Alternative Treatments for Chronic Illness

For some people, following a conventional treatment route of medications, procedures, and more medications is the pinnacle of taking care of your health. Why bother eating better when you can just take a pill for high cholesterol?

But for others, taking pills isn’t the preferred course of action. They would rather change their diet or use crystals or do yoga than take a pill. In other words, they prefer to use “alternative therapies.”

When you have a marriage of the two, conventional medicine and alternative therapies, they’re referred to as “complementary therapies.”

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A sort of yin and yang philosophy, if you will. Source: Giphy

Regardless of whether you use them on their own or in tandem with a medication routine, some of these alternative therapies can be great for people with chronic illnesses like ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

Actually, the Spondylitis Association of America discusses the use of a number of these therapies, particularly seeing a chiropractor.

While some AS patients have said a chiropractor does wonders for them, many doctors and other experts heavily caution against it. Jerking the spine around can be dangerous, causing accidental fractures and even nerve damage or complications. This risk is significantly higher in people with AS who have extra bone growth due to their condition.

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If only relief was that simple… Source: Giphy

But if a chiropractor is off the table, what about a masseuse?

Well, as long as the masseuse isn’t manipulating your spine, and it feels good to you, then by all means, enjoy a massage! Many people have reported an increase in blood circulation afterwards, as well as an increase in flexibility and mobility while having a decrease in pain and stress levels.

If you think you might want to try something that might be a bit more out of your comfort zone, you could try acupuncture. It is one of the most sought-after alternative therapies, and while people aren’t quite sure exactly how it relieves pain, all they really need to know is that it does.

Just be sure that a trained professional is doing the work and using needles that have been sterilized or that are disposable. And don’t forget to check your insurance coverage! Some plans will even cover a certain number of sessions!

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Again…if only life was as simple as a cartoon… Source: Giphy

Another therapy that seems a bit out of the box is the use of a TENS Unit. While it sounds like some obscure secret ops part of the military, it is actually an electronic device for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (hence, TENS). The device is attached to the body with a minimum of two electrodes, and from there the unit determines the length of the pulse, it’s intensity, as well as it’s frequency.

And finally, my personal favorite, yoga therapy! Of course, if you attend a regular yoga class, it’s important to tell the instructor about your limitations or concerns. Better yet, try to find a class specifically for people with arthritis or AS, or even consider one-on-one instruction at first, just to find out what modifications make sense for you.

While yoga should cause a good stretch, it should never cause pain. And it can help strengthen the muscles around the joints and relieve some of the stress on them. At the very least, going to a studio gives you a sense of community and the non-judgmental atmosphere of a yoga class will give you a place to unwind, de-stress, and do some good for your mind and your body.

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Especially if you can find a yoga studio with its own rock stream! Source: Giphy

Sounds like a good deal to me!


Farrah Fontaine

Farrah Fontaine

As a child, Farrah Fontaine always knew she wasn't normal. Part of her family descends from the ancient Silk Road, which made her stand out in the Great White North. That's why she wants to give voice to the voiceless so they know they're not alone.

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