Non-prescription Treatment Options for Nerve Pain

Non-prescription Treatment Options for Nerve Pain

Nerve pain can put you out of commission.

No matter the cause, it’s important to address this issue with a physician. Medication can be prescribed, but this may not be enough. An overall management plan is required. For mild neuropathy, alternative treatments could be enough to assuage your symptoms. Even those who are on prescription medication desire some kind of alternative treatment and find more relief when they acquire the right kind for them.

For pain close to the surface, why not pick up a topical painkiller? There are creams or ointments you can purchase at the pharmacy. Applying them directly on the tender spot will help relieve area-specific pain. Some contain capsaicin the active ingredient in hot peppers. Others have botanical oils and other natural ingredients. The best part, they often relieve your pain as soon as they are applied.

Another good option is over-the-counter painkillers. Aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help control neuropathic pain that is occasional rather than chronic and not severe. Follow the directions on the bottle carefully, however. You don’t want to become dependent on them for pain relief. Taking too much or taking them too often can have serious side effects. Do not take any of these for longer than 10 days in a row, unless your doctor gives you the go-ahead.

Some neuropathy is caused by a vitamin deficiency. Others are worsened by it. A vitamin B-12 deficiency is one such cause. A supplement may be recommended.

Some neuropathy patients have had good results with acupuncture. This is an ancient Chinese medical technique where needles are inserted in certain nexus points throughout the body. It doesn’t hurt and research has found it effective. Scientists believe it disrupts pain signals and therefore provides relief.

Hypnosis, talk therapy, massage, biofeedback and even physical therapy may be worthwhile. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, dealing with any emotional ramifications from chronic pain such as stress, anxiety and depression, and getting enough sleep are all part and parcel of a proper pain management plan.

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OTC Pain Killers and Other Ways to Control Pain

OTC Pain Killers and Other Ways to Control Pain

Medicine isn’t the end all, be all of managing chronic pain.

There are other strategies that can be incorporated to deal with the different aspects of a condition. Everyone’s situation and body are different, so it’s important to know all the options to be able to formulate a plan that is right for you.

When using over the counter painkillers, be cognizant if you have kidney disease, heart problems, or high blood pressure. If you endure any of these conditions, don’t take ibuprofen. Motrin and Advil are two common brand names. Steer clear of Celecoxib—prescribed under the name Celebrex. Also avoid Naproxen known commercially as Aleve. These are called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For anyone with heart or kidney problems, or hypertension a good alternative is acetaminophen, sold commercially as Tylenol. In low doses, it can provide pain relief, but do not take it in high doses or else it can hurt your liver.

Talk to your doctor about the pain you are experiencing and see which medicines may be right for you. But don’t stop there. There are so many alternative ways to control pain out there. These are natural and drug-free. For back pain, try acupuncture. Western doctors are now prescribing it for headaches, too, and some assert that acupuncture has significantly reduced the number and severity of the headaches they were experiencing. Chiropractic works well too for many. Yoga, physical therapy, and massage can be helpful as well.

Keep a pain journal, or download an app and track your pain. See what your triggers are and find ways to avoid them. And though you may not feel like moving, low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, and water aerobics can strengthen muscles and improve symptoms. Put a couple of things in place to control your condition and your quality of life should improve significantly.

Acupuncture Study: Treatment is Ineffective for Knee Pain

Acupuncture Study: Treatment is Ineffective for Knee PainA new study found that acupuncture is no more effective for knee pain than a “sham” version.

Researchers out of the University of Melbourne wrote, “Among patients older than 50 years with moderate to severe chronic knee pain, neither laser nor needle acupuncture conferred benefit over sham for pain or function.” They concluded, “Our findings do not support acupuncture for these patients.”

