Holistic Approach to Managing Back Pain

Armen Hareyan's picture
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These days, a growing number of people who suffer from chronic pain are seeking out a holistic, body/mind approach to managing their discomfort: the hallmark of Duke's Center for Integrative Medicine. "Diagnosis is just the first step," says the center's Sam Moon, MD, an expert in occupational and environmental medicine who has treated patients with back pain for more than 30 years. "It's equally important to understand the patient's beliefs, preferences, and priorities, and to evaluate their risk for future health problems."

Whether pain is acute or chronic, Moon encourages people with back pain to stay, as he puts it, "cautiously active." "When people are in pain, they tend to stop moving," Moon says. "But it's critical that they learn better ways to move and stay active, as appropriate to their conditions. This approach preserves and enhances overall health and vigor."

Moon's colleague Linda Smith, the center's program director, says that while it's not always possible to locate and treat the precise cause of back pain, people have more control than they realize over how they experience it. "We want our patients to feel empowered," Smith says, "not like victims."

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Toward that end, the Integrative Medicine team offers a variety of classes in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), both for overall wellness and as a complementary treatment for chronic health conditions. Participants learn how to use meditation, breath work, and hatha yoga to observe and modify their reactions to such stress as pain, work and family pressures and to connect more fully with their inner resources for living and healing.

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The source of this article is http://www.dukehealth.org

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