Alternative Medicine for the Treatment of Pain in the Rehabilitation Patient

  • Sagar S. ParikhEmail author
  • Yuriy Shepelyak
  • Sara Cuccurullo


Alternative Treatments, defined as non-mainstream practices that are used in place of conventional medicine, are becoming more and more popular. Yoga, meditation, massage therapy, and relaxation techniques such as guided imagery or mindfulness therapy are becoming excellent methods to combat pain and anxiety in the rehabilitation patient. Pain, anxiety, and motivation are important obstacles to overcome for patients in the acute, subacute, and outpatient setting as these factors directly impede functional goals. Alternative medicine provides a cost-effective, minimally invasive, and relatively harmless option for the rehabilitation patient to overcome these obstacles.


Alternative Meditation Yoga Massage Reiki Hypnosis Mindfulness 


  1. 1.
    Ernst E. Alternative views on alternative medicine. Ann Intern Med. 1999;131:229–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Krauss HH et al. Alternative health care: its use by individuals with physical disabilities. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998;79(11):1440–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Melzack R. Pain and the neuromatrix in the brain. J Dent Educ. 2001;65(12):1378–82.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chrousos GP. Stress and disorders of the stress system. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2009;5(7):374–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Schutz R et al. Low mindfulness preducts pain catastrophizing in fear-avoidance model of chronic pain. Pain. 2010;148(1):120–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kabat-Zinn J. An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: theoretical considerations and preliminary results. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1982;4(1):33–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Banth S, Ardebil M. Effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on pain and quality of life of patients with chronic low back pain. Int J Yoga. 2015;8(2):128–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bakhshani NM et al. The effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction on perceived pain intensity and quality of life in patients with chronic headache. Glob J Health Sci. 2016;8(4):142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Grant JA et al. Cortical thickness and pain sensitivity in zen meditators. Emotion. 2010;10(1):43–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Johansson B et al. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) improves long term mental fatigue after stroke or traumatic brain injury. Brain Inj. 2012;26(13–14):1621–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Dalury DF et al. Current and innovative pain management techniques in total knee arthroplasty. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2011;93(20):1938–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pellino TA et al. Use of nonpharmacologic interventions for pain and anxiety after total hip and total knee arthroplasty. Orthop Nurs. 2005;24(3):182–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Williams K. Evaluation of the effectiveness and efficacy of Iyengar yoga therapy on chronic low back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2009;34(19):2066–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ebnezar J et al. Effects of an integrated approach of Hatha Yoga therapy on functional disability, pain and flexibility in osteoarthritis of the knee joint: a randomized controlled study. J Altern Complement Med. 2012a;18:463–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ebnezar J et al. Effects of an integrated yoga therapy on pain, morning stiffness and anxiety in osteoarthritis of the knee joint: a randomized control study. Int J Yoga. 2012b;5:28–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Schmid A et al. Effect of a 12-week yoga intervention on fear of falling and balance in older adults: a pilot study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2010;91(4):576–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Bastille J et al. A yoga-based exercise program for people with chronic poststroke hemiparesis. Phys Ther. 2004;84:33–48.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Schmid A et al. Yoga leads to multiple physical improvements after stroke, a pilot study. Complement Ther Med. 2014;22(6):994–1000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Cuccurullo S. Physical medicine and rehabilitation board review. 3rd ed. New York: Demos Medical Publishing; 2015. p. 636–7.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Anderson PG, Cutshall SM. Massage therapy: a comofort intervention for cardiac surgery patients. Clin Nurse Spec. 2007;21(3):161–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Mitchinson AR et al. Acute postoperative pain management using massage as an adjuvant therapy: a randomized trial. Arch Surg. 2007;142(12):1158–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Piccione C, Hilgard ER, Zimbardo PG. On the degree of stability and measured hypnotizability over a 25-year period. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989;56(2):289–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rogers J. Hypnosis in the treatment of social phobia. AJCEH. 2008;36(1):64–8.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Barrett D. The power of hypnosis. Psychology Today. 2001.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Vickers A, Zollman C. Clinical review. ABC of complementary medicine. Hypnosis and relaxation therapies. Br Med J. 1999;319(7221):1346–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Syrjala KL, Cummings C, Donaldson GW. Hypnosis or cognitive behavioral training for the reduction of pain and nausea during cancer treatment: a controlled clinical trial. Pain. 1992;48(2):137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Patterson DR, Questad KA, Barbara J d L. Hypnotherapy as an adjunct to narcotic analgesia for the treatment of pain for burn debridement. Am J Clin Hypn. 1989;31(3):156–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Peynovska R, Fisher J, Oliver D, Matthew VM. Efficacy of hypnotherapy as a supplement therapy in cancer intervention (PDF). Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of The Royal College of Psychiatrists; 30 June–3 July 2003; 2003.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Lee MS, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Effects of Reiki in clinical practice: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Int J Clin Pract (Syst Rev). 2008;62(6):947–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Van den Beuken-van Everdingen MH, de Rijke JM, Kessels AG, Schouten HC, van Kleef M, Patijn J. Prevalence of pain in patients with cancer: a systematic review of the past 40 years. Ann Oncol. 2007;18(9):1437–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Thrane S, Cohen SM. Effect of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in adults: an in-depth literature review of randomized trials with effect size calculations. Pain Manag Nurs. 2014;15(4):897–908. Epub 2014 Feb 28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Midilli T et al. Effects of Reiki on post-cesarean delivery pain, anxiety, and hemodynamic parameters: a randomized, controlled clinical trial. Pain Manag Nurs. 2015;16(3):388–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Recommended Reading

  1. Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine. 5th ed. Marc S. Micozzi MD PhD.Google Scholar
  2. Mayo clinic book of alternative medicine: integrating the best of natural therapies with conventional medicine. 2nd ed. Mayo Clinic.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 International License (, which permits any noncommercial use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this chapter are included in the chapter's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sagar S. Parikh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yuriy Shepelyak
    • 2
  • Sara Cuccurullo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Rehabilitation MedicineJFK Johnson Rehabilitation InstituteEdisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationJFK-Johnson Rehabilitation InstituteEdisonUSA

Personalised recommendations