How To Manage Chronic Pain Without Medication
Learn to manage and control chronic pain without the need for heavy medication or pharmaceutical solutions through the use of natural chronic pain relief.
Chronic pain has many causes, and for millions of people, it’s a fact of daily life for months or even years on end. Solutions are frequently offered but, in many cases, they hinge on using pharmaceutical drugs that may or may not help and often include dangerous side effects. This doesn’t always have to be the case.
While you should consult with your doctor about your treatment options and any medical considerations for your pain issues, know that safe, healthy alternatives to common medication-based solutions do exist and can work surprisingly well. This guide covers the essential elements of chronic pain and reviews nonmedical therapy options that may help you get your chronic pain disorder under control.
Table of Contents
- What is Chronic Pain?
- Ways to Help Chronic Pain and Anxiety Without Drugs
- Exercise and Nutrition
- Massage Therapy
- Yoga and Meditation
- Natural Supplements
- Electric Stimulation (TENS)
- Medication-Free: Risks and Rewards
- When to See a Doctor
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is a condition that an estimated 20.4% of adults in the United States suffer from. (1) Furthermore, it’s estimated that 7.4% of adults also suffer from what's considered high-impact chronic pain. This latter type involves pain so debilitating that it forces individuals to limit work and life activities.
The definition of chronic pain is a frequently returning or persistent physical discomfort that lasts from several weeks to many years. In some cases, the discomfort can last for the rest of a person’s life. How long it lasts can vary because chronic pain can be caused by many things, such as chronic diseases, the side effects of accidents, and degenerative conditions of the bones and tendons.
However, while the causes of chronic pain can be numerous and varied, its essential characteristic of prolonged, persistent suffering is fundamental. People who suffer chronic pain don’t just have to deal with the pain itself. The condition also often produces numerous other physical difficulties, which can include:
- Constant physical tension
- Limited mobility and work/life activity capacity
- Decline in energy and willpower
- Drop in appetite
- Reduction in libido
- Aversion to numerous otherwise normal activities
- Unhealthy weight gain or weight loss
Dealing with chronic pain symptoms over months and years can also have various kinds of psychological impact. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Anger and resentment
- Fear and phobia of certain activities, especially those related to what might have caused the pain (2)
Chronic pain and its related physical and mental conditions are a problem for millions of people across the country. However, while many just deal with it or turn to standardized medical treatments for varying levels of relief, alternative therapy options can produce remarkable results for those who use them. The most interesting aspect of many alternative therapies is that they may not only reduce chronic pain itself, but also address its psychological and physical side effects.>Ways to Help Chronic Pain and Anxiety Without Drugs
If you or someone you care about is suffering from chronic pain or anxiety, addressing the condition should begin with a professional medical consultation, but you can also explore alternative therapies that fit your level of mobility, time and budget. Many of these alternatives are either free or more affordable than commonly used medical relief options.
Managing a chronic pain disorder or finding your own natural relief for inflammation and pain often involves a bit of trial and error. By exploring the available alternatives, you can discover the specific natural remedies for chronic pain work best for you.
Actively addressing chronic pain symptoms is important not only to improve quality of life and physical comfort, but also because these symptoms can be warning signs of an underlying condition that shouldn't go untreated. Persistent or recurring pain can be a sign of degenerative issues in the body that may worsen over time.
Chronic pain relief may take time, and in some cases, the process can require months or more of patience. In many cases, help can be provided by at least combining alternative remedies with pharmaceutical or medical treatments. This approach is widely accepted by many professional medical sources as one of the best ways to manage and relieve prolonged, persistent pain symptoms. (6)
The following methods are safe, widely used, and have been known to help with pain management in many cases.>Exercise
Exercise is one of the most essential remedies for many chronic pain disorders, especially for those caused by back trouble. Not only is light to moderate exercise completely free in most cases, but it’s widely recognized by major health authorities as a safe, nonmedical pain therapy. (3)
If you suffer from symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, lower back pain or the lasting effects of muscle or tendon injuries, staying physically active and starting a daily regimen of carefully chosen moderate exercises can help relieve your symptoms. Exercise is also crucial for keeping weight in check, which has its own pain-reducing and secondary health benefits.
Nutrition and Diet
If you’re dealing with chronic joint, back, or muscle pain, having to carry excess weight doesn't help. A well-balanced diet of adequate proteins, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals can not only help keep you at a healthy weight level, but it can also keep you from becoming dangerously underweight. Avoiding this is important because it helps ensure that your hormone levels remain in balance, which in turn allows your body to more effectively fight aches and pains and elevate its internal healing capacity. (4)
One particularly important part of a proper diet is eating as many whole grains and unprocessed foods as possible. The levels of micronutrients and absence of hormones or preservatives in these foods stimulate immune system strength better than processed foods do.