The term sham acupuncture is used for the technique researchers employed for the experiment, in effect a placebo. Professor of physiotherapy and co-author of the study, Kim Bennell said, “Subjective measurements such as pain are particularly subject to placebo responses.” She added, “This can be attributed to factors such as the treatment setting, patient expectations and optimism, the physician’s confidence in the treatment, and how the physician and patient interact.” The results were published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

300 adult chronic knee pain suffers took part in this study. They were separated into three groups: one received traditional acupuncture, another received the laser variety, a third had sham laser acupuncture and the last, the control group, received no treatment at all. The machine used to deliver the laser in the sham treatment was set so the beam was inoperable. But it was done in such a way as the patient and practitioner were completely unaware that it wasn’t working. Each participant received treatment three times per week, for twenty minutes each session over the course of 15 months. In the end, all the segments of the study had the same amount of knee pain while walking, regardless of what treatment they received.

Acupuncture of any kind did not decrease pain. Those who received needle acupuncture, however, did see a slight improvement in physical functioning. Although it was small, the results were similar to other such studies. Some acupuncturists take umbrage with this particular study. British Columbia practitioner Jean-Paul Thuot is one such acupuncturist. He said, “Osteoarthritis can often cause changes to the bone or joint structure. If there are longstanding chronic changes to the structure, acupuncture will have a limited effect over such a short duration.” Another problem, according to Thuot, is the length of time participants received treatment, saying, “Once or twice a week for eight to 12 weeks would, in my experience, hardly scratch the surface of such a condition, so I am not surprised that there was little change.”

Acupuncture As A Complementary Treatment For Pain

Treatment by acupunctureAcupuncture has a lengthy and jaded history as a complementary medical treatment. Studies have been published for years that seek to undermine its validity as a therapy for pain and inflammation, but patients of acupuncture tend to continue reporting tremendous benefits from it that defy explanation.

A meta-analysis of acupuncture for the treatment of pain pooled data from 18,000 subjects and found that traditional acupuncture was capable of reducing pain by 50%. Although patients report that acupuncture alleviates pain, it is usually still dismissed as a placebo effect from the treatment.

A recent study published in the Journal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena revealed that the traditional acupuncture sites used in Oriental medicine correspond eerily to the location of tiny blood vessels that were involuted and morphologically distinct from vessels in other parts of the body.

Measurements of the area that these vessels occupy at each site also matched with accepted acupuncture site areas, and the researchers were able to observe a greater concentration of oxygen in these microvessels than in other vessels using oxygen pressure microsensors. These vessels could be involved in the pathology of the larger veins and arteries that require decompression for long-term treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia; acupuncture has been purported to provide relief for this condition by increasing endorphins and enkephalins in the blood and brain during clinical case studies done to compare it to pharmaceutical treatments in the past.

The discovery of these microvessel structures may shed the light needed to allow doctors to determine exactly when and for what patients acupuncture is an appropriate treatment for.

Alternative Treatments for Pain

Some people have pain but they don’t want to take drugs. Drugs are too expensive for some. Then there are also those who find the medications their doctor has prescribed them to help manage their pain ineffectively. Therefore many people seek alternative treatments for pain management.

Alternative Treatments for Pain

Acupuncture is a Chinese art that is thousands of years old. Traditionally, Western doctors scoffed at it. Now they recommend it to patients. Medical science still doesn’t exactly know how it works exactly. Researchers believe the needles places at nexus points interrupt the nerves signal from reaching the brain, and so the pain subsides or is greatly decreased. There have been many studies which confirm acupuncture’s ability to help chronic pain suffers. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists acupuncture as beneficial for managing pain.

Aromatherapy has been practiced by many ancient cultures including the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Indians and Egyptians. Today it is used to help with headache, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. It works by using essential oils from various plants and placing them on the skin or inhaling them directly.

