Sometimes, conventional medicines don’t work as well as you hoped and you may need to seek natural remedies for spinal cord injury recovery.
Although there are suspicions regarding the effectiveness of natural remedies, a major benefit is that they’re relatively affordable and have minimal side effects compared to conventional treatments.
To help you determine whether alternative treatments are worth considering, this article will discuss the pros and cons of 10 popular natural remedies for spinal cord injury.
Natural Remedies for Spinal Cord Injury
Because conventional forms of treatment for spinal cord injuries like pharmaceuticals and surgeries are often associated with unfavorable side effects, many consider using natural remedies as an alternative.
Natural remedies are typically used to relieve complications like pain, fatigue, and poor sleep quality. These are all fairly common side effects of spinal cord injury, which makes natural treatments a favorable option.
Without further ado, let’s discuss 10 natural remedies for spinal cord injury:
1. Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic treatment is often utilized to help promote recovery in mild spinal cord injuries by manipulating the alignment of the spinal column. This helps to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord, improve blood circulation, and reduce pain.
It’s recommended to wait at least 6 months after your spinal cord injury before starting chiropractic treatment to allow the spinal cord enough time to heal.
2. Massage Therapy
Lots of spinal cord injury patients don’t move around as much as they should, which can cause blood to pool in the legs and arms. This slows down blood flow and can prevent optimal functioning of major body systems.
Massage therapy will help improve circulation so that nutrients and oxygen-rich blood can travel efficiently throughout the body.
It also relaxes the muscles and relieves tension, which will help reduce pain and improve range of motion.
This study of 117 spinal cord injury patients found that massage was the most commonly used natural treatment for spinal cord injury pain. Moreover, it was also the treatment that spinal cord injury patients continued to use long-term.
Yoga is all about being one with your mind and body. People with limited mobility can reap the benefits of yoga from their wheelchairs with adaptive yoga.
Especially after a traumatic event like spinal cord injury, yoga can help you better understand and accept your body after injury.
It helps reduce cortisol levels in the brain which means less depression, anxiety, and stress. A clear mindset will also contribute to a good night’s rest.
Over time, yoga can help improve stability, strength, flexibility, and posture in spinal cord injury patients.
4. Diet and Supplements
Spinal cord injury recovery is holistic. What you put into your body will fuel your mindset and actions.
With limited movement, your bones and muscles may start to get weak, your weight can change, and your digestion can slow down.
You want to make sure that you’re fueling your body with lots of nutrients to ensure the best recovery.
Aromatherapy is the use of plant extracts in the form of essential oils to promote one’s health and wellbeing.
It typically involves inhaling or applying essential oils onto the skin, which stimulates physiological responses in your endocrine, nervous, and immune systems.
Different essential oils will have different effects on the body. Benefits include improved heart rate, circulation, perception of pain, bone health, digestion, mental state, and reduced inflammation.
Acupuncture is all about finding your body’s Qi, or natural alignment. The process involves placing thin, hair-like needles into specific points of the body to improve the flow of energy throughout your body.
It stimulates the nervous system to increase inflammatory responses throughout the body and release neurotransmitters that help relieve pain and boost mood.
Benefits include improved circulation, reduced spasticity, pain relief, and improved mental state.
7. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a process that involves exposure to pure oxygen at increased pressures for 30 min-2 hours.
Oxygen helps fuel cellular activity and without enough of it, our major organ systems start to shut down.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help promote healing of the spinal cord by:
- reducing swelling
- reducing inflammation
- promoting tissue growth
- reducing cell deaths
- upregulating the production of antioxidant enzymes.
8. Rehabilitative Exercises
The best way to recover from spinal cord injury is to go to physical therapy and perform rehabilitative exercises.
You’ll want to practice moving what you can, especially parts of your body where you have a lot of weakness.
The more you repeat rehabilitative exercises, the more you promote neuroplasticity in the spinal cord. While the exact mechanisms of spinal cord injury recovery are unknown, massed practice is proven to improve motor function. It strengthens existing connections between your brain and body and enhances activity-dependent plasticity in the spinal cord.
Hypnotherapy isn’t the pendulum swinging trance that comes to mind when you think of hypnosis. Rather, it’s a guided meditation that takes you into the subconscious mind and helps shift the beliefs holding you down.
It focuses on deep breathing and relaxation to improve mental clarity and perception of pain.
Generally, hypnotherapy is not a stand-alone treatment and will work better in combination with other treatments.
10. Medical Marijuana
Marijuana produces therapeutic effects that help improve sleep quality and reduce pain and spasticity.
However, it also affects other areas of the brain. It can cause poor concentration, short-term memory, anxiety, delayed reactions, and increase heart rate.
This study reported that out of many alternative treatments for pain, marijuana provided the most relief but did not last as long as massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic care.
What Natural Remedies for Spinal Cord Injury Work Best?
Like any treatment, natural remedies for spinal cord injury will work differently on everyone. Some treatments focus more on pain relief, while others will help improve energy or mood.
Often times, it takes a combination of different treatments to get optimal results. Because of their low risk of side effects and affordable price point, it may be ideal to give natural remedies a try before committing to more potentially harmful treatments.