pain: What are some of the non-drug treatments?
treatments for chronic pain can sometimes reduce the need for
analgesics. However, exercise is by far the most effective non-drug
treatment for chronic pain. Exercise keeps joints and connective
tissue strong and limber, fights depression, improves sleep and
increases endurance. The greatest benefit that may be achieved is
through a comfortable level of regular, consistent activity to assist
with your chronic pain.
treatments include hot and cold applications. Cold packs may be
applied for 10 to 20 minutes to the painful area and heat packs should
be warm and not hot, and should not be used if swelling or
inflammation is present. Some doctors, recommend alternating heat and
cold treatments because of the soothing effect. You should always
wrap the hot or cold packs with a towel or something else as a
protective measure, and decrease the time of application if you
experience much discomfort. People with circulatory problems such as
diabetes should be very careful when applying heat to the feet because
of the possibility of injury.
There are several
other nontraditional therapies that may be considered. Nontraditional
techniques are frequently offered at comprehensive pain centers, or in
a variety of other settings. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
has found evidence for some level of effectiveness for the following
Manipulation is found to relieve back and neck pain, especially if it
is performed soon after symptoms arise. However, manipulation should
not be used on people with cervical arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis,
fractures, disc herniation, or osteoporosis because of the risk for
Deep relaxation techniques such as meditation or guided imagery which
reduce tension that amplifies pain, have been found to be helpful.
electrical stimulation (TENS):
Many patients have reported relief from TENS, although results are
variable and studies have been found to be inconclusive. This
treatment involves brief pulses of electrical activity applied to the
This ancient Chinese procedure has been found to be beneficial for
arthritis, headache and low back pain, among other pain related
conditions. This procedure involves inserting fine needles into the
skin at key points to relieve pain.
therapy and group counseling:
Therapy sessions to provide support and teach coping skills, have been
found to be helpful to relieving anxiety and depression that
frequently accompanies pain.
Although results have been mixed, biofeedback (using visual and
auditory cues, patients have learned to influence their pain response)
has been found to be somewhat appropriate for headaches and low back
Information from The Johns
Hopkins Medical Guide to Health After 50
Additional Information and
webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed
Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate