Pain Management Without Drugs
Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and chronic pain is pain that lasts three months or more. Chronic pain can make it hard to go about your daily life, whether it’s lower back pain or a headache that just won’t quit. But did you know, you might not need pain medication to feel better? There are different pathways to overcoming chronic pain. And here are four ways to manage chronic pain before taking pain medications:
- Regular exercise: Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you’re in pain. But gentle activity can actually help you recover. Exercise in the form of stretching, walking or swimming can loosen stiff muscles and improves blood flow, both of which speed your body’s natural healing process.
- Integrative medicine techniques: Techniques such as yoga, tai chi and acupuncture can tap into the mind-body connection. There is growing evidence that shows the connection between the mind and body is greater than previously appreciated. Integrative techniques combine the power of breath, movement and mindfulness (the practice of being present in the moment) to relieve pain by calming unhealthy activity in the mind.
- Stress management: There is a strong connection in the brain between stress and pain. Finding healthy ways to cope with the pressures of everyday life can help you gain peace of mind and control of your symptoms.
- Physical therapy: Stretching and strengthening muscles with the help of a physical therapist not only relieves pain, but can prevent it from coming back. Physical therapy can also improve overall muscle functioning, which reduces strain and risk of injury in the long run.
There are a variety of benefits to overcoming chronic pain without medication. For starters, many people enjoy not having to remember to take pills several times a day. Other benefits include avoiding unpleasant side effects that may come with the medication, such as drowsiness, upset stomach, hormone imbalances that can lead to problems like weight gain, and increased risk of organ damage, including kidney problems
The treatment options that are best for you depend on several factors, including the type of pain you are experiencing and what caused it. In some cases, especially when non-medication treatments aren’t successful, medication is the best option. But it’s often possible to get relief without medication and avoid unpleasant side effects.
If chronic pain has become part of your daily life, you may need to consult a doctor specializing in pain management. Visit PIHHealth.org/pain or call 562.789.5466.