Are you constantly living in pain where nothing that you use helping it out ? Natural therapy for muscle injuries is available. Remedies like anti inflammatory drugs (2) may temporarily help you, but can also come with side effects. These are good and will work, but are there other options to decrease your pain without drugs ?
The good news is, that there are other options. Treatments are used for muscle injuries as well as joint, tendon and ligament conditions. These therapies include acupuncture, cryotherapy, heat therapy, massage therapy, and shock wave therapy. Here we compare each type, how it works, and studies on these treatments.
Forms of therapy
Acupuncture is one of the oldest treatments for many chronic conditions. It focuses on the many pressure points of the body. One main effect of acupuncture is the reduction in the association with feeling pain. This may assist for long term or short term pain management. Acupuncture also helps flush any toxins which speeds up the healing process. Overall it has been shown to have a positive effect on decreasing pain in and after surgery, with no side effects (1).
Cryotherapy is a main type of therapy for different types of injuries. It is also used for conditions like delayed onset muscle soreness.(4) This uses cold temperatures to assist in decreasing the pain from a previous injury or activity. It is advised to use such therapy for thirty minutes as a time. This will decrease the time needed for muscle recovery from a stressful activity. Activities may include anything from a resistance training workout to general activities of daily living.
The use of heat therapy goes right along with using cryotherapy. It can be just as effective of a treatment for muscle soreness as cryotherapy. Unlike cryotherapy, heat therapy assists with pain relief by increasing blood flow. This decreases the time that it takes to flush out toxins that may have built up. It also decreases the time for the muscle to heal from any micro tears, general muscle soreness, or an injury. In one study, three groups were treated with heat therapy. Groups were treated immediately after exercise, twenty-four hours post exercise, and no treatment. The greatest effects were seen when used immediately after exercise in reducing muscle soreness and increasing flexibility (3).
Massage therapy, like acupuncture is one of the oldest and most used form of therapy. It helps increase the blood flow and relax the muscles that may have been injured . The main function of massage therapy is muscle relaxation. Muscle relaxation is hard because your muscles are tensed up. This comes from just the stress of every day activities. Massage therapy isolates the specific muscles which may be torn due to an injury. This helps increase the healing process. In one study two groups were used. One group received physical therapy techniques and the other group massage therapy. Each group received treatments for twenty minutes a day five times a week. Both groups showed a decrease in pain and swelling as well as an increase in flexibility (5). This suggests massage therapy to be just as effective as physical therapy for some types of injuries.
Shock wave therapy:
Shock wave therapy is normally a form of treatment that is combined with other treatments to assist in healing of injuries. It uses different wave lengths to assist in the healing of muscular injuries (10). Other injuries may include those to the bone, joint, ligament, neuromuscular activity, or tendons. In one study, thirty patients with previous low back pain were treated with either exercise or shock wave therapy. At the end of three months, improvements in the recruitment of motor units used and well as nerve conduction was seen (11). This suggests a possible healing or remodeling of nerve fibers that have been damaged. This allows the muscles to be used more efficiently. Although shock wave therapy is used for post injury, this is not its only use. Even if you haven’t had an injury severe enough for an operation and therapy, it can be used for general theraputic conditions. Some conditions that can be treated include osteoporosis (7), arthritis, or tennis elbow (12). This therapy is also effective not only on the general population, but athletes as well. (6) Other injuries such as plantar faciatius (9,13) which is an injury to a tendon can also be treated with shock wave therapy. It has even been shown to assist in treating other types of conditions including stroke (8) and erectile dysfunction. In a follow up study on patients which had this therapy for ED, follow-ups were given a month after the therapy and as two years post therapy. In those with a higher level of the condition, only fifty-four percent maintained the positive effects, while those that had a less severe condition were over 70% more likely to maintain the positive effects of the treatment (14).
Each of the previous modalities mentioned have positive effects concerning treatments used for muscular injuries. They could be used for general therapeutic reasons or for treating a previous injury. If you want to use something that is non-invasive and requires no physical contact or ingestion of chemicals for pain reduction, and can treat multiple conditions, shock wave therapy is a very effective tool to use for any of these purposes. The best thing is, that this treatment is approved for at home use. You should first speak with your doctor before using it if you have any previous medical conditions.