Pain medication - is there another way?

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

Our reaction to pain is very natural – we don’t want to feel it or struggle with its debilitating affect on everyday life. For anyone suffering a serious illness, recovering from surgery, physical trauma or chronic illness etc., pain relief medication is a godsend. But what about musculoskeletal pain? There are more than 200 musculoskeletal conditions which account for 30% of GP consultations, in England (Department of Health (2006), A Joint Responsibility: doing it differently, pp 16).

Our search for musculoskeletal pain relief can often lead us into a cycle of ever stronger medication that may only slightly reduce our suffering whilst subjecting us to a variety of side effects such as physical addiction, constipation, sickness or not knowing what day it is! Treatment options can also take the form of injections or even surgery.

For patients who visit me for the first time, this is an all too common experience and the need to seek some measure of pain relief or explore other options, leads them to try osteopathy for the first time. The vast majority of these patients are very pleasantly surprised to feel an immediate reduction in pain after their first visit – yet this is no surprise to me, since osteopaths specialise in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions including nerve pain which is often associated with any muscular or skeletal problem. When I ask my new patient how long they have been suffering with their condition, periods of two years is not uncommon and I feel saddened that they had not been able to see me sooner where relief is usually felt after the first treatment.

Some patients come to me and honestly confess that they have tried all sorts of different treatments and say “I’ll give him a shot down the road!” Even the hardened cynic has been amazed that treatment does not involve painful techniques and the concept of ‘no pain, no gain’ does not apply in my clinic. My patients often comment on how much they have learnt about their condition when they come to see me. This is intentional. Understanding your injury, why you are in pain and how your particular exercise will help, make a huge difference in how patients take back control of their recovery and.. a reliance on any pain medication.