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8 Best Alternative Treatments for Chronic Pain

By Last updated on January 31st, 2023January 31st, 2023No Comments

Chronic pain is a health condition that persists over 12 weeks even after the treatment. This type of pain is often caused after an operation, and patients keep experiencing the pain despite using medication.

People suffering from diabetes and arthritis usually complain about chronic pain. but it can affect any person in any body part, even after all the medical reports are clear. Fortunately, you can find multiple alternative treatments for chronic pain that don’t involve surgery. 

Some techniques might not require any equipment, as therapists and doctors try to empower the natural healing ability of the body to reduce chronic pain. Although such treatments require time, it’s better to wait and observe the response of the natural healing components.

Here are 8 effective alternative treatments for chronic pain:

1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) which focuses on changing the course of energy inside the body. Although this alternative method for chronic pain is pseudoscience, doctors and physicians still rely on acupuncture.

An acupuncturist injects very fine and thin needles into the patient’s acupoints (different points on the body where acupuncture works). The needles stimulate the healing process and reduce pain by releasing endorphins (natural pain killers.)

Stimulating biochemicals inside the body boosts healing, reduces chronic pain, and promotes emotional well-being by triggering serotonin.

Patients suffering from chronic pain like whiplash (hyperextended neck) or sports injury prefer acupuncture as it’s the safest alternative treatment. Even today, there are also no side effects that make acupuncture a successful treatment. 

However, acupuncturists must delicately treat their patients since the needles are very thin and may break due to excessive force. A broken needle might be painful and may cause bruises and bleeding.

2. Physical Exercise

Physical activities have always been the best remedy for chronic pain as they keep motor skills mobile and the mood healthy. The most common form of these activities include regular exercise and walking.

If you have chronic pain and experience tight muscles quite often, sparing 5-10 minutes daily doing regular exercise can ease your pain. Here are a few exercises you can follow:

Stretching

Chronic muscular pain occurs due to several reasons, including:

  • Stress
  • Overuse
  • Minor injury

You will experience pain in a small area of your body, and stretching that specific muscle can help reduce the pain. For example, if you have chronic pain in your lower back, follow these steps to stretch that muscle:

  • Sit on the ground on your knees and place your arms in front of you.
  • Spread your arms on the ground. Now you are on your knees and arms.
  • Sink back and place your hips on your heels.
  • Keep your belly on your thighs to fully stretch your lower back.
  • Lift your body upwards using your thighs and palms without lifting from the ground.
  • Focus on the tight muscle and keep this pose for 1 minute.

The above stretch is known as the child’s pose, relieving lower back pain if you regularly follow it.

3. Chiropractic Manipulation

Chiropractic or spinal manipulation is a special procedure in which a chiropractor presses specific spinal joints to reduce pain and treat an injury. This procedure needs expertise because the spinal cord is responsible for sending every physical activity.

A chiropractor may use instruments or just their hands to exert sudden force on the spinal cord. This alternative treatment for chronic pain, especially in the neck, head, and back, is safe if the chiropractor is professional and licensed.

You don’t need to specially prepare for this treatment. However, the chiropractor might check your medical history and guide you accordingly before the treatment. Remember that you must take a light meal and keep yourself hydrated before visiting for the chiropractic session.

4. Stress-Reduction

Patients suffering from chronic muscular pain must not stress themselves as it worsens their health. That’s why physicians suggest the following stress-reduction techniques to treat chronic pain:

Relaxation

In relaxation therapy, the doctor will guide you on focusing on your breath and releasing tension from your body. As stress contracts your muscles and makes the pain worse, you must stay calm during the relaxation therapy to relax your muscles.

Research shows this therapy helps patients suffering from osteoarthritis, headache, and fibromyalgia.

Guided Imagery

That’s another stress-reduction technique in which your doctor or physician will show you some images to divert your focus. The purpose of showing you different images is to make you feel relaxed and get rid of stress.

