Alternative therapy: Making pain go away

PHOTO PROVIDED

Nicole Nowicki, PTA, giving pain relief therapy via micro-point stimulation.

By Laureen Albrecht

Port Charlotte Rehabilitation Center

What’s cited as the most common reason Americans access the health care system and a leading cause of disability and a major contributor to health care costs?

Turns out the answer is chronic pain, which affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.

The definition of chronic pain is very broad and is generally defined as any pain lasting for more than 12 weeks.

Chronic pain has a variety of causes and many times there is no contributing cause.

Nerve pain (neuropathic pain) remains after an original injury heals. It is thought to be related to nerve damage or a change in how the nervous system functions, and it may be difficult to diagnose.

Patients who experience neuropathic pain use words like “burning,” “stabbing,” “pins and needles,” “numbness” and “tingling” to describe the feeling.

Certain stimuli can evoke the pain and can appear by no apparent stimuli. If pain signals are repeated over long periods of time, the nerve cells in the spinal cord become hypersensitive to the signals. It’s the dysfunctional nerve cells — not the original injury — that causes neuropathic pain. And a likely temporary condition now becomes a long-lasting, chronic condition in the nervous system.

Because of this, chronic pain treatment varies from traditional methods to addictive medications for 100 million Americans.

With so many people struggling to dampen the effects of pain, many people are looking for effective relief.

A few therapists working to deter the effects of pain say there’s hope, thanks to alternative treatment called micro point stimulation.

The device delivers micro current point stimulation from a hand-held electronic tool that emits a concentrated, low frequency current to acutherapy points, motor points and trigger points — which, defined by Western science, is a hyperirritable spot in a skeletal muscle.

This non-invasive treatment comes from the ancient art of acupuncture but is combined with Western’s science technology of electric current and the knowledge of trigger point location. Because over 70 percent of acupuncture spots correlate with trigger points, use of micro point stimulation is a combination of Eastern medicine’s acupuncture protocols and Western medicine, just without the use of needles.

According to Nicole Nowicki, physical therapist assistant for Port Charlotte Rehabilitation Center, therapists with certification can apply current to specific spots that are particular to each patient to combat pain, decrease muscle tightness, and accelerate tissue repair for any form of musculoskeletal disorder.

In addition, the treatment stimulates neural tension points (areas of the body with little or no movement between the nervous system and the surrounding structures) to reduce swelling, relax muscles and relieve pain.

Nowicki reports chronic pain syndromes that derive from the spine are addressed with protocols involving tightened spine muscles. When injured muscles relax and return to a normal length, the surrounding spinal nerves will appropriately react and become less irritated.

She adds that most patients require 2 to 10 treatments and applied within 3 to 20 minutes for lasting outcomes, with some chronic patients requiring ongoing daily or bi-weekly applications.

“It’s amazing how one simple — yet crucial — change in treatment methods can improve outcomes,” says Nowicki.

The device treats precise active points with accuracy and potency, providing stimulation to three systems — nervous, muscular and endocrine — all at once.

Experts in pain treatment say the endorphin response obtained from acupuncture is powerful pain reliever and micro current application has similar results of potency.

Research shows a majority of trial group participants reported up to 80 percent less joint stiffness, less discomfort and fewer aches after trying micro point stimulation.

“If you’ve tried conventional and traditional therapeutic measures and over the counter remedies and still have driving discomfort, ask your doctor if micro-point stimulation can help,” says Nowicki.

For more information regarding rehabilitation, call Port Charlotte Rehabilitation Center at 941-235-8011. They offer comprehensive rehabilitative outpatient and inpatient services for short- or long-term care and are located at 25325 Rampart Blvd., Port Charlotte.

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