Book Review: HOLISTIC PAIN RELIEF

Author: Heather Tick
Publisher: MD New World Library
Book Publication: 2013

Estimates suggest that one in three people suffer from some type of pain. It is also the most common reason for visits to the doctor. Even more discouraging is the lack of success in treating and eliminating this growing personal and economic burden. Integrative medical and pain specialist Dr. Heather Tick’s novel approach to dealing with pain could change this.

Holistic Pain Relief focuses on strategies to deal with pain that look beyond the body part manifesting the pain, to the whole person – physical, emotional and spiritual. In her practice, Dr. Tick has changed the conversation on pain care to one more focused on the patient’s health and less on their problems with pain, because she has come to see and understand “if you feed your body the way it wants to be fed, rest it the way it needs to be rested, deal with exercise the way you should, your body will have the capacity to heal many things. It will also become less inflamed [and less inflammation translates into less pain].”

Thorough and perceptive, Holistic Pain Relief explores a wide range of allopathic and alternative treatments for pain relief: nutrition, acupuncture, massage therapy, medication, chiropractic techniques, intramuscular stimulation, cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation and breathing techniques, and movement therapies such as Yoga, Pilates, The Feldenkrais Method, and Tai Chi. To support the advice offered, Dr. Tick includes actual patient stories as well as references to the latest scientific research.

When promoting healing and treating pain, food and dietary supplements are Dr. Tick’s first line of therapy. In her practice and research, she has discovered that you change your body chemistry every time you eat, increasing or decreasing your inflammation with your food choices. Foods high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and artificial flavour enhancers increase the inflammation in the body which can cause pain. In fact, chronic pain is a natural consequence of the epidemic of diet-related illnesses – diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Tick explains that, “Your body needs the right raw materials in the form of nutrient-rich foods in order to heal pain.” Her goal for her patients is for them to learn to eat and enjoy ten servings a day of mostly vegetables and some fruits. She says, “People are more likely to leave her office with a recipe for lentils or chicken soup than a pharmaceutical prescription.”

Stress affects how we feel pain. Holistic Pain Relief offers a number of methods to help control stress. Different types of breathing and meditation techniques are discussed, and Dr. Tick shows how relaxation techniques like guided imagery, biofeedback, and hypnotherapy enable us to reach deep states of relaxation.

The many different categories of prescription drugs used to treat pain are explained, along with the possible side effects. Tragically, even when properly prescribed, “drugs are the fourth-leading cause of death in North America.” Furthermore, drug companies’ reports of success are misleading as they do not address the “number needed to treat” – that is the number of people who need to be treated to prevent one illness or unwanted event. As an example, with statins for high cholesterol “more than one hundred people need to be treated with statins over a period of many years just to prevent one heart attack; leaving at least ninety-nine people risking the side effects of this drug to help one person.”

Holistic Pain Relief is an invaluable resource for the millions suffering from chronic pain. It is filled with sound advice, descriptions of proven therapies that treat the root cause of pain not just the symptoms, and most important, optimism. So often, pain sufferers are left without hope for relief, just told they should learn to live with their pain. Equally as often they are never told about things they can do, and habits they could change to help reduce, even eliminate their suffering. Holistic Pain Relief provides both.

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Susannah Kent is a Toronto area Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Instructor.

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