Chronic pain is a condition that presents a challenging claim scenario because of the difficult nature of the diagnosis, the many testing options, and the wide variety of treatment plans prescribed by physicians. Each of these factors relate to one another in a disability, and all need to be well documented in a disability claim. However, this does not mean that you have to blindly follow a physician’s treatment plan. There are many alternative treatments that are safe to use in conjunction with your recommended care and treatment and will help reduce the stress and suffering caused by chronic pain syndrome. Alternative treatments are common among our clients, so we’d like to mention the three most often used alternative treatments. Therapies and results vary from person to person, and what works for one individual may not work for another. Before starting any alternative course of therapy, please do prudent research to allow you to discuss it with your treating physician. Most importantly, never abandon a treatment plan prescribed by your doctors. Research and discuss alternatives to be an engaged patient but don’t abandon it.
- Mind-Body Therapy: Mind-body therapy is a catch-all term for any of the group of exercises and treatments that are intended to help the mind’s ability to affect and help the functions and symptoms of the body. These strategies include techniques such as meditation, hypnosis, and relaxation techniques. These types of therapies are usually guided by an experienced professional, with the patient continuing to practice them on their own. A recent neurophysical review in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience concluded that individuals who practice meditation have a better ability to control the processes that trigger sensations such as pain and depressive cognition. These effects can be achieved without any additional drugs or additional doctor visits. This type of treatment is recommended because it’s simple, affordable, and easy to incorporate into a pain management plan.
- Acupuncture: The benefits of acupuncture have been hotly debated in the chronic pain industry. Studies go back and forth on the effectiveness of the treatments and the reasons it may or may not work. A recent analysis of raw data from new and previous studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows marked and robust effects of acupuncture used to treat chronic pain. The results were noticeable over both traditional treatments and placebo effects. The results of increasing numbers of medical studies on acupuncture are consistent with the anecdotes of relief the treatment provides to our clients. If acupuncture lessens pain and/or reduces stress, it can be beneficial regardless of the opinions of some physicians. Acupuncture is another alternative treatment that has few negative side effects, so there’s little harm in trying or including the treatment in a pain management plan.
- Chiropractic Treatments: Depending on the basis and cause of chronic pain, chiropractic treatments can be very logical and common, so calling chiropractic an alternative treatment needs a little bit of explanation. There are some practitioners who apply chiropractic techniques as cures for wide varieties of medical problems. However, most if not all disability insurance companies won’t consider chiropractic by itself to be appropriate care and treatment. So for the purposes of disability claims, we’re including chiropractic as an alternative treatment. Along with massage therapy, chiropractic treatments are particularly helpful for those who are suffering from chronic pain that involves the spine. Studies on those suffering from chronic neck and back pain indicate that these treatments produce benefits for those conditions. Unlike the other treatments, there can be some risk in receiving this therapy. It’s important to consider any potential benefits in light of these risks. Depending on the nature of the chronic pain, chiropractic and message therapy can produce benefits with no additional drugs and a small chance of side effects and can be a beneficial part of a pain management plan.
Alternative treatments are increasing commonly used in chronic pain conditions, where there is no single cure and the cause of the condition can be somewhat unknown. People who are suffering from chronic pain struggle with traditional treatments that don’t manage their pain. This leads many desperate claimants to pursue alternative treatments. The lack of significant side effects or other negative consequences often means that there’s little downside to including alternative therapies. This is not to say every therapy will work for every case, but we’ve seen clients regain large portions of their life through these approaches.
While studies and anecdotal accounts by our clients have shown that these treatments can have positive effects, many doctors and disability insurance companies completely discount the usefulness or even relevance of these therapies. So for the purposes of disability claims, it’s critical that alternative therapies be used as part of the overall pain management plan that includes traditional diagnosis and treatments.
When dealing with a medical issue that can seemingly overwhelm every aspect of your life, anything that can help you regain some control and independence is a worthwhile pursuit. There are many different alternative treatments that work for people. It’s always a great idea to investigate all of these methods for yourself and choose the method(s) that work for you. For more information about “appropriate care and treatment” for your condition or for any other disability claim questions, please call our firm toll-free at (855) 828-4100 or sign up for a free consultation.