Pain Management: Treatment Overview
Chiropractic Treatment and Massage continued...
Osteopathic doctors, those with a "D.O." after their names, are also trained in bone manipulation techniques similar to that of chiropractors.
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. However, it is not possible to draw final conclusions regarding the effectiveness of massage to treat pain because of the shortcomings of available studies.
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 several studies showed beneficial effects with no significant adverse side effects, the limitations of some of these studies make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. Further studies are needed before these approaches for pain treatment can be recommended.
There is solid evidence indicating that glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate relieve pain due to knee osteoarthritis. These natural compounds were found to decrease pain and increase mobility of the knee and were well-tolerated and safe.
Other dietary supplements, such as fish oils and SAMe, also show some evidence of benefit, although more research is needed.
It has been difficult to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of herbs, though there are a few, such as white willow bark, devil’s claw, cat’s claw, ginger, and turmeric, that have some evidence supporting their use. If you decide to use herbal preparations to better manage your pain, tell your doctor: Some herbs may interact with drugs you are receiving for pain or other conditions and may harm your health.
Dietary Approaches to Treating Pain
Some people believe that changing dietary fat intake and/or eating 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 methodologically strong. 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.