Naturopathic approach is all about allowing natural healing process to take place with minimal intervention. It has been used for thousands of years, and it is embraced by more patients in the treatment of pain and injuries.
In this article, we will introduce Nonsurgical Pain Management to help you make informed decision about treatment of your acute or chronic pain.
Pain is felt when a signal sent from a nerve detecting damaged tissue to the brain along spinal cord. Brain then decides how to interpret the signal and respond to it. This whole process is individualistic, meaning it is different from one person to another but if it is not addressed on time, it will become chronic and inflamed over time.
Nonsurgical Pain Management refers to a collection of regenerative therapies to heal damaged tissue and pain associated with it.
Natural Regenerative Therapy wakes up cells in the exact location of the injury to initiate the healing process by inviting stem cells, blast cells and growth factors to heal and rebuild the tissue. Due to the presence of minimal intervention, the body is capable of healing the injury permanently without any side effects and pain recurrence.
On the other hand, Conventional Treatments incorporate techniques such as RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) and medications such as anti-inflammatory (NSAID), opiate or benzodiazepine, and cortisone injections. All these treatments are effective in the short term, but they do not show the cause of pain and have long term side effects with recurring pain.
Regenerative Joint Therapy has been used with great success for healing injuries in different parts of the body including:
Shoulder (rotator cuff tear, labrum tear, ligament damage, adhesive capsulitis)
Elbow (tennis elbow, golfers elbow, ligament damage)
Wrist (carpal tunnel, ligament damage)
Fingers (trigger finger, joint inflammation)
Low back pain (SI ligament laxity, herniated discs, sciatic pain)
Hip (labrum tear, gluteus tear, piriformis tear)
Knee (meniscus damage, ligament (ACL, PCL, MCL, LCL), jumpers knee)
Ankle (ligament sprain/strain, plantar fasciitis)
At your initial consultation, you are asked about your current pain and injuries, medical history and medications to select the most effective nonsurgical therapy for you.
Since some drugs can interfere with treatments, you must inform your practitioner of any anticoagulant (blood thinner) drugs such as aspirin you have been taking. After your nonsurgical treatment, you are provided with a unique lifestyle plan in order to allow healing and prevent any more pains.
Types of Non Surgical Pain Management:
Three nonsurgical therapies currently being utilized for injury and pain management:
Stem Cell Therapy
PRP which stands for Platelet Rich Plasma is a regenerative therapy that uses your blood to initiate healing of your injury and alleviation of your pain.
Plasma is the liquid part of the blood. It is mostly water and proteins that act as a medium for red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets to move inside the body. Platelet or Thrombocyte is a type of cell capable of clotting the blood and contains growth factors, which are essential for key stages of cell proliferation, tissue healing, and regeneration.
PRP is the same plasma with 10 times more platelets, which makes it more potent due to the concentration of healing proteins and growth factors. The PRP procedure is quick and noninvasive. Blood is drawn from a vein in your arm and through the use of a harvesting machine such as a centrifuge, it separates to layers of platelets, red and white blood cells. Now concentrated platelets are injected to the site of your injury to activate and release
Glycoproteins and growth factors to form a fibrin mesh under the tissue. When bind with cellular receptors of your skin, they initiate healing intercellular processes which invite stem cells to the injury site for the proliferation of new cells and production of extracellular matrix proteins. Healing takes place immediately within your tissue and will continue for up to 5 weeks after therapy. Ultrasound imaging is usually utilized to guide the injection.
Since PRP uses your blood, it is safe and your body will not reject the therapy. It can be used as a stand alone treatment or in conjunction with other medical procedures. The amount of blood needed depends on the severity of your injury but in general, 10-20 milliliters will suffice. Your doctor will provide guidelines for your diet before the procedure, which include eating a healthy meal to avoid feeling weak resulting from blood drawing.
PRP usually takes an hour to complete and you can resume your normal activities immediately after injection unless advised otherwise by your doctor.
The treated area is numbed if needed; therefore, minimal pain is involved.
The purpose of PRP therapy is permanent nonsurgical tissue re-growth and repair, which unlike other injection treatments will not reabsorb or synthesize by bacteria. However, depending on the severity of your injury, you may require to follow up injections. Tissue healing can occur rapidly by PRP therapy due to rapid epithelial differentiation and enhanced dermal collagen organization.
Healing Sports injuries is the oldest application of PRP injection, which used to be treated by invasive medical procedures like surgery. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints have been healed and regenerated by top athletes allowing them to return to competitions. Ligaments tissue is more difficult to heal, which makes PRP an attractive noninvasive treatment for injuries to this tissue group.
In healing orthopedic and sports injuries, the focus is on hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) to heal injured tendons and to reduce pain. Tendon pain is often caused by inflammation and HGF protects tissues from inflammatory damage. Patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee), pulled hamstring muscles, Achilles tendonitis, and tennis elbow have positively responded to PRP therapy.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem Cell therapy uses stem cells to heal injuries and alleviate pain by directly injecting them to the site of injury.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that if needed, can become other types of cells by replication and differentiation; therefore, they can renew themselves and become more specialized cells according to the environment they are in.
Stem cells come from different stages of development, different parts of the body and have different capabilities. Some like embryonic stem cells exist only at early stages of life and are pluripotent; therefore, they can create all types of cells in the body but others called adult stem cells remain within the body throughout life and are multipotent; therefore, they can only generate a few tissue-specific cell types. Stem Cell therapy is used to treat almost all orthopedic or musculoskeletal pains and injuries; therefore, it has become a nonsurgical treatment of choice for joint pain management.
Exosome Therapy uses a kind of nano-sized cells that are derived from Mesenchymal cells in umbilical cord tissue. Exosomes are the latest and greatest technology in regenerative medicine. These small, membrane-bound extracellular vesicles change how your cells communicate with one another. They are extremely anti-inflammatory to the surrounding tissues. New studies show that exosomes carry great potential for future therapeutics in fighting joint diseases.
Exosomes have a critical role in cell communication and rejuvenation in the body because they act as shuttles for certain genetic information and proteins to be carried to other cells to tell them how and when to react at the time of injury. Also, exosomes from young cells help to rejuvenate the older cells.
Exosomes also help in transferring NK cells (natural killer cells) to T-Regulator cells (helper cells) to calm an over-reactive immune system and modulate it to respond in a coordinated way; therefore, they help with autoimmune related joint inflammations. They can also be utilized as a delivery system for medication.
The procedure usually uses ultrasound imaging for precise placement of injection to make sure stem cells and exosomes are delivered to exact site of injury. The dosing is very individualized but generally billions of exosomes may be injected at once.
The pain relief is immediate and healing follow peaking at 2 months after therapy. No further injection is required since the healing is permanent. The healing process is different for each individual, but you are normally asked to rest for a week and reduce your exercise intensity for 2 months to allow healing to take place.
Risks and side effects of Nonsurgical Pain Management
Side effects are minimal. The most frequent experiences after the procedure include mild pain at the injection site, swelling, nerve injury, and some joint stiffness. Although rare, infection may occur.
Is Non-Surgical Pain Management right for you?
If you have been living with chronic pain or just recently had an injury with acute pain, it is wise to consider nonsurgical naturopathic therapies which have no side effects, to heal yourself before undergoing invasive surgeries with serious long term side effects.
Your body is capable of self-healing if time and caring are provided along with all natural therapies performed in a safe and qualified integrative center.