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Pain: Finding Your Relief!

Posted by Bryan Blake on November 04, 2011 (0 Comments)

By Robert D. Milne, MD



Pain is the single most common reason people seek medical care, accounting for half of all physician visits in the U.S. Each year 25 million Americans experience acute pain from injury or surgery, while chronic, under-treated, pain affects 50 to 75 million people. Most importantly, at some point, almost everyone on the planet over 40 years old suffers from some type of discomfort and pain!

Do you suffer from pain? If you do, there's some good news: There are many options to ease aches, and many of them don't come in pill form. This report is a review of some of the most important alternatives for pain relief.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of pain relief approaches out there. Many of them are very helpful while some may be snake oil in various shapes and sizes.

Before trying any pain relief approaches, it is important to talk with your doctor.

Some therapies may not be safe or appropriate for you, even if they are of the non-pharmaceutical kind. Different factors regarding your medical condition and medical history need to be considered before undergoing any treatment. Also keep in mind that none of the available therapies are perfect pain remedies. They may not provide complete pain relief. They do not work the same for everyone. You may have to try a number of different strategies and combine some of them before finding an acceptable level of pain relief. As with any treatment, there may also be risks and side effects. So, please, consult your personal physician.

We all know how priceless pain relief can be. A benefit of trying out alternative therapies is that you may find a pain relief option that works for you. So don't give up on finding relief for your suffering.

Penney Cowan, executive director and founder of the American Chronic Pain Association, advises, “A big part of pain management is feeling like you have to regain control of your life, because the pain has taken over." “Take an active part in your rehabilitation.” She says people need to ask themselves, "What's my role in regaining control of my life and actually living with this pain?" Finding how to take an active part in searching for treatments that work for you is the critical path on your journey to pain relief.

Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of taking a pill every day for pain relief. 

Here are some alternatives.

Pain Relief With Physical Therapy

While there is no one solution to pain, one expert says physical therapy is highly effective. "I recommend it to almost all of my patients," says Hayes Wilson, MD, chief rheumatologist at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, and national medical adviser to the Arthritis Foundation.

Physical therapists teach people how to take care of themselves. "If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach him how to fish, he eats for the rest of his life," says Wilson, noting physical therapists are like fishing instructors.

He is not far off. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, physical therapists teach patients self-management skills. In the case of arthritis, therapists show people how to deal with pain in day-to-day life. They show people how to build up strength and improve range of motion, and how to make sensible decisions about activities to prevent arthritic flare-ups.

Yet physical therapy is far from a panacea. In patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis, physical therapy is most times used merely as an adjunctive pain treatment.

If for example, patients with an osteoarthritis condition could worsen if swelling isn't fully addressed. "I think physical therapy does decrease inflammation to a certain extent. But many times it is not enough.

In looking for a physical therapist, look for a trained professional, someone who is licensed to practice in your state and someone that you have been given a recommendation. It is also helpful to find a therapist who has experience in dealing with your particular condition.

Pain Relief With Acupuncture

Easing pain with needles may sound agonizing, but acupuncture is an ancient form of pain relief.

Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago. In traditional practice, needles are pierced through the skin in specific areas to improve the flow of energy throughout the body. Western scientists suspect the practice may stimulate the release of brain chemicals, which can either soothe pain, or prompt the body's natural healing systems.

The National Institutes of Health has sponsored a number of studies on acupuncture, including its affect on arthritis, inflammation, and chronic pain. Numerous research studies have demonstrated that acupuncture really does work for pain relief for many conditions.

Acupuncture is not recommended for people who are taking blood thinners, or for those with a bleeding disorder. Although rare, risks of the acupuncture involve potential problems inherent in needle use, including spread of an infectious disease, piercing of organs, minor bleeding, and broken or forgotten needles.

Pain Relief With Stress Management

"The reign of pain falls mainly in the brain," jokes Dr. Dennis Turk, professor of anesthesiology and pain research at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The truth of Dr.Turk's aphorism is: "You can never have pain without a conscious organism to interpret it," he says, referring to the brain. With this brain organ, people make sense out of noxious sensations and determine how bothersome they really are. A host of factors, including psychological ones, can affect how people perceive and interpret sensations, what they decide to do about them, and how they interact with their world.

