Rethinking Pain Relief
By PainFix co-founder Yen Tse Yap
Published March 04, 2021
When I left my home to start my life in New York City, I brought an important tradition with me: my family’s pain remedies. Many times I’d watched my parents cook up herbs in our centuries-old healing traditions, and apply them to patients in their small pain management practice. However, I’d never actually experienced their effects firsthand.
I believe in tradition, but I believe even more strongly in the scientific method. So, when I felt pain and stiffness creep into my right shoulder, I decided to put my family’s age-old remedy to the test. Every day, I cooked the herbs, spread the mixture onto gauze, and applied it to the knot in my shoulder, using a plaster to hold the homemade patch to my skin. And every day, I measured the knot, noticing how it got smaller and smaller until it, and the pain, finally disappeared.
As I learned more about the healthcare system in this country, I was struck by the inefficacy in pain relief practices. Yes, my family’s treatments were centuries old, but it was the American healthcare system’s approach that struck me as outdated. I knew from the thousands of patients at my family’s clinic that popping pills and lying in bed were not effective ways to heal pain and keep the body healthy.
Luckily, there’s a growing tide of change in America around pain relief.
The medical community is starting to recognize the limitations of their current practices. Increasingly, American health professionals are embracing a more holistic, integrative and multidisciplinary approach to pain treatment.
For example, in 2017, the American College of Physicians changed their treatment guidelines for lower back pain1. Today, they recommend that doctors hesitate to prescribe drugs and unnecessary procedures, and instead first try natural, alternative, and psychological therapies. Australians have been urged to stay off Valium to relieve back pain for lack of evidence2. In the UK, the National Health Service has stopped paying for procedures they deem ineffective such as knee arthroscopies for osteoarthritis and injections for back pain3. And in 2018, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet published a major worldwide study on lower back pain4. The results showed that ineffective procedures such as surgery, injections, and opioids were leading to more harm than good. Just look at the ongoing American opioid crisis as an example.
The U.S. has a culture of overmedication, partly thanks to the American pharma-industrial complex. One study found that American doctors prescribed opioids for acute pain almost twice as much as their Japanese counterparts (nearly 97% of the time compared to 49%)5. In Chinese communities all over the world, most muscle and joint pain is not managed by synthetic drugs. Instead options like massage, topical herbal medicine or acupuncture are considered first in an attempt to treat the root cause of the pain.
At PainFix, we’re working to bring more of this holistic culture to the U.S., encouraging people to try alternate methods of pain management.
PainFix targets the root cause of the pain, rather than simply masking the symptoms. Otherwise, the pain will just return again and again. Simply numbing pain is not effective in the long term. That’s why we prescribe physical exercises to be done in tandem with our products. Our philosophy comes not only from recent research findings, but also from our decades of experience running integrative pain management clinics where our medicines work synergistically with physical therapy.
The American medical community is also rediscovering the importance of physical exercise. More research gets published each year about the central role that physical activity plays in managing pain6. Medical authorities are now saying that no amount of exercise is too small7. And a deeper understanding of our evolutionary origins, where humans adapted to a physically active lifestyle on African savannas, tells us that exercise is the key to overcoming the problems caused by our modern sedentary lives.
The stronger your body is, the more resistant it is to injury. Part of rethinking pain treatment is focusing on prevention, not just relief. When you think about how the human body has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, you can start to understand the ideal conditions for your body, and how our modern sedentary life, diet, etc. has an effect. When you work to reduce inflammation and grow stronger, it feeds into a renewed confidence, not simply during moments when you’re physically active, but also during the rest of life - traveling, spending time with friends, taking care of family, and more. There is little doubt today that mental and emotional health are inextricably linked to physical health.
When you think about the conditions that human body evolved under for hundreds of thousands of years, you can start to understand the ideal conditions for your own body, and how our modern sedentary life, diet, etc. has an effect. When you work to reduce inflammation and grow stronger, it feeds into a renewed confidence.
PainFix is part of this giant pain relief rethink. Our mission is to help advance your wellbeing by providing you with the tools you need to master and unlock your body’s potential. That’s why, in addition to our unique products, our Recovery Kits also come with relief and strength exercises created by physical therapists. And why we are committed to always incorporating the latest research findings into the development of new products, exercise regimens, and other life-enhancing tools for our community.
We’re glad you’ve found us, and we’re excited to have you along on our journey.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.