Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier - The Best Alternative Medicine

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Pain: CAM Therapies for Specific Conditions

  • Exercise is helpful in reducing pain.


  • In Germany, 77 percent of pain clinics employ acupuncture as part of their therapeutic regimen.


  • Relaxation techniques appear to have a positive effect upon chronic pain. These techniques are generally MindBody therapies, such as imagery, hypnotherapy, tai chi, Qi Gong, and meditation.


  • Biofeedback, a method of improving control over autonomic body functions, is often used to treat chronic pain. Stress monitors allow patients to note their levels of stress. High levels of stress exacerbate pain.


  • Music therapy tends to decrease the perception of chronic pain, possibly by physically blocking the "gates of pain" that are primarily in the spinal cord.


  • In a study by Lin Chuanrong, Chinese herbs were administered to patients with cancer pain, along with chemotherapy. Pain relief was experienced by 68 percent of the people receiving herbs. A control group of patients receiving only chemotherapy did not fare as well; only 40 percent noted pain reduction.


  • Acupuncture has long been used for chronic pain. As early as the late 1800s, it was considered among the best therapies for lower back pain. Current studies support this view.


  • Naturopathic medicine is often used in the treatment of chronic pain. Among the approaches that are applied are nutritional supplementation, physical medicine (including exercise), and counseling.


  • Homeopathy is effective for some forms of pain including childhood pains such as colic, ear infections, and teething. A review of studies conducted by Dutch professors found that homeopathy was effective against pain in eighteen of twenty studies.


  • Chiropractic therapy is widely used to treat pain, particularly back pain and neck pain (which sometimes causes headaches). Chiropractic is considered by many to be the most effective therapy for pain in the lower back. Many studies support its efficacy.


  • Traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine is sometimes used to treat painful conditions, including arthritis, sciatica, lower back pain, ulcers, and gastritis.


  • Prayer appears to be of benefit for pain patients. The act of prayer helps many people to relax. One study indicated that pain may be decreased in people who are prayed for by others.


  • Studies indicate that therapeutic touch decreases pain in postoperative patients. This approach is based on the theory that the human organism is surrounded by an energy field, such as that described as qi in China, or prana in India.

Caution: Use of the mineral selenium, in excess, can cause abdominal pain in some people.

Caution: Among the most serious relatively common side effects of acupuncture are mild, transitory depression, anxiety, or fatigue.

Caution: Risks of chiropractic manipulation include increased pain, ruptured disks, and paralysis. Manipulation of the neck tends to produce the most serious injuries, including stroke and other neurological problems. Spinal manipulation is not recommended in the presence of such problems as fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, severe osteoporosis, bleeding disorders, and infection or inflammation of the spine. Manipulation of the neck can be relatively risky if the patient is taking oral contraceptives or blood-thinning medications, or has high blood pressure or other risk factors for stroke.



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Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.

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