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Category: Treatments

For Neck Pain, Chiropractic and Exercise Are Better Than Drugs

For Neck Pain, Chiropractic and Exercise Are Better Than Drugs

Seeing a chiropractor or engaging in light exercise relieves neck pain more effectively than relying on pain medication, new research shows.

The new study is one of the few head-to-head comparisons of various treatments for neck pain, a problem that affects three-quarters of Americans at some point in their lives but has no proven, first-line treatment. While many people seek out spinal manipulation by chiropractors, the evidence supporting its usefulness has been limited at best.

But the new research, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, found that chiropractic care or simple exercises are done at home were better at reducing pain than taking medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or narcotics.

“These changes were diminished over time, but they were still present,” said Dr. Gert Bronfort, an author of the study and research professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota. “Even a year later, there were differences between the spinal manipulation and medication groups.”

Moderate and acute neck pain is one of the most frequent reasons for trips to primary care doctors, prompting millions of visits every year. For patients, it can be a difficult problem to navigate. In some cases, the pain and stiffness crop up without explanation, and treatment options are varied. Physical therapy, pain medication, and spinal manipulation are popular options, but Dr. Bronfort was inspired to carry out an analysis because so little research exists.

“There was a void in the scientific literature in terms of what the most helpful treatments are,” he said.

To find out, Dr. Bronfort and his colleagues recruited a large group of adults with neck pain that had no known specific cause. The subjects, 272 in all, were mostly recruited from a large HMO and through advertisements. The researchers then split them into three groups and followed them for about three months.

One group was assigned to visit a chiropractor for roughly 20-minute sessions throughout the course of the study, making an average of 15 visits. A second group was assigned to take common pain relievers like acetaminophen and — in some cases, at the discretion of a doctor — stronger drugs like narcotics and muscle relaxants. The third group met on two occasions with physical therapists who gave them instructions on simple, gentle exercises for the neck that they could do at home. They were encouraged to do 5 to 10 repetitions of each exercise up to eight times a day. (A demonstration of the exercises can be found at www.annals.org).

After 12 weeks, the people in the non-medication groups did significantly better than those taking the drugs. About 57 percent of those who met with chiropractors and 48 percent who did the exercises reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain, compared to 33 percent of the people in the medication group.

A year later, when the researchers checked back in, 53 percent of the subjects who had received spinal manipulation still reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain, similar to the exercise group. That compared to just a 38 percent pain reduction among those who had been taking medication.

Dr. Bronfort said it was a “big surprise” to see that the home exercises were about as effective as the chiropractic sessions. “We hadn’t expected that they would be that close,” he said. “But I guess that’s good news for patients.”

In addition to their limited pain relief, the medications had at least one other downside: people kept taking them. “The people in the medication group kept on using a higher amount of medication more frequently throughout the follow-up period, up to a year later,” Dr. Bronfort said. “If you’re taking medication over a long time, then we’re running into more systemic side effects like gastrointestinal problems.”

He also expressed concern that those on medications were not as empowered or active in their own care as those in the other groups. “We think it’s important that patients are enabled to deal with as much control over their own condition as possible,” he said. “This study shows that they can play a large role in their own care.”

Article from: The New York Times

Original Photo credit: https://www.kineticedgept.com/the-hidden-culprit-behind-your-pain-in-the-neck/

9 Herbs to Fight Arthritis Pain

Arthritis symptoms can keep you from going about your everyday activities. The pain and inflammation may still persist despite medical intervention. To get relief, more and more people with arthritis are seeking a natural approach by using herbal remedies.

Certain herbs may have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by reducing pain in all forms of the disease. Still, there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting such claims. Before you treat arthritis the “natural” way, make sure you talk to a doctor first to avoid life-threatening side effects.

1. Aloe vera

“aloe-vera”

Aloe vera is one of the most commonly used herbs in alternative medicine. Known for its healing properties, it’s popular for treating small skin abrasions. You may already have a bottle of aloe vera gel in the medicine cabinet from a past sunburn. This same type of product may be applied topically to soothe aching joints.

