Dr Wayne Jonas Discusses Integrative Health for Acute Pain

Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs at H&S Ventures, discusses whether integrative health practices can be helpful in treating acute pain.

Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs at H&S Ventures, discusses whether integrative health practices can be helpful in treating acute pain.

Transcript

Is there a role for integrative health in acute pain?

Integrative approaches have less of a role in acute pain than they do in chronic pain. There's no question that procedures and medications for acute pain are highly effective and should be frontline. This doesn't mean that, however, they have no role. For example, a number of years ago, I was out doing a retreat with medical students and a young man dislocated his shoulder for the first time, a very painful condition. It couldn't be put back in and he needed to go to the emergency room to have it reduced and he was in considerable acute pain. And on the way to the emergency room in the hospital, I took him through some mind body and hypnosis types of techniques that helped him to relax, reduce his stress. By the time he got to the emergency room, he reported that he was in considerably less pain and more relaxed, and then, it was a lot easier to actually treat him. So, that's an example of where you can apply a mind body technique in an acute pain setting.

Research shows that certain types of nondrug approaches can be useful in acute setting. For example, [patients with] acute back pain and back strain and semi-acute back strain, respond very favorably to manipulation, and that can be brought into the treatment. Acupuncture has been shown to be helpful both in acute and chronic pain and in fact, the Department of Defense has trained almost all their providers in something called battlefield acupuncture, which is a simple 5-point ear technique that they're actually using on the battlefield for acute pain and in the clinic for chronic pain. So, yes, there is a role but it needs to be integrated with standard medical treatment.