Patient Information Resources

Centre for Orthopaedics
Suite 10-33/34/35 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore, 329563, Singapore
Ph: (65) 6684 5828
Fax: (65) 6684 5829

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I keep hearing about alternative therapies for chronic pain. I have neuropathies in both my hands and feet from diabetes. Would this kind of treatment help me? Where do I go to get it?

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) offers the patient alternative therapies that complement (go along with) traditional approaches offered by medical doctors and other health care professionals. Sometimes CAM medicine is referred to as unconventional or nontraditional therapy. CAM is a more holistic way to view the whole patient including mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Holistic reflects the idea that these parts can’t be separated. It is believed that they are held together by a vital force sometimes referred to as ch’i or qi (pronounced chee) that flows throughout the body. Anything that disrupts this energy force alters the balance of health and can result in disease and other unnatural conditions. By rebalancing the mind-body vital life force, the body can heal itself and restore natural health and an inner balance for you. Alternative and complementary therapies are based on a different cultural attitude and different beliefs about health and healing than those offered by the traditional health care system. They offer an alternative to medications, surgery, or injections for chronic back pain. Other benefits of CAM include relaxation, stress reduction, release of toxins from the body, and improved blood circulation. Many patients experience reduced anxiety and nervousness with increased mental and spiritual awareness. Even if CAM doesn’t eliminate chronic pain, these techniques often help improve function so that you can do more each day despite the pain. There are many different types of CAMs available to patients. These can include (but are not limited to) acupuncture/acupressure, Shiatsu massage, chiropractic care, myofascial release, bioenergetics, homeopathy/naturopathic, herbal therapy, and hypnotherapy. Physical and occupational therapists, nurses, and massage therapists are often the people performing many of these techniques as a complement to their practice. Some approaches such as Reiki, reflexology, yoga, and T’ai Chi are offered by practitioners who do not have a traditional medical background. Some physicians are now providing traditional and alternative care under one roof. This is referred to as integrative medicine. In other communities, patients must seek out the individual services of one or more alternative practitioners on a private basis. There are a few high quality review studies of complementary and alternative medicine with patients who have diabetic neuropathies. These studies support the use of electrical stimulation, Geranium oil, and shoe magnets. There is also some positive evidence that capsaicin topical cream can help alleviate nerve pain. The trials done so far were not specifically with patients who had diabetes. It's always a good idea to check with your physician first before trying new or alternative treatments. Depending on your age, condition, and medications you are taking, there may be a reason why you should not use some alternative types of care.


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*Disclaimer:*The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.

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