CLEVELAND, Ohio. (KFSN) -- Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. It's the most common cause of long-term disability, and it often leads to depression and painkiller addiction. But what if there was a way to heal the pain without the meds? Martie salt shows us how one renowned hospital is offering an alternative approach that is covered by insurance.
Horse shoeer Chris Wightman has lived a life of adventure and pain.
He said, "My lifestyle is a wanna-be cowboy!"
He's had knee surgery, compressed discs, sciatica, arthritis, torn rotator cuffs, pinched nerves and tennis elbow. To make matters worse, Chris has a blood vessel and liver condition that makes using pain meds dangerous.
Chris said, "I didn't have much at my disposal. I was depressed, and i was self-medicating with alcohol."
But today, Chris's pain is under control thanks to a unique program offered at the Cleveland Clinic.
It combines alternative approaches like hypnotherapy, yoga, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care, Chinese herbal medicine and emotional health training, all in one place.
Josie Znidarsic, DO, staff physician from the Cleveland Clinic, said, "We use everything that we have here to give them as many options as we can."
An analysis of 29 studies involving nearly 18,000 people found acupuncture led to a 50-percent reduction in pain. A study in the annals of internal medicine showed patients with neck pain who used a chiropractor or exercised were more than twice as likely to be pain-free after 12 weeks than those who took meds.
Znidarsic told Ivanhoe, "We've seen people definitely reduce pain medicine. We've seen people get rid of their walkers."
Holistic Psychotherapist from the Cleveland Clinic, Kellie Kirksey, PhD, said, "Sometimes, I cry because it's miraculous."
It's been over a year since Chris has used alcohol or drugs for pain-relief.
He said, "I'm high on life. It absolutely changed my life."
Doctors believe the Cleveland Clinic's drug-free pain management program is the only one of its kind in the country. They currently have a waiting list of nearly 100 patients who want to participate, and they are putting together a research report to share their methods with other hospitals.
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