The big psychological factor...Stress.... can intensify the perception of pain. When people are distressed, their muscles tend to become tense and may increase already tender tissues. On an emotional level, the increased emotional pressure may amplify their perception of pain. "Emotional arousal or stress may lead them to interpret their situation as being more difficult, and may make them avoid certain types of activities, because they're afraid it's going to make their pain worse," says Dr. Turk.

To alleviate the stress, Dr. Turk recommends trying to change the source of stress or find a way around the obstacle that triggered the stress. For instance, if you find yourself always arguing with your spouse, it may help to find a way to communicate with him or her instead.

If it is not possible to change the source of tension, try distracting yourself with enjoyable activities such as spending time with friends, watching a movie, or listening to music. Participating in something pleasurable may shift focus away from pain.

Another strategy is to unwind. Relaxation techniques include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, visualization, massage, yoga, and Tai Chi. These practices have been proven to be effective.

Some people have found stress relief by joining support groups or by getting individual counseling on how to best cope with their stress or ailment.

For the most part, many of these stress-management strategies have been proven to be effective. Yet not everyone can benefit from each of the techniques. Different methods work for different people. For instance, there is good evidence that people who go to support groups experience pain reduction and dramatic improvements in their physical and emotional functioning. Nonetheless, a person who doesn't want to talk about their ailment would not be a good candidate for a support group.

Pain Relief With Exercise

Many people in pain often avoid exercise because movement hurts too much. Yet their inactivity may actually worsen their condition.

"The human body was designed to be in motion no matter what state of health you're in," says Sal Fichera, an exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer, and owner of in New York City. "If you let your body become inactive, then you will let your body degenerate."

Muscle degeneration can lead to other problems such as diminishing bone density, depression, and a weakened heart. In contrast, regular exercise can help keep joints flexible and strong, and better able to deal with arthritic pain. Plus, physical activity promotes the release of mood-enhancing chemicals like serotonin in the body that can help diminish the perception of pain.

There are three types of exercise recommended for arthritis patients. The first, flexibility workouts, involve stretches that can help enhance range of motion. The second, cardiovascular or aerobic workouts, includes walking, water exercises, and cycling. The third, strength conditioning, includes isometric or isotonic workouts.

Isometric workouts are static exercises that involve applying resistance without moving the joint. For example, if you stand up against the wall and press your hands against it, you are working out your chest muscle. On the other hand, isotonic workouts use the full range of motion. They include bicep curls and leg extensions.

To decrease pain and prevent further injury, it is important to apply appropriate effort in proper form. Not all exercises are right for everyone. If one type of exercise does not work for you, there are always other options. Before starting a fitness program, make sure to consult with your doctor and with a trained fitness professional.

Pain Relief With Diet

We all know...You are what you eat. We would like to point out that really, you are what you specifically eat. In other words, many people in pain have low energy and are sensitive (or even allergic) to certain foods. So, if you have pain and low energy, you should first try to eliminate specific foods and see if your energy gets better. The most common food triggers of pain are: Wheat, corn, milk, sugar, chocolate, tomato, potato.

When you eat foods that fuel your body’s energy you will be able to move better. And here's an extra incentive if you've been thinking about losing weight: As your energy goes up, your weight goes down. Shedding excess pounds could help reduce the pressure causes of pain.

"If you're overweight and de-conditioned, your joints take a major hit, because of the increased poundage that your joints have to carry," says Elton Strauss, MD, chief of orthopedic trauma and adult reconstruction at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

There are plenty of weight loss programs available, but keep in mind that regular physical activity and a nutritious, well-balanced diet are proven methods for weight loss.

On the other extreme, being underweight or weight loss with a poor diet and inactivity can exacerbate pain. "Your hormone levels may be off," explains Lisa Dorfman, MSRD, a sports nutritionist and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Normal flow of hormones can help the body combat aches, and activate the body's own healing systems. Have your doctor check your hormone levels.

Dorfman says people need not become vegetarians for pain relief. She suggests limiting intake of animal protein and saturated fat, and increasing foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, another spokesperson for the ADA, agrees. She also suggests eating more whole grains like rice and quinoa and organically produced foods. She says steroid hormones and preservatives may negatively stimulate the immune system.

