How To Relieve Chronic Pain: A Guide To Alternative Medicine Treatments

yoga_11210734_m




 
When it comes to chronic pain, whether it’s lower-back pain, neck pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, to name a few, many people are trying to ease the pain with alternative medicine. Today, even medical doctors are supporting this type of therapy and healing given that drugs and medicaments have temporary or no effects.

The truth is that alternative medicine can be very beneficial due to the fact that chronic pain and pain in general can be closely connected to mental and emotional state, which can be efficiently treated with technics that include both physical and mental areas. Below you will see the list of alternative therapies that can bring relief to chronic pain.

 

Yoga: Treatment For Lower-back Pain, Arthritis, Migraines

Yoga brings pain relief by creating a balance in the body through various poses (that strengthen and develop flexibility) and breathing techniques. This mind-body discipline is an ancient practice that can effectively treat lower back-pain, many studies confirmed.

A study published in Spine journal reported that after two months of twice weekly practice people who were suffering from lower back pain experienced 42% reduction of pain and 46% reduction of depressive symptoms. Research published in Clinical Rheumatology in 2011 tested the effects of yoga in patients with lower back pain as well.

The researchers tested seven clinical trials and five of them suggested yoga leads to significant reduction of the pain in comparison to the usual therapeutic exercises. The researchers are still not sure how yoga reduces the pain, however, they indicate that due to the stress and anxiety reduction, lower back pain is also significantly decreased.

 

Acupuncture: Treatment for Chronic Back Pain, Migraines, Tension Headaches, Osteoarthritis, Sciatica, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture: Treatment for Chronic Back Pain, Migraines, Tension Headaches, Osteoarthritis, Sciatica, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that reduces the pain by unblocking the energy (energy known as qi or chi) along energy pathways of the body inserting acupuncture needles in those invisible pathways.

This way acupuncture sends signals to sympathetic nervous system and release neurochemicals and hormones, and natural pain-relieving opioids. A study published in Spine in 2008 showed strong evidence that acupuncture can be used as a therapy for low back pain.

Acupuncture improves the functions of nervous system and musculoskeletal system, which are often seen as causes of pain.

 

Massage: Treatment For Tension Headaches, Back Pain, Osteoarthritis, Neck Pain, Fibromyalgia, And Surgery Related Pains And Discomfort

Massage: Treatment For Tension Headaches, Back Pain, Osteoarthritis, Neck Pain, Fibromyalgia, And Surgery Related Pains And Discomfort

Massage is known as a therapy for stress and anxiety relief, however, the relaxing effects of the massage are not the only benefits. Massage therapy boosts levels of serotonin and endorphin, the hormones that are body’s natural painkillers and mood regulators.

A research published in Spine reviewed 13 clinical trials in order to determine the effects of massage for lower back pain. The scientists concluded that massage is very effective as a therapy for lower back pain, especially when combined with exercises and education.

Director of Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, Brent Bauer explained how massage is a beneficial treatment for post-operation patients as well. In the studies they concluded that massage brings tremendous benefits in reducing muscle tension, stress level, neck pain, low back pain and anxiety.

Other studies showed that massage reduces chronic tension headaches, and improves health in general. Using essential oils in massage treatment is also very beneficial, especially mixed oils (rosemary, eucalyptus and aloe vera). Essential oils can trigger a calming response onto aching body parts and ease the pain.

 

Qigong And Tai Chi: Treatment For Lower-back Pain, Arthritis And Fibromyalgia

Qigong And Tai Chi: Treatment For Lower-back Pain, Arthritis And Fibromyalgia

Though Tai Chi is a martial art, it has become a popular form of exercise. It focuses on slow, balanced and controlled movements and posture that are performed in a natural way are body is meant to be moved. Those movements strengthen the spine, and due to this Tai Chi is very beneficial for lower back pain.

Other benefits of Tai Chi include increased circulation and oxygen flow, enhanced sleep, improved strength, coordination and flexibility, better balance, and increased mental strength. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that Tai Chi has significant benefits for musculoskeletal system for fibromyalgia patients.

Other studies showed the benefits of Tai Chi for arthritis pain, back pain, stress reduction, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Qigong is similar to Tai Chi; it involves a series of exercises and postures that include slow and circular movements combined with regulated breathing, meditation and self-massage. There are different Qigong styles, and they can be classified as martial, medical or spiritual, some are more like Tai Chi, and others are more like kung fu.

