In my previous 2 articles: Pain and Inflammation: Your Body’s Message and Pain: Responding to Your Body’s Call For Help, the focus was on understanding why you experience pain, then responding appropriately based on pain severity and urgency. Natural Alternatives to Decrease Pain focuses on specific therapies for non-urgent types of pain.
Natural Alternatives: Hands On Therapies
There are a variety of very effective natural alternative therapies for pain that don’t involve either OTC or prescription drugs. Among these are “hands on” therapies such as:
- Physical Therapy
- Chiropractic Therapy
Physical Therapy (PT), Chiropractic and massage therapy can be corrective and restorative if the problem is related to such causes as improper body alignment, muscle strain. Certain types of headaches can even be resolved with hands on therapies!
My experience (as both nurse and patient) has been that doctors don’t always think about ordering PT for muscle/joint/back pain issues unless there has been a known injury or surgery. In these situations, be your own advocate. Ask your healthcare provider whether PT might help your muscle/joint/back pain problems.
Chiropractors make specific adjustments to realign joints and the spine.
Routine tasks can cause muscle stiffness or abnormal curvatures resulting in pain:
- Sitting for hours in front of a computer
- Lying on the sofa
- Prolonged driving
- A slip or near fall
- Repetitive motion
- Yard work (or “weekend warrior” projects)
- Carrying heavy objects (even an overloaded purse)
- Intense gym workouts
Bones out of normal alignment can also cause inflammation, pain and headaches.
Unfortunately, doctors don’t typically refer to chiropractors because this is an area of practice not typically covered in medical school. Nevertheless, Chiropractic care is a valuable treatment option covered by insurance and Medicare. (Check your specific policy for coverage details)
Acupuncture focuses on the flow of chi energy, (similar to electricity) that carries the life force of the individual. These energy channels or pathways were mapped thousands of years ago, before Western medicine.
For health, this energy flow much be consistent, balanced and uninterrupted.
Acupuncture therapy has been practiced in China some 4,000 years. Research has shown that acupuncture may be helpful for relief of chronic pain.
Acupuncturists (whether physician or non-physician providers) are licensed professionals and typically have extensive training.
The most common types of massage therapy in the United States are:
*Aromatherapy massage utilizes essential oils and helps especially with:
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Back pain
- Stress and stress-related conditions (e.g. insomnia)
Each essential oil has specific properties. The massage therapist may choose a specific essential oil based on your specific problem areas.
To learn more about decreasing pain and inflammation naturally, read:
Pam Baker, RN
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