Four Alternatives to Prescription Pain Medication
If you have chronic pain caused by an illness, injury, or just bodily wear and tear, you know how debilitating pain can be for your everyday life. Not only does pain take a toll on us physically, it is mentally disheartening to be dealing with regular discomfort with no end in sight. Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain, and prescription medication can bring relief. However, you might be wary of relying on prescriptions to soothe what ails you. Pain medications can come with many unwanted side effects, including cloudiness, lethargy, and nausea. That’s not even mentioning the risks of habit-forming medication that can lead to addiction or overreliance on prescriptions. Luckily, there are some alternatives. They aren’t magic buttons that will instantly relieve pain. But they can help ease your pain without having to rely on medication. While once dismissed by doctors, “alternative” pain treatments have now entered the mainstream. In fact, the term alternative may need to be retired - doctors regularly recommend options other than medication for patients with chronic pain. For your specific pain, talk to your doctor about your desire to eliminate or limit your need for medicinal treatment and see what alternatives they might recommend. Below are just a few of the options you have. Physical Therapy Physical therapy is a great treatment for a vareity of painful conditions, including sciatica, lower back pain, and various injuries. While the last thing you may want to do is exercise, spending all your time on the couch will actually worsen your symptoms. Physical therapy can improve your posture, flexibility, and everyday mobility using common exercises and stretches that better prepare your body for the movements that tend to cause you pain. Massage The benefits of massage are enormous, and the treatment can be applied to almost any part of the body. There’s evidence that massage can help with pain caused by arthritis and neck or back injuries. Even if you take out the pain factor, massage is still completely relaxing and beneficial for our physical and mental states. With conditions ranging from injuries to cancer, patients who incorporated massage into their pain management programs saw lasting improvements – not only on their pain points but in their entire body. Massage therapists and professional masseuses can consult with you directly before a massage to discuss your pain and the best way to focus on relief. Acupuncture Acupuncture has become a widespread option for pain management. The research on it still hasn’t definitively told us how it works (one theory is that the needles stimulate endorphins in your body, reducing pain signals). Many doctors and medical professionals today recommend acupuncture. Acupuncture works by simulating points on the body with very thin needles that puncture the skin. This doesn’t typically hurt, but can itch or tingle. Acupuncture has most notably been referenced as a beneficial treatment for knee pain due to osteoarthritis. Products Last but not least, there are some excellent products on the market that can relieve pain without needing medication. Support products take strain and pressure off the painful body part. There are supports for the knee, the lower back, the neck, wrists and elbows, and much more. These supports essentially give your body assistance in completing its everyday duties – working, walking, climbing stairs - and enables you to perform these actions with less pain by taking the load off the area in question. For therapeutic products, hot and cold packs are versatile solutions that can treat all types of pain – headaches, muscle injuries, strains and sprains. By heating or cooling the affected area, hot and cold packs can reduce swelling, increase blood flow and provide relief. Check out our blog dedicated to hold and cold packs to find out which type of therapy might be helpful for your pain. Conclusion Medication is not always the wrong way to treat pain, and it can be an essential part of your pain management program. That said, if you want to supplement or reduce your reliance on medication, there are a number of different options – including more than we’ve listed here. Talk to your doctor about adding some alternative treatments to your pain management regimen – it just might be the right combination you need to live a much less painful life.