Treating Pain from a Holistic Perspective

Treating pain effectively often requires a holistic, whole-bodied approach. Even when pain seems localized to one part of the body, that body part is responding within the context of your whole self. 

Pain changes how we move our bodies. An obvious example of this is the limp we can develop when part of our leg hurts. Our bodies compensate, adjust, and protect places that hurt. This means that we end up using our muscles differently and sometimes in less balanced ways. Often, the place that hurts the worst is not the source of the issue, but the part of the body that is compensating for something else. Holistic pain treatment understands these relationships and works with the structure of the body as a whole. 

Pain changes our nervous system. When pain is ongoing, the nervous system adapts. It turns up the volume of the pain signals over time, which can create feedback loops. Holistic pain treatment helps to regulate the nervous system and turn the volume back down. Calming the nervous system and lowering its baseline level can help interrupt the feedback loops and lower the overall sensation of pain. 

Pain is mental, emotional, and physical. The mind and body are one deeply interconnected system, and pain in any part of the system affects the whole. Physical pain can change our brain chemistry, and emotional pain can make the body hurt. Holistic pain treatment often incorporates mental health care because it is able to help address the both source and the symptoms of pain. 

A holistic, integrative approach to treating pain is based on how pain affects our entire self. Evidence has clearly shown the links to structure and function, nervous system changes, and mental health. Treatment needs to work with the whole system in order to help you feel better now and address the root of the problem.