Using prescription medications for pain management can sometimes involve a risk of developing dependency. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to using medication. Prolonged or severe discomfort can be a symptom of a medical problem, so it is important to speak with a doctor. For chronic pain that is only mild or moderately intense, it’s worth exploring options outside of the pharmacy.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy uses low voltage of electrical currents to stimulate joints, pressure points, and other parts of the body in need of pain management. A far cry from the more aggressive forms of shock therapy used in psyche wards and dramatic historical films, TENS therapy administers a relatively mild shock delivered from a battery pack the size of a handheld radio. While the power is limited by the size of the device, it is important to consult with a physical therapist or other medical professional. Applied to the wrong areas or turned up too high, even a mild current has the potential to damage tissue.
Originally from China, the karate-like art of Tai Chi is sometimes called “moving meditation.” Find a group of local practitioners in a park or community center, and you will be well on your way to relaxation. Many Westerners struggle with sitting still for meditation, and Tai Chi is attractive because it allows you to focus on the prescribed motions. Performing the motions and moving from one stance to the next requires a degree of focus and concentration, especially for a beginner. While yoga provides a similar blend of activity and meditation, Tai Chi may be better for many patients in need of pain management. Instead of getting down on the ground and dealing with the contortions of yoga, practitioners of Tai Chi can remain standing and learn the basics without needing a great degree of flexibility.
Many forms of mild and moderate discomfort can actually be attributed to muscle tension. Following a minor sports injury or sprain, the recommended treatment often focuses on rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The RICE treatment for sprains and strains encourages circulation and allows the body to repair itself. Massage works by improving circulation and helping toxins drain toward the lymph nodes. By giving the body’s tissues a better opportunity to repair, massage can minimize physical recovery time following an injury. For optimal pain management, it’s worth contacting an experienced masseuse.
Another treatment option from China, acupuncture uses needle punctures for a variety of therapeutic treatment goals. The needles are used to stimulate nerves, and the treatment can include the application of heat, lasers, or pressure to the target areas. Criticized as a pseudoscience by skeptics, acupuncture is not based on Western medicine. Scientific studies into the effectiveness of acupuncture have been inconclusive, though many patients claim to experience relief. Those interested in trying this form of treatment should make sure to find an experienced professional.
Whatever pain management path is chosen, it is important to know that many options are available.