Holistic Pain Management and Opioid Epidemic

By: Polina Karmazin, MD

The topic of pain management is especially relevant now when so many lives and families are disrupted or devastated due to dependency on opioid medications by loved ones. Many of these addictions start innocently by taking pain pills to alleviate suffering from injury, an operation, a chronic condition or other cause.  We know that patients develop tolerance to these drugs and require higher doses over time. Before you know it, they are seeking drugs outside of doctor’s offices, which may be cheaper initially, and wind up more addicted. 

But there are also non-addictive pain relief medications that carry multiple side effects when being taken long-term. According to a recent MedicineNet article, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn) and others, may lead to such bad side effects as kidney failure (primarily with chronic use), liver failure, ulcers, and prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery.

Holistic Pain Management

Dr. Polina Karmazin, MD.

In the time of the opioid epidemic, alternative pain management techniques provide a safe, non-addictive solution to pain control. These techniques stimulate the body’s natural healing process instead of suppressing the pain like most conventional drugs do. By using these holistic therapies, patient’s reliance on conventional medications can be drastically reduced over time. Back and joint pain due to arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and sports injuries are some of the conditions that can be treated using alternative pain management techniques. 


Acupuncture has been practiced around the world for centuries. It stimulates healing by using thin needles which, when applied at precise points, trigger release of natural, restorative chemicals in muscles, spinal cord and brain. Acupuncture is widely recognized for effective pain control. 

Here’s a quote from the National Institutes of Health: “Results from a number of studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain. It also may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches.”


Biopuncture is a relatively new steroid-free injection treatment that uses FDA-approved, mostly plant-based ultra-low dilution product formulas to stimulate and support the healing process. It is used to treat pain associated with muscular, joint and other medical disorders. By gently balancing inflammation, biopuncture not only improves pain and function while also promoting long-term healing. 


This non-intoxicating marijuana extract is being credited with helping treat a host of medical problems — everything from epileptic seizures to inflammation to sleeplessness. It is a good adjunct to the treatments described above because it not only helps control pain, but also alleviates anxiety frequently associated with chronic pain.

“Cannabidiol is generally well-tolerated, which gives it a distinct advantage over other medications currently available for pain, including (and especially) opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant medications,” says Seth Waldman, MD, anesthesiologist and director of the pain management division at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Dr. Karmazin is board certified in integrative medicine and acupuncture. She has more than 25 years of clinical experience in family medicine as a board-certified family doctor where she combined conventional treatments with traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, biopuncture and homotoxicology to care for her patients. Her practice is in Voorhees.  For more information visit her website at www.SouthJerseyHolistic.com or call 856-528-2258.