The Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Comprehensive Spine Care is dedicated to providing effective treatment options for all types of spine-related pain. To complement traditional treatment modalities, we also offer a wide variety of holistic options to individuals who are motivated to be active participants in their own health and well-being.
Chronic pain affects many areas of a person’s life, far beyond the physical discomfort, and managing it can create both physical and psychological challenges. Studies have shown that treatments that fall outside traditional medicine can be effective in managing that pain. That is why the Center for Comprehensive Spine Care has a Holistic Spine Health Coordinator, who works with patients to consider the many factors that contribute to pain and find an approach that improves quality of life. Programs are tailored to each individual’s needs and take into consideration lifestyle, diet, nutrition, prior treatment, and the mind-body relationship in health.
Holistic spine care encompasses several different modalities. Any one or a combination of these modalities may be effective for an individual’s needs.
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance and paying attention to our thoughts and feelings. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune in to what we are sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, can produce physical, psychological, and social benefits.
Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals. Yoga can improve flexibility, strength, and balance and has been proven effective in reducing pain. Depending on the patient and treatment goals, a qualified yoga therapist can offer Chair Yoga or Therapeutic Yoga as well a more strenuous, exercise-based Vinyasa or Power Yoga.
Meditation refers to a broad variety of practices and techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force, and develop a greater sense of wellbeing. It may include relaxation or breathing techniques, guided imagery, and mindfulness practices. Meditation can be specific to a single symptom or take a more holistic approach to all aspects of your life. Meditation has been shown to reduce pre-operative stress, decrease postoperative narcotic needs, and allow management of chronic pain.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change the patterns of thinking that are behind people’s difficulties and improve the way they feel. CBT is an active collaboration with a focus on getting better and a commitment to learning new strategies for coping.
Biofeedback therapy involves training patients to control physiological processes such as muscle tension, blood pressure, or heart rate. These processes usually occur involuntarily, but patients trained by a biofeedback therapist learn how to manipulate them at will. Biofeedback is frequently used with great success to treat chronic pain.
Chiropractic medicine is a complementary system based on the diagnosis and treatment of misalignments within the body, particularly those of the spinal column. We refer many patients to chiropractors who pay specific attention to the soft tissue structures (muscles, ligaments, tendons) of the musculo- skeletal system and practice myofascial release (MFR) techniques and manual stretching therapies to restore function and eliminate pain.
Integrative Manual Therapy is a hands-on approach to treating the body involving a unique set of techniques, approaches, and methodologies to address pain, dysfunction, disease, and disability. It achieves health and healing by taking into account the whole human body and addressing dysfunction at the cellular level. This integrated treatment approach includes many systems of the body including anatomical, physiological, nutritional, and psychological. Treatment may include myofascial release, physical therapy, lymphatic drainage, and craniosacral therapy.
Acupuncture is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. It focuses on Chi, the life force that flows through meridians, or pathways, within the body. In Eastern Medicine, acupuncture is thought to improve the flow of Chi, thereby restoring balance, reducing inflammation, and relieving pain. Acupuncture is now used widely in the United States, and many of our patients report its benefits. It is frequently used in combination with other forms of treatment.