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To heal does not necessarily mean to cure. It can simply mean helping people to achieve a way of life compatible with their aspirations—to restore their freedom to make choices—even in the presence of continuing disease. –Rene Dubos

There are so many therapies available to us that have the potential to lower our pain, and help us find balance and stability in the midst of chaos and pain. Here is a small list of various complementary therapies that may be worth looking into. Again, U.S. Pain Foundation does not endorse one type of treatment. As an organization, we support all therapies. We just want each of the 100 million Americans living with pain to find answers and relief.

Complementary & Eastern Approaches to Treating Pain

  • Acupuncture: The philosophy behind acupuncture is that an increase flow of chi (energy) in the body will result in balancing the seven main energy centers (chakras), allowing the body to heal on its own. This is accomplished by inserting tiny needles in specific meridians (known energy sites) along the body.
  • Acupressure/ Deep Tissue Release: Acupressure is very similar to acupuncture by using the same trigger points in the body. By focusing on the meridians in the body, one can release old tension and blocked energy, allowing new energy to flow freely. Instead of using little needles, acupressurists apply pressure to the power centers in the body, increasing circulation and promoting well-being and health. Deep tissue release is based on the same principles but focuses on larger tissues and muscles in the body.
  • Aura Imaging: Surrounding each of us is a strong, vibrating energy field, known as an aura. Auras are influenced by the energy within us as well as those outside our physical state, in the etheric field. Their function is to carry, store, transmit, and receive energies in and around us, impacting one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual states. A depletion of energy is a wake-up call: notifying us to pay attention and change our patterns before diseases manifest.
  • Bach Flowers: The Bach Flowers restore emotional balance in every day life by allowing the body’s own healing mechanisms to create overall wellness. The Bach Flowers are made up of thirty-eight different plants and flowers that, used together or alone in specific formulas, bring clarity and stability to the body. Each remedy is personally designed to help each person. A questionnaire guides one to the right formula by determining the severity of my mood, mentality, health, and stress levels. It is easy to follow (two daily drops of the formula on the tongue.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a helpful tool in reconnecting the mind with the body. By applying electrical sensors on different parts of the body, a person can monitor and graph muscle activity and muscle tension. Biofeedback allows one to become more aware of his or her body, by teaching how to control involuntary responses.
  • Breath Work: The mind-body connection is necessary in healing disease in the body. Eastern philosophies use the term disease while discussing illnesses because of the belief that a disease is just disease stored in the body. By controlling the rhythm of each breath, a person can begin to control the body and mind.
  • Chakra Alignment: Chakras are energy centers that exist within and outside the physical body at the etheric level. There are seven main chakras (root, naval, solar plexus, heart, throat, third-eye, and crown), which are aligned up the spine to the crown of the head. Each chakra relates both to the physical and emotional health of our body. Our thoughts and attitudes are the most common reason for blocked chakras, or an inadequate flow of energy in a specific area. Without releasing the emotional aspects, our body’s energy becomes unbalanced and disease becomes inevitable. When the chakras are open and balanced, our body functions at its best.
  • Chiropractic Work: A chiropractor’s main objective is to realign the spine and neck to improve circulation, calm off-firing nerves, and increase overall function. Chiropractors believe the spine ultimately causes pain and a decrease in mobility.
  • Colonics: Colon hydrotherapy involves inserting a small tube up the rectum, which carries distilled water into the colon and toxic waste out. The goal of colon therapy is to improve overall health by depleting the body of harmful, toxic waste, causing a decrease in tension headaches, instilling proper bowel movement, and creating a balanced state of well-being.
  • Color Therapy: Color therapy affects the electromagnetic field that surrounds us, allowing colors to impact every aspect of our being. The way we respond to the different shades changes our mood, attitude and health. Through the vibrations of energy in each color, we are either pushed or pulled closer to harmony or distress.
