While some prescription medications are effective and helpful in pain management, there are a number of reasons you may wish to avoid turning to drugs to get relief.
Medications can come with unpleasant side effects, be costly or interact with medicine you may need to take for other conditions. Luckily, there are a lot of great ways you can manage your pain without taking medications.
When trying NON-DRUG therapies, be open to ideas that you may not fully understand and go in with an open mind. If a certain a treatment is helping you feel better, the “how it works” becomes far less important than the fact that it does work.
Here are four Adrug-free pain management treatments you might not have tried, or maybe you tried it years ago at your healthcare provider’s office.
Acupuncture, one of the oldest healing practices in the world, is becoming so commonplace that many insurance carriers now cover treatments and an estimated 3.1 million Americans have had acupuncture treatments—70% of them seeking help with pain, according to the National Center of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.
Here’s a quick overview of how acupuncture works: It is based on idea that energy, or qi, travels our bodies on paths called meridians and that illness (or pain) occurs when that flow is disrupted.
The idea is to find the cause, in addition to treating the symptoms. “Acupuncture and herbs are an intriguing alternative to pharmaceuticals. They certainly have been proven to treat pain in numerous scientific, double-blind studies. More importantly, however, is the face that traditional medical systems, like Chinese Medicine, try to address the imbalance that is causing the pain,” explains Sonya Seifert, L.Ac., a Chicago-based practitioner.
Can a certain smell really make you feel better? Aromatherapy (using specific scented essential oils to treat ailments) was central to the ancient medical systems in China, India, Egypt, Rome and Greece and remains a popular alternative therapy today.
If you are going to an aromatherapist, expect him/her to apply scents from essential plants to your skin or have you inhale them. Studies have shown that aromatherapy can be great for pain management and help decrease pain symptoms in people with rheumatoid arthritis, headaches and cancer.
In an interview with Arthritis Today, Alan Hirsch, MD, neurologist at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, suggests green apple for pain relief: “We found that the smell of green apples reduced the severity and duration of migraine headache pain and may have a similar effect on joint pain,” says Dr. Hirsch. “The scent seems to reduce muscle contractions, which are the main cause of pain in migraines.”
An article published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis covers findings from 13 studies of treatment for chronic pain, excluding headaches. Together, the studies show that hypnosis decreases pain associated with a variety of chronic-pain problems. While the results are limited because not all of the patients had the same treatments or kind of pain, it could be worth a try.
Hypnosis promotes relaxation and a psychological shift intended to help people gain control over their states of awareness, which theoretically can help them gain control over their physical body, including their pain symptoms. Research suggests that hypnosis can help reduce the need for pain medication by decreasing the anxiety that’s typically associated with pain, according to medical experts at Everyday Health.
Tai chi is often recommended to help relieve pain, but it also is thought to provide preventive benefits—which is a double bonus. One study conducted by researchers from Tufts University found that for people with arthritis in their knees who began practicing Tai Chi were able to move more easily, were less depressed and were in overall better health within weeks.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese form of exercise. It involves a series of graceful movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing. Many people describe it as a moving meditation.
This is a low-impact way to add movement to your day without putting pressure on your joints. As with any new kind of exercise, consult your medical professional before getting started and seek out an instructor trained to work with people working with pain.
Finally, if you are looking to relieve pain at home, try one of Omron Electrotherapy pain management devices in addition to the medical and drug-free treatments that you find helpful.
Having an arsenal at the ready can help you defeat pain and get back to doing what you love.