What is the most important benefit of Qigong is that this form of exercise train the mind to direct body’s energy and bring natural state of balance. Due to this Qigong is believed to relax the mind, joints, muscles, inner organs, thus improve circulation, and relive stress and pain.

One study showed a positive impact of qigong for patients with fibromyalgia, though more research needs to be done in this field.

 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Therapy For Stress And Pain In General

Some researchers believe that cognitive-behavioral therapy is the best approach to relieve chronic pain. We know that talking about our problems is beneficial, however, now we know that talking can significantly reduce the pain because it changes the way we think about our pain. A research published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology showed that CBT may help people with weakness, unexplained pain and fatigue. CBT can also improve life and sleep of patients with pain.

 

Meditation: Therapy For Chronic Pain Reduction And Symptom Management

meditation astherapy for chronic pain reduction and symptom management

Although it is still unknown how meditation reduces the pain and helps with chronic pain management, apart from the fact that reduces the stress, depression and anxiety, which in turn have enormous benefits in alleviating pain with emotional or mental symptoms, numerous small studies showed that this ancient mind-body practice increases pain tolerance and reduce low back pain as well.

One study showed that mindfulness meditation can reduce pain, and the other showed that meditation can reduce emotional impact of pain.

A study from 2008, published in Pain, found that patients with lower back pain improved their pain acceptance and physical functions after an eight-week meditation program.

Meditation in general increases physical and mental relaxation and reduces chronic stress, thus disables it to trigger chronic pain.

 

Chiropractic: Treatment For Chronic Lower-back Pain And Acute Lower-Back Pain

Chiropractic: Treatment For Chronic Lower-back Pain And Acute Lower-Back Pain

The benefits of chiropractic treatments are seen in restoring joint mobility that have been restricted by muscle injury, strain, inflammation and pain. This treatment has a positive impact on relieving muscle tightness and muscle pain.

A study published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics showed that chiropractic care combined with exercise has benefits in reducing symptoms and improving function in patients with lower back pain.

 

Herbal Remedies: Reduce Inflammation That May Worsen The Pain

Herbal Remedies: Reduce Inflammation That May Worsen The Pain

Inflammation can contribute to back pain, and certain anti-inflammatory herbs may have positive effects in reducing the pain.

White willow bark has pain relieving properties that are similar to those of aspirin. There is a compound known as salicin in this plant, and it is transformed into salicylic acid in the body (aspirin is also converted into salicylic acid in the body).

This acid is believed to be responsible for reducing the pain and inflammation.

Another plant used for reducing inflammation is devil’s claw. This plant contains harpagosides, chemical compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Fish oils and turmeric is also very efficient for relieving the pain due to their anti-inflammatory characteristics. Turmeric has a compound known as curcumim, which has similar effects as ibuprofen for pain.

A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine compared the effects of curcumim and ibuprofen in 107 people with knee osteoarthritis. The results showed that curcumim can ease the pain and improve function about as well as ibuprofen.

 

Vitamin C: Beneficial For Knee Pain

We are aware that lack of vitamin C in our body can trigger many conditions and medical problems, however, vitamin C deficiency can also increase the pain in the knees. In a study, published in Arthritis and Rheumatism, participants with osteoarthritis who consumed an average of 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day reported less knee pain.

This vitamin is very important due to its ability to protect bones and for the positive effects it has on cartilage. Eating vitamin C rich food is very beneficial for knee pain.

 

Vitamin D: Beneficial For Chronic Muscle Pain And Back Pain

Vitamin D deficiency can be a symptom of chronic pain. Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and is available in certain food, such as fish and fortified milk, however, when it comes to pain relief some suggest treatments with vitamin D supplements.

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, people who had a low concentration of vitamin D improved the symptoms of back pain using supplements.

 

Vitamin B12: Beneficial For Lower Back Pain

Researchers examined the efficiency of vitamin B12 injections for low back pain, and published a study in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences showing that participants who received those injections experienced  significant reduction in pain and disability.

The group who received injections also used less pain medication in comparison to the group who received a placebo.

 

Magnesium: Beneficial For Chronic Low Back Pain

Magnesium is a very important mineral for normal muscle and nerve function, immune system, bone strength, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, protein synthesis, and over 300 biochemical reactions.

