Chronic pain affects about 1 in 5 people in the U.S. This type of pain interferes with the ability to work, enjoy family or any sort of social life. Prescription medications are prescribed to these individuals in an attempt to manage their pain. Sadly, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse National Overdose Deaths, there was a 2.8-fold increase in the total number of deaths from prescription drugs from 2001 to 2014. Clearly prescription drugs are not the answer to the pain crisis facing America. If you are suffering from chronic pain here are the best natural and effective alternatives to dangerous medications:
1. Exercise. People who exercise and maintain a good aerobic condition will naturally decrease most pain conditions. When we work out the body produces its own version of painkillers, known as endorphins; hormones that actually increase your pain threshold. Endorphins interact with brain receptors and can change our perception of pain. Specific, corrective rehabilitative exercise, yoga, and stretching are also effective pain relievers as they improve joint mobility as well as muscle strength and flexibility.
2. Supplements and Nutrition: Fish Oil, Tumeric, Bromelain are all known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation plays a large role in pain. In one study, researchers instructed patients with neck or back pain to take 1200 milligrams a day of fish oil supplements with eicosapentaenoic and decosahexanoic acid. After 75 days on fish oil, more than half of the 125 patients who reported back said they had stopped their prescription painkillers. Eating a diet high in protein, health fats with fresh fruits and vegetables will decrease systemic inflammation in the body. It is also important to avoid sugar, processed foods and trans fats.
3. Heat and Ice Therapy. Using heat as well as cold therapy is time-honored ways to quell pain; "Hot Epsom salt baths relax the mind and change the nervous input from the body to the brain," says Michael Cronin ND says. "Using ice is a well-accepted modality that decreases inflammation locally."The key is to know when to use which. ‘When you have an acute injury, put ice on it right away," Kim says. For instance, you twist your ankle and it's painful and swollen. Using heat in this situation will increase blood flow and increase the swelling, he says. "If you have lingering back spasms, heat would be the best for that," Kim says. He suggests taking a warm shower and massaging your neck or back (or whatever body part hurts) under the warm water.
4. Meditation. Researchers who assigned 109 patients with chronic pain to either a mindfulness meditation program or a wait list found that those who did the meditation reported more pain relief, as well as lower anxiety and depression and a better mental quality of life, than those who did not.
5. Chiropractic. By restoring normal motion and alignment to the joints of the spine and extremities, chiropractic care is extremely effective in managing chronic pain and , often times relieving it completely. Doctors of Chiropractic also provide soft tissue mobilization, therapeutic exercise and other modalities like traction or cold laser.
6. Acupuncture. Acupuncture improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites. It is based on the philosophy that energy, called "qi" (pronounced "chee") flows along specific pathways, called meridians, throughout the body. However, if the flow of energy gets blocked, like water getting stuck behind a dam, the disruption can lead to pain, lack of function, or illness. Acupuncture therapy can release blocked qi in the body and stimulate function, evoking the body’s natural healing response thus reducing pain.
7. Massage Therapy. Licensed Massage Practitioner's provide a variety of soft tissue modalities which alleviate stress, relax tight muscles and stimulate blood and lymphatic flow which significantly reduce pain and improve mobility.
For further information on managing chronic pain without dangerous medications, call Northwest Wellness in Federal Way, WA at 253-927-0660.