Alternative Treatments for Pain

Have you ever thought about being able to consciously control the unconscious goings on of your body such as your breathing, heart rate, muscle tension and more? With biofeedback, you can learn to do just that. A technician hooks your body up to electrodes which are then an attached to a machine. You learn then how to control certain body metrics with your thoughts. Medical science is stumped on why biofeedback works. One theory is that it simply allows a patient to relax and feel in control, and this relaxation helps their symptoms go away. Researchers have used an Electromyography (EMG) machine to show that muscles in patients relax when taking part in biofeedback.

Technically, Chiropractics is still considered alternative and complementary medicine. Today, it’s become mainstream. This is a great option for anyone who has carpal tunnel, neck pain, back pain or headaches. It’s good for pain associated with sport’s related injuries too. A visit to the chiropractor usually means realigning the spine. These adjustments that the chiropractor makes is supposed to help promote better functionality and self-healing.

Massages can help with muscle, back, and neck pain. It can also help you relax, making other pains not so bad by increasing circulation, stimulating the nervous system, and operating the lymphatic system.

Options for Treating Pain

Treatment by acupuncturePain can really make living your regular, day-to-day life impossible. That’s why the goal of pain management is not only to help ease the pain but to improve one’s function so that they can go to work, school or wherever their responsibilities lie.

Pain can lead to depression and lack of movement which can make the body weaker, make the condition worse, and sap motivation even further. Luckily today there are many different treatment options when it comes to managing pain. The right one for you should be decided upon with you and your doctor or pain management specialist. They vary as to what condition, intensity, the type of person you are. There are medications, relaxation techniques, and ancient remedies.

The 2,500 year old Chinese art of acupuncture, once thought of as hogwash, is being embraced now by Western doctors. Muscle pain, headaches, back pain, hip and knee pain and many other ailments are improved by the application of acupuncture, where a series of tiny needles are put painlessly into channels to open up the blocked up chi. Researchers theorize that perhaps the needles block the nerve’s signal to the brain, thereby eliminating or reducing chronic pain. But this hypothesis has yet to be proven.

Biofeedback is another technique, where body systems such as breathing, heart rate and others become consciously controlled in order to limit or curtail pain — another non-drug oriented treatment that helps to cure pain.

Ibuprofen, aspirin and some other painkillers fall in the category of analgesics. For mild to moderate pain, purchase the over the counter variety. For moderate to severe pain, consult a physician regarding which prescription medication if any would improve your situation. Some anticonvulsants are used today to stop pain, particularly neuropathic pain.

The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen, and has many over the counter generic options as well. This works great with muscle aches, headaches, and joint pain. There are prescription strength varieties as well as those mixed with codeine.

Carbamazepine is one particular drug that is sometimes prescribed for pain, as is gabapentin. For migraine sufferers there are now several drugs on the market that target these horrendous headaches, available by prescription only.

Remember that pain can be treated. If the first option that you try doesn’t work for you, don’t give up hope. There is something out there that can and will work for you. Talk to your physician about which options you believe you might benefit from.

Relieving Knee Pain at Home

Blausen_0597_KneeAnatomy_SideWe rely on our knees to do so much. They carry us throughout our day. But when you have knee pain it can really put a damper on your plans. The knees are one of the most prone areas of the body to become injured. The knee joint by its very design is far more vulnerable, far more exposed. The femur or thigh bone, the condyles or two rounded knobby parts, and the tibia or the top part of the shin make up the knee. Then there’s the kneecap which is the small, round bone that is located between the condyles to strengthen the overall joint. Problems occur when the muscles, ligaments and tendons that hold the knee all in place become too tight or too loose. If the kneecap gets out of sync, it can cause pain. Women are particularly vulnerable to knee damage.  Chondromalacia, which is when cartilage in the thigh becomes cracked and rough or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), also occurs often in women. Sure there are drugs, but there are exercises too. You could see a physical therapist or an acupuncturist as well. No matter what you try, you should always consult a trusted, board certified physician with a good reputation. In the meantime, there are some things you yourself can do at home to relieve knee pain.

