Neural therapy, well known in Europe but only recently imported into American medicine, is used primarily to treat chronic pain. The treatment consists of injections of local anesthetic into nerve sites, scar tissue or acupuncture points, injections at one site are believed to heal pain in another area of the body. Adherents claim that the treatment can relieve pain permanently, but it is not entirely clear how this works. A number of complex electrochemical theories attempt to account for the results. According to these theories, pain or disease results from the irregular or interrupted flow of signals along the nerves of the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for all automatic body functions. The distributed flow is often caused by a scar from surgery or an injury, both of which are thought to disrupt signals; an injection of anesthetic into the scar at an acupuncture point, or into a site along the disturbed nerve, restores normal nerve signal flow.
Dental work effects
Infections from dental surgery or metals from fillings are believed to place undue stress on autonomic nerves, creating pain or aggravating disorders elsewhere in the body; injections near the affected tooth and at other sites may reset the nerve signals and reduce pain.
After taking a complete history, with particular attention to previous surgery, injuries and possible scarring, the neural therapist injects local anesthetic with very fine needles into acupuncture points, scar tissue and/or points along affected nerves. Injections are repeated at intervals, usually over several weeks, until the patient is free from pain.
How the therapy might work
Apart from an apparent effect on autonomic nerves, it is not clear how the therapy works. One idea is that disturbance in one tissue area caused by scarring affects all tissue; injection of an anesthetic into the scar normalizes all tissue function and reduces pain. Another possibility is that injections electrochemically stabilize cell membranes; they have become too permeable to toxins, which disturb cell function affecting activities of the whole cell system. Once normal function on higher levels is also restored. A simpler explanation may be that by blocking signals, the anesthetic breaks the pattern of irregular signals, so the normal pattern resumes when the drug wears off.
The viewpoint of mainstream medicine
Neural therapy has been fairly common in Europe and South America since the 1940s, but it is a fairly new branch of alternative medicine in the United States. In order to practice this type of therapy, therapists must be certified in the technique.
Take Care! : The anesthetic used in neural therapy, procaine, can trigger allergic reactions and even shock; allergy testing should be performed before treatments.
A treatment for relieving chronic pain, including headaches, migraines, joint and muscle pain, neuralgia and soft tissue rheumatism.
Aspects of Neural Therapy
- A therapist might use two different injection techniques, separately or in combination. In weal therapy, small quantities of the local anesthetic are infected into the skin or just below the skin at several sites. Small welts, or weal's are formed. Infiltrations are injections into deeper layers of tissue-for example, into calcified muscle tissue. Scars are often treated first with weal therapy, and then additionally with infiltrations.
- To treat painful joints, the anesthetic is injected at the roots of ligaments, into the capsule that surrounds the joint or into the mucous bursa, the sac between the tendon and the bone.
- Neural therapy has helped relieve acute asthma attacks. The anesthetic is injected into acupuncture points on the back that correspond to the lungs.
- There have been very few rigorous or extensive scientific studies that have validated the effectiveness of neural therapy. However, those who have used it have noted its safety, its advantages over more invasive surgery and its usefulness, especially in achieving quick and often permanent relief of chronic pain that has responded to no other type of treatment.
Caution! : Neural therapy must not be used during pregnancy or with patients who have severe muscle or cardiac weakness, a history of mental illness, depression, serious infections or any type of coagulatory blood disorder.