7 Alternative Therapies to Treat Inflammation and Chronic Pain Today

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Many people experience pain every day. From a medical point of view, pain is defined as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that is related to actual or potential tissue damage. Therefore, the pain has a very important warning function and is intended to protect the body from harmful or dangerous influences.

How much pain affects the us population?

In the US, 20% of adults suffer from chronic pain. The most common pain conditions include back pain, muscle pain, headache, joint pain (osteoarthritis), rheumatoid arthritis, neuropathic pain, and pain derived from tumors. Many patients with pain do not receive adequate treatment. On average, it takes about 8 years for a patient with pain to be treated in a consultation or clinic that specializes in pain therapy. It is also estimated that more than 500,000 chronic pain patients will need strong painkillers (level III opioids), but only one in 10 receives the necessary medication.

Alternative Therapies for Pain

Doctors often treat chronic pain with strong pain relievers, antidepressants, or antiepileptic drugs. However, these drugs can have serious side effects and can even be addictive. In addition to medication, there are also alternative therapies. They generally have an anti-inflammatory effect and can relieve pain in this way, without negative side effects

Massage
Massages relieve muscle tension and increase the elasticity of connective tissue. They are not suitable for patients with bleeding disorders or recent injuries. Massages can substantially reduce inflammation and pain in 10 weeks, this favors the reduction of the use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs, some people may experience long-term relief, especially if the pain is of muscular origin, as long as the therapy is applied continuously. (1)

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Nerve Block
In nerve blocks, pain is temporarily switched off when the nerves that cause it are known. Local anesthetics such as Bupivacaine or 5% lidocaine are used. An example of its use is in herpes zoster neuralgia. Nerve blocks help reduce pain while the nerve fiber recovers. (2)

Heat Therapy
Massages relieve muscle tension and increase the elasticity of connective tissue. They are not suitable for patients with bleeding disorders or recent injuries. Massages can substantially reduce inflammation and pain in 10 weeks, this favors the reduction of the use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs, some people may experience long-term relief, especially if the pain is of muscular origin, as long as the therapy is applied continuously. (1)

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I.V Therapy
Intravenous therapy in pain and inflammation management is aimed at reducing inflammation and promoting recovery of the affected area. This therapy consists of intravenously administering a mixture of vitamins such as B complex vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium, all of these substances are involved in muscular and nervous action. (3)

Myofascial Release
Myofascial release therapy consists of a series of manual techniques aimed at certain points of the locomotor system, called trigger points, these are areas where the muscle fascia contracts for different causes, including the shortening and hardening of its fibers, this produces a muscle contracture, expressed in diffuse pain.

During myofascial release, massages are applied to the trigger points, many times relaxing creams are applied, to release the tension of the fascia and reduce muscle contraction, inflammation, and pain. (4)

Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy is a therapy that uses cold and has been used since ancient times. The difference in temperature between the body and its surroundings or a cold object is used to cool it in its entirety or only in certain places. This essentially has the following effects: (5)

Reduce blood flow: During the first five to ten minutes of local cryotherapy, the superficial blood vessels constrict. If the cold is longer, the vessels in the deeper tissue layers also contract. As a result, the blood supply is reduced, which also reduces the accumulation of inflammatory fluid, favoring the reduction of the volume of inflammation.
Inhibition of inflammation: Long-term cryotherapy (1 to 2 hours) not only reduces blood flow but also reduces local metabolic and inflammatory processes.
Pain relief: As tissue cools, it becomes increasingly insensitive to pain; the subjective sensation of pain is reduced. If the skin has a temperature of 15 ° C, it is completely painless.
Change in muscle tension (muscle tone): Although muscle tension increases briefly in the first seconds of cryotherapy, it decreases more and more with an exposure time of 15 to 20 minutes. This can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Active Physical Therapy Exercises (Physiotherapy)
They are individually tailored to the patient and can then be performed regularly at home. On the one hand, they relax the cramped muscles, but they also strengthen the supporting muscles in the shoulder, neck, and back and thus avoid new stresses. Physical therapy is good, especially for muscle tension pains in the shoulder, neck, and back, as well as hip and knee problems.

Natural alternatives for pain and inflammation management

Turmeric

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric can reduce inflammatory processes, decreasing the release of cells and pro-inflammatory substances (prostaglandins, cytokines) in the blood, therefore it is suitable for the treatment of pain related to inflammation. Curcumin can be used as a spice (turmeric), but some capsules make it easy to take curcumin. Approximately 400 to 600 mg of turmeric powder three times a day provides enough curcumin to relieve inflammation and associated pain. (6)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

They have a strong antioxidant effect, and on the other hand, they have a specific anti-inflammatory effect by blocking the formation of inflammatory hormones in the tissue. They are present in foods such as tuna, mackerel, and nuts, as well as available in dietary supplements.

Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency can cause circulatory disorders, muscle spasms, causing a reduction in the supply of nutrients to the cells of the body. All of this can cause pain. This mineral relaxes the body and is also involved in brain processes such as sleep. Muscle relaxation and adequate rest favor a reduction in pain, therefore, magnesium can be used as a natural analgesic. (7)

Some foods rich in magnesium are whole wheat, spinach, almonds, avocados, and dark chocolate. It is also available in supplements, alone or in combination with other minerals such as zinc.

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