Chronic pain is a symptom of many conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS), fibromyalgia, and arthritis, among others. It’s estimated that more than one-fifth of U.S. adults experience chronic pain, though that figure could be as high as 40%. Many forms of chronic pain continue to puzzle experts, and the symptom is often dealt with by prescribing prescription medications. Yet, because these drugs have side effects which can further diminish quality of life, many people with chronic pain look to holistic remedies to combat their discomfort. Here are a few options to consider.
1. Try acupuncture.
This ancient Chinese practice employs the use of thin needles strategically inserted at various meridians throughout the body to rebalance energy flow. Western medical experts believe the treatment may work to kickstart the body’s natural painkillers by stimulating specific tissue groups.
2. Go for physical therapy.
Physical therapists can teach you targeted exercises to control your pain or perform variations of movements that will make your day-to-day routine easier. You can then practice these exercises at home on your own time.
3. Practice yoga.
Gentle stretching may help alleviate tension in the muscles, and it can also help you develop a deep breathing regimen to deliver much-needed oxygen throughout the body.
4. Get ample sleep.
Poor sleep quality and insufficient sleep are both linked to pain. Sleep is an important indicator of overall health, so aiming for even just 30 minutes more per night could improve the way you feel. Keep your sleep environment cool, avoid any screens an hour before bed, and try to steer clear of caffeine later in the day.
5. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet.
Certain foods have been linked to inflammation, including heavily-processed foods. Eating plants like the Mediterranean diet have been touted by the likes of the Arthritis Foundation for reducing body-wide inflammation and thus controlling pain.
6. Release endorphins.
Endorphins are the body’s natural “feel-good” hormones which can help to curb discomfort. Get your release of them by trying low-impact exercises, such as swimming or cycling.
7. Apply heat.
Heat therapy is a popular option for dealing with chronic pain. Medicated patches, heating pads, and hot baths are a few options to try. You can also consider adding Epsom salts to your bath, which can further boost soothing potential.
8. Book a massage.
Nothing relieves sore muscles and releases tension like a massage. In particular, two to three 60-minute sessions per week have been found to alleviate chronic pain, which could be a result of massage’s ability to relax the body and addressing nerve fibers which are responsible for relaying pain messages.
9. Minimize stress.
The body/mind connection is indisputable. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to hold tension in your muscles. Try to find healthy outlets for alleviating your stress, such as journaling, meditating, or seeing a mental health professional.
10. Try turmeric.
Turmeric extract has beneficial properties for minimizing pain caused by arthritis, and in some cases, it’s been shown to be as effective as ibuprofen for controlling joint inflammation. While it shouldn’t replace other therapies, it could be used alongside traditional treatments to further improve pain levels.