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Pain Management: Alternative Therapy

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Chiropractic Treatment and Massage

Chiropractic treatment is the most common non-surgical treatment for back pain. Improvements in people undergoing chiropractic manipulations were noted in some trials. However, the treatment's effectiveness in treating back and neck pain has not been supported by compelling evidence from the majority of clinical trials. Further studies are currently assessing the effectiveness of chiropractic care for pain management.

Massage is being increasingly used by people suffering from pain, mostly to manage chronic back and neck problems. Massage can reduce stress and relieve tension by enhancing blood flow. This treatment also can reduce the presence of substances that may generate and sustain pain. Available data suggest that massage therapy, like chiropractic manipulations, holds considerable promise for managing back pain.

Therapeutic Touch and Reiki Healing

Therapeutic touch and reiki healing are thought to help activate the self-healing processes of an individual and therefore reduce pain. Although these so called "energy-based" techniques do not require actual physical contact, they do involve close physical proximity between practitioner and patient.

In the past few years, several reviews evaluated published studies on the efficacy of these healing approaches to ease pain and anxiety and improve health. Although beneficial effects with no significant adverse side effects were reported in several studies, the limitations of some of these studies make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. Further studies are needed before the evidence-based recommendation for using these approaches for pain treatment can be made.

Dietary Approaches to Treating Pain

Some people believe that changing dietary fat intake and/or consuming plant foods that contain anti-inflammatory agents can help ease pain by limiting inflammation.

A mostly raw vegetarian diet was found helpful for some people with fibromyalgia, but this study was not randomized and was without a control group. One study of women with premenstrual symptoms suggested that a low-fat vegetarian diet was associated with decreased pain intensity and duration. Weight loss achieved by a combination of dietary changes and increased physical activity has been shown to be helpful for people suffering from osteoarthritis.

Still, further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of dietary modifications as a pain treatment.

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