According to a new survey conducted at Stanford University, four out of every ten American adults suffers with chronic pain and 20% of all doctor’s visits are from individuals seeking pain relief. Unfortunately, conventional medical practitioners are not always able to help people eliminate their pain and the treatments that they do offer tend to be costly and invasive. Luckily, there are alternative pain relief techniques that can help to provide pain relief without the drastic expenses, and unwanted side-effects associated with conventional medical therapies.
Acupuncture is an ancient healing art that has been practiced widely in China and Asia for over 5,000 years and it has gained recent popularity in the Western World. Acupuncture for pain relief involves stimulating certain pain points through the insertion of fine, metallic needles. The pain point stimulation helps to reduce pain by encouraging multiple innate healing mechanisms in your body. Acupuncture helps to balance the flow of ying and yang energy; an imbalance of which is said to lead to illness, inflammation, pain and injury. Pain point stimulation with acupuncture also appears to inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (immunoregulatory protein molecules), whilst simultaneously encouraging the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines. This dual effect on cytokines helps to reduce overall inflammation levels, and this is beneficial because inflammation is a large contributor to both acute and chronic pain. Finally, acupuncture produces pain relief by encouraging the release of opioids in the brain, which are chemicals that help to reduce pain.
Although many acupuncturists claim that the therapy can reduce all types of pain, these claims are based primarily on anecdotal evidence. There have been numerous studies however, that confirm that acupuncture can effectively produce pain relief for the following conditions: migraines, back pain, tennis elbow, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Energy therapies such as Reiki, Healing Touch (HT) and Therapeutic Touch (TT), are energy based techniques that help to reduce inflammation and both chronic and acute pain, by activating the self-healing process. Contrary to what their names suggest, these therapies do not involve actually touching any pain points, however they do involve close physical proximity between the patient and the practitioner. Recently, researchers at the Prince of Whales Hospital, China, conducted a meta-analysis of 24 touch therapy and Reiki studies, involving 1,153 patients. Reiki, HT and TT all helped to lower the mean pain intensity experienced by the patients without any negative side-effects, and of the three therapies, Reiki appeared to produce the greatest reported pain relief.
If you are going to seek the help of an energy healing practitioner, look for one who is experienced in his or her field, because the meta-analysis found that practitioner’s with more experience produced greater pain relief in their patients.
Did you know that at best, your doctor will have studied a mere 25 hours’ worth of nutrition in med school? Although, Naturopathic Doctors and many other Alternative Practitioners are well aware of the connection between inflammation, pain and diet, your Medical Doctor probably has no clue. According to Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist at Duke Integrative Medicine, North Carolina, “what we eat has a dramatic impact on levels of pain in the body.” In fact recent research suggests that certain foods can provide some pain relief. For instance, red grapes contain a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol that helps to reduce inflammation and prevent free radical damage to your tissue and joints. In so doing, they may help to relieve chronic pain. Other common inflammation reducing, pain relief producing foods include: ginger, soy, turmeric, cherries, coffee, dark chocolate and cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel. These could play a significant role in pain reduction.
It should be noted that certain foods and diet plans work better for certain types of pain. As such, you may want to consider seeking the advice of a holistic health practitioner, with regards to which diet plan will work best for your particular type of pain.