As the opioid crisis continues in New Hampshire, some people are turning to alternative practices to ease pain.
Dr. Ian Bier describes himself as a holistic doctor and says he uses naturopathic techniques at his clinic in Portsmouth to treat patients who deal with chronic pain.
“Muscles go into spasm, you spend a week or month not being able to walk properly, and that leads to more pain in a different area, and we get into this whole big cycle,” Bier said.
Bier said he believes that painkillers, when needed, should only be used for a short time before mixing in what he calls natural pain management practices.
“With the increasing information on the downsides of using opioids or other painkillers, it becomes clear that taking that time is often necessary,” he said.
Bier uses techniques such as massage and acupuncture that he says help ease pain and reduce inflammation.
“Acupuncture is one of the things we use all of the time that has been shown to be as effective as painkillers,” he said.
Dr. Julia Greenspan is a naturopathic doctor working in Amherst.
“One of the common threads I see in chronic pain patients is a lack of self-care, and I don’t mean it in a judgmental way,” Greenspan said. “I just mean: Are they getting time for themselves?”
In some cases, Greenspan recommends exercise and an anti-inflammatory diet including herbal supplements to help her patients.
“What they do is that they can go into the system and actually target places where inflammation has gathered and break it down, and basically shunt things from a pro-inflammatory, which is going to be pain-causing, and make it anti-inflammatory,” Greenspan said.
Doctors said people taking herbal supplements must let their primary care physicians know what they’re taking, because the supplements can sometimes trigger drug interactions.
Libby Barnett said she’s a Reiki master who works on patients in her home in Wilton. She claims to be able to use energy from her hands to facilitate healing, managing pain before and after surgery.
“When you fuel the body with the energy to manage the pain and lessen it, that’s what happens,” she said. “I always say that it can’t hurt, it just might help.”
Some alternative treatments are covered by insurance, but it depends on the individual plan.
WEBVTT PATIENTS.WMUR’S KRISTEN CAROSA HAS MORE.REPORTER: DR. IAN BIER USESNATURAL PRACTICES AT THIS CLINICIN PORTSMOUTH TO TREAT PATIENTSWHO ARE DEALING WITH ALL SORTSOF CHRONIC PAIN.>> THE MUSCLES GO INTO SPASM,YOU SPEND A WEEK OR MONTH NOTABLE TO WALK PROPERLY AND THATLEADS TO MORE PAIN IN ADIFFERENT AREA.IT IS A BIG CYCLE.REPORTER: DR. BIER BELIEVES PAINKILLERS, WHEN NEEDED, SHOULDONLY BE USED FOR A SHORT TIMEAND THEN NATURAL PAIN MANAGEMENTPRACTICES MIXED IN.>> WITH THE INCREASINGINFORMATION ON THE DOWNSIDES OFUSING OPIOIDS OR OTHERPAINKILLERS, IT BECOMES CLEARTHAT TAKING THAT TIME IS OFTENNECESSARY.REPORTER: HE USES TECHNIQUESLIKE MASSAGE AND ACUPUNCTURE TOHELP EASE PAIN AND REDUCEINFLAMMATION.>> ACUPUNCTURE AND THE THINGSPEOPLE KNOW THE MOST ABOUT, THISIS SOMETHING WE USE ALL THE TIMETHAT HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BEEFFECTIVE OR AS EFFECTIVE AS,FOR EXAMPLE, PAINKILLERS.REPORTER: DR. JULIA GREENSPAN ISALSO A NATUROPATHIC DOCTORWORKING IN AMHERST. >> ONE OF THE COMMON THREADS ICYIN CHRONIC PAIN PATIENTS IS ALACK OF SELF-CARE.I DON’T MEAN THAT JUDGMENTALLY,I MEAN FROM A PLACE OF CONCERN.ARE THEY TAKING OF TIME FORTHEMSELVES?REPORTER: SHE ALSO RECOMMENDSHERBAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR PATIENTS.>> THEY CAN TARGET AREAS WHEREINFLAMMATION HAVE GATHERED ANDBREAK IT DOWN AND SHOT THINGSFROM A PRO-INFLAMMATORY TO ANANTI-INFLAMMATORY.REPORTER: LIBBY IS A RAKINGMASTER.SHE USES THE ENERGY FROM HERHANDS TO FACILITATE HEALING.SHE SAYS SHE CAN MANAGE PAINBEFORE AND AFTER SURGERY.WHEN YOU FEEL THE BODY WITHENERGY TO LESSEN THE PAIN, THATIS WHAT HAPPENS.I ALWAYS SAY, IT CANNOT HURT ANDIT MIGHT HELP.JEAN: SOME ALTERNATIVETREATMENTS ARE COVERED BYINSURANCE, BUT IT DEPENDS ONYOUR INDIVIDUAL PLAN AND IT’S