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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Alternative Medication

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Alternative Medicine
Question: I have been trying to recover from a car accident for the last 9 months. An MRI indicated "bulging disk", C6-C7. I have had continual physical therapy, but have been unable to tolerate any of the muscle relaxant or anti inflammatory medications. I have used a TENS, traction 2 times a day, neck brace and mouth guard at night (grinding my teeth). Now I'm dealing with alopecia areata. The physical therapy has relieved the pressure point pain in my back and shoulder, but I still get terrible pains in the right temple and pins and needles in the right hand and under my right eye (pinched nerve from the disk). The stress and frustration in trying to deal with chronic pain has been extremely difficult to cope with. The physical activity that I relied on to take care of the stress, I can no longer do - running, roller blading, and weight training. I no longer sleep well, have gained weight. The pain clinic is supposed to help me move on, most likely with nerve block injections (of which I am terrified). Please tell me if there's another, noninvasive way to go for pain relief. I try relaxation techniques, but have difficulty with them. I am not a visual thinker so it's difficult to stay focused and picture myself on a nice beach. I've tried to keep positive attitude but I'm drained, physically and emotionally. I was out of work for 2 months after the accident but have been working steadily since then. I see a counselor for depression once a week. It's good to have someone to talk to and unload on outside of my husband and kids but I can't really say it's made me feel better. Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated. I'm not myself anymore and I really don't like the person that I've become as a result of this accident.

Answer: Chronic pain is one of those conditions that changes personalities quickly. Your problem sounds like a mechanical compression of the nerve roots. This usually requires a mechanical fix. Sometimes a cervical pillow will help. I have patients who are better off after either chiropractic manipulation or acupuncture. Japanese point massage and massage therapy aimed at trigger point manipulation may help.

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