  • Craniosacral Therapy: This is a light-touch, manual therapy which restores normal function to the central nervous system.  Techniques are used to remove musculoskeletal and emotional restrictions that may be interfering with proper central nervous system function, thereby, potentially having a positive influence on all systems in the body..
  • Crystal Therapy: For thousands of years, crystals have been used to heal and protect, by transmitting and receiving energies. Crystals magnetically attract or repel unwanted energy. By resonating at certain frequencies, crystals impart their innate energies to us through a subtle electromagnetic field. Each type of crystal has distinct properties and energies—meaning that it might take more than one stone to fully heal emotionally and physically. These precious stones pass their healing powers on to others through the etheric energy field that surrounds the body. Crystals have the ability to cure all ailments and bring peace and tranquility into one’s life.
  • Dance Therapy: Dance therapy uses movement and dance to help emotional, cognitive and physical conditions. Founded on the basis that movement and emotion are related, the purpose of such therapy is to find balance, joy and sense of wellness.
  • Dietary Changes: Nutrition can become an important factor in easing pain. Since each of us is different, it is crucial to look at all aspects of food and how certain ingredients may affect pain. Read more
  • Exercise: Exercise therapy uses specific movements to improve the way the body functions. It focuses on moving the body and its different parts to relieve symptoms and improve mobility.
  • Energy (Body) Work: Energy healing has the power to make one stronger, healthier, and wiser by removing old blockages in ones’ energy field. It is believed to work through resonance: the energy of another vibrates in unison with yours. By learning to direct, control, and increase this life-energy, the body begins to heal itself naturally.
              o  Aligning chakras, crystal use, and prayer can be used to heighten the energy, leading to a very
                  successful session. This form of bodywork, involving the mind-body-spirit connection, has proven
                  to be helpful tool for many with pain.
  • Feldenkrais: Feldenkrais stresses the importance of “knowing and understanding” the inner-workings of the body. The Feldenkrais method, Awareness Through Movement, specifically focuses on becoming acutely aware of the way the body moves and interacts with the outside world.
  • Feng Shui: The belief surrounding this ancient technique, deals with our own power to influence and change our Universe by establishing positive chi (energy) to exist in our space. The way I feel and act has a lot to do with the energy field I am submitting to the world. By rearranging small things, one essentially changes the chi, creating a new environment that is filled with health, happiness, and wealth.
  • Guided Imagery: Guided imagery entails directing thoughts and suggestions to guide your imagination toward a relaxed, focused state. It is based on the belief that the body and mind are connected.
  • Healing Touch: Healing Touch is the laying of hands above the seven main energy centers in order to balance and heal disease. As energy flows through my body, a sense of tranquility and peace calm the mind and body, allowing true healing to occur. Healing touch can be accomplished through prayer, meditation, and energy transfer.
  • Herb and Mineral Use: Herbs are nature’s own healing remedy. Herbalists understand the benefits of curing ailments with pure and natural substances found in the earth. While taking prescription drugs, there is a high probability that poisons and unwanted toxins will also be released in the body, causing serious side-effects and future problems.
  • Hot Mineral Springs: For hundreds of years, soaking in hot mineral springs has proven effective in relieving chronic pain. The springs are actually bubbling, hot water found in the earth’s core, containing high quantities of minerals, including magnesium.
  • Hypnosis: By entering an altered, relaxed state of mind, each of us has the ability to silence the mind’s thoughts, and focus on becoming more aware of emotions and feelings that otherwise would be difficult to achieve. The purpose of this therapy is to increase brain communication to certain nerves in the body. This allows an increase in the release of neuropeptides and polypeptides—neuropeptides counteract norepinephrine while polypeptides decrease the production of Substance P—directly aiding in the decrease of pain.
  • Magnets: For many years, magnets have been used to treat pain with mixed results from physicians over the accuracy of their healing abilities.
  • Massage Therapy: One of the oldest healing arts known to mankind is massage. Massage therapy has been proven beneficial for many chronic pain conditions.
  • Meditation and Relaxation Techniques: Meditation quiets the nervous system and lowers stress, which decreases muscle tension, and can lead to lower pain levels.
