Complementary Therapies for Pain

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There are many different types of complementary treatments, which are said to help reduce the pain caused by many different conditions.

Some of the most popular ones are as follow:

- Cold treatments:
Using a cold compress or even a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel can help numb the area and stop the swelling.
Do not leave on the affected area or injury for longer than ten minutes.

This treatment can help relieve the pain and discomfort of any injury, as well as reducing bruising and difficulty of movement.

- Heat treatments:
Using heat packs or even warming lamps can help relief pain and tense muscles.

This treatment works by bringing blood to the affected area, but care must be taken when using this method since it does not help with swelling, so it should not be used until the injury is at least 48 hours old.

- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines:
These are machines that deliver small electrical pulses via electrodes on the skin.

The pulses are thought to affect how the pain signals are sent to the brain.

It is said to be effective at relieving arthritic, joint and muscle pain.

- Osteopathy:
This treats musculoskeletal conditions impaired by blood supply.

It is said to be efficient at treating back and neck pain, headaches, migraines and sciatica.

- Massage therapy:
This is an ancient practice that involves therapeutic kneading and stroking of the soft tissue in the body to relieve tension and pain, this works by stimulating the blood and lymph circulation systems and the release of endorphins (feel-good brain chemicals thought to block pain signals).

It is said to be a good way of treating back, joint and muscle pain, and sport injuries.

- Acupuncture:
These treatment involves inserting small, fine needles at chosen appropriate points along the body’s “meridians” to alter the flow of “chi”.

It can treat most types of pain, especially back pain, headaches, migraine, arthritis and Repetitive Strain Injury.

* CHI: An energy that circulates via 12 internal meridians (or pathways), which correspond to the body’s 12 mayor organs.

- Chiropractic:
This is a hands-on therapy that seeks to align the skeletal system.

The principal behind it is that the body can heal itself when the skeleton is correctly aligned and therefore the nervous system is functioning properly.

Chiropractors can either use their hands or an adjusting tool to manipulate the vertebrae.

It is used for back and neck pain, headaches, migraines and sciatica.

- Acupressure:
This involves a firm manual pressure applied on selected “meridian” points. It is thought that by manipulating these points, stimulation to the flow of “chi” is achieved, promoting good health.

It is used to treat arthritic, back and joint pain and even headaches.

- Reflexology:
This therapy uses the hands and feet of the individual as a mirror image of heir body.

It is believed that by applying pressure to them, you can treat problems matching the corresponding parts of the body.

It is said to be useful to treat chronic pain, headaches, migraine and period pain.

- Hypnotherapy:
This treatment seeks to train the brain while you are in a semi-conscious state.

You will be aware of everything the therapist does and feel almost as if you are daydreaming.

It is meant to guide you through your responses to pain in order to change your reactions.

It is believe that it can help with chronic and surgical pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and migraine.

- Magnetic and electromagnetic therapy:
This therapy uses magnets to stimulate energy flow rather than needles and hands.

It uses pulsed electromagnetic fields to create changes within the body.

It is used for arthritic, back and joint pain and headaches.

- Homeopathic remedies:
For tension headaches: Nat mur, Belladonna, Bryonia, Gelsemium and Ignatia.

For migraine pain: Kali bich, Lycopodium, Nat mur, Pulsatilla, Silica and Thuja.

For back pain: Bryonia, Nux vom, Rhus tox, Ruta grav, Arnica and Hypericum.

For sprains and strains: Bryonia and Rhus tox.


The best treatment for pain cause by sprains, strains and bruises is the "R.I.C.E principle".

( R ) Rest: This means stopping any activity that provokes the problem.

( I ) Ice: Ice reduces pain and bruising but must not be applied directly to the skin since it can cause freezer burn to the skin and damage it. (Do not apply ice for longer than 10 minutes)

( C ) Compression: Compression gives support and helps reduce swelling.

( E ) Elevation: Elevating/raising the affected limb, can help keep the swelling to a minimum by preventing fluids to settle at the bottom of the limb while at the same time making them able to circulate properly.


- The use of heat:

Have you ever found yourself reaching out for a heat pad to relieve aches and pains?

Researchers from UCL tell us why it works:
They found that temperatures of 40º C (104º F) applied to the skin, can switch on heat receptors, which block the effects of chemical messengers that transmit pain signals.

Researcher Dr. Brian King says: “The heat provides comfort and deactivates the pain at the molecular level, in much the same way as a pharmaceutical painkillers work”.

Heat can relieve internal aches, such as period pain, colic and cystitis, for up to an hour.

- The power of the mind:

The way your mind is set affects the ways in which your body responds to pain treatments.

In a University of Manchester study, 40 pain-free volunteers were given placebos (an inactive substance) followed by mildly painful heat stimuli. Some were led to believe they were being given a local anaesthetic. Of those, 67% experienced less pain later in the study.

“The responses can be related to the levels of pain relief the volunteers expected, which may have allowed their individual suggestibility to influence their assessment of the pain experience”, said lead researcher Alison Watson.

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