Chronic pain may be more common than you think, with thousands of Australian's experiencing headaches, lower back aches, neck pain and repetitive strain injuries, to name a few. While studies are still in the preliminary stages, results on the effectiveness of alternative treatments are certainly encouraging. Furthermore, positive results means research into non-conventional approaches is on the rise.
For example, The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health, a part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, conducts studies on alternative therapies, with the goal to, 'define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative heath interventions and their roles in improving health and health care'.
Let's take a look at some of the most popular alternative treatments and how they might just be able to help you empty the medicine cabinet.
Massage therapy has long been used as a way to relieve chronic pain, especially when related to Fibromyalgia, arthritis, neck and back pain. Studies have proven it can be effective in aiding with the body's natural production of anti-pain chemicals, as well as fostering restorative sleep.
Different modalities, such as acupressure, shiatsu and remedial massage can help increase blood flow and circulation, relax your muscles for improved range of motion and decrease injury-related anxiety and stress.
Research has shown that practicing yoga may help in the reduction of pain, while improving your mobility. Yoga is an ancient Indian technique, which blends physical poses with breathing exercises and meditation.
There are numerous styles you can try and yoga centres have popped up everywhere across Australian suburbs. As well as aiding in the improvement of your overall fitness level, practicing yoga can reduce stress levels, relieve anxiety and lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
A traditional Chinese form of healthcare, acupuncture has been used for thousands of years, with positive results. The treatment involves inserting fine, sterile needles into specific sites on your body, called acupuncture points. This stimulates the area and can release endorphins to help you deal with chronic pain.
It's used for a variety of ailments, including neck and back pain, osteoarthritis, depression, anxiety, sporting and repetitive strain injuries. Best of all, it can provide drug-free pain relief and a sense of overall well-being, by treating the underlying cause of pain.
While many people still think of hypnosis as a 'party trick', studies have found the technique useful in relieving chronic pain. You may or may not be particularly receptive to hypnotic suggestion, but, if you are, it can help to alter your perception about pain, in order to decrease sensitivity.
When you're under hypnosis, the focus is on letting go of distracting thoughts and relaxation. This enables you to become open to suggestion, whereby the hypnotherapist helps to alleviate fear, anxiety and triggers associated with your ailment.
If you'd like to try complementary and alternative medicine, which is often referred to as 'CAM', check out the Australian Natural Therapists Association and the Australian Association of Massage Therapists, and get the ball rolling towards conquering chronic pain.