Complementary and alternative therapies (CAT) are popular with many people who have spondylitis. CAT treatments for chronic pain may include acupuncture, yoga, massage, low-level laser therapy, and herbal or nutritional supplements.
If you choose to try one or more CAT treatments, it is important to maintain the traditional drug regimen established by your doctor. These treatments have been proven effective in rigorous, scientific trials. It is also vital to check with your doctor before beginning a CAT regimen so that they can warn you about any potential interactions and correctly interpret any side effects.
What does it involve?
At this time, several CAT treatments are accepted by doctors as potentially benefiting those with chronic pain.
See the acupuncture treatment page.
Yoga consists of moving your body into an array of different positions that provide stretching and various levels of challenge for strength, flexibility, and balance. Controlled breathing is another important aspect of yoga. Some yoga teachers incorporate aspects of meditation designed to reduce stress. There are many types of yoga and many different teaching styles. You may need to ask several questions before finding an appropriate class and an experienced teacher who understands what poses will work best for your condition. You may also practice yoga at home using a book or online videos as guidance. However, if you learn yoga in a class first, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback about your poses.
Massage may reduce spondylitis pain and stiffness by relaxing muscles and relieving stress.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), sometimes called cold laser therapy, uses specific wavelengths of light to improve pain and functionality in people with spondylitis and other types of chronic pain. Some physical therapy, chiropractic, spine specialist, and pain clinics offer LLLT. LLLT is administered by a clinician using a handheld device. Treatment is painless and may last for several minutes. LLLT is believed to stimulate healing. To be effective, LLLT requires two to four weekly sessions on an ongoing basis.
Some people try herbal supplements to reduce symptoms of spondylitis. Ginger is reputed to relieve inflammation, as is Devil’s Claw, an African herb. Compounds including glucosamine and chondroitin are believed to address symptoms of spondylosis, and some believe S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) can help improve depression.
Some people claim that one CAT treatment or another reduces their chronic pain. However, most CAT treatments have not been studied in rigorous clinical trials to establish their safety and effectiveness.
In multiple clinical trials studying people with spondylitis and other chronic pain syndromes, LLLT has produced significant improvement in pain and function, sometimes lasting as long as several weeks. However, more studies are needed to clarify the most effective way to use LLLT.
Some people with spondylitis find massage painful or believe it causes disease flares.
Some CAT treatments can cause interactions with medications. Some treatments may exacerbate health conditions.
It may require several sessions of LLLT to realize effectiveness. You must continue receiving LLLT to sustain its benefits.
Health insurance may not cover CAT modalities. Some CAT treatments can be expensive.
Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to travel to a yoga class, acupuncturist, or massage therapist.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Complementary Treatments – Spondylitis Association of America
Cold Laser Therapy Pain Management Treatment – Spine-health.com