We do not fully subscribe to the theory and beliefs associated with some of the therapies listed below. We do, however, recognize that there are certain alternative therapies you might elect to try in addition to conventional treatment. Some of these therapies lack scientific validation. Yet, many patients experience considerable pain relief from acupuncture, so we support acupuncture treatment in certain cases. You might consider the following alternatives.
Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese healing technique considered part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into acupuncture points called meridians. There are 365 mapped acupuncture points along 12 major channels. More than 1,000 extra points are found on the hand, ear and scalp.
Trauma, aging, stress from poor body mechanics, normal wear and tear, and injury can affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs or vertebrae in the spine. Pain associated with certain spinal disorders may effectively be treated using acupuncture. Acupuncture stimulates the secretion of endorphins, the body’s natural pain fighters, enhances circulation and helps the body heal.
Massage therapy is performed by a licensed therapist and has been shown to have positive benefits. By manipulating the soft tissues, muscle tension is often relieved and circulation enhanced. Although not advisable for individuals with recent fracture, massage can be beneficial overall.
Proponents of biofeedback believe that chronic pain may be affected by your mental health. During a session, electrodes/sensors are applied to your body and attached to machines that provide “feedback” on heart rate, muscle tension, respiratory rate, etc. The therapist works with you to control vital signs and tension, with the goal of you learning how to perform these control measures unassisted, thus “controlling” your pain.
Practicing yoga – gentle stretching and controlled breathing – has been shown to benefit patients with chronic pain. Regular practice of yoga can enhance overall fitness and relieve pain.
Applying sudden force to the joints of the spine, when done by a trained therapist, can restore spinal alignment, relieve pain and restore mobility.
Alternative or complementary therapies cannot always be viewed in terms of conventional medicine. Many patients find relief, despite the lack of scientific validation of some of the therapies listed above. A balanced approach to treatment of your spine disorder is probably the most reasonable and effective means of managing your condition.
Saint Barnabas Medical Center
Formerly St. Luke’s-Roosevelt
Hospital in Manhattan
Formerly Lenox Hill Hospital