Chronic pain patients seek alternative treatments

Published: .
Updated: .

People worried about the safety of steroid shots amid the fungal meningitis outbreak are now looking for alternatives to treat their pain. While narcotic medication is an option, other patients are looking for a drug-free alternative.

Cindy Baker-O'Dell suffers from severe sciatic nerve pain. She has tried everything from muscle relaxants to steroid shots for relief.

"I had one not in my spine but in my muscle" she said.

While it helped for a few days, Baker-O'Dell didn't like the idea of using injections long-term, so she turned to Tom Hammett at Acupuncture of Indiana.

Hammett is a registered nurse as well as an acupuncturist. He says they are seeing a steady stream of people who want that alternative.

"Anything that can be treated from a western paradigm of medicine can be treated from an eastern or oriental paradigm of medicine and it has been for thousands of years," he said. "A lot of people ,even people with severe chronic pain tend to shy away against Acupuncture because they are afraid it will hurt but the truth is, you barely feel a thing."

"He makes you feel very comfortable, and it's very relaxing and you just feel awesome when you leave" said Baker-O'Dell.

It's not just acupuncture. People are looking at other alternatives including massage and chiropractic care.

Dr. Ron Miller with Ortho Indy insists steroid injections are a safe option for pain management but encourages patients to ask questions early and often.

"Most patients come in and I encourage them to ask. If they don't bring it up, I will bring it up to them and let them know where we obtain our medications from that we do not use the particular pharmacy that's involved in the recent outbreak," he said.

As for Baker-O'Dell, she plans on sticking with what works to ease her pain and her mind.

More and more insurance companies are now covering the costs of holistic care including acupuncture. Out-of-pocket costs vary from practitioner to practitioner but often times cost much less than injections or medications.