Strange Treatments for Chronic Pain

Doctors are coming up with some pretty bizarre techniques to relieve pain. While some of these treatments are innovative, others have been used for hundreds of years.

Spider Venom:

Spider venom is used in cases where current techniques do not ease the pain. The compound in the spider venom that paralyzes pray may be effective in easing chronic pain. Scientists have identified components in the venom of tarantulas that block the pain process within the body.

The paralytic agent switches off one of the sodium channels in the body, which sends pain signals up to the brain. While it is a promising treatment for those suffering from chronic pain, scientists are still unsure how to make spider venom into a medicine that is safe for humans.


Electricity can treat chronic pain in the lower back, neck, face, shoulder, and can ease headaches. Electrical stimulation, also called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), works by sending electricity through the muscles, which causes them to contract and relax. A TENS unit includes stickers that can be placed over the painful area and provide electrical voltage into the muscle. About half of the patients that try the TENS unit report relief from chronic pain. Doctors have recently been using a similar system known as an Occipital Nerve Stimulator to treat chronic headaches. This works the same as the TENS unit except the stickers are positioned at the front or back of the head, depending on the location of the pain.

TENS systems can be purchased from medical supply groups, certain doctor’s offices and online retailers.

Bee Venom Acupuncture:

Bee venom acupuncture has been shown to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout. Honeybee venom works by increasing blood circulation, reducing inflammation and increasing the level of feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

In recent studies up to 82% of patients have reported improving in their pain with the bee venom acupuncture technique. Doctors occasionally prescribe sterilized bee venom for home use, although it is not usually in acupuncture points. Bee venom is available online mixed into topical creams and dietary supplements. Be sure to stay away from this treatment if you are allergic to bee stings.


Sugar can help ease the pain associated with loose ligaments, tendons and joints. As disappointing as this may be, the sugar that helps does not ingested, but injected into the painful ligaments or joints. This process is known as Prolotherapy and uses a sugar solution, usually dextrose and an anesthetic, to hasten the body’s natural healing process. This solution irritates the injured joint, which alerts the brain to the injury. The inflammatory process begins, which sends platelets to the injected area, which causes swelling and proceeds to build tissue around the area that will function to protect the injury.

This practice was first used in 500 BC, but has become popular within the last 20 years. It is unclear how effective Prolotherapy is but in studies, patients with osteoarthritis reported more improvement in joint pain than the participants that received the placebo. In addition to easing arthritis pain, Prolotherapy is also being used to treat injured that have not healed properly.

Your Own Blood:

A procedure called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is used to decrease tendon and ligament pain as well as pain associated from muscle and joint injuries. The injection procedure is the same as that of Prolotherapy, as is the body’s response to the injection. The doctor will draw a few vials of blood and separate the components by placing it into a machine that spins at a high speed. They isolate the platelets from your body, suspend them in plasma and then inject it into the painful area. Instead of sending signals to the brain about the injury, the body immediately initiates the inflammatory process. PRP has had mixed results in treating injuries. Studies have contradicted each other, some concluding that this technique significantly reduces pain while others reported that PRP provided no more relief than a standard joint lubricant. Factors including your overall health, length of time you’ve been injured, and the number of treatments you’ve tried all contribute to the effectiveness of this treatment.

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