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Achieve Therapy and Fitness offers integrated method using traditional medicine alternative treatments

Achieve Therapy and Fitness has implemented an integrative approach to the treatment and management of chronic pain, using a combination of traditional medicine and alternative treatments.  

Interest in alternative treatments is growing as physicians and patients recognize the increasing dependence on prescription medications and the rising cost of medical care.

The natural treatment approach appealed to the staff at Achieve because a large percentage of its patients — and about 30 million people in the U.S. — suffer from chronic pain.

The staff at Achieve commonly see chronic pain within its scope of treatment, whether it’s someone who suffered a sports-related injury, or someone living with a condition such as arthritis.

Achieve offers physical therapy and fitness services at seven locations in North Dakota and Minnesota, including Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. The provider has built a reputation for embracing research-based alternative treatment options, Achieve Physical Therapist Cliff Lafreniere says.

“Recent science is such that chronic pain is in the brain,” Lafreniere says. “It doesn’t have a cure, unless you can get the brain to focus differently.”

Prescription medication is effective in treating pain at the site, but it doesn’t address the issue causing the pain — and that’s what the program aims to do.

“What we look to do is address the whole problem,” Lafreniere says.

Supplements are one building block to changing the brain’s focus. But it’s only the starting point. Achieve’s treatment involves a complete lifestyle change, starting with improving sleep, diet and exercise habits.

The new treatment is offered through a partnership between Achieve’s physical therapy staff, Jean Gullicks, family nurse practitioner and mental health and developmental specialist, and Mary Dietrich, wellness educator. Gullicks and Dietrich are consultants with nutraMetrix, a division of the company that provides nutritional supplements used in Achieve’s program.

Gullicks specializes in mental health issues related to lifestyle and chronic pain. Dietrich is a lifestyle transitions coach and nutritional specialist. Both use their individual specialties to help patients understand the connections that mental health and proper nutrition have in managing chronic pain.

“One of the goals of the program is to reduce the quantity of prescription pain medications while helping the body heal itself with physical therapy, nutritional supplements and a healthy lifestyle,” Gullicks says. “This will result in a higher quality of life. Chronic pain causes inflammation, which interferes with absorption of nutrients and affects all components of the body, including brain health.”  

Physical activity and physical healing are key components, too, and that’s where Achieve’s physical therapists come in.

The right balance of supplements, nutrition and exercise can be effective in treating pain, Lafreniere says.

Gullicks says supple-ments take time to work.

“Nutritional supplements are science-based, not a belief system,” Gullicks says. “However, once a person starts to feel better, they believe they can be well.”