This month, we’re talking about something we all experience from time to time, and some live with every day: pain. If you live with chronic pain or have occasional episodes, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic may be making things worse. Stress and anxiety, extra responsibilities or even working from home can trigger symptoms. You might look to food, stronger medications or alcohol to cope with pain. Let me offer you something else.
First, our series on the placebo response (which I describe as the Meaning Response) demonstrates that healing can happen in many ways. Pediatric care holds lessons for adult medicine here. Because children and teens can be more sensitive to drugs, practitioners who work with children (and parents) have long relied on the power of the mind to help the body relax and for the brain to release naturally occurring opioids. Parents do this too with a kiss on an injury and an “all better now” pat on the shoulder.
But the Meaning Response works for adults too. Mind-body medicine for pain has been used for centuries and it works. For example, there is good evidence that the ancient practices of qi gong, tai chi and meditation provide pain relief. A JAMA article published last fall showed that mind-body therapies can reduce the intensity of pain and the need for medication.
This issue of the newsletter focuses on treatments that use the mind to influence the body’s responses. Treatments that influence both mind and body, such as yoga and exercise, will be discussed later. That said, it can be difficult to separate the two, and many mind-body therapies have a significant physical component. Others, such as hypnosis, are mainly mental practices that affect the body.
I hope this information is helpful to you and perhaps suggests a mind-body discipline for your own or your patients’ pain.
Integrative medicine always involves treating the whole person – mind, body and spirit. In these challenging times, mind-body treatments for pain can do exactly that.
P.S. – Other resources for pain include our guide to optimizing treatment, resources on women and pain and nutrition for chronic pain, and much more. Visit www.DrWayneJonas.com or contact us for help.