Aloe vera is also available in the whole form from the leaves of the plant. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says that oral aloe vera can cause decreased blood sugar and gastrointestinal side effects, such as diarrhea. Topical aloe vera, on the other hand, does not cause any side effects and should be safe to try for arthritis.

2. Boswellia

“boswellia”

Boswellia, also called frankincense, is praised by alternative medicine practitioners for its anti-inflammatory capabilities. It’s derived from the gum of Boswellia trees indigenous to India.

This herb is thought to work by blocking substances (leukotrienes) that attack healthy joints in autoimmune diseases such as RA. The NCCIH acknowledges promising evidence of Boswellia in animal studies. But it notes a lack of human trials. Boswellia is available in tablet form and topical creams.

3. Cat’s claw

“Cats Claw”

Cat’s claw is another anti-inflammatory herb that may reduce swelling in arthritis. This herb is from a tropical vine, and its usage dates back to Incan civilizations. Traditionally, cat’s claw is used to boost the immune system.

In recent years, the immunity powers of the herb have been tried in arthritis. The downside is that cat’s claw may overstimulate the immune system and make arthritis pain worse.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, a study showed cat’s claw can help with RA swelling. But there’s no proof that this herb can prevent further joint damage.

4. Eucalyptus

“eucalyptus”

Like aloe vera, eucalyptus is widely available in Western markets. It’s used in oral medications, and topical oil extracts are used for a variety of conditions. Topical forms of eucalyptus leaves are used to treat arthritis pain.

The plant leaves contain tannins, which may be helpful in reducing swelling and the pain arthritis causes. Some users follow up with heat pads to maximize the effects of eucalyptus on swollen joints.

Be sure to test yourself for allergies before using topical eucalyptus. Put a small amount of the product on your forearm. If there is no reaction in 24 to 48 hours, it should be safe to use.

5. Ginger

“ginger”

You may have ginger in your spice cabinet for cooking, but this herb is also a staple in many alternative medicine cabinets. The same compounds that give ginger its strong flavor also have anti-inflammatory properties.

The NCCIH says that early studies in reducing joint swelling with ginger in RA are promising. But more human trials are needed to better understand its action. In folk medicine and Chinese medicine, ginger is used to increase blood circulation, which brings heat and healing properties to the affected area. Research shows promise for the use of ginger in all types of arthritis.

6. Green tea

“green-tea”

Green tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and has been used to reduce inflammation in the body. It’s possible that green tea can be used to treat arthritis inflammation in the form of beverages, tablets, or tinctures.

In a 2010 study, the NCCIH found that green tea might help people with osteoarthritis (OA) and RA. But many more studies are still needed to prove the potential benefits of green tea.

7. Thunder god vine

“thunder-god-vine”

Thunder god vine is one of the oldest herbs used in Chinese medicine. Extracts from skinned roots are known for suppressing an overactive immune system. This makes thunder god vine a possible alternative treatment for autoimmune diseases such as RA. It’s best to apply directly to the skin in a topical form. Thunder god vine may work best along with conventional RA medications.

Use extreme caution with this herb, as it can be poisonous if extracts are derived from other areas of the vine. Long-term use is not recommended.

8. Turmeric

“turmeric”

Turmeric is a yellow powder made from the related flowering plant. It’s used in cooking to make curry. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Lab studies on rats have also found this herb may slow the progression of RA. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been used in folk medicine for years. Unlike other types of herbs, the NCCIH found turmeric may work best in fighting joint pain when taken orally.

There still needs to be more studies done on the safety of turmeric, but its use is promising.

9. Willow Bark

“willow-bark”

Using willow bark is one of the oldest treatments for inflammation. In fact, people during Hippocrates’ time (fifth century B.C.) chewed on willow bark to help treat inflammatory conditions.

One study reported that the herb shows promise in relieving OA-related joint pain, particularly in the knees, back, hips, and neck. This treatment is taken orally, either by tea or tablet.

Getting the right dose is crucial. An overdose can cause rashes and other forms of inflammation. Do not use willow bark if you take blood thinners or are allergic to aspirin.

Article from: https://www.healthline.com/health/osteoarthritis/herbs-arthritis-pain

9 Herbs to Fight Arthritis Pain