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Swimming In Cold Water Could Be An Alternative To Pain Killers And Physiotherapy For Pain Relief

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A 28-year-old man who has been suffering constant pain after undergoing surgery finds a natural way to cure his condition. His solution? Swimming in cold open water.

Potential Pain Treatment Alternative To Physiotherapy And Painkillers

Doctors who reviewed the case now suggest that a cold water swimming can be an alternative to physiotherapy and painkillers. Pain relief that involves taking strong medications, in particular, is a concern as drugs for relieving pain have been strongly associated with the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Nonetheless, although the man's operative pain disappeared after he plunged in cold water, cold swimming may not work for everyone and comes with some risk.

Tom Mole, from the University of Cambridge, who detailed the case in the journal BMJ Case Reports, said that the conventional treatment did little difference to the patient, a keen triathlete who underwent endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy to cut nerves inside his chest.

The surgery went smoothly but the patients suffered severe and persistent pain after the operation and this caused him distress. Conventional treatments did not do much to his severe pain and the exercise and movement involved in the physiotherapy sessions caused him to feel more pain.

Swimming In Cold Water In The Hopes Of Finding Pain Relief

It was when he decided to do an open water swimming in the hopes that this will distract him from the pain. The swim involved plunging into cold water from an outcrop and swimming for about a minute before climbing back ashore.

"Once I was in the water, I had tunnel vision - for the first time in months, I completely forgot about the pain or the fear of shooting pains in my chest if I moved," the man said.

The man said that after he came out of the water, he realized that the pain is gone.

A Coincidence?

The authors of the case report said that what happened could be a coincidence. No sufficient evidence also links swimming in cold water and pain relief, however, the authors recommended to further investigation if the effect of open water swimming on the unnamed patient can be replicated.

"We recommend further evaluation of cold forced open-water swimming as a mobility-pain provocation challenge to see if the observed unexpectedly positive outcome can be replicated. With the poor response to traditional management, there is a need for novel, curative interventions for postoperative neuropathic pain and associated impaired mobility," they wrote.

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