Chevy Chase, Md. (WUSA9) -- Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain every day. The Food and Drug Administration wants limits to the popular pain medication, acetaminophen, in combo pills due to health risks.
Some believe prescription pain medications are overused, and there are many other ways to stop chronic pain.
Dr. Reza Ghorbani of the Advanced Pain Medicine Institute in Chevy Chase says, "Take a look at a typical commercial on TV. There is 5 seconds of 'how good this medication is and how it can help you' and 25 seconds of, 'oh the damages it can cause including death' so it scares the hell out of patients."
Several years ago, Mary Catakis of Friendship Heights started having extreme pain in her knees. She underwent surgery, but it did not relieve the pain. Months later, upper body pain added to the discomfort. She could not raise her arms. Mary wanted to stop taking painkillers, she was concerned about long term side effects.
Catakis says, "I could not put my hands on my hair to comb it."
Dr. Ghorbani says slowing chronic inflammation is the way to lessen pain instead of masking it.
Ghorbani says, "I believe in theory of pain and inflammation, inflammation is happening in our body as we speak on a molecular level every day."
Dr. Ghorbani started Mary on a natural herb medication he created called Noxicare. It is a combination of 7 natural herbs including rosemary, tumeric, and basil. He prefers the anti-inflammatory nature of these ingredients.
There are several misconceptions about chronic pain.
"Having 'no pain-no gain' is actually a myth, as well as growing older and the aging process can cause pain and we should accept that. That's another myth," adds Ghorbani.
Overall lifestyle change is important. Regular exercise, less stress, and better meals will make a huge difference. Avoid pro-inflammatory food like processed food and foods loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Ghorbani says, "Many primary care physicians are not really trained to treat pain management in a multidisciplinary fashion. They mostly know how to write prescriptions being narcotic or non-narcotic.
The natural treatment and lifestyle changes work for Mary Catakis. She is now 100 years old and relatively pain-free.
Catakis says, "When I told the doctor what happened, he was pleased. But I was more pleased than he was."
Other types of physical therapies and injections are used to stop pain including acupuncture. An NIH-funded study concluded acupuncture is effective for treating pain.