’s Family Health Guide, “all opiates cause constipation.” This is because opiates bind themselves to receptors in the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract, which slows down the transportation of bodily fluids and waste. Think of it as congestion on the freeway. Constipation is both literally and figuratively a pain in the butt, since it can cause cramping, nausea, and in worst case scenarios, hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Acupuncture can help address the side effects of drug use, as well as address the root of the problem. For starters, acupuncture can address the addiction to pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals can be just as addictive as cigarettes. Just as acupuncture can help people quit smoking, it can also help alleviate the chronic pain that leads to drug addiction. Needles are inserted into specific points in the ear, and then seeds can be taped to those acupressure points so that patients can apply pressure to those spots between treatment sessions.

Acupuncture can also help improve digestion and make it easier to excrete fecal matter. If you have infrequent bowel movements or you find it difficult to poop (either because the poop is too hard or too big to pass through your rectum), you’re constipated. The ideal, healthy poop should be brown in color, one piece and not too hard and not too soft. It shouldn’t come out in pellets, and it shouldn’t be runny. Acupuncture can help improve digestion by stimulating acupressure points all over the body. Don’t forget to drink lots of water. Take advantage of natural stool softeners, like leafy greens; whole grains; bananas; berries; and lentils (just to name a few).

Chronic pain is literally a pain in the tookus, but it shouldn’t hold you back. Give The Gathering Point a call, and we’ll help you address the cause (chronic pain), as well as the side effects.

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