Everyone experiences pain differently. Everyone reacts to drug therapies differently. There is no one size fits all when it comes to devising a pain management plan. Dealing with a complex condition like fibromyalgia, one must get creative in devising their strategy, and sometimes think outside the box. Here are some non-drug therapies for managing pain that you may not have thought to try or even heard about.
Non-Traditional/Non-Drug Pain Therapies
From the article “A Senior Moment: The Role of the Mind in Pain“:
Pain is linked to emotions. Doug Dollemore, author of “The Seniors Guide to Pain-Free Living,” explains that pain signals arrive at the cerebral cortex, which assesses and the damage that is causing the pain and sets your body’s repair mechanisms to work.
That same cerebral cortex also sends and receives messages from the brain’s limbic center which produces emotions such as anxiety, anger and sorrow in response to the pain. This suffering is the emotional component associated with pain.
With the mind so deeply involved in how we perceive and feel pain, looking for non-traditional and non-drug therapies to try might be the relief some people need.
- Cryotherapy – The medical community often recommends ice or cold therapy for pain. “Cryotherapy is a treatment in which a person is exposed to short periods of extreme cold through the use of liquid nitrogen.”
- Self-hypnosis/Meditation Therapy – Hypnosis is typically used in conjunction with other medical therapies, and works in about 70% of people. Patients are taught self-hypnosis or meditative – deep, slow breathing and muscle relaxation exercises -to use to reduce their pain, using the power of the mind to affect positive change.
- Bio-feedback – Popularized in the 1970s, bio-feedback uses sensors attached to your body to measure your body’s responses and key functions, and then helps you develop better control through breathing and relaxation techniques. Eventually the machine is no longer needed.
- Music Therapy and Art Therapy – The joy experienced by viewing art or listening to music leads to an increased endorphin production. This can then bring on relaxation, lower the heart rate and blood pressure, slow breathing and reducing muscle tension. All of this leads to and increasing endorphin production. In addition, it can provide a distraction from the pain, even if for a brief while.
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” ~ Bob Marley
- Red Light Therapy – This can be used to treat pain, reduce inflammation, speed the healing of wounds, and help skin hydration, among others. While it looks a bit like a tanning bed, this therapy uses red, low-level wavelengths of light, which helps the body produce a biochemical effect that boosts the amount of energy stored in cells.
- Magnet Therapy – “Magnet therapy has been used for thousands of years to treat arthritis, inflammation and other chronic illnesses.” Hopefully someday this magnetic gel will be available too. Researchers have shown that the magnet-containing gel has been effective in reducing chronic pain.
- Implantable Device – HF10 neuro-stimulator implanted device to help improve pain management for back and leg pain. The High-Frequency pulses help turn off those pain signals.
- TENS Therapy – Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS uses electrodes to deliver electrical impulses to the nerves. This stimulus can help to temporarily block the feelings of pain and is often used for chronic back pain and during physical therapy/rehabilitation.
When something hurts, for most the initial thought is to take a pain reliever (OTC or prescribed). These traditional methods are usually fine for a headache, monthly cramps, or some short-term pain. It’s no secret that there is an opioid crisis going on in the world, with 115 people dying daily from overdoses. So when dealing with chronic conditions and pain, looking for non-traditional solutions may be a better solution for some.
We all want to be able to live pain-free, to enjoy our lives. Using some of these non-traditional therapies can allow us to focus on the here and now and move past the pain, at least for a little while.
“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
~ Joseph Campbell
Do you have other non-traditional mechanisms for coping with pain? Here’s wishing you a pain-free day.