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By Jerry Ryan, Ph.D.
One of the biggest conditions that most patients complain about is chronic pain. The conventional treatment consists of a combination of physical therapy and pain medication. The medications are usually given according to an analgesic ladder, with heavier medications prescribed for higher levels of pain. However, as many of us have discovered, the conventional treatment doesnt always work.
So what can you do if youre one of those people with chronic pain that doesnt respond to the usual treatment? There are many options available from acupuncture to yoga, but well focus this article on an approach called Neural Therapy. Although relatively unfamiliar to American practitioners, neural therapy is widely used in Europe for treatment of chronic pain.
Neural Therapy involves injecting local anesthetics into autonomic ganglia (nerve cell bodies), peripheral nerves, scars, glands, acupuncture points, and other tissues and anatomical sites. The history of neural therapy can be traced back to the late 19th century when local anesthetics were discovered. The Russian physiologist, Ivan Petrov, laid the foundation for the entire field in 1883 with his hypothesis that the nervous system exercises an influence over all organic functions. By the turn of the century, cocaine was being used as an anesthetic for abdominal surgery and as an epidural block. In 1904, novocaine was discovered by Alfred Einhorn. It resolved the potential for addiction found in cocaine. Novocaine is still widely used in medicine today.
A major development occurred in 1940, when Ferdinand Huneke was working with a patient that had a painful condition known as frozen right shoulder. Huneke was injecting novocaine into the right shoulder joint and finding little benefit. Instead, the patient experienced a burning, itching sensation on a seemingly unrelated scar on her lower left leg. On a hunch, Huneke injected the scar tissue with novocaine. What followed has been called the Huneke phenomenon or lightning reaction. The patients frozen right shoulder regained full range of motion without pain in mere seconds. The scar on left shin had become an interference (inferred) field, in neural therapy terminology.
By continuing to work with local anesthetics and interference fields, Huneke and his associates created a system called neural therapy. It is used extensively for pain control in Europe, Latin America, and Russia. It is reported that up to 35% of all German physicians use neural therapy in their treatments.
Several possibilities have been given to explain why a scar on your left leg can cause pain in your right shoulder and how an injection of local anesthetic fixes the problem. One theory is called the Nervous System Theory. It states that scars have different electric potentials across the cell membrane. The electrical imbalance causes the normal ion flow in the cells to stop. The cells accumulate toxins and abnormal minerals inside the cell causing the cell to be unable to heal itself. Local anesthetic may help restore the proper ion flow, thereby allowing the cell to rid itself of toxic material, repair itself, and return to its normal function.
Another theory proposes that scar tissue acts as battery of about 1.5 volts. This electrical interference disrupts the autonomic nervous system, which lacks the protective myelin sheath coating found on most nerve cells. The continued disturbance leads to more severe problems in the body.
Another explanation is the Fascial Continuity Theory. It demonstrates that all bodily tissue is interconnected by tissue called fascia. Any scar tissue would then impair the natural movement of the fascia and result in pain.
It is quite difficult to find someone trained in neural therapy. Part of the reason is that it requires meticulous injection technique and detailed history taking. Both of these practices are very time-consuming and not in line with the fast pace demands of conventional medicine.
About the Author: Jerry Ryan, Ph.D. is a Natural Health Coach who teaches individuals and group classes on the scientifically documented benefits of natural health techniques. He is also an internationally published author and has been a guest speaker at such places as NIKE World Headquarters.