It can be tempting to reach for pills when you are in pain, but there are drug-free methods of pain relief that can work just as well, but that eliminate the risk of addiction.
How to Find Pain Relief Without Drugs
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Pain can be a debilitating condition, limiting a person’s ability to function effectively in daily life. When long lasting, pain symptoms can start to affect a person’s psychological well-being, triggering other conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
According to the AARP, an estimated 100 million Americans live with chronic pain, with 42 million attributing pain symptoms as the cause of sleep loss. For many, drugs provide a quick and easy way to eliminate pain symptoms, which can be beneficial in cases of temporary or short-term pain symptoms.
For people struggling with recurrent or chronic pain-related conditions, some drugs may actually cause more harm than good. Fortunately, drug-free pain remedies do exist, many of which offer effective treatment for both chronic and short-term pain conditions.
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Types of Pain
In general, pain symptoms can take one of two forms, somatic or neuropathic, or a combination of the two.
Areas of the body affected by somatic type symptoms include:
Achiness, soreness and knifelike sensations most characterize somatic forms of pain.
Conditions commonly associated with somatic-based symptoms include:
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
Neuropathic type pain symptoms develop in cases where injury or disease impacts the nervous system. These types of symptoms take the form of tingling, burning or current-like streaks of pain.
Conditions resulting from chronic neuropathic pain include:
- Pinched nerves
- Neuropathy or nerve damage
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Knowing what type of symptom you’re dealing with can help in finding a drug-free treatment that targets the source of the pain.
The Origins of Pain
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, most all forms of pain develop out of the body’s inflammation process, which ultimately works to protect damaged areas in the body. Unlike the body’s other sensory mechanisms, pain carries an emotional component on top of the physical sensation. These two components work together to protect affected areas from further damage.
This dual aspect of pain factors into how a person experiences pain symptoms in terms of severity as certain feelings, such as anxiety can actually aggravate and intensify pain symptoms. The good news is this dual aspect allows for two different ways of addressing pain symptoms: physical and mental.
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Drug-Free Pain-Relief Approaches
Meditation & Deep Breathing
Mediation and deep breathing techniques address the emotional aspect of pain, which can help reduce symptom severity. Both methods reduce stress levels, which often play a pivotal role in aggravating pain symptoms.
Frequent or chronic stress causes tension and tightness to build inside the muscles, which in turn strain connecting ligaments and tendons. Whereas meditation promotes relaxation through the quieting of the mind, deep breathing focuses on relaxing the body.
As stress can quickly build over the course of a day’s time, incorporating mediation or deep breathing practices into your daily routine can go a long way towards keeping stress levels at a minimum.
Regular exercise offers a wealth of benefits, one of which being the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals. The brain releases endorphins into the central nervous system on an as-needed basis. Endorphins act as blocking agents, preventing pain signals from reaching the brain’s sensory regions.
Regular exercise helps strengthen muscles, which lessens the amount of strain placed on joints, ligaments and tendons. Exercise also works to boost the body’s immune system response in terms of flushing harmful toxins out of the body.
Eating a balance diet on a regular basis provides the body with a full arsenal of nutrients for repairing damaged tissues and maintaining overall health. Healthy eating also supports the digestive tract, which is essential to breaking down food materials and delivering essential vitamins and nutrients to the body.
While eating healthy doesn’t necessarily provide immediate relief for pain symptoms, it nonetheless gives the body a fighting chance at better managing pain symptom flare-ups.
People suffering from chronic pain conditions can easily develop high stress levels. Over time, the mind and body develop behavioral responses in an effort to cope with the pain and the stress.
Stress management approaches to consider include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy – helps in undoing the harmful thought patterns and emotions that elevate stress levels and aggravate pain symptoms
- Listening to calming music – works to elevate the mood and promote the release of endorphins
- Biofeedback – helps with managing your response to pain symptoms
- Hypnosis – promotes deep relaxation
- Guided imagery techniques – calms the mind, takes the focus off the pain
- Progressive muscle relaxation – promotes relaxation, reduces tension and muscle tightness
TENS, also known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation applies low-voltage electrical currents to pain-affected areas on the body. A TENS unit is a small, battery-powered device with two electrode wires that deliver electric current.
The unit can be placed at the site of the affected area or along a pressure point nearby. In effect, the current works to scramble nerve signal transmissions sent to the brain, which in turn reduces symptom severity.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Ongoing muscle tightness and tension can block blood flow, causing inflammation and the resulting pain symptoms. Heat therapy promotes blood flow, allowing muscles to relax. As muscles relax, normal blood flow is restored.
Cold therapy has the opposite effect, slowing blood flow to pain-affected areas. Cold therapy works well in reducing pain associated with joint swelling and bone-related pain symptoms.
Acupressure helps reduce pain symptoms by applying light pressure to the body’s meridians or energy pathways. According to Vanderbilt University, the body houses a network of pressure points that conduct healing energy throughout. Blockages along this network can cause inflammation and pain symptoms to develop.
Acupressure uses the finger, thumb or palm in applying pressure to points nearby the pain-affected area. This technique helps to improve the body’s overall blood flow and works especially well in relieving muscle-related pain symptoms.
Various other types of non-narcotic pain relief are also available. As with any form of pain management treatment, what works for one person may produce little to no results for another. As pain in general derives from both physical and psychological component, a combined treatment approach may well offer the best results in terms of overall pain relief. We can help you find treatment. Call 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) toll free anytime.