According to the CDC, a little over 20% of adults suffer from chronic pain. In addition to affecting your physical health, chronic pain can also affect your mental health, as it prevents you from doing the activities you love.
While many people turn to OTC painkillers and prescriptions to manage their chronic pain, there are also natural remedies that you can try. If you're looking for a drug-free way to manage your pain, read on to learn about the top chronic pain remedies.
Exercising to relieve chronic pain may sound counterintuitive. After all, doesn't exercise trigger pain in a lot of people?
While it's true that you need to be careful about how you exercise if you suffer from chronic pain, exercise can also provide a great deal of pain relief. Exercise helps chronic pain sufferers by increasing mobility, decreasing inflammation, and decreasing overall pain levels throughout the body. Over time, it may even help you get back to enjoying the activities you once loved.
When beginning an exercise program to manage your pain, it's important to start slow and move at your own pace. You can use a 0 to 10 scale to monitor your pain levels and prevent further injury. If your pain levels increase by more than 2 points, then you should either stop the exercise or modify it.
Also, remember to do a proper warm-up before exercising and to stretch after completing a workout routine. Before you begin an exercise program, you should also speak to your doctor. Also, keep in mind that some exercises are better than others for chronic pain management.
Here are some of the best forms of exercise to consider:
While running might be too hard on your knees, walking is a great way to boost your energy levels, pump oxygen to your muscles, and reduce pain and stiffness.
In fact, a 2011 study found that walking and other low-impact exercises provide the most effective pain relief for patients with fibromyalgia. However, walking can help with all kinds of chronic pain, from back pain to sciatica pain to arthritis pain.
Yoga can help with pain relief related to fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines, and lower back pain. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that weekly yoga increased mobility in 313 chronic pain sufferers.
Another meta-analysis looked at over 1600 patients who suffered from chronic pain. The analysis concluded that yoga helped improve the daily function of those suffering from fibromyalgia osteoporosis-related curvature of the spine. Not to mention, practicing yoga can also improve your mood and psychological well-being.
There are many types of yoga you can practice, but according to the Journal of Pain Research, Hatha yoga is best for chronic pain sufferers. This type of yoga combines gentle movements, breathing, and meditation.
Aerial yoga can also be very beneficial, as it puts less pressure on your joints than traditional yoga. While yoga is a gentle exercise, it' best to begin your practice in the presence of a trained professional. This way, you can learn how to perform the poses without injuring yourself.
A recent meta-analysis found that pilates is effective in relieving chronic pain. Pilates involves strengthening your core, which includes your abs and your back. Your core is your foundation for movement. A strong core helps the rest of the muscles in your body be strong as well.
Plus, a lot of pilates movements focus on alignment, which can be particularly beneficial for those who suffer from back pain. We recommend starting with a one-on-one pilates class so you learn how to do the movements correctly.
Lifting weights isn't just for bodybuilders. By strengthening your muscles through lifting, you can mitigate stress on your joints and better manage your chronic pain.
Before you begin a lifting routine, consult with your doctor or a physical therapist regarding how much weight you can handle when starting off. Also, make sure to always have someone spot you in case the weight gets too heavy and you need help putting it down.
Swimming and Water Aerobics
Aquatics-based exercises tend to be great for anyone who suffers from chronic pain. Because your feet aren't touching the ground, you'll be putting less pressure on your joints.
It's best to exercise in warm water, as cold water can make your muscles tense.
Acupuncture is an alternative therapy with origins in China. The treatment involves inserting tiny needles into specific points on the body. In addition to pain relief, acupuncture can also help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, alleviate allergy symptoms, and treat insomnia.
It may also help reduce headaches and prevent migraines. For this natural pain relief strategy to work, you'll need to find the right acupuncturist. Start by gathering a referrals list and researching an acupuncturist's credentials. An acupuncturist needs to complete an accredited educational program and pass a state licensing exam before they begin working.
Their exams also need to be administered through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. However, keep in mind that requirements can vary slightly by state, so you should research your own state's requirements before you choose an acupuncturist.
If you live in an area where cannabis (aka, medical marijuana) is legal, then you may want to consider using this plant to help you manage your chronic pain.
Cannabis contains two key compounds that can help with pain management: THC and CBD. The main difference you need to understand is that THC has psychoactive properties, whereas CBD does not. This site can also tell you more about THC.
While medical marijuana can't help with severe pain (such as pain from surgery), it does help millions of Americans manage chronic pain. In fact, the most common use of medical marijuana is for chronic pain.
One of the biggest draws of medical marijuana is that it's safer to use than opiates. Opiates can be very addictive, with thousands of Americans succumbing to opiate addictions every year.
