Non-medication options for pain control can be considered by anyone who is experiencing pain, but can be particularly helpful if you have chronic pain. There are several options to consider:
- Ice and heat: Ice reduces inflammation and slows down blood flow to the area where it is applied. So ice is helpful in the day or two after an acute injury or if you have swelling. Heat boosts blood flow to the area of pain or injury. It is put to best use after swelling has gone down. If you are not sure which one to use, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
- Biofeedback: Biofeedback uses electronic devices to measure your heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and skin temperature. The goal of biofeedback is to help you recognize and regulate your reaction to pain signals. You can read our article on biofeedback for more information.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): In this technique, electrodes are attached to the skin around pain points. A mild electrical current is applied, creating a tingling but relaxing sensation.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a widely accepted technique originating from traditional Chinese medicine. In the practice, very small, thin needles are placed into specific spots on the body. Research shows that acupuncture triggers the release of some of the body's natural painkillers. See our article on acupuncture for more information.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can give you exercises to improve strength and flexibility which can help improve pain. Physical therapy is often used to help speed recovery after an acute injury and to help improve muscle strength and endurance for people with chronic pain.
- Massage: Massage can help relax tight muscles and release painful trigger points. Massage can help reduce pain and help people cope with pain.
- Yoga: Yoga can be a wonderful coping strategy, especially for people with chronic pain. Yoga helps improve breathing and stretching improves flexibility.