Chronic pain can be debilitating and interfere with daily life in various ways. Over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs are some of the most widely used medications in the United States, but when such medications prove ineffective, prescription pain relievers, which can be addictive, are often a pain sufferer’s next choice.
Consumer Reports indicates that roughly 45 people per day in America die from overdoses of opioid-containing pain medications, which include methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Prescriptions for these drugs have climbed 300 percent in the last 10 years. Although opioids can be safe when used properly to treat short-term pain, too often their usage leads to misuse and dependence, especially when they are used to treat chronic pain.
For long-term pain from arthritis, research suggests that nonopioid medications and even nondrug treatments often provide relief with less risk of addiction and overdose than opioids. Reducing pain using alternative methods with less risk can involve rethinking trips to the medicine cabinet. Doctors and naturalists may advocate for natural pain relievers as a first step to managing pain.
There’s more to massage than working out the kinks of tight muscles. Massage may help boost the body’s levels of endorphins and serotonin, both of which are natural painkillers and mood regulators. The Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program has conducted a number of studies on massage as treatment for pain following surgery, ultimately finding that massage significantly relieves pain and reduces anxiety.
Pain is often linked to inflammation in the body. When eating, choose foods that won’t worsen existing inflammation. Eating less sugar, dairy, and gluten products, which can contribute to inflammation, can help a person feel better. Increase consumption of foods that reduce inflammation, such as raw vegetables.
Hot and cold therapy
Cold compresses can reduce inflammation quickly and also serve as a local anesthetic. Heat therapy can ease aches and pains and make muscles more flexible. Try applying a hot compress prior to stretching to make limbs more limber.
Take the sun
A Boston University study that examined 221 men and women with knee osteoarthritis found that those who spent 15 to 20 minutes in the sun increased their body’s production of vitamin D and experienced less pain as a result. When the sun is scarce, it’s adviseable to get between 400 and 800 IUs of vitamin D daily through supplements and foods.
Fast walking is a low-impact cardiovascular exercise that utilizes most of the body. Walking encourages blood circulation, removes toxins, burns calories, and stabilizes blood fats and sugars. Plus endorphins released from exercise can help a person feel good. A great thing about walking is just about anyone can do it.
Exercises that combine focus with stretching can alleviate physical pain and improve mental clarity. Look for yoga, pilates and meditation classes and give them a try.
Chronic pain may be relieved with the use of natural remedies, which help pain sufferers reduce their reliance on over-the-counter or prescription medications.