Medical marijuana can be especially beneficial for patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis and general nerve pain. For many people, it takes the place of NSAID pain relievers such as Advil and Aleve.
- Essential Oils
Certain essential oils can also help with chronic pain relief.
Lavender oil is particularly beneficial, and not only can it help with chronic pain relief, but it can also help with anxiety management. In fact, a small study in 2012 found that inhaling lavender oil can help with migraine relief.
Another essential oil to look into is rosemary oil. Rosemary oil may help with bone pain, headaches, and seizures. It can also help reduce inflammation, boost your memory, and relax your muscles.
In addition to relieving pain, peppermint oil also has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects. Rubbing peppermint oil on the temples of your forward may help with headache and migraine relief.
However, it's important to understand that the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate essential oils. Because there isn't any regulation, dosages and efficacy can vary greatly from brand to brand.
For this reason, it's very important to do brand research before purchasing essential oils. You should also speak to your doctor before using essential oils.
Also, keep in mind that you should never ingest essential oils. To apply them topically, you should always dilute them with a carrier oil first. Effective carrier oils include avocado oil, coconut oil, and vegetable oil.
- Massage Therapy
Massage therapy isn't just for those who want to relax and unwind. Getting a massage can also help chronic pain sufferers. Massage helps with chronic pain by reducing tension, encouraging relaxation, and increasing your range of motion.
During a massage, the temperature of your muscles will increase due to increased blood flow. When the temperature of your muscles increases, so too does the flexibility and elasticity of the tissues. This allows your muscles to loosen and stretch more easily.
Deep tissue massage is usually best for chronic pain, as this type of massage involves applying more pressure than a traditional Swedish massage. During a deep tissue massage, the massage therapist will apply slow strokes and deep finger pressure to relieve pain from the deepest layers within your muscles.
While this type of massage can be intense, it shouldn't cause any pain or soreness. However, you should avoid this type of massage if you're overly sensitive to pressure.
If a massage sounds as though it could be the right course of action for you, and you decide to go ahead with this therapy, make sure to book the best practitioner for the job. Seek recommendations and look at reviews; find a service that is highly rated and named best massage in Long Branch, or the area close to you.
According to the Mayo Clinic, daily meditation can help those who suffer from chronic pain. It's particularly beneficial for those who experience stress and anxiety because of their chronic pain.
People tend to overcomplicate meditation, but it's really as simple as finding a quiet space to sit and let go of your thoughts. Once you find a quiet place to sit comfortably, close your eyes and think of a sound, such as “om.” Repeat the sound in your mind. If your thoughts start to wonder, make note of it and then return to the sound.
If you feel pain flaring up, notice the pain and return to the sound. Start with a few minutes of meditation per day, and then gradually lengthen the time if you find it to be helpful.
- Heat and Ice Therapy
Heat and ice therapy is a tried and true pain relief method. However, some people are very unsure of when to apply ice versus when to apply heat.
You should apply an ice pack to your skin if you're looking to reduce swelling and inflammation. Once the inflammation goes down, you can apply heat to reduce stiffness.
If you suffer from headaches or migraines, you can also apply a cold pack to your head. For those who suffer from chronic pain due to arthritis, moist heat is the best solution. You can warm up a moist heat pack in the microwave and use it many times.
If you wish, you can also take a warm bath with Epson salts to relieve your pain.
Turmeric is a yellow-colored spice that's typically used in curry dishes. In addition to brightening up dishes and adding unique flavors to what you eat, turmeric also contains a very important antioxidant called curcumin.
This antioxidant protects your body from free radicals that can damage your tissues and cells. Curcumin also contains antioxidant properties that help you manage pain. In addition to adding turmeric to your curry dishes, you can also add it to rice, roasted vegetables, soups, and teas.
Some people also like to add a pinch of turmeric to their scrambled eggs or scrambled tofu. However, if you don't enjoy the taste of turmeric, you can always take turmeric supplements.
- Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
In addition to consuming turmeric, following an anti-inflammatory diet can also help relieve chronic pain. Plus, eating anti-inflammatory foods can improve your heart health and reduce your risk of developing certain diseases.
Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods to eat include:
- Fatty fish
- Green tea
- Olive oil
Sticking to a Mediterranean diet can also help your inflammation levels.
Chronic Pain Remedies: Are You Ready to Experience Chronic Pain Relief?
Now that you know about the top chronic pain remedies, it's time to put them to use. While these natural remedies may not relieve your chronic pain completely, they can help ease it at the very least.
Pretty soon, you may even be able to get back to enjoying the activities you once loved. To learn more tips and information about dealing with chronic pain, check back in with our blog.