Nobody likes to be in pain. Yet, pain serves an important function: It signals that something is not right with the body. Uncertainty about the origin and meaning of a pain causes fear, and fear of pain becomes part of the pain. This is true for acute temporary pain (such as post-operative recovery) as well as chronic, persistent pain (such as degenerative arthritis and chronic back pain).

In spite of daily media alerts to the “opioid crisis,” there is nothing wrong with using medication for pain relief. Here are some basic principles of pain management:

pain pills

Pills are not

the only way

to treat pain

1. Pills are not the only way to treat pain.

2. Narcotics are not the only medications to treat even serious pain.

3. No pain medication should be used for a long time; even non-opioid medication has side effects and long-term use can lead to habituation and addiction. 

4. Habituation means taking a drug without obtaining the desired effect (such as pain relief.)

5. Addiction means the development of withdrawal symptoms with sudden discontinuation.

6. “Withdrawal” means physical symptoms, such as sweating, tremors, agitation and sleeplessness, irritability and anger after suddenly stopping opioid medication.

7. It is not as hard as people think to come off narcotic medication. But only if this process is gradual and carefully supervised, can withdrawal symptoms be avoided.

8. Plant derivatives which can control even severe pain include Cumin, Turmeric and Ginger.


There are methods other than “taking something for it” that help with relief and prevention of pain.  Musculoskeletal pain may respond to massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and EXERCISE, with or without physical therapy. Exercise is not limited to specific activities, nor to age, health problems, or pain. It requires effort and persistence and has benefits far beyond than the relief of pain. A number of clinical trials looking at ways to help people get off addictive substances have shown that pairing any method with exercise had a greater success rate. (1)

Every patient experiences pain in their own unique way, different from anyone else. Emotional, physical and life style components influence the experience of pain to different degrees in different people. The highly complex and individual experience of pain demands a similarly individualized approach to its management. Truly integrative multi-modality medical care will help each patient identify what combination of treatment methods works best for the optimal management of their pain and help them return to the kind of life they want to live. 

This is Functional Medicine as we practice it at Living Well Integrative Health. Our goal is to help patients recover from injury with as little pain as possible, and resume control over their life and their goals.  

(1) Sweating it Out: Exercise and Addiction Recovery

 Exercise – A great aid for opiate withdrawal