The first is to lose weight. Carrying extra pounds puts extra weight on your knees, which means more strain and more pain. When one carries an extra 20, 30 or even 40 pounds, it stresses the knees. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep will all do their part in helping to relieve knee pain. How do you walk? How do you stand? Check out your feet. Overpronation is a common cause of knee pain. The knee is thrown out of alignment by the inward rolling of the foot. Some pronation is to be expected but too much can cause issues. Supportive shoes or inserts are the answer to this problem. There are over the counter orthotics at your local pharmacy. But for specialized one see a sports medicine specialist, orthopedist, chiropractor or podiatrist. Be sure to wear comfortable supportive shoes. If you are wearing above a one inch heel, understand that the human body was not made to tolerate walking like that for prolonged periods. When your shoes are worn out, don’t keep wearing them. They can affect the way you walk and then also affect your knees. Do you have a particular knee problem, for instance are you knock kneed or bow-legged? If so, you can expect knee problems. Water aerobics, cycling, swimming and other exercises can help build up the muscles around the knees and hold it in place, reducing pain. Make sure however to see a licensed qualified professional, and if you have to, a pain management specialist if you have severe or persistent knee pain.

Pain Management for Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

Pain Management for Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

Pain Management for Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

When a person has diabetes, there’s always the chance that he or she can develop diabetic neuropathy pain.  Most times, this type of pain comes as a result of not properly managing blood sugar levels; however, this isn’t always the case.  About 60 to 70 percent of people who suffer from diabetes are believed to suffer from neuropathy pain at some point in their life as a result of nerve damage from having diabetes.  Fortunately, for those who do suffer from such pain, treatment options are available.

Is it really diabetic neuropathy pain?

The first step in pain management for diabetic neuropathy is making sure the pain is indeed caused by diabetic neuropathy and not some type of malignant disease or toxic causes, says the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Antidepressants

Andrew J.M. Boulton, MD, DSc (Hon), FRCP, suggests using tricyclic antidepressants in patients with more profound diabetic neuropathy pain. He notes this method is often the “first-line treatment for symptomatic neuropathy.”  It’s important for diabetic neuropathy patients to know that they don’t have to be depressed to obtain relief from their pain by taking antidepressants.

Anticonvulsants and other drugs

Other pharmacological treatments for treating painful diabetic neuropathy include anticonvulsants. Doctors may prescribe other drugs that have demonstrated success in treating diabetic neuropathy as well.

Acupuncture

Furthermore, another diabetic neuropathy pain management technique is acupuncture. This type of treatment can provide relief from pain for up to six months, however, the ADA suggests that clinical trials are needed to confirm the observations related to acupuncture for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy pain.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often used in treating the pain too. In fact, many doctors frequently combine physical therapy with pharmacological treatments for maximum pain relief.

The Takeaway

Mayo Clinic staff says that controlling blood sugar can reduce progression of diabetic neuropathy and the intense glucose control can potentially “reduce your overall risk of diabetic neuropathy by as much as 60 percent.”

As with any illness, it’s important to discuss different treatment options with a qualified and highly-trained physician.  For those suffering from painful diabetic neuropathy, it is recommended to speak with a physician who specializes in this field of study.  Never should a patient be afraid to inform his or her doctor that a certain treatment method isn’t working, especially being that so many treatment options are available for this type of pain.

What Are the Causes of Chronic Pain?

Over 100 million Americans say they suffer from chronic pain. Conditions like migraines, arthritis, a bad back and fibromyalgia are just some of the conditions associated with chronic pain. Pain that is considered chronic is one felt for weeks, months, or even years. Though some people try to tough it out on their own, no matter what level of pain you feel, medical experts agree it’s best to treat it rather than to bare down and try to endure it. The perception of pain is caused by signals being sent to the brain from the nerves in certain areas of the body. These signals can be very helpful in protecting the body.  For example, pulling one’s hand away from a hot stove to avoid a far more severe burn. However, when these signals never cease to fire, the pain hangs on, causing what we call chronic pain.

