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7 natural ways to manage pain

By Salt Lake Regional Medical Center  |  Posted Jun 1st, 2017 @ 9:00pm



If you suffer from consistent or chronic pain, you’ve likely investigated several pain relief techniques including medical and nonmedical. Here are seven basic nonprescriptive ideas to aid you in pain management and relief.

1. Herbal remedies cites Dr. Sam Moon, MPH, associate director of education at Duke Integrative Medicine, when he says, "Herbals or other nutraceuticals that may help in some way — as well as those which may not actually help — do almost universally have the potential to harm through unwanted side effects, allergic reactions and undesirable interactions with other substances and medicines...Relative safety must be very carefully balanced against likely effectiveness."

But the fact remains that countless natural herbs have properties that may help with a variety of pain issues. Here are some of the most common herbal remedies for pain:

  • Ginger (contains phytochemicals to stop inflammation)
  • Tumeric (should only be in small doses and avoided by those with gallbladder disease)
  • Feverfew (for migraines and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Ginseng (for fibromyalgia pain)
  • Valerian root (for spasms and muscle cramps)
  • St. John’s Wort (for sciatica and more)

Talk to a professional health care provider before trying any herbal remedy or supplement to manage your pain.

2. Acupuncture

Although there’s little known about why this ancient practice is sometimes effective, plenty of chronic pain sufferers have used it and found good results. This method works when a certified acupuncturist uses tiny needles to puncture certain parts of the body in order to stimulate the chi or energy of your body in the right ways. If you’re looking for evidence supporting acupuncture, this study concluded that acupuncture was an effective form of treatment for several types of chronic pain including back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache and shoulder pain.

3. Hot and cold therapies

Heat and cold have long been used to treat and manage pain, and it continues to be a valid treatment option today. Cold packs reduce inflammation and swelling, while heat pads can loosen stiff muscles and ligaments. Both methods come in handy for strains, sprains and other musculoskeletal injuries as well as tension pain. Never treat with hot or cold therapies on direct skin. Be sure to have a thin cloth beneath to avoid burns and skin irritation.

4. Massage therapy

Getting a massage can be much more beneficial than simply relaxing. When done properly, massage therapy boosts serotonin and natural endorphins in your body to improve mood and reduce pain. It also is a great way to relieve stress — and stress is a major contributing factor to making chronic and existing pain worse. Don’t underestimate the power of a good massage; it also allows time for contemplation, relaxation, and even meditation — all of which are beneficial to mental and physical health.

5. Appropriate exercise

Chronic pain often makes exercise and other activities impossible. However, many activities offer pain relief without the risk or injury or increased inflammation. Try water therapy, yoga or tai chi to improve your body’s ability to move. There’s also something to be said for enjoying types of exercise outdoors, since outdoor activity has been shown to improve mood and even reduce real chronic pain in some situations.

6. Better self-care

This could range from eating a healthy and balanced diet that’s rich in nutrients and low in preservatives, or even just drinking enough water each day. Water lubricates joints, delivers nutrients and oxygen, and flushes your body of toxins. Drinking more water is always a good place to start when you want to take better care of your body. Get more restorative sleep, too. This is critical to your health and the body’s ability to heal, so don’t neglect a good night’s sleep.

7. Seek help and support

You can gain support and understanding by talking about your struggles with chronic pain. Find a friend, family member or even a therapist who you can talk to openly about your pain and how it affects you personally. It’s also a good idea to seek additional help from a doctor or health care provider who may be able to offer noninvasive alternatives, such as physical therapy and other solutions. Talk to your doctor today about these alternatives.

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