Everyone deals with body pain at one point or another, but when a small pain in the neck or back evolves into a constant annoyance, it can become a deterrent to a productive life. Most people follow the traditional steps of calling a family physician, at which point specialists are recommended and medications are prescribed.
Many pain sufferers are finding that non-traditional pain treatment, or alternative healthcare, can be the perfect compliment to traditional medical avenues. This can include chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, or other complimentary techniques like Pilates, massage therapy and egoscue.
Chiropractic medicine is usually the first choice for those seeking alternative healthcare, yet many don’t really know much about it. In fact, if you ask your friends what they think about chiropractors, they might say, “I don’t believe in them.”
“Saying you don’t believe in chiropractors is like saying you don’t believe in cardiologists,” says Dr. Shawn Pala, of Pala Chiropractic in Noblesville.
Pala explains that chiropractic is not a belief system or religion, but is a practice based on science. According to a study by Web MD:
Chiropractic cut the cost of treating back pain by 28 percent, compared to those who did not have chiropractic care. Back surgeries were reduced by 32 percent (one in every three people) when chiropractic treatment was in place. The satisfaction rate for those using chiropractic treatment was at 98 percent.
Chiropractors (also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians) diagnose and treat patients with health problems of the musculoskeletal system and treat the effects of those problems on the nervous system and on general health. Many chiropractic treatments deal specifically with the spine and the manipulation of the spine. Chiropractic medicine is based on the principle that spinal joint misalignments interfere with the nervous system and can result in lower resistance to disease and many different conditions of diminished health.
Dr. Shawn Benzinger, of Indy Spinal Care Center, says that alternative healthcare is an effective way to go. “Alternative treatments are safe, first and foremost,” he said.
Benzinger explains that treatment includes concentrating on three main areas:
- Diet — The swelling of tissues, fatigue and overall physical wellness can be improved by eating the right types of foods.
- Emotional state — If someone is depressed, angry or in an unstable emotional state, it can effect weight, stress levels and pain severity. Therapy is strongly recommended if this is an issue.
- Biomechanics — Positional issues of the neck and spine can be addressed, along with things like posture, the type of chairs used for work and other areas that are causing body misalignment.
Chiropractic can also treat patients complaining of: hypertension; migraines; joint pain; gastrointestinal issues; tissue damage; spinal wear and tear; nerve damage and muscle changes due to injuries.
In addition, many pregnant women are turning to chiropractic treatment for the reduction of labor time, easing stress on the fetus, relaxing the muscles and complimenting the care of obstetricians, Pala said.
After being encouraged by a friend, Beth Johnston of Noblesville tried chiropractic care when she was six months pregnant with her fifth child.
“My labors had always averaged at least 10 hours for each child,” she said. “I thought if I could shave off maybe an hour, that would be great.” After regular visits to Dr. Pala, her final labor, from start to finish, was three hours. “I have no doubt that it was the treatments that made the difference,” she said.
Another pain sufferer that found relief with chiropractic treatment is Sharon Murphy of Kirklin, Ind. Murphy was diagnosed with fibromyalgia over five years ago. She was experiencing extreme fatigue and general muscle pain, without finding any relief.
“I was at the end of my rope,” Murphy explained. After seeking chiropractic treatment — and through regular adjustments, exercises, supplements and dietary changes — she has seen a dramatic difference.
“My energy level has increased dramatically, my pain has lessened considerably, and although my condition will never go away, I have seen great improvement,” she said.
Although chiropractic care is one of the first options for those seeking alternative healthcare methods, there are a variety of other treatments that might prove helpful.
Studies have shown that overall pain can be reduced by 33 percent with the use of this treatment. Acupuncture literally means “needle piercing,” the practice of inserting very fine needles into the skin to stimulate specific anatomic points in the body (called acupoints or acupuncture points) for therapeutic purposes.
Along with the usual method of puncturing the skin with the fine needles, practitioners of acupuncture also use heat, pressure, friction, suction or impulses of electromagnetic energy to stimulate the points. The acupoints are stimulated to balance the movement of energy (qi) in the body to restore health.
Pilates, message therapy, and egoscue are other methods that patients can use to find pain relief. Not as widely know, egoscue is based on a series of stretches and gentle exercises designed to restore full, natural function to muscles and joints. It treats chronic musculoskeletal pain without using drugs, surgery, or manipulation.
“The most important thing to remember is that alternative healthcare treatment can be a vital element in overall good health. We as practitioners are part of an integrated approach, including family physicians and specialists, that can help a patient find relief and live a happy and healthy life,” Pala said.