Living with pain is hard. But you’re not alone.
Luckily there are lots of different ways to help, whether you’re looking for a drug-free treatment or a therapy to complement your pain medication.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 pain management alternatives for you to consider:
1. Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is one effective way to manage your pain.
A review of therapeutic massage for pain relief by Harvard Medical School found it to be a legitimate therapy for many pain conditions.
They evidenced a 2014 study that focused on chronic neck pain.
By receiving 60 minute neck massage sessions two or three times a week, patients experienced greater relief from their pain, compared to those who had no or fewer sessions.
Another project conducted at Flagstaff Medical Center, Arizona looked at how massage could help in the acute care setting.
Not only was it shown to reduce pain levels, but it also helped with the psychological aspects of their condition, such as poor sleep.
The amazing thing about massage as an alternative pain treatment, is that it can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.
TENS therapy has been proven to treat both chronic and acute pain.
But, what is TENS?
The device sends a mild electrical current to sticky pads (electrodes) that you apply to the painful area of your body.
It works by blocking the pain signals before they reach your brain, while also awakening your nerves.
You can pick up a TENS unit for as little as $20, so it’s an affordable way to treat your pain.
Plus take a look at the evidence and you’ll see that TENS therapy has so many other health benefits.
Does lying back on a mat covered in spikes sound like a great way to treat your pain?
It might not, but research shows it works!
15 studies were reviewed in 2013, with each one showing that acupressure is an effective form of pain relief.
Not just for common chronic conditions such as low back pain too, but also for menstrual cramps, labor pain and migraines.
Though acupressure is a manual therapy performed by professionals, you can also administer the treatment yourself with an acupressure mat.
Acupressure mats are covered in plastic or metal spikes that you can use in the safety of your own home.
Aromatherapy might not be powerful enough alone to manage your discomfort, but it can be a great addition to your pain relief plan.
Researchers have identified more than 40 plant derivatives for therapeutic use, including chamomile, peppermint, rosemary and lavender.
They also highlighted that no adverse effects from aromatherapy were noted in the research, making it ideal for people experiencing different types of pain.
Compared to other pain management treatment, aromatherapy is also an affordable option!
You can purchase essential oils and diffusers for a really low cost, or you might choose a cup of pain-relieving tea that is packed full of these therapeutic plant derivatives.
Like the sound of spiky acupressure? Then acupuncture is another great natural remedy for pain.
Acupuncture points stimulate the central nervous system, encouraging the release of chemicals into the muscles, brain and spinal cord.
It’s thought that this activity stimulates the body’s natural ability to heal, boosting both your physical and mental wellbeing.
The Journal of Pain concluded that acupuncture treatment should be recommended for people living with chronic pain.
It was also deemed to have positive effects for patients experiencing osteoarthritis pain and headaches.
It can slow the aging process, improve your productivity and even help you recover from a hangover!
The Indian Journal of Palliative Care also found that it can improve the quality of life for those living with chronic pain.
Results were judged on the “gap theory”, which is the space between how someone wants to live their life and how they’re actually living it.
The gap was significantly reduced after a series of yoga sessions.
If you’re struggling with chronic pain particularly in your back, then there are actually a number of key postures that can help.
Another great alternative pain treatment is meditation.
Like yoga, it has grown hugely in popularity over the last few years, as many look for ways to switch off in a constantly connected world.
The Annals of Behavioral Medicine published findings that showed meditation could help people living with chronic pain.
Not only were impacts seen on the pain itself, but meditation also had benefits on the associated symptoms, such as depression.
There are even a number of guided meditations, specifically created for healing chronic pain.
Follow the 20 minute meditation from The Mindful Movement to get started:
8. Chiropractic Care
Medical care is most people’s first port of call when they’re in pain, however the latest stats and facts show that chiropractic care in some cases can be more powerful.
Participants in a similar project in 2018 looking at chiropractic care, reported less pain intensity, improved function and needed less pain medication.
No wonder one million chiropractic adjustments are performed in the US every day!
When looking for natural remedies for pain relief, journaling might seem like an unexpected suggestion.
However medical professionals agree that it has many health advantages and can be beneficial for those living with chronic pain, particularly those with associated anxious or angry feelings.
David Hanscom, M.D. explains how those feelings are linked to pain, and how journaling can help:
They are just chronic emotional circuits tied in with your pain… Writing down these thoughts creates an awareness of the source of your anxiety and frustration. You now have a chance to choose a different response to a given stressor. As you continue to make more thoughtful, skillful choices, your brain will grow new neurons and form more functional connections.
10. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can be another pain management alternative to consider.
A physical therapist will work with you to understand what triggers your pain and assess how your body is currently moving.
Typically you’ll then get a personalized plan to help you adapt in your everyday life, as well as a series of different exercises you need to practice.
For those looking for a drug-free pain relief option, research shows that 41% of patients found physical therapy to be the most effective alternative treatment.
Amazingly, it was also found that physical therapy could actually lower your treatment costs by up to 72%.
If it’s back pain in particular that you’re looking to treat, read more about back pain relief products and remedies that can help.