When does alternative pain therapy help?

When does alternative pain therapy help?


Sting, press, dream, and it doesn't hurt anymore. Where alternative pain therapy helps best - from acupuncture to hypnosis.

The prickly one: Acupuncture

How does it work? In this method of traditional Chinese medicine, the acupuncturist inserts thin needles into various points on the surface of the body. The needle stimulation is intended to release blocked energies and relieve pain.

When does it help? For tension headaches, migraines, musculoskeletal pain such as knee or back pain, menstrual cramps, post-operative pain.

Who does it, who pays for it, and how long does it take? Addresses of therapists are available from the International Society for TCM (www.tcm.edu), the German Society for TCM (www.tcm.de), the AG TCM (www.agtcm.de) and the German Medical Society for Acupuncture (www.daegfa.de). Statutory health insurance companies usually pay for 10 sessions for chronic back pain in the lumbar region. Self-payers have to reckon with about 30 to 70 euros per treatment, depending on the duration and effort of the treatment.

The gentle one: Biofeedback

How does it work? Body functions such as breathing and heart rate, blood pressure, brain waves, skin resistance, body temperature or muscle tension are recorded with measuring devices and linked to acoustic or visual signals. The signals make the patient aware of bodily processes - in the course of treatment, the patient learns to actively control these processes using relaxation techniques such as autogenic training. The German Headache and Migraine Society calls biofeedback the most successful non-drug headache treatment.

When does it help? For tension headaches, migraines, muscle pain and neck tension.

Who does it, who pays for it, and how long does it last? Specially trained doctors, psychologists or physiotherapists offer biofeedback; addresses can be obtained from the German Biofeedback Society (www.dgbfb.de). The costs (approx. 80 to 100 euros per session) are not usually covered by health insurance. It makes sense to have at least 10 sessions of 50 minutes each.

The profound: Hypnosis

How does it work? The hypnotherapist puts the patient into a state of deep relaxation and directs attention inward. This reduces muscle tension and the release of stress hormones. In the case of chronic pain, the therapist tries above all to mobilize physical and mental forces and to better integrate the pain into the general perception.

The feeling one: Osteopathy

How does it work? Osteopaths use their hands to detect physical blockages, e.g. in the body's fluids or in connective and muscular tissue, and release them through loosening grips or light pressure. At the same time, this stimulation stimulates the body's self-healing powers.

When does it help? For back pain, tension headaches, migraines, muscle and joint pain, sprains, menstrual cramps.

Who does it, who pays for it, and how long does it take? The Association of Osteopaths Germany (www.osteopathie.de) and the German Medical Society for Osteopathy (www.daego.de) refer reputable therapists. A treatment unit (50 minutes) costs between approx. 60 and 100 euro. For acute pain conditions, one or two sessions are often sufficient; for chronic pain, one should plan up to 10 treatments.

The Impulsive: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

How does it work? In transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, a small device generates mild electrical pulses that electrodes on the skin transmit to the nervous system. By transmitting pain-inhibiting signals, the overstimulated nervous system quiets down. After receiving instructions from the doctor, the patient can "borrow" the device and perform the treatment at home.

When does it help? For tension headaches, back pain, nerve pain, general pain of the musculoskeletal system such as rheumatic diseases, wear and tear, overload, irritation of bones, muscles and joints.

Who does it, who pays for it, and how long does it take? Information is available from the German Pain Relief Association. Statutory health insurers usually cover the rental costs of the device after the therapy has been approved. Patients then only have to pay a small part (about 10 euros). Experience has shown that good results are achieved with 30 minutes of stimulation 2 to 4 times a day; acute pain conditions often subside after a few treatments. In the case of chronic pain, the therapy should be applied at intervals, since continuous treatment leads to a habituation effect and the pain-relieving effect diminishes.

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