Make sure to see a physician if you have pain, whether it is mild, moderate, or severe. If the pain interferes with your life, it’s even more crucial that you seek out a doctor. When a particular pain comes on and persists and isn’t treated, it can get worse. If ignored for years it can become a serious condition, even debilitating. Believe it or not, walking helps chronic pain sufferers, studies have shown. Not being active actually increases pain. But endorphins, which are the body’s own pain-fighting substances, are released during exercise and can help you feel better. It’s best to consult your physician about what kinds of exercises and regimens would be good to help manage your condition.

Once thought to be ridiculous, today acupuncture is an accepted form of pain management therapy for so many conditions. Scientists are not sure how this ancient Chinese art works, though they suspect the needles may interrupt the flow of nerve signals to the brain. Back pain sufferers, knee and joint pain sufferers, and more have found relief and improvement at the hands of a acupuncturist. Pain can keep you up, but lack of sleep can exacerbate pain. Take part in good bedtime habits, such as avoiding computer and television screens and establishing a set bedtime.

Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping due to pain. Do you have triggers that set you off? Notice problems or issues in your environment that can make your pain increase and learn how to mitigate them. For instance, some migraine sufferers have cheese or red wine as a trigger and have learned to avoid eating them. Keep a pain journal. Track your pain over time and see if there are any patterns that arise. There are many alternative therapies available today, such as biofeedback which teaches you how to control your own blood pressure, skin temperature, breathing and other bodily functions that were once thought to be uncontrollable. Avoid prolonged bed rest as when you get up, chances are the pain will be worse.

Acupuncture for Pain Management

It’s a 2,000 year old Chinese medical practice with miraculous healing properties. Western medicine doesn’t understand how it works, but perhaps acupuncture messes up the pain signals going from the nerves to the brain. There are other theories but so far none have found the answer (WebMD). Acupuncture has been hailed as a miracle cure for certain ailments, and for pain management. There have been incredible stories such as the case of a pregnant woman who had an acupuncturist who put a needle in her pinky toe and changed the position of her breeched baby in the womb.

Acupuncture came to U.S. shores in the 70’s, which is when Western medical researchers first decided to study the phenomenon. Many patients who don’t get positive results for their chronic conditions from Western doctors seek out acupuncture, and some find relief there. In 2002 the National Health Interview Survey found that 8.2 million adults in the U.S. had seen an acupuncturist. The growth in the number of patients seeking out acupuncture has been dramatic, only the year before the number of Americans who had visited an acupuncturist was 2.1 million.

There are many pain-related conditions which can be treated with acupuncture such as: fibromyalgia, headaches including migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, menstrual cramps, lower back pain, tennis elbow, dental pain, cancer treatment side effects and many other conditions.

Director of research at the New England School of Acupuncture, Peter Wayne, Ph.D told WebMD, “The applications for acupuncture are endless … people use it for sports injuries, for their emotional well-being, for everything.” Researchers believe they are getting closer to understanding how slight adjustments in an acupuncturist’s needle can change a person’s nerves, hormones even their body tissue itself. Both the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Health (NIH) support acupuncture as a worthwhile therapy or treatment.

A recent study found that acupuncture is a worthwhile treatment in the management of arthritis. This study called “the largest, longest, and most rigorous study of acupuncture” found that along with other treatments acupuncture was found to improve the function and reduce the pain of sufferers with osteoarthritis of the knee. According to Wayne, “This was a landmark study not only in its finding for osteoarthritis. It shows that if we put resources into a carefully designed trial, we’re likely to see something definitive … we may be able to say with more certainty that other [applications of acupuncture] are effective.” Another study that is underway is showing some early results, that acupuncture can help manage pelvic pain. Furthermore, acupuncture according to the NIH has far less side effects than any other medication or medical treatment available for pain management today. Of course acupuncture may be a part of an overall pain management plan.