The World Health Organisation defines ‘HEALTH’ as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (WHO 1948). This definition champions the idea that health is a multifaceted state of being, mimicking the Biopsychosocial Model of Health which acknowledges that it is the deep interactions between biological, psychological, and social factors that lead to outcomes of wellness and disease (Community Development and Health Network 2018).
The same concept can be applied to the treatment of pain, whereby pain relief should not be limited to the use of analgesia medications to relieve physical pain. Pain, just like health, should be approached in a multifaceted way that combines the use of pharmacological treatment with drug-free pain relief therapies and treatments that effect the holistic and interrelated experience of pain physically, psychologically and socially.
PAIN in Australia
Unfortunately for many Australians, pain is a pervading and debilitating part of life. In 2018, 1 in 3 Australians (that’s 6.9 million) suffered from arthritis or and other musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain and osteoporosis, making musculoskeletal conditions the fourth leading contributor to the total disease burden in Australia (AIHW 2018).
Specifically speaking, more than 4 million Australians struggle with back pain on a daily basis (AIHW 2019). And with an estimation that 70–90% of Australians will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives, (AIHW 2019) optimising the treatment and management of this pain is critical in order to reduce its impact on our quality of life and its burden on society as a whole.
Drug-Free Pain Relief of Back Pain
In our previous article, we discussed drug-free pain relief for back pain including Physical Movement Therapies including staying active, Pilates, Yoga, and Thai Chi through focusing on core strength, posture, and flexibility, as well as Spinal Decompression Therapy as a treatment of slipped discs, pinched nerves, bulging or herniated discs, and worn discs.
Delving deeper into drug-free pain relief, a recently released E-Book titled, Discover the Power of Drug-Free Pain Relief 2019 (2018), discusses 100 of the latest life-changing drug-free pain relief developments which also includes a number of elements of Dietary Medicine and Medicinal Cannabis among many others.
Let thy food be thy medicine and let thy medicine by thy food. (Hippocrates, The Father of Medicine – 400 B.C)
Healthy and balanced food choices play a major role in supporting our overall well-being. Of specific interest within dietary medicine is the concept that food is a huge contributor to inflammation in the body which has follow-on effects on pain. Dietary Medicine as a form of drug free pain relief is thus attracting the attention of researchers (Discover the Power of Drug Free Pain Relief 2019).
● The Mediterranean Diet is centred around foods with anti-inflammatory properties including; fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, whole grains, fish, olive oil, small portions of meat and dairy and red wine.
According to Discover the Power of Drug Free Pain Relief 2019 (2018), an anti-inflammatory diet is thought to be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis and joint pain, assist in lowering cholesterol and guard against the risk of heart disease. It is also suggested that maintaining a healthy body weight is crucial in reducing inflammation within the body.
● Ginger, Tumeric & Apple Cider Vinegar are three popular dietary elements which boast strong anti-inflammatory properties.
o Ginger extract could become a viable alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs as it has been shown to minimise discomfort and stiffness in arthritic joints by 40% over placebo. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and slight analgesic properties are also thought to produce a reduction in pain by inhibiting inflammation on a cellular level.
o While the health benefits of India’s ‘holy powder,’ Tumeric, is the subject of ongoing research, its active ingredient, phytonutrient curcumin, is a powerful inhibitor of enzymes that cause swelling and pain and may assist with osteoarthritis, joint pain, lower back pain, weight loss and ulcerative colitis (Discover the Power of Drug-Free Pain Relief 2019).
o Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is also most commonly known for its ability to ease arthritis and joint pain due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Simply drinking a spoonful of ACV every day has resulted in many anecdotal reports of people who have found lasting relief from arthritis, repetitive stress injury (RSI), and other painful joint conditions (Discover the Power of Drug-Free Pain Relief 2019).
The interest and research in the use of medicinal cannabis for the relief of chronic pain and multiple other conditions continues to grow globally.
While most of us are aware that THC has psychoactive effects on the brain, another chemical in cannabis called cannabidiol (CBD) has no effect on the mind. Instead, CBD shows promise both for the treatment of epileptic seizures, and as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic (Discover the Power of Drug Free Pain Relief 2019). CBD is also commonly used to manage painful muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, and has been used in the final stages of cancer to combat pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea (Neuroscience Trials Australia 2018).
As this is such a vast and varied area, our look into Drug Free Relief of Pain with a focus on low back pain will continue in our next article with a focus on Mind-Body Treatments and Electrical Therapies.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s Health 2018 – https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/fe037cf1-0cd0-4663-a8c0-67cd09b1f30c/aihw-aus-222.pdf.aspx?inline=true
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018 – Back problems – https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/back-problems/contents/what-are-back-problems
E-Book – Discover the Power of Drug Free Pain Relief 2019 – 100 of the latest Life Changing Developments in 2019.
Models of Health Fact Sheet – Community Development and Health Network 2018 – https://www.cdhn.org/sites/default/files/downloads/FACTSHEETS%201_Screen%20View%281%29.pdf
Neuroscience Trials Australia – LEGALISING MEDICINAL CANNABIS IN AUSTRALIA 2018 – https://www.neurotrialsaustralia.com/legalising-medicinal-cannabis-in-australia/