A study published in the Journal of Trace elements in Medicine and Biology revealed that 76 participants of 82 with chronic low back pain experienced reduction in pain symptoms due to the use of mineral supplements. These supplements also increased the magnesium levels by 11 percent.

 

Music Therapy: Beneficial For Stress Reduction

Music and physical therapy, according to a study published in Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, can significantly reduce anxiety and depression, thus have benefits for chronic pain reduction.

 

Swearing: Treatment For Better Pain Management

Researchers from Keele University found that swearing or using foul language could improve reactions to pain. This unusual treatment is especially beneficial for people who are usually polite and well spoken. The study is published in the Journal of Pain.

Reference:
Chrubasik S, Eisenberg E, Balan E, Weinberger T, Luzzati R, Conradt C. (2000). Treatment of low back pain exacerbations with willow bark extract: a randomized double-blind study. Am J Med.Jul;109(1):9-14.
Furlan AD, Imamura M, Dryden T, Irvin E. (2009). Massage for low back pain: an updated systematic review within the framework of the Cochrane Back Review Group. Spine, Jul 15;34(16):1669-84.
Gagnier JJ, van Tulder MW, Berman B, Bombardier C. (2007). Herbal medicine for low back pain: a Cochrane review. Spine (Phila Pa 1976).Jan 1;32(1):82-92.
Guétin S, Coudeyre E, Picot MC, Ginies P, Graber-Duvernay B, Ratsimba D, Vanbiervliet W, Blayac JP, Hérisson C. (2005). Effect of music therapy among hospitalized patients with chronic low back pain: a controlled, randomized trial. Ann Readapt Med Phys. Jun;48(5):217-24.
Hall AM, Maher CG, Lam P, Ferreira M, Latimer J. (2011). Tai chi exercise for treatment of pain and disability in people with persistent low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). Nov;63(11):1576-83. doi: 10.1002/acr.20594.
Lawrence DJ, Meeker W, Branson R, Bronfort G, Cates JR, Haas M, Haneline M, Micozzi M, Updyke W, Mootz R, Triano JJ, Hawk C. (2008). Chiropractic management of low back pain and low back-related leg complaints: a literature synthesis. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. Nov-Dec;31(9):659-74.
Lewis PJ. (2005). Vitamin D deficiency may have role in chronic low back pain. BMJ. Jul 9;331(7508):109.
Mauro GL, Martorana U, Cataldo P, Brancato G, Letizia G. (2000). Vitamin B12 in low back pain: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. May-Jun;4(3):53-8.
Morone NE, Greco CM, Weiner DK. (2008). Mindfulness meditation for the treatment of chronic low back pain in older adults: a randomized controlled pilot study. Pain. Feb;134(3):310-9.
Peng PW. (2012). Tai chi and chronic pain. Reg Anesth Pain Med. Jul-Aug;37(4):372-82.
Posadzki P, Ernst E. (2011). Yoga for low back pain: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Clin Rheumatol. Sep;30(9):1257-62.
Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Erro J, Miglioretti DL, Deyo RA. (2005). Comparing yoga, exercise, and a self-care book for chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. Dec 20;143(12):849-56.
Sorosky S, Stilp S, Akuthota V. (2008). Yoga and pilates in the management of low back pain. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. Mar;1(1):39-47.
Steidl L, Ditmar R, Dostal A. (2001). Serum magnesium and calcium in patients with dorsalgias. Magnes Res. Sep;14(3):225-6.
Thomas KJ, MacPherson H, Ratcliffe J, Thorpe L, Brazier J, Campbell M, Fitter M, Roman M, Walters S, Nicholl JP. (2005). Longer term clinical and economic benefits of offering acupuncture care to patients with chronic low back pain. Health Technol Assess.  Aug;9(32):iii-iv, ix-x, 1-109.
Vormann J, Worlitschek M, Goedecke T, Silver B. (2001). Supplementation with alkaline minerals reduces symptoms in patients with chronic low back pain. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 15(2-3):179-83.
Yuan J, Purepong N, Kerr DP, Park J, Bradbury I, McDonough S. (2008). Effectiveness of acupuncture for low back pain: a systematic review. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). Nov 1;33(23):E887-900.

Images credits: 123RF PHOTO STOCK


4 Comments
  1. March 16, 2014
  2. March 17, 2014
  3. March 29, 2014
    • March 31, 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *