The need for pain management due to chronic health issues continues to increase in our country. Now more than ever, health practitioners are increasing their awareness on the different types of pain management options and more practitioners are opting for alternative and holistic medicine for the management of pain due to chronic illnesses. More studies are being conducted to prove that prevention is the key, and that we should look closer at incorporating nutrition and spiritual guidance as part of important and effective lifestyle changes that are proven to be effective in managing these chronic conditions and even eliminating some of these conditions without the use of prescription of pain killers. “Over the last 5 years, there has been a substantial increase in the use of specific complementary and alternative medicine therapies, particularly mind-body interventions” (Yachoui & Kolasinski, 2012).
The health problem I have identified throughout my career is the increase of chronic illnesses and the pain associated with these. I have decided to combine my experience as a nurse and my personal experience in dealing with chronic illness, in hopes that I can help some of the members of my community. The increase in chronic illnesses shows the need to try other venues for dealing with these issues. Some of the obstacles I have identified, and will do research on for my project are: overuse of prescription pain medication, sedentary lifestyle, and inadequate nutrition, but above all, it is the lack of education that has become the biggest concern because people are unaware of what they are eating and the dangers of using pain medication as the number one resource for dealing with pain from chronic illnesses.
Some of the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle are the overweight and obese epidemic and the development of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. These illnesses bring on the issues with pain, but exercise has been the best choice for a lot of these conditions but especially for prevention of them. “Researchers have also noted that exercise, unlike other forms of treatment, has few negative side-effects, and in fact can have many additional positive benefits for individuals such as improved physical fitness, improved self-esteem, and increased social and community involvement” (Hitschfeld, 2011). Most people have a negative attitude towards this option, because the use of exercise programs is not a big part of our culture. I believe the effects of exercise to treat pain are very beneficial.
Americans don’t understand how to eat because they do not know what eating fast food, chemicals, and preservatives does to their bodies and how this contributes to most chronic illnesses in the country. One example of the benefits of nutrition in our health is Vitamin D. “Research showing that vitamin D receptors are present in virtually all cells of the body, and the increasing data demonstrating a relationship of vitamin D metabolites to chronic diseases, have led to widespread treatment of medical conditions with vitamin D supplementation. Chronic pain and inflammatory conditions are increasingly linked to vitamin D deficiency” (Singer, 2013). There are so many things we can do with nutrition and treatment of pain, and I will be using this as one of the main topics of my project.
Start at young ages, change the mindset, and educate everyone so they are aware of what they are doing to their bodies and what options they have in changing their lifestyle. I have done a lot of research in the benefits of Yoga and I am reading more about schools implementing yoga within the school curriculum. “Research suggests that yoga may enhance several aspects of physical fitness, such as improved respiratory function, increased exercise adherence, as well as reduced obesity risk factors, including attenuated weight gain, decreases in body mass index, reduced blood pressure, lowered cholesterol and improvements in food choice” (Butzer, Bury, Telles, & Khalsa, 2016).
Some of the most common alternative treatment options are: “Natural products, mind-body medicine, manipulative and body-based practices, movement therapies, practices of traditional healers, energy medicine, whole medical systems” (Yachoui & Kolasinski, 2012). I will research how all these methods work and use them in my design of plans of cares for my community.
My stakeholders are going to be the owner of New Horizons Yoga Studio, Kelly Link. Kelly is a Doula and a Yoga instructor. She will be opening the first Yoga studio in the area where I live. Kat Aviles, also a yoga instructor will be helping mostly with the planning and implementation of yoga routines and mediation practice. Veronica Diaz is a registered nurse and a certified nutrition health coach. She is trained in the wonders of nutrition and what it can do to heal the body from different chronic illnesses that cause inflammation and pain. Cassie Ley, registered nurse with Medical/Surgical, Palliative, and ICU experience, will be helping with overseeing all aspects of the project.
Limited financial resources are always a concern when it comes to alternative medicine because insurance companies are still not onboard with the belief and results of these treatments. I am starting to see some insurances with coverage for yoga classes and wellness centers treatments such as massages. “In 2007, adults in the USA spent US$33.9 billion out of pocket on visits to CAM practitioners and purchases of CAM products, classes and materials” (Yachoui & Kolasinski, 2012).
Society is not ready for change and education is needed. The perception on lifestyle changes in the community is a problem. I will come up with different ways I can teach and educate others by making them realize that this is something they have to do for themselves. “Studies show that People’s perceptions are to some extent related to socioeconomic position” (Bukman, Teuscher, Feskens, Baak, Meershoek, & Renes, 2014). I plan to take this into consideration when I do my research to come up with individual plans based on socioeconomic backgrounds because I believe everyone deserves to know the truth about chronic illness treatment options.
“The implementation of measures to promote a healthy lifestyle relates to important values such as autonomy, freedom of choice, and privacy. Measures to prevent overweight may also have consequences for people’s self-image and psychological well-being” (Ten Have, 2014). I consider unethical that Americans do not know what the effects of nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices are. I also consider unethical that insurance companies do not consider most of the alternative medicine treatments as part of their coverage. I am glad that they are starting to incorporate massages and yoga classes in some of their plans, and I think studies are showing the positive effects of alternative treatments.
“Globally, it has been estimated that 1 in 5 adults suffer from pain and that another 1 in 10 adults are diagnosed with chronic pain each year” (Goldberg & McGee, 2011). I believe the community is ready to see some changes in the treatment and prevention of chronic illness because their lives are being affected. I hope that the ideas in this project reach a large part of the community and that I am able to teach others what they deserve to know about the truth of conventional vs alternative treatments.
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