When it comes to sports injuries, many people turn to alternative healing methods. Their effectiveness has not been proven. Nevertheless, there is a ray of hope for everyone who swears by chemical-free therapy.

Many a good resolution to do more sport ends abruptly and painfully. Untrained enthusiasts in particular are easily injured because the body is simply not used to being suddenly exposed to such stress. The result is often injuries, which we doctors like to dismiss as “minor trauma”. It is hardly surprising that many are trying to get by with alternative procedures on their own. In addition, many top athletes swear by this or that alternative healing method, and they must know what they are doing. Nevertheless, the question arises: What do these methods do in such situations?

With any kind of trauma, the homeopathy-savvy patient almost automatically reaches for his arnica. This homeopathic remedy is not only popular, it is also the most widely studied of all homeopathic medicines. However, the results of these studies are sobering: the numerous attempts to establish proof of effectiveness have failed. The data are pretty clear: homeopathic arnica is a placebo.

Acupuncture – Natural Doping?

The situation for phytotherapeutic agents is somewhat more positive. In particular, there are studies that show that comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is effective for ankle injuries. The pain, swelling and immobility are influenced better by this remedy than with placebo and at least as well as with conventional therapy. Since Symphytum is toxic, it may only be applied externally as an ointment or gel.

And what else is there? Acupuncture is of course popular for relieving pain, and arguably that is also true for post-injury pain. However, very few people know that some studies also indicate that physical performance can possibly be improved with this form of therapy. If this could be confirmed, acupuncture would be a form of drug-free doping.

A plea for conventional physiotherapy

It has been so well established in Germany for decades that it is hardly seen as an alternative method of treatment. Sports massage in particular is popular to prevent or treat injuries. Despite the general acceptance of the method, the data situation is rather shaky. Few studies exist and hardly any of good quality.

So the bottom line is that there is little positive to report here. A ray of hope for everyone who likes to be cared for in a natural way is that conventional physiotherapy is an excellent help for sports injuries. This is not an alternative, but it is absolutely chemical-free.

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