Pain Relief With Dietary Supplements

There is promising evidence that two types of dietary supplements -- Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine -- may help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. Yet more research needs to be done on their long-term safety and effectiveness.

Side effects of chondroitin (made from shellfish) are rare, but could include headache, motor uneasiness, euphoria, hives, rash, photosensitivity, hair loss, and breathing difficulties. People with bleeding disorders or those taking blood thinners should consult with their doctor before taking the supplement.

Side effects of glucosamine include upset stomach, drowsiness, insomnia, headache, skin reactions, sun sensitivity, and nail toughening. Some glucosamine products may be made with shellfish, and may cause adverse reaction in people with shellfish allergies.

After consulting your physician, consider trying the following supplements to relieve discomfort and pain:

  • White Willow (Salix Alba)
  • Devils Claw
  • Boswellia
  • Corydalin - Chinese herbal
  • Curcumin (Tumeric)
  • D- Phenylalanine (amino acid)
  • Arnica (For topical application)
  • MSM - MethylSulfonyl methane
  • Potassium (gluconate or aspartate)
  • Magnesium aspartate

Pain Relief With Bioelectric Therapy

Some arthritis patients may find some pain relief with bioelectric therapy. "The people who benefit from bioelectric therapy are people who tend to have mild muscle pain," says Wilson, noting that people with joint inflammation, such as those with rheumatoid arthritis, may not get as much benefit.

In bioelectric therapy like TENS, a dose of electric current is applied to the skin to help distract the brain from sensing pain. The therapy tries to overload the brain with sensations to divert its focus on the original source of pain.

There may be skin irritation and redness as a result of bioelectric therapy. This strategy is not recommended for people who have a pacemaker, are pregnant, have blood clots in the arms and legs, and have a bacterial infection. 

Pain Relief With MicroVibration Therapy

A new, very promising therapy is MicroVibration Therapy.

While traditional massage is performed in many forms - from Swedish massage and Shiatsu, to the use of electronic vibration devices - almost all forms of massage produce macro-vibration effects on the tissues and cells of the body. Macro-vibration is the pulsating, mechanical quality that produces visible movement in the muscles and tissues where the mechanical massage is directed. Widely used electronic massage devices, regulated to vibrate slowly or rapidly, produce the usual thumping action called macro-vibration. However, a new technology has been developed that relieves pain in a new microvibration method.

The Discovery of MVT Relief

Micro-Vibration technology and the MVT Relief device was a serendipitous discovery by Dr. Robert D.Milne, M.D. in 2003. While working on a technology to treat allergies, he discovered that the electronic device relaxed his patients and even decreased many types of pain. He shared his discovery with a scientist and manufacturer of Laser devices. Working together the MVT device was unveiled, providing timely, needed relief for hundreds of patients.

The MVT Relief Device is a very powerful tool to relieve the discomforts and pains of everyday life. Using patented synergistic technologies of microvibration, low level light, acoustic sound, and magnetic frequencies the MVT Device provides remarkably fast relief for many discomforts and pain. While there are many devices that use one of these technologies and provide some help, it is the synergistic integration of four well-known technologies that have proven to be so remarkably effective.

1. Mechanical MicroVibration
Mechanical microvibration is the use of very fine physical oscillations. Unlike mechanical vibrator massagers that vibrate, thump, pulsate, pound and knead (which do feel good most of the time!), researchers found that when they used micro-fine vibration, it had a significant effect on painful areas – without the heavy, bulky thumping machine.

2. Light Vibration
There is one basic rule in nature – “Light is the source of life.” The quantum of light energy is a photon. Every living cell absorbs and emits photons, known as biophotons. For this reason, low-level light therapy (LLLT) is therapeutic without causing damage to the human body. Light vibration is accomplished by using photon light energy packets to harmonically vibrate atoms within cells.

Low Level Light Therapy uses LEDS to produce light of various frequencies to stimulate body tissues.

