If you suffer from chronic pain, then you know how hard it is to go about life normally. The pain hinders all activities, makes it difficult to concentrate on work and even in accomplishing the smallest chores. It could be a headache which is continuous or as is the case with most people these days, lower back pain. Some suffer from joint pains and pain in the shoulder. Using pain medication to control the pain is not a good idea, as it can harm the internal organs, after prolonged use. There are ways to subdue the pain without medication. Check out these great alternatives to manage chronic pain without drugs:
Tips for dealing with chronic pain without drugs
Exercising regularly, especially gentle exercises like swimming, biking, walking, reduces the stiffness in your muscles. This helps in managing chronic pain without drugs, as any exercise improves the blood circulation and thus the body itself is able to heal the pain. Even thinking of exercising might make you wince, but once you start with simple exercises which you can continue on a daily basis, you will notice the difference it makes to the pain.
Exercise releases endorphins which not only boosts your mood, but makes your muscles stronger too, thus preventing the occurrence of re-injury and the resulting pain. It keeps the weight down as well, which might sometimes cause pain in the knee joints and back. But it is best to consult your doctor before you start any exercise regime.
Physical activity can alleviate the pain due to fibromyalgia and arthritis, which are chronic conditions and thus cause chronic pain. Yoga, walking, swimming can provide the relief you seek from the excruciating pain you may be suffering from.
Stress is one of the factors which cause chronic pain. There is a strong link within our brains between pain and stress. It has been seen that if you can find ways to cope with stress, in a healthy manner, then your peaceful mental state can also help in dealing with chronic pain without drugs, by controlling the symptoms.
Listening to music which is soothing enhances relaxation, and makes you forget about your pain. The brain is a wonderful tool, which can be used effectively to cope with your chronic pain. There are many relaxation music CDs which you can buy. Some have helpful audio suggestions which create relaxing mental imageries in the mind. Muscle relaxation is another technique to beat stress.
Meditation and Deep Breathing
Meditation and Deep Breathing are the techniques which have been used for managing chronic pain without drugs. While meditating or breathing deeply, you may feel the tightness seep out from your paining muscles. Focus on your breath while chanting a phrase or mantra which allows your body to relax. Ignore thoughts which upset you, thus ignoring stress and pain. Joining a meditation class is helpful too, though you can do it alone. Learning the technique in a class then practicing it at home might be the way to continue meditation at home.
Physical therapy is one of the alternative treatments for coping with chronic pain without drugs. A trained physical therapist will stretch your muscles in a way which will not damage them. As the physiotherapist stretches the muscles, you will feel the pain going away, and mostly, after some sessions, the pain might not even return. Physiotherapy improves the muscle functioning, reducing injury and strain.
This is similar to physiotherapy but is directed towards your profession. An occupational therapist will teach you exercises or perform your daily activities in a manner which does not aggravate the pain.
Reduce alcohol intake and smoking
Pain has many factors, from the way you sit, your temperament, medical reasons, lack of sleep and exercise. If you consume alcohol, it might make your sleep quality worse, thus increasing your pain due to fatigue. Cutting back on alcohol or not consuming any alcohol undoubtedly can help you better the quality of life.
Smoking is the habit which you have to curb as it worsens blood circulation problems leading to more pain.
Biofeedback is one of the novel alternative therapies for dealing with chronic pain without drugs. It might seem straight out of science fiction, but it has proved to work for many painridden people. Through this method, you can control the body functions. Biofeedback involves the use of a machine fitted with sensors which turns on the data of the physiological functions inside the body.
In layman terms, you wear sensors which allow you to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ the functions such as digestion, pulse, muscle tension and body temperature. The squiggly lines and beeps on the monitors which are attached to the sensors portray the real picture within your body.
With the help of breathing and relaxation techniques, you can control the beeps and squiggly lines. When you have completed a few sessions, you will have trained your body’s biological system to control the system of controlling pain and other bodily functions which were ‘off’.
Biofeedback devices are used to train stress and chronic pain, as the person can learn to control pain by controlling responses. Biofeedback is typically conducted by trained health professionals. Pelvic pain can be managed with this therapy for chronic pain without drugs. It helps in pelvic floor muscle dysfunction and rectal pain. Better still, many major insurance companies cover this treatment.
Heat and cold packs
Heat and cold packs have been used traditionally to manage pain or relieve pain, especially pain due to injuries. If your homemade packs are not enough, then you might ask a chiropractor or physical therapist to deliver their heat/cold packs. These are much more effective as the heat or the cold can penetrate deep into the tissue or muscle, thus providing great relief.
Cold decreases inflammation and heat relaxes the muscles which are in a state of spasm. You can try both therapies and use the one which is more effective for you. Or you can use both heat and cold packs consecutively. Start with an ice pack for 10 minutes and then follow it up with 10 minutes of heat pack. A study published in 2014, found that in 87 study participants who had lower back pain, heat and cold packs were effective in reducing the acute pain.
