Five Amazing Chronic Pain Treatments You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
By: Cindy Perlin, LCSW
(reprinted by permission of author)
There are many treatments for chronic pain that are safe and effective that are not well known. Any one of these treatments could be life-changing for chronic pain patients if they only knew about and had access to them. Here is information about five of them that I have personally experienced and highly recommend: biofeedback, neurofeedback, energy psychology, low level laser therapy and kratom.
Imagine if you could relax your muscles, dilate your blood vessels in your extremities for better circulation and tissue healing, reduce your stress, heart rate and anxiety level and improve your digestion, immunity and ability to fall asleep—all without taking any drugs. Biofeedback can teach you to do all that. Biofeedback uses sensitive electronic instruments to measure your physiology with far greater sensitivity than you can sense it on your own, then feeds that information back to you so that you can use the information to learn how to control your body. Forty-three years ago I hurt my back and spent the next three and half years in agony, unable to function. Nothing the doctors offered helped. Then I heard about biofeedback and spent a couple of sessions learning how to use it to learn to relax. It allowed me to significantly reduce my pain (50% in one day and even more as I continued to use it) and get back to my life. I’ve used the skills I learned then to continue to improve and maintain my health.
Neurofeedback is another kind of biofeedback that measures the electrical activity of the brain and teaches you to control it. Neurofeedback is an unconscious learning process where the brain is rewarded for working better through audio and visual feedback. Neurofeedback can reset the “idling speed” of the brain so that you are naturally calmer, which reduces stress on the body and allows the body to heal better. Neurofeedback can also reverse the brain over-sensitization that results from chronic pain, also called central sensitization. It can heal brain injury that can cause migraines and other types of pain and resolve emotional trauma that often lies at the root of chronic pain.
People who have experienced trauma are much more likely to develop chronic pain and other illnesses. Unprocessed trauma stays in the body and keeps the person overaroused and hypervigilant. Unprocessed emotional energy also is held in the body by muscle tension and creates pain. Energy psychology techniques like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) help calm the brain and unblock and release the energy so you can move beyond your past. It can also be used to focus on the pain directly to diffuse it. EFT involves tapping on acupuncture meridians on the body. It can be learned and practiced on your own, but is best done initially with a trained provider.
Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
In low level laser therapy (LLLT), a light is applied to an area of the body to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and promote tissue regeneration. The light is usually a laser (concentrated light) or LED (more diffuse light) in the red or near infrared spectrum. It’s typically applied to the injured area for a very short time, generally a minute or so in each relevant area, a few times a week for a few weeks. The process by which low level lasers promote healing is called photomodulation. Three levels of effects have been identified.
• Primary tissue effects are direct chemical effects on cells. LLLT increases the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel our cells use for energy. The more ATP available to our cells, the faster we heal. LLLT also increases the permeability of cell membranes, which allows waste products to be removed and nutrition to be absorbed into the cells more efficiently.
• Secondary effects are chemical chain reactions that occur in response to the changes in the cells. LLLT secondary effects include anti-inflammatory effects, decreases in nerve irritability, and an increase in circulation in the area of injury or chronic pain.
• Tertiary effects are whole-body effects from the treatment and include increased immune cell production, increased production of endorphins (the body’s own painkillers), and improved nerve function.
There are currently more than 400 large randomized double-blind placebo-controlled human studies of LLLT that have been published worldwide, as well as more than 4,000 scientific studies investigating the underlying mechanisms that contribute to its local and systemic effects. Positive results have been reported for a very broad range of conditions, including the following: Osteoarthritis, tendonitis, wound healing, back and neck pain, neuropathy, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, postherpetic neuralgia (lingering pain after shingles) and many others. LLLT also speeds up healing significantly in acute injuries. Effects are long lasting and there are no negative effects.
Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa), is an herb that comes from a tropical tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia. It has many medicinal benefits. It can relieve pain, improve energy levels, reduce depression and anxiety, enhance mood, ease opiate withdrawals and help treat addiction. Kratom is an all-natural, safer alternative to opiate pain medications and so many other prescription drugs. Kratom causes few side effects and unlike opiates, does not cause respiratory depression which can be deadly. Stopping use abruptly, like its family member coffee, can lead to withdrawal symptoms in some people. The symptoms of kratom withdrawal are relatively mild. The leading complaint is a runny nose. There are different strains of kratom that have different effects. Red is calming, white is stimulating and green is a mix that is good for both pain control and energy. Kratom is legal in the United States everywhere but TN, IN, WI, VT, AR, AL, San Diego CA and Sarasota County, FL