This page is about established and emerging pain management techniques. I offer this page to provide a high elevation overview of techniques currently in use and to provide context for discussing our use of microcurrent. We have found that Chiropractic and microcurrent therapy are a natural and powerful pairing, but we do not hesitate to educate, inform and refer, when appropriate, for any other therapies we don’t offer but that we believe might be in the patient’s best interest.
A lot of techniques are used in the medical field, such as surgery, pharmaceuticals, and combinations of these. These are what I would consider “heroic” approaches left as a last resort for those that have tried more conservative approaches without relief and I will leave these to medical experts to elaborate on.
I support my patients being informed on all options for their care, whether that be in my office or that of a different provider. Information is good. Making informed decisions just makes good sense. But I certainly want my patients to be aware of the non-invasive approaches that should be tried first (“First Do No Harm”, right?).
Before I get to the newer, more exciting break-through approaches, let’s first list the “go-to” approaches to pain management that chiropractors have offered for many years. The list below is a partial list of those commonly used. The important thing to understand, however, is that each approach has nuances as to when and how it is called for to speed recovery and optimize the outcome to restore normal function. So it is wise to get input to make sure you are making the right choice the right way…
- Chiropractic – adjustments typically result in improvements in joint motion and function. This helps to reduce inflammation and irritation and nourish the joint surfaces. In addition, the improved motion increases strength, coordination and competition with pain perception along common nerve pathways.
- Cold/Heat – thermal treatments such as ice packs, heating pads, etc.
- Nutritional therapies – this could include simple dietary changes, supplements or meal plans. On the other hand, there is a specialty within Chiropractic called Functional Medicine wherein specific lab testing is used to identify where metabolic pathways have shifted from normal to abnormal and thus lead to systemic disease. The beauty of this approach is it typically involves identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and can lead to complete remission of many conditions.
- Exercises – including stretches, range-of-motion, neuromuscular re-education and strengthening exercises, as well as specific strengthening activities such as Yoga or Tai Chi.
- Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists do not offer Chiropractic and vice-versa. Physical and Occupational Therapies are technically outside of the scope of Chiropractic, although these types of therapists use many of the same techniques and technologies that Doctors of Chiropractic use in practice. That said, most chiropractors do not specialize in Physical Therapy just as Physical Therapists are not allowed to provide Chiropractic adjustments. While they have many things in common, the choice as to which is best depends on a case-by-case analysis.
- Electrical Therapies including TENS and EMS. TENS stands for transdermal electrical nerve stimulation and is used for chronic pain. The usefulness of this type of treatment is now believed to diminish over time and might cause some negative long term effects on the nerves that are affected. EMS stands for electrical muscle stimulation and is used to address abnormal muscle response through neuro-muscular retraining. Microcurrent is addressed separately below with the newer technologies.
- Manual, gravitational and computerized traction. This can often be helpful in reducing postural distortions or reducing the pain of nerve-mediated pain syndromes such as sciatica by affecting structures encroaching on nerves.
- Massage is often very helpful in dealing with muscular tension and adhesions. Massage therapists can provide care independently or in coordination with a doctor as part of a treatment plan, depending on the clinical objective.
- Mind-Body techniques are advisable for everyone and include meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises, and when used with special equipment can be part of biofeedback therapies that can be break-through treatment approaches.
- Sensory therapies, such as music therapy or essential oil therapies are very helpful with physical and/or psychological conditions.
- Critical assistive devices are often called for. A good example of this is the prescription of Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) for improving the quality and duration of sleep and avoiding the development of cognitive and heart diseases that result from chronic oxygen deprivation while sleeping. This can also include walkers, canes, hand-holds, etc.
But, getting back to the purposes of this page, there are more recently developed technologies that have been found useful in conservative managment of pain and offer some context for our use of MicroCurrent:
New and Emerging Technologies…
- Laser treatments for pain and healing. The mechanism for the effects of LLLT, or low level laser treatment, is still being investigated. It is known, however, that it results in reduced pain and faster healing. Research indicates that low level laser interacts with the powerhouses of the cells, the mitrochondria, and result in beneficial changes in genetic expression.
- PEMF – Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field Therapy. Interestingly, the person credited for discovering Chiropractic in 1895, D.D. Palmer, was a magnetic healer at the time of his discovery. This technology has been shown to impact the action of hormones and antibodies. In addition, the PEMF is also known to affect the interaction of neurotransmitters with their receptor sites in the cell walls. Effects have been reported on particular cell types responsible for the formation of scar tissue, cartilage and bone.
- MicroCurrent devices such as that used in our office provide for several different treatment modalities, including calming anxiety, treatment of scar tissue, pain management and even PEMF applications. In particular we rely extensively on this technology’s ability to accurately locate and address pain-causing inflamed tissue “pockets”. With this equipment, we are able to re-establish central nervous system communication with tissues isolated by these pockets and reduce the persistent pain that is preventing normal function and healing. This technology originated out of research and development in Russia to provide for non-pharmaceutical self-treatment by cosmonauts while in space. This technology was also used by Russian Olympic trainers to facilitate faster and more complete recovery from injury among Russian Olympic athletes while training for international competition.