As concerns about traditional prescription painkillers’ addictive properties have reached new heights, a renewed focus has been placed on alternative pain management and relief strategies.
Acupuncture, chiropractic care and nutritional supplements are some of the methods being touted at a time when overdoses and deaths linked to opioids and other prescription medications are grabbing headlines.
“I was in the industry at a time when we would give these things away like candy,” Sunday Muniz, a licensed pharmacist, said of opioids. Muniz currently sells a variety of holistic wellness products at Nutritional Designs, 5220 Washington Ave., Suite 101, Racine.
On any given day, Muniz said she meets with multiple customers who are trying to find relief from a range of physical ailments.
“We try to guide people in the right direction,” Muniz said. “You’ve got to start somewhere.”
Part of the process, she said, includes education — whether it be magnesium’s many benefits, the role such essential oils as wintergreen play on relieving joint pain, or the critical importance vitamin D plays in a body’s overall health.
For Muniz, the foray into nutritional supplements came from personal experience. After pregnancy, she suffered from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and was desperately seeking solutions.
“I was looking for any options out there, and that’s when the supplement world opened up to me,” Muniz said. “It’s about helping the body help itself.”
Chiropractic medicine is one of the more common and readily recognized forms of alternative therapies in our Western culture.
Although it is oftentimes associated with alleviating back pain, local doctor Tera Pfarr said chiropractic medicine can be beneficial in a range of treatments, including improved digestion and sinuses. The reason: The spinal chord is interconnected to many areas of the body.
“We work with the whole body,” said Pfarr, who practices at Brown Family Chiropractic, 4401 Taylor Ave., No. 103, Racine. “We try to get to the root cause of the problem … so the body is functioning at an optimal level.”
While internal organ issues can play a direct role, some of chiropractic medicine’s treatments do directly correlate to the musculoskeletal system — particularly in a modern working culture where many people sit for long periods of time without moving or stretching.
“We say sitting is the new smoking,” Pfarr said. “It’s so bad for your spine.”
Keith Garofalo, a licensed acupuncturist, concedes that Western medicine does have its benefits — particularly at times when a patient needs critical, life-saving care in an emergency room setting.
But Garofalo, who operates Red Dragon Acupuncture and Wellness Center, 6939 Mariner Drive, Suite D, Mount Pleasant, said the ancient Chinese principles of acupuncture run counter to traditional medicine by targeting the root cause of a problem rather than trying to mask it.
“Acupuncture is like typing a program into a computer,” Garofalo said. “It’s almost like an engineering approach to it. There’s a very big difference in the way we treat pain.”
The local specialists agree that local pain sufferers have reaped benefits by trying their methods. But they offer one overarching principle: Do not expect results overnight, which is a notion that might be difficult to swallow in the instantaneous 21st century culture.
“It might take time,” Muniz said. “But it’s something that can change your life, and you can enjoy it 20 years from now.”