Chronic pain doesn’t get as much attention as some high-profile diseases, but it affects more than 50 million Americans every year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.) Chronic pain can have impact far beyond the physical pain it causes, impacting your ability to work, sleep, and enjoy personal time with your family and friends.
Whole Health is a new initiative from the VA that looks at chronic pain in a holistic way. By understanding the impact that chronic pain can have, it hopes to provide much-needed relief – and may point the way forward for others in the medical field to treat chronic pain.
What is the Whole Health Model?
The goal of the Whole Health Model is to evaluate each patient and provide a “personalized and patient-driven experience” that’s designed to help an individual coping with chronic pain to live the best, most productive life possible.
Some of the services that Whole Health includes are:
- Yoga classes
- Tai chi classes
- Diet and nutrition classes
- Mindfulness classes
- Acupuncture treatments
- Spinal manipulation
In other words, the primary goal is to provide non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive ways for patients to manage their pain.
The VA offers group classes that encourage congregation and socialization, both of which can help people cope with chronic pain. There’s evidence to show that pain is exacerbated by loneliness and depression.
How Can Whole Health Help Non-Veterans?
While the Whole Health Model is specifically for United States military veterans, the program itself offers a roadmap for healthcare professionals who treat chronic pain.
In the world of chiropractic, the idea of finding non-pharmacological and non-surgical ways of reducing and managing chronic pain is not new. In fact, it’s the driving philosophy behind what we do.
However, some mainstream physicians still default to prescribing pain medication and recommending surgery instead of attempting less invasive methods of pain management first.
The hope is that the doctors in the VA who are in a position to see the beneficial effects of Yoga, tai chi, mindfulness training, and spinal manipulations will spread the word to their colleagues outside of the VA. If they do, then the Whole Health Model could become the gold standard for how we treat chronic pain going forward.
Because chronic pain affects so many people in the United States and around the world, it’s essential that we find effective ways to treat it. That’s especially true when you consider how the over-prescription of opioid pain medications have led to the huge opioid addiction problem that is currently impacting many people around the country. Ultimately, pain medicine only treats the symptom of pain without addressing the underlying issues causing it.
The VA’s Whole Health program offers hope to military veterans who need practical, non-invasive methods to manage their physical pain. In the future, it may also provide guidance to doctors operating outside the VA who are struggling to find ways to help their patients who live with chronic pain every day.