Natural chronic pain relief can involve many approaches to reach a comfortable relief point. Massage therapy is one approach that can work wonderfully in conjunction with your exercise routine and a well-balanced diet. This variation of physical therapy can free endorphins in the body that help relax muscles, reduce joint inflammation, and lower stress levels.
The reduction of stress from massage therapy is particularly useful because it reduces the tension of muscle, tendon and bone structures. In turn, this can result in a reduction in the physical stress being placed on tender tissues that contributes to chronic pain.
Acupuncture has a contentious but well-established history as a remedy for pain and stress relief. It's been used for centuries in many countries as an alternative therapy for numerous other conditions as well. The therapy, which involves gently placing tiny, sharp needles into the skin at key stress points along the length of the body, is claimed to cause a release of the body’s own natural pain-fighting chemicals. Furthermore, an acupuncture session may influence your body’s release of serotonin, which is a known stress-reducer and mood booster.
Yoga and Meditation
The combination of yoga and meditation is becoming an increasingly popular source of stress and pain relief for millions of people worldwide. There’s a good reason for this: the fairly gentle, low-stress physical movement and muscle tension induced by yoga exercises promotes strength and flexibility without being known to easily cause further injuries. Combined with meditative activity, yoga may also boost immune response and strengthen the entire body. (5)
Yoga has widely been recommended by practitioners, medical doctors, and former chronic pain sufferers for its usefulness in reducing or eliminating the discomfort and pain caused by arthritis, joint pain, back pain, migraine headaches, and even chronic fatigue syndrome. These are just some of its many uses. This diverse system of mind-body exercise can also greatly increase muscle strength and physical balance.
Much like massage therapy and yoga, physiotherapy is extremely useful as a therapy for many types of chronic pain conditions. Doctors have widely recommended it for managing arthritis, ligament pain and back pain in particular. Physiotherapists can also help teach you proper self-care.
A trained physical therapist can help you come to grips with your fears about the range of your physical activity and then show you how to expand it beyond what you previously thought possible. As a result, you can not only improve your pain symptoms and your capacity for handling them, but also your overall confidence and level of optimism.
Natural supplements shouldn't be used as a substitute for a well-balanced diet that provides as many essential nutrients as possible. However, when taken in conjunction with nutritious meals, they may help with inflammation relief, immune system fortification and muscle strengthening. Two types of supplements in particular, chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, have been shown to deliver promising results in managing arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis. Other dietary supplements and vitamins are also well known for their immune-boosting properties.
Electric Stimulation (TENS)
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, also known as TENS, delivers mild electrical stimulation to the areas of your body that are affected by chronic pain and inflammation symptoms. It has been known to help with the symptoms and discomfort related to many musculoskeletal conditions. (7) Despite its use of electricity, this type of device doesn't cause any pain itself. Instead, it tends to produce a mild tingle or buzzing sensation in the affected area as it does its work.
The essential idea behind the use of TENS therapy is that it may help block or at least suppress pain signals along the body’s own natural electrical sensory impulse pathways. Electrodes are placed on or around the affected areas of the body in an effort to stimulate chronic pain reduction and produce both an immediate and long-term relief of symptoms. The therapy isn't only easy to deliver, it is also a non-invasive method that may provide relief without causing any notable discomfort.
Medication-Free: Risks and Rewards
The key benefit of nonmedical chronic pain relief therapies is that they offer possible relief for many kinds of conditions without the need for major medical expenses or invasive clinical interventions. In many cases, they can be attempted without a medical prescription and may help in a powerfully supportive role.
In other words, they're largely safe and have few possible risks, even if a specific therapy fails to provide notable relief. Alternative therapies such as TENS, exercise and others may provide major benefits in situations where they do help improve symptoms of discomfort.
When to See a Doctor
You should consult your doctor before you try alternative therapies for managing a chronic pain condition. A medical professional can advise you about possible dangers and risks that apply to your situation and can recommend specific alternative treatments that might be particularly helpful in your case. Most doctors will happily recommend natural chronic pain relief therapies as long as they don't interfere with your case-specific clinical needs.
Do you still have questions about neuromodulation devices, or do you need help to decide which one is best for you? Contact one of our neuromodulation experts.