Every day, millions of adults deal with chronic pain, or pain that lasts for a long time.
Prescription medications are often effective for alleviating short-term pain, such as severe headaches or pain associated with muscle trauma. However, they may not work as well for chronic pain.
In addition, these drugs may have so many side effects that people with chronic pain often avoid using them.
If chronic pain is left untreated, though, it can cause sleep problems, anxiety, depression, difficulty doing everyday activities or other problems.
Fortunately, many drug-free alternatives are available to help people manage their pain. These may work for short-term pain, as well.
Drug-Free Alternatives for Pain Relief
Some of the most common alternative pain treatments include:
- Acupressure and acupuncture
- Bodywork techniques, such as massage, spinal manipulation and therapeutic touch
- Diet and nutrition
- Exercise and strength training
- Herbal products, nutritional supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin
- Mind-body techniques, such as biofeedback, hypnotherapy, meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, relaxation and stress management
- Music therapy
- Water therapy (hydrotherapy)
- Yoga and tai chi
Safety of Drug-Free Pain Treatments
In contrast to prescription medications and even over-the-counter pain drugs that can produce side effects or encourage dependence, alternative methods for pain management tend to be safer.
This, however, doesn’t mean that they are risk-free for everyone. Certain factors can increase your chance of having side effects from these treatments, such as:
- Current health
- Other treatments or medications
Each treatment has its own risks and side effects. Some of the common ones include:
- Interactions with prescription or over-the-counter medications
- Kidney problems
- Physical discomfort
- Temporary headaches
Conditions That Are Treatable With Drug-Free Alternatives
Drug-free alternatives can relieve many types of pain, such as pain associated with:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Low-back pain
- Menstrual cramps
- Neck pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Before you undergo any alternative treatments, check with your chiropractic doctor or health care provider. They can tell you whether these drug-free options might interfere with your current treatments or cause unnecessary side effects.
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