An individual who is living with chronic physical pain is often eager to do whatever it takes to experience relief from that pain. This is especially true when the pain is crippling and overwhelming as is often experienced after major surgery or when one is suffering from a major physical illness like cancer or arthritis. Many individuals seek professional medical advice or assistance in getting relief from that pain, and many doctors today prescribe narcotic painkillers to combat chronic and debilitating pain. Unfortunately, these narcotic painkillers can cause dependence and a variety of unpleasant side effects, including nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, itching, sedation, dry mouth, constipation, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, headaches and much more. And even more discouraging is the fact that the narcotic painkillers are not actually treating or resolving the condition that has caused the pain, but rather are simply masking the body’s pain. So how can an individual who is living with chronic physical pain experience relief from that pain without drugs?
Here are 5 solutions for alternative pain management:
It may be inconceivable to an individual who is living with chronic pain to even contemplate exercising, but the truth is that if they routinely perform exercises that are designed to help with their specific condition, they can actually experience some pain relief over time. In fact, according to Medline Plus, back pain is not best handled by a long period of rest and low activity, but by as much activity as possible after initially resting just long enough post-injury to help reduce inflammation.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, some successful alternative therapies for chronic pain sufferers include acupuncture, massage, yoga, and even tai chi. Research has indicated that alternative therapies like these have helped those who experience low-back pain, arthritis, chronic headaches, neck pain and more.
Even an acute, temporary pain can seem less tolerable when one is underslept. According to the National Sleep Foundation, studies have shown that sleep deprivation can cause a reduced tolerance for pain and an increased feeling of discomfort. Routinely getting a full night’s rest can help one combat chronic physical pain.
Depending on the cause of the chronic pain, there may be nutritional supplements that can help. For example, according to David C. Leopold, MD, director of Integrative Medical Education at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego, turmeric, green tea, ginger, rosemary, cat’s claw, devil’s claw and willow bark are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. He also says that omega-3s can help with headaches, back pain, some nerve pain and even some autoimmune illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis. According to Leopold, glucosamine sulfate not only eases pain, but also slows the progression of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine is often combined with chondroitin, which may further help fight pain. There are many other supplements that have been tested in various studies and have been found to help relieve specific types of chronic pain.
One recommended method for treating certain chronic pains is to ice the area for thirty-minute intervals for forty-eight to seventy-two hours, and then use heat for thirty-minute intervals. The ice can decrease inflammation and calm the nerves, which helps reduce pain, and heat can help relax muscles. Even though this seems a harmless therapy, certain painful conditions can be aggravated when incorrectly iced or heated, so it is important to research the best solution to a specific condition before proceeding with ice or heat therapy.
While it is true that an individual who tries the above alternatives may not experience 100% relief from chronic physical pain, they may experience enough relief from discomfort that they are able to lead relatively normal lives, without the use of narcotic painkillers and the many unpleasant and dangerous side effects they cause.