  • “Messages from the Body” Work: Developed by Dr. Narayan-Singh, Messages From The Body, deals with the philosophy that illnesses are really dis-ease trapped in the body. By listening to our inner-guides and releasing old (or harmful) beliefs, we free ourselves of pain and anguish. Everything that happens in our lives is happening for a reason—to inform us of the imbalances that may lie within.
  • Music Therapy: Music Therapy is using music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of an individual. Treatment includes creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. For more information, please visit the American Music Therapy Association.
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy: The main difference between PT and OT is that occupational therapy focuses primarily on the upper limbs (hands) and improving fine motor nerves. Treatments for physical therapy include hot and cold therapy, stretching, strengthening exercises, water therapy, fluido-therapy, ultra sound, etc. Treatments for occupational therapy include stretching hand, massaging tendons, weight-bearing exercises, de-sensitization, splinting, coloring/drawing, writing, etc. The work accomplished by these two therapies carries over into a person’s every day life; one can apply these techniques to his or her lifestyle. For more information, please visit one of our preferred pain providers, Ivy Rehab Physical Therapy.
  • Psychotherapy: The objective of this therapy is to see how one copes with pain, making sure each person has found a way to acknowledge fears, stress, or emotional turmoil in a healthy way.
  • Reflexology: This powerful healing technique has the ability to relax our state of mind, allowing the body to heal itself naturally by balancing glands, calming muscles, detoxifying the body, and producing endorphins to ease pain. Reflexology can be performed on either hands or feet.
  • Reiki: Reiki is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through each of us. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction that also promotes healing the body, mind and spirit.
  • Spiritual Response Therapy: Spiritual Response Therapy is a transformational system that can help you achieve breakthrough results. Your subconscious mind is like a computer that stores and runs negative life programs that may interfere with your ability to live your life to its highest potential. These programs may express themselves as health problems, addictions, relationship conflicts, or an infinite variety of problems. SRT works directly with the subconscious mind and soul records to find and remove these negative programs, freeing you from blocks to health, prosperity, and happiness. For more information, please visit
  • Steam Room: Sweating is the easiest way to rid the body of toxins and poisons. When body heat rises, sweat glands begin to excrete wastes and toxins on the cellular level, initiating a fever-like response, which stimulates the immune system. Due to the fact that 30% of all bodily waste is eliminated through perspiration, entering a steam room is extremely beneficial in ridding harmful toxins from the body. This therapy also helps relax muscles, increase blood circulation, and improves respiratory problems.
  • St. John’s Neuromuscular Massage Therapy: This type of massage deals with specific trigger points in the body. The goal is to release the excess pain and tension stored in the exasperated muscles.
  • T’ai Chi Chih: T’ai Chi Chih is a simpler form of ancient T’ai chi based on twenty postures. It is referred to as a “moving meditation.” The main intention is to increase circulation while balancing the body’s own vital energy. Moving chi (energy) through the body’s meridians (main energy points) centers and calms the spirit. These slow, gentle movements create a soft, flowing, continual motion aligning the body, mind, and soul. T’ai Chi Chih has the power to heal. Good health, better flexibility, mental clarity, weight control, the balance of mind-body connection is all possible while practicing T’ai Chi Chih.
  • Visualization Therapy: Visualization therapy deals with the belief that before one can accomplish anything, one must imagine it first. Therefore, to obtain overall health, a person must not only imagine healing, but also visualize being healed. The philosophy behind imagery is that chemicals in the nervous system drastically change when picturing a mental image. Studies show the same amount of brain stimulation whether one is actually participating in an activity or imagining that same action. The use of energy and visualization can heal all problems.
  • Yoga: The ultimate goal of yoga is to reach the state of absolute peace and tranquility existing between mind and body. By practicing slow poses that require proper breathing, flexibility will increase along with a new sense of serenity.

Articles on the benefit of Complementary Therapies:
Many adults turn to CAM for chronic pain relief” by Charles C. Chante, M.D.

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