Hypnosis

Clinical therapy hypnotherapy is one of the most successful techniques to treat stress and chronic pain. The therapist might need 6-8 sessions with the patient to send them in a relaxed state to reduce stress.

5. Supplements and Vitamins

Patients suffering from chronic pain might want to use supplements to avoid surgery. The supplements and vitamins boost the natural healing process and reduce the severity of pain. For example, doctors recommend fish oil to reduce pain due to chronic swelling.

You can find fish oil pills or make organic fish oil a part of your diet. However, you must be careful about the dosage of supplements and vitamins. If taken in large quantities, some vitamins might damage internal organs and nerves.

A supplement known as ginkgo biloba is a blood thinner for heart patients. If you increase its dosage more than the prescribed one, you might get increased bleeding on small injuries.

So, always consult your doctor if you are taking supplements and vitamins as alternative treatments for chronic pain to get the best results.

6. Biofeedback

Sometimes doctors can’t identify the area in which patients feel chronic pain. So, a technique known as biofeedback is used to locate the affected area and treat the pain.

In this process, the doctor uses sensors or asks you to make movements to identify the affected muscle. The sensors display the result digitally, and using that result, the doctor will adjust the patient’s physical movements.

The physiological data helps doctors diagnose and change the patient’s activities to treat chronic pain. The biofeedback data might include the following:

  • Weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Temperature
  • Muscle activity
  • Brainwaves
  • Heart rate

After the therapy, the doctor will instruct the patient on what changes they must make to reduce pain and heal the injury.

7. Marijuana Use

Although marijuana has a bad reputation as it makes people go high, its medicinal use helps patients reduce chronic pain. Marijuana has several properties through which it can treat neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves). It can also reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy.

However, doctors go for marijuana treatment when all other options have failed to treat the pain. The adverse side effects of marijuana, like addiction and psychological disorders, must also be kept in mind while using this treatment.

8. Orthobiologic Methods

Orthobiologic techniques are modern regenerative medicinal methods to treat chronic pain. These methods are non-invasive and use the patient’s own cells and tissues to repair the damaged area. That’s why they have a high acceptance rate by the patients’ bodies.

You can find the following two orthobiologic methods at CELLAXYS as alternative treatments for chronic pain. Your doctor will first find the cause of your chronic pain, and then opt for any of the method accordingly.

Cell-Based Therapies

The cell-based therapy uses the stem cells of the patients. These cells are in raw form and can generate almost any type of cell in the body. That’s why cell-based therapy is also known as stem cell therapy.

The only condition for cell-based therapy is that the stem cells must be active. Doctors first extract these cells from the patient’s body and examine their status. Once the stem cells are ready, the doctors will inject them into the affected area.

There are two types of cell-based therapies:

  • Minimally Manipulated Adipose Tissue Transplant (MMAT). A doctor will process stem cells from the patient’s adipose or fatty tissue. After examining the stem cells’ status, the doctor will inject those cells into the injured muscle to reduce chronic pain.
  • Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC). A doctor will extract healthy cells from the patient’s bone marrow and inject them into the painful area.

MMAT and BMAC take 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, including sampling and treatment. Patients can go home after a few hours once the cell-based therapy is done.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)

Platelets are important elements in our blood as they play a defensive role whenever an injury occurs. The PRP treatment for chronic pain involves the patient’s blood sample to separate platelets. After that, the sample is sent to the lab for examination.

The doctor will check the status of the platelets and inject them into the affected area to promote healing and reduce chronic pain.

Platelets have three major responsibilities in our bodies:

  1. Boost new tissue generation by releasing 10 growth factors.
  2. Send signals to boost healing in the blood.
  3. Create fibrin, a tough protein for blood contraction and retraction.

When the numbers of platelets increase inside the body, the healing process also increases. PRP is a common alternative treatment for chronic pain, and it needs around 45 minutes to complete.

Dr. Matthew HC Otten

Director of Regenerative Orthopedic and Sports Medicine
Fellowship-trained & Board Certified in Sports medicine
Director Angiography at Harvard Clinical Research Institute
Michigan State University Alumni

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