Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition that seriously impacts the quality of life. Traditional medical treatments can be very effective at controlling some types of chronic pain; however, for some patients, these treatments may be too expensive, too invasive or ineffective. For these patients, these eight alternative pain management therapies may be beneficial.
1. CBD Supplements
Marijuana has been used as a pain reliever as early as 2900 B.C. There is some evidence to suggest that CBD is one of the components of marijuana that produces its pain-relieving effects. It is believed that CBD may reduce chronic pain by affecting the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for regulating appetite, sleep, pain, and immune system response. CBD is available as an oil, tincture, powder, and CBD gel caps. Some people utilize CBD-infused oils in their cooking. The use of CBD allows people to enjoy the pain-relieving benefits of marijuana without getting high. CBD can cause reactions with some types of medications, so people considering using the supplement should consult with their physician.
2. Mind-Body Therapies
Some people believe that the mind can affect the physical condition of the body. Mind-body therapies rely on techniques such as guided imagery, biofeedback, meditation, and hypnosis to relieve chronic pain.
3. Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic treatment is the most popular non-surgical treatment for back pain. Research has also found that these treatments may be effective in relieving neck pain, headaches, whiplash, and some arm and leg conditions. Chiropractic massage has recently gained popularity as a treatment for chronic neck and back pain. This therapy relieves tension and reduces stress by enhancing blood flow and reducing the number of substances that are believed to generate and sustain pain.
The World Health Organization lists more than 30 conditions that can be improved with acupuncture treatment, but the primary use for this treatment is pain relief. Acupuncture is based on a Sixteenth-Century Chinese belief that illnesses are caused by energy imbalances in the body. The treatment involves using disposable, stainless steel needles to stimulate the 14 major meridians in the body and correct energy imbalances.
Modern scientists believe that acupuncture can relieve pain by increasing the release of pain-blocking chemicals, called endorphins. This works by stimulating acupoints near nerves, which causes a dull ache in the muscle. The muscle then signals the central nervous system to release endorphins, which block the pain messages being delivered to the brain. This treatment may be effective at reducing pain caused by low back pain, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and myofascial pain.
5. Reiki Healing and Therapeutic Touch
Therapeutic touch and reiki healing are energy-based techniques that are believed to reduce pain by activating the self-healing processes in the body. A few small studies have indicated that these techniques can be beneficial and do not produce any harmful side effects; however, more research is needed.
6. Nutritional Supplements
Early research has indicated that supplements such as glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate may be effective at reducing knee pain due to osteoarthritis. Research has also been done on other dietary supplements, such as fish oil, but is inconclusive. These compounds have generally been found to be safe, but some supplements can cause adverse reactions in some people or make medications less effective, so it is a good idea to consult with your doctor before taking any.
7. Dietary Changes
Some people believe that dietary changes, such as modifying fat consumption or consuming plant-based foods can relieve pain by reducing inflammation. Research has demonstrated some benefits to people with pain from fibromyalgia in consuming a raw vegetarian diet. Low-fat vegetarian diets have been found to ease premenstrual symptoms in some women. Weight reduction diets may be effective at easing osteoarthritis pain in overweight or obese people.
Regular physical activity has been found to have substantial benefits for many people with chronic pain. However, people with chronic pain conditions should consult with their doctor before beginning an exercise routine, because some forms of exercise may make their pain worse.
Alternative pain management therapies, either on their own or as part of a comprehensive pain management plan, can be effective for some people. However, it is important to discuss any alternative therapy you are considering with your physician.