When a patient comes to me complaining of pain, I begin by examining the area of discomfort, while also taking into account other possible sources of the pain. This is because I’ve found the effective treatment of pain employs an integrative therapeutic approach that takes into account physical, emotional and mental wellness.
Our complex lives are replete with internal and external influences that affect our well being; this is a common state experienced by many people in the Reston, Bethesda, and Washington, DC offices where I practice. So when someone seeks relief from pain, I look at predisposing patterns that could contribute to the dysfunction. These may include: overall physical health; dietary and life style habits including physical activity; genetic factors; life coping strategies; mental attitudes; work pressures; and quality of relationships. Even postural patterns can contribute to pain problems. In other words, attending only to the physical aspects of persistent, or sudden pain in particular, may not be sufficient for its resolution.
Integrative medicine and other therapeutic wellness approaches take into account the whole person (body, mind, emotions, spirit, relationships, life style, etc.); they also affirm the importance of the relationship between the patient and the practitioner and make use of evidence-based, therapeutic approaches that may include conventional and alternative practices.
For example, “Margaret” was a 45-year old woman who came to see me for shoulder, neck and back pain, which affected her overall well being. The neck pain seemed to be associated with her posture from sitting at the computer for long periods of time and her shoulder pain was the result of an injury from working out. Her back pain seemed to have developed from running, yet was also affected by her menstrual cycle, which caused sleeplessness.
In response to Margaret’s panoply of pain issues, I used traditional acupuncture treatment and manual therapy; in addition, Chinese herbal medicine was helpful in improving her menstrual cycle, anxiety and sleep problems. However, the more I talked with Margaret, I realized there was another potent element contributing to her discomfort: the recent dissolution of her marriage. By looking through an integrative therapeutic lens, her bouts of anxiety and depression were clearly not just stemming from her pain. With this insight, I was able to coach her in transforming maladaptive beliefs and life coping strategies into positive life approaches that became essential to her well being – inside and out.
This is also why today, Margaret is feeling grounded, empowered, energetic and is moving on with her new life.
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Carlos Durana provides a caring, holistic and integrative approach to prevention and health care He practices acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy and other body therapies in Reston, VA, Bethesda, MD and the Washington, DC metro region.