Most people have heard that alternative treatments such as acupuncture, massage, and even hypnosis can be used for pain relief. In particular, massaging the hand on the web between the thumb and index finger on the same side of the body where a patient is experiencing oral pain has been reported to relieve the pain.
Additionally, it’s well known that putting ice on painful areas of your body will help relieve discomfort. Most dentists rely on pain medication to make procedures easier, but a new study may change that in at least some clinics.
A Canadian research group recruited patients with acute oral pain into their study, and were then divided into three groups. The first group received a massage on the part of their hand linked to pain relief but was not told that it could relieve their pain; the second group received the massage and was told that it would relieve their pain; and the third group was treated with an ice massage on their hand.
The results were surprising. After receiving their respective treatments, each of the three groups was given the McGill Pain Questionnaire to determine the amount of relief they felt. Participants who were given the ice massage all reported at least a 50% reduction in their pain, which was significantly more than either of the other groups reported.
These results indicate that an ice massage of patients’ hands may be an effective alternative to prescription pain medication, at least for some patients. It can be done anytime by the patients themselves with no special equipment. Plus, there are no side effects or risks of addiction that can stem from relying on prescription medicine. However, research still needs to be done comparing the efficacy of ice massage compared to conventional pain relief before most dentists can consider recommending it to their patients.