Hypnosis is a suggested treatment for dealing with chronic pain without drugs. In this, the health professional will teach you how to respond to suggestions to make changes in behaviors, sensations and feelings. You learn how to manage the pain as well as anxiety. People who suffer from pain often suffer from anxiety as well, especially as they have to miss out on productive hours due to pain. The anxiety makes the body muscles rigid and tense, and leads to more pain.
Through hypnosis, you can relax and enter a soothing, calm space. You can tap into your feelings to work on your negative emotions such as anger and frustration which accompany pain. Some health practitioners also use it as a tool in psychotherapy. After hypnotizing the patient, it is suggested that the patient turn down the pain, just as he or she can turn down the volume in the television or radio.
TENS or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is one of the alternative treatments for chronic pain without drugs. It is a treatment which is being used in rheumatic pain. The pain areas are stimulated with electric current and musculoskeletal pain is relieved. TENS is also effective for the acute postoperative pain. According to a report in the Current Rheumatology Reports, the effectiveness of this therapy on lower back pain is not verified as yet, due to small study sample sizes. But still, experts say that TENS is useful for any kind of pain.
Get a massage
Sometimes, massages do relieve pain in the neck, back and other chronic pain areas. But it is better to consult a physiotherapist or your doctor before getting a massage, as it can sometimes have the opposite effect.
Therapeutic massage eases pain by working the tension out of the joints as well as muscles, which also lessens your anxiety and stress. This might override the pain sensation and so massages can be a way to combat chronic pain without drugs.
Yoga is an ancient Indian therapy which has many exercises aiming at physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Yoga should be learnt correctly, so that you learn to breathe correctly in every asana or exercise. It can reduce the pain, relax and calm you and regularly practicing yoga will control stress as well as anxiety. Many people have found relief from lower back pain as well as neck and joint pain by following their yoga regime every day.
Like Yoga, Acupuncture is a therapy which has been utilized for centuries. It is effective in many ailments, including pain management. Many studies have also proven the efficacy of this treatment. The NCCIH or The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that acupuncture can help with the lower back pain, osteoarthritis/knee pain and neck pain. It could help and prevent migraine and tension headaches as well, reducing their frequency.
A meta-analysis done in 2018 revealed that acupuncture could help in managing chronic pain without drugs. Acupuncture is one of the best ways to control your pain, as it can help in over 100 conditions.
Food is an important factor when you have chronic pain, especially if it is due to pain arising out of health conditions. A low fat, low sodium diet can help to keep weight in control, and improve your blood sugar level. Instead of junk food for snacks, choose a fresh vegetable salad, cooked and dried peas and beans, bread made from whole grain or multi-grains, yogurt, lean meats, milk and low fat cheese.
Spinal manipulation includes massage, exercise and physiotherapy. It has to be provided by a licensed and trained practitioner, and is effective for lower back pain. There might be side effects sometimes, like discomfort in the area of treatment, but this pain usually disappears in a couple of days.
Chiropractors can give you relief from neck pain and low back pain, and also upper-lower extremity joints as well as headaches and fibromyalgia. Chiropractors make use of spinal manipulation, electrical stimulation, relaxation methods, rehabilitative as well as general exercises. They offer valuable counseling on weight management, diet and lifestyle.
You have to be careful about the dosage, for all other essential oils. Never ingest essential oils as they are toxic when consumed. And when you apply topically, mix it with some carrier oil, like olive oil to dilute it. You only have to use a few drops of essential oil in an ounce of the carrier oil.
By inhaling lavender fragrance you might be able to get relief from chronic pain without drugs. Migraine headaches can reduce in intensity when you inhale lavender oil.
The extract from Eucalyptus plant helps to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation naturally. A study in 2013 found that inhaling Eucalyptus oil for half an hour every day for about 3 days relieved the pain due to knee replacement surgery.
But Eucalyptus oil, though effective, has to be used with extreme care. Never use it near pets and children. It can trigger asthma so it’s best not to diffuse the oil in public. It is toxic when consumed and before using it topically, perform spot check to know whether your skin can react with it or not.
Rosemary essential oil may help to treat muscle pain, bone pain, headache and seizures. It can relax the muscles as well as boost memory. Rosemary acts on the opioid receptors in brain, which are part of the sensors to sense pain. This oil can help in people who are trying to quit opium.
Peppermint is one of the best essential oils to control chronic pain without drugs. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial as well as pain relieving effects, and can be applied onto the painful, achy areas. People apply peppermint oil on the forehead for relief from headaches. But it should not be applied on broken skin, and should not be used around children.
Gentle, guided exercise, physio and occupational therapy, essential oils and tried and tested traditional therapies such as acupuncture and yoga are ways to deal with acute chronic pain which threatens to take over your life. These methods reduce dependence on drugs which could be harmful in the long run, and help you devise a healthy, pain-free life for you.