Beneficial effects of low-level laser therapy include:

  • Increasing the body’s production of endorphins that reduce pain
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Decreasing swelling, redness, and heat
  • Eliminating pain
  • Improving lymphatic drainage
  • Increasing blood circulation
  • Increasing the flow of healing enzymes into a traumatized area
  • Up to 75% increase in enzymes

Decreasing the spasms of tight muscles (both smooth and striated), which influence chronic pain, joint stiffness, and decreased mobility Speeding up of bone repair by stimulation of the bone cells.

3. Acoustic Sound Vibration
Sound waves generated as music have been a soothing method of relaxation since the dawn of time. There are many anecdotal reports of healing with music. The mechanism involved in this process may be resonance. It is believed that each of our bodies’ organs resonate at a specific range of frequencies when it is in a healthy state. Some researchers feel that exposing unhealthy organs to their “healthy" frequencies will assist them in returning to their normal state of resonance and health.

Sound can be concentrated such as ultrasound and has been used as an important therapeutic modality by physical therapists and medical practitioners for many years. Sound vibrates cells and tissues to improve cellular communication and thereby relax and relieve pain.

4. Magnetic Vibration
There has been growing evidence that living organisms are affected by magnetic and electric fields. Given the physiological role of electric currents within organisms (including humans), scientists over the past 30 years began studying magnetism in living systems and the effects of external electromagnetic fields on microorganisms, plants and animals.

Pulsed magnetic fields are very different from static magnetic fields, because time-varying magnetic fields induce electric fields. Many years ago the FDA approved the use of pulsed magnetic fields in "bone growth stimulators" for the treatment of fractures that were slow to heal. And research on "magnetic stimulation", pulsed magnetic fields applied to the brain or other components of the nervous system, has grown rapidly in recent years. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, in which the patient receives hundreds of magnetic field pulses of 1 Tesla or more, each only a millisecond in duration, has shown considerable promise as a means of treating migraines and depression. However, these forms of pulsed-field magnetic therapy are based on biological effects of induced electric fields, and are very different from the use of the static fields from permanent magnets.

Specific patterns of low-level EM (electromagnetic) field exposure can produce highly specific biological responses. Most likely, the mechanisms are based on magnetic forces on moving charged particles, possibly including ions or charged molecules in flowing blood.

Dr. Pawluk, an expert in magnetic therapy, writes that the actual mechanism by which EM fields produce biological effects is under intense study. Evidence suggests that magnets act on 5 major areas or processes of the body: (Pawluk)

  1. The Acupuncture system: Magnets produce specific and direct actions on acupuncture points and meridians and are very rapid.
  2. The Vascular and blood system: evidence has been shown to increase tissue oxygen perfusion. This effect reduces \swelling and decreases clotting. Magnets may also decrease free radical damage.
  3. The Nervous System: human and animal studies have shown decreased nerve cell firing.
  4. Cellular Effects: changes have been observed in calcium channels (increasing intracellular calcium), the sodium-potassium pump, RNA/DNA production, the conversion of ATP to ADP, and stimulation of cyclic AMP. An important aspect of magnetic fields is that they permeate all body tissues without interference. No cellular damage has been seen from even the most powerful static magnetic fields.
  5. Extracellular Fluid: extracellular fluid is very sensitive to the application of magnetic fields. Since the body is at least 65% fluid, which is mostly a salt, electrolytic, ion solution, externally applied magnetic fields can influence and charge electrical currents of the body’s fluids.
  6. General Physiologic responses to magnetic field exposures include vasodilatation, analgesia, anti-inflammatory action, anti-spasm, anti-swelling activity, and general healing.

For more complete discussion of the technology of Microvibration technology go to

Live a Healthy Life

In some cases, your physician may suggest combining non-medicinal options with drug therapy. You do not have to rule out or stop pain medication altogether. The ideal goal of pain relief treatment, after all, is not just to alleviate suffering, but also to keep you alive and healthy.

Remember: The simplest -- yet often the most challenging - strategy for pain relief involves eating right, sleeping enough, exercising, and managing stress. If you look at pain management skills, they are nothing more than good living skills. If we don't live our life and really pay attention, the pain can overcome us.

Let us know what strategies you have found to help you relieve your pain! Share your story by going to the blog, 

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