According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 20 million Americans deal with chronic pain that interferes with their functionality and daily activities. Even more than that, around 50 million people suffer from some level of chronic pain, even if it doesn’t interfere with functionality.
There are a wide variety of reasons people deal with chronic pain. This can include medical conditions and ongoing illnesses, and it can be the result of accidents.
For example, automobile accidents can lead to injuries that ultimately contribute to chronic pain. As an example, symptoms of whiplash include headache, neck stiffness and pain, and these symptoms can persist long after the accident itself.
For years, the go-to treatment for pain was often prescription drugs and in particular, opioids. Now, we know the devastation these drugs can cause as we grapple with the opioid epidemic.
More and more people are looking for effective, holistic pain relief. While it’s ultimately a conversation to have with your health care provider, the following are some things you might look into to deal with your pain without pharmaceutical help.
Turmeric and Fish Oil
There are a lot of different supplements and herbal remedies that may help with chronic pain, but two that tend to have the most evidence regarding their effectiveness are turmeric and fish oil.
Turmeric has something called curcumin, and it’s used in cooking and has also been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties.
You can cook with turmeric or use it in the form of a supplement, but either way, make sure it’s with black pepper to boost bioavailability and absorption.
Fish oil is also an anti-inflammatory, and many people who use it report a reduction in their pain or the ability to stop using other pain relievers.
Biofeedback is a technique that can help you regain control over functions you normally don’t think about but that your body is just doing. For example, biofeedback will help you gain control over things like breathing and heart rate, and the goal can be the reduction of pain.
Biofeedback can be used not only with chronic pain but also with conditions like high blood pressure and migraines.
During biofeedback sessions, you have electrodes attached to your skin. Then, you can see functions on the monitor like heart rate and blood pressure, and you get feedback as you try to lower them.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that works to balance what is described as the body’s natural energy pathways. A trained acupuncturist places small needles into your skin. The location of the needles is related to where you experience pain.
Some research shows acupuncture may help with pain relief by releasing the feel-good chemical serotonin into the body.
Heat and Cold Therapy
One of the simplest ways you may be able to combat pain without medication is the application of heat and cold. There are different ways to do this. For example, you can apply ice packs to reduce swelling and inflammation, and then heat may be used later on to reduce stiffness.
You can also consider alternative treatments such as sitting in an infrared sauna for heat and cryotherapy for cold.
Physical therapy may provide relief for many different kinds of chronic pain, including musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain.
Physical therapy helps people to build strength and move more, and to do so in a safe, functional way.
The term physical therapy actually encompasses a lot of different types of pain management techniques. For example, physical therapy can include not only exercise and movement therapy but manual therapy, joint and bone manipulation, massage, and cold laser therapy.
Physical therapy helps you build muscular strength and endurance, promotes flexibility, and also creates joint stability.
The body is encouraged to heal itself with physical therapy because it stimulates the production of chemicals the body can use to naturally alleviate pain.
We often don’t realize the mental components that can go along with pain, and by working on our mental health, we can reduce pain in many instances. Meditation is a good option for people struggling with pain.
With meditation and mindfulness training, you can also improve your overall quality of life.
Not every holistic pain management technique is going to work for every person. Sometimes if you’re dealing with pain, you have to experiment and find the techniques or combinations that work well for you, along with taking into consideration the advice of your health care provider.