Alternative Medicine Pain Treatments (Part 4)

Electro Stimulation Therapy, Low Level LaserTherapy, Neural and Prolo Therapy, Magnet Therapy and Hypnosis are further possibilities to treat pain conditions and are discussed in this issue, the last in a series about alternative approaches to pain treatments.

Electrical stimulation

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, more commonly referred to as TENS, is defined by the American Physical Therapy Association as application of electrical current through the skin for pain control. TENS is a non-invasive, safe method to reduce pain, both acute and chronic. While controversy exists as to its effectiveness in the treatment of chronic pain, a number of systematic reviews and analyses have confirmed its effectiveness for postoperative pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic musculoskeletal pain .The unit is usually connected to the skin using two or more electrodes. High or low electrical currents cause a single muscle or a group of muscles to contract, to recruit and to strengthen the appropriate muscle fibers. Along with increasing muscle strength, the electrical stimulation of the muscle also promotes blood supply to the area that assists in healing.

Low Level Laser Therapy

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT ) also called Biostimulation, Soft or Cold Laser has been investigated and used clinically for over 30 years. Light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation (laser) is a light beam from the electromagnetic spectrum. The ability of lasers to cut, cauterize and destroy tissue is well known. But due to the low level and non thermal nature of the LLLT laser, there is no danger of tissue destruction or other hazards. LLLT nondestructively alters cellular function.

This phenomenon, known as laser biostimulation, is the basis for the current use of lasers to treat a variety of articular, neural, soft tissue pain and other conditions. Biostimulation improves cell metabolism which helps to increase speed, quality and strength of tissue repair. LLLT has an analgesic, anti-inflammatory effect and can reduce swelling.

The mechanism and effectiveness of LLLT has been compared with ultrasound therapy, and should be considered as an extension to the accepted physiotherapy modalities that currently utilize parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as short waves, microwaves, infrared, and ultraviolet therapy.

Neural Therapy

This method is particularly widespread in Europe, especially in the German-speaking world, where it is used among doctors open to complementary medicine. The key concept in neural therapy is that any traumatized, infected or dysfunctional tissue (like chronic inflammation) or scars very often create an electrophysiological instability called ‘interference fields”. Often these are trigger, tender, acupuncture points, scars or teeth. By injecting a local anesthetic (Procaine, Novocain etc) into the affected area of the bioelectrical instability the underlying pain and illness can be reversed and healing reactions are allowed to occur. Very common in the daily practice is the use of s.c. (subcutaneous) and i.c.(intracutaneous) procaine injections around painful joints or along the spine.


Prolotherapy is mostly used for pain caused by weak ligaments and tendons after injuries or overstrain. It is a relatively new medical procedure that can be an alternative to surgery, arthroscopy, cortisone shots and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Prolotherapy stimulates the body to repair the painful injured area(s) when the natural healing process is not able to do the job on its own. The basic mechanism of Prolotherapy is simple. Most people are surprised to find out that the body heals by inflammation. Prolotherapy works because it actually stimulates an inflammatory reaction as a result of injecting a solution that is a small irritant (for example 10 % Glucose) into weak ligaments, tendons, and/or joints, which leads to local inflammation in the injected area. The localized inflammation triggers a wound healing that cascades, resulting in the deposition of new collagen which is the material that ligaments and tendons are made of. New collagen shrinks as it matures. The shrinking collagen tightens the ligament that was injected and makes it stronger. Prolotherapy can be very effective at eliminating pain that is a result of ligament and/or tendon weakness. Treatments include knees, neck, back, shoulders, wrists, feet, hands, fingers, elbows, TMJ, sacroiliac joints, pelvis, hips, and other areas.

Magnet Therapy

The use of magnets for healing is actually not new and goes back to the 19th Century. More recently the Japanese have designed magnetic technologies specifically to benefit the human body with no negative side effects. Magnet Therapy involves the use of static magnetic fields in forms of devices such as magnetic bracelets, straps for wrists and ankles, back, shoe insoles, mattresses, and magnetic blankets. Many people report great improvement of pain, sleep or general health conditions.


Hypnosis is widely practiced for pain management and was first utilized by physicians over 100 years ago as a way to help patients in pain. The word “hypnosis” – is derived from the Greek word “hypnos” which means asleep.

Hypnosis is not exactly like sleep; although it may look like sleep to an observer. When a patient is hypnotized, the mind is in a state of focused awareness. This focused state has been used to alleviate many different kinds of pain.

The exact way hypnosis works is not fully understood. There are, however, several possible ways that hypnosis could work to block, reduce, or eliminate pain. One way that hypnosis may work is that it redirects one’s attention to something other than the pain. Still another theory is that hypnosis may help our mind to know that the pain is there, but not to feel it. Patients can learn to relax so deeply that their pain is reduced, or they can learn to put their hand to sleep and then transfer that numbness to a painful body part, thereby decreasing pain. There are many other hypnotic suggestions that help reduce pain as well.

Summary: This series of 4 articles gives an overview about pain treatments in alternative complementary medicine. Some of them are scientifically accepted, others are not, but all have showed good results through time. No single method works for everybody and very often conventional drug medication can not be totally avoided. Interdisciplinary complementary approaches can reduce the pain in acute and chronic conditions and overall improves the quality of life.

All methods introduced in these articles are available in the Lakeside area.

Barbara Rotthaler, German licensed Naturopath and Health Practitioner
01 (376) 766 1987

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