Heading the Alternative Route for Pain Relief
Published: 10/15/2011 at Richard Gonzalez
Let me put all my cards on the table right now, I do not - nor have I ever - suffered from arthritis or any other type of joint pain. I have bouts of back pain every now and then, but my doctor informs me its from too little exercise and the spare tire that I have been carrying around in my mid-section. So you see, I have other problems…<sigh>
I want to be upfront about this fact, because I want to make clear that because I don't suffer from this, I really can't say one way or another which treatments work and which ones, lets say, leave something to be desired. Of course, there are multiple medical treatments of rheumatic diseases such as arthritis - but I would like to touch on alternative ways to treat this. Treatments like acupuncture, topical creams and hot and cold therapies. Not widely used, or even understood in the Western Hemisphere, the folks over on the other side of the planet have been using these treatments for centuries - so maybe there is something to them.
Of course, you should consult your physician before starting any alternative route. And of course, if you are looking for said doctor - you can always find one locally here.
So, lets get to it shall we?
Topical creams: Menthol, camphor and eucalyptus oil actually work by irritating the nerve endings in the skin and distracting the brain. According the American College of Rheumatology's guidelines for osteoarthritis says that topical creams such as methylsalicylate cream may be effective by themselves.
Acupuncture: Alright, this one might be a little scary for most, especially if anyone saw the Eddie Murphy movie The Nutty Professor where he is laying on a bed with about a zillion needles poking out of him, but that’s Hollywood. In the real work, acupuncture has been thought to relieve muscle tightness and has been shown to help with the pain and physical dysfunction in knee osteoarthritis. "Acupuncture and acupressure are effective for helping manage pain of osteoarthritis, but not for inflammatory arthritis" says Andre Wong, MD. This thing is so amazing that studies have shown that pretend [shame] acupuncture where they stick needles "in random places seems to work, so it's hard to distinguish whether it's acupuncture or a placebo effect" says Calvin Brown, MD.
Heat and cold therapies: This one seems to be the no brainer to me. Who of us hasn't pulled a muscle and has gone to the icy-hot or heating pad - but research has shown that it also relieves rheumatoid arthritis pain. Dr. Brown sheds some light on the age old question 'which is better, ice or heat? "Truth is, we don't really know that one is better than the other." He goes on to say that it comes down to a preference of one over the other. Here is a quick shot of the difference between the two:
*Heat increases blood flow, tolerance for pain and flexibility.
*Cold numbs nerves and may reduce inflammation and muscle spasms.
So, although you can always go the traditional road to helping deal with the discomfort and pain that is brought you by your friend, arthritis, it sure is good to see that the other avenue, the 'alternative' way, is finally getting some air time.
Here's to your health.