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pain managementIn Pakistan where quacks and spiritual healers claiming miraculous cures abound, the alternate healthcare sector has remained under a dark cloud. However, the last two years have witnessed an increase in professionals trained to administer alternative medicinal therapies.

Here are three alternative treatments that gained traction in Pakistan in 2014:

1. Hijama. Popularly known as ‘cupping therapy’, Hijama has roots in Islamic medicine and is believed to be helpful in treating chronic pain. The treatment involves placing suction cups on specific joints to create a vacuum that helps separate the epidermal skin from the tissues underneath. The cups are then removed and small incisions are made on the skin, after which the cups are replaced to draw out the clotted (impure) blood. To avoid risks of contracting blood-borne infections, opt for registered Hijama practitioners who use sterilised equipment.   

2. Hydrotherapy. Also known as ‘spa therapy’, hydrotherapy uses the therapeutic qualities of water. The treatment requires you to climb into a ‘hydrobath’ (or a convection heating tank) that releases hot bubbles. These relax muscles, reduce swelling in joints and regulate perspiration glands to help the body detoxify. Hydrotherapy, when used in conjunction with allopathic medication and physiotherapy, is believed to be helpful in physical rehabilitation and treating arthritis, fractures, fibromyalgia and sciatica.  

3. Reiki. A non-invasive, Japanese healing practice, Reiki (Rei: higher power and ki: life force) is increasingly being used to balance qi – universal energy – that sustains us mentally, spiritually and physically. A typical Reiki session involves the practitioner to use various hand-positions on painful areas; this channels qi and promotes cell regeneration, as well as triggering wellness inducing hormones, thereby reducing stress and relieving pain. Since Reiki is a surface therapy, it has no side-effects; however relying on Reiki alone to treat chronic ailments is never advisable.

N.B.: Consult your physician before opting for any alternative treatments. 

– Sadia Kamran 

First published in the HEALTH ADVERTISER of The Dawn Weekend Advertiser on December 28, 2014.