What Is Chronic Pain?Chronic pain is any type of pain that does not respond to typical treatments and has continued for 3 months or longer. One of the problems with pain sometimes is that the actual injury or source of the pain has healed but the body is still sending pain signals to the brain. Those who have lost a finger, hand, or foot often state that, even years later, they still feel pain in the missing appendage. Other times, chronic pain stems from a health condition, such as arthritis, or a severe injury that is slow to heal.
Everyone is DifferentFor unknown reasons, what works well for one person doesn’t work at all for someone else, so there is rarely a one-cure-fits-all solution to chronic pain.
Avoiding OpiatesWhen doctors have done all they can, chronic pain patients are typically handed scripts for opiate pain-relieving drugs and sent on their merry way. This causal attitude regarding addictive pain medication has led to a crisis in America that has no easy answers. Many people would rather avoid using prescription drugs and look to more natural and holistic ways to stop chronic pain.
6 Natural RemediesRemember that what works for one person might not work for you. If one remedy on this list is ineffective, try another. Also, some remedies listed here won’t work for everyone. If you are feeling pain in a limb that is no longer there, stretching most likely won’t work for you. The next time chronic pain rears its ugly head, try some of these natural alternatives.
Natural Remedy #1-Stretching and ExerciseIt’s a fact that those who exercise regularly and do stretching programs, such as yoga, experience less pain than those who do not. One 2007 review of non-pharmaceutical methods of dealing with pain found that exercise was effective at helping patients control pain. This is because when we exercise, the body creates its own natural pain killers, known as endorphins, which make us feel good and increase pain thresholds. Endorphins are hormones that interact with receptors in the brain and change how we perceive pain. If it hurts too much to exercise, try small amounts during the day and build up to 20-30 minutes each day.
Natural Remedy #2-Chiropractic MassageMassage has so many benefits, it can be difficult to list them all, but a chiropractic massage, which is a massage done at the direction of the chiropractor, can be a double whammy of pain relieving therapy. Because massage is hands-on therapy, it helps to relieve stress and tension, as well as improve blood circulation. The lymph system is also stimulated, helping the body to remove unwanted toxins and other pathogens. Do chiropractors treat muscle pain? Yes, both through adjustments and chiropractic massage. If you have chronic back pain, especially low back pain, and your chronic back pain treatments haven’t been long-lasting or effective, be certain to give chiropractic massage a try.
Natural Remedy #3-Herbal Anti-Inflammatory SupplementsWhile compounds such as ibuprofen are good anti-inflammatories, they cause gastric bleeding and liver problems. There is no need to resort to these types of anti-inflammatories when nature is filled with natural sources that will work just as well. Some of the best natural anti-inflammatories include:
- Fish Oil– One study used subjects with neck and/or back pain and gave them 1200 mgs of fish oil daily. After 75 days, more than half of the people in the study said they no longer needed pain killers.
- Turmeric-Turmeric is the root of a popular plant from India that is the base for curry sauces. This well-studied supplement has been shown to reduce inflammation, especially when combined with other anti-inflammatories, such as Devil’s Claw.
- Ginger-Besides being a terrific remedy for nausea, ginger has been shown to reduce inflammation in the colon, kidneys, as well as diabetes.
Natural Remedy #4-MeditationMeditation for chronic pain relief isn’t some New Age mumbo-jumbo, it’s an ancient therapy that has been proven to help reduce how users experience pain. While it is not understood how this occurs, a study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found that by using mindfulness meditation, the body achieved pain relief without engaging any of the opioid sensors in the brain. Perhaps best of all, you don’t need to be a Zen master to achieve this. A 2012 study found that after just 3 days, subjects who practiced mindful meditation for 15 minutes each day had less pain than the control group. Another study found that those who practiced meditation not only reported less pain than the control group, but had lower levels of depression, anxiety, and improved mental quality of life. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of meditation guides to be found online at no charge. You have nothing to lose by trying!
Natural Remedy #5-Comprehensive Chiropractic CareAny type of chronic pain that involves the musculoskeletal system of the body should be treated by a chiropractor. Specialists in this area, chiropractors are holistic, treating the entire body to find the root cause of pain. What problems do chiropractors treat? Adjustments are just part of the picture. Musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, migraines, neck pain, whiplash, and chronic pain are all under the chiropractic umbrella. How do chiropractors relieve pain, especially chronic pain? This will depend on the root cause of the problem, but generally speaking, in addition to adjustments, you chiropractor might employ other modalities, including:
- Cold laser
- Heat therapy
- TENS device
- Spinal decompression
Natural Remedy #6-GroundingThis practice has both devotees and doubters. Grounding, sometimes called earthing, has been shown in limited studies to reduce inflammation and speed healing. Grounding, which involves placing bare feet on earth, allows the body to absorb free electrons with a negative charge, neutralizing the positively charged free radicals in the body. There are earthing devices you can buy, but most people who have found this to be helpful say that just 15 minutes of walking or standing barefoot on grass, dirt, or other natural surface, is all it takes to help lower inflammation and reduce pain levels.
Tips for Living with Chronic PainLiving with chronic pain just might be the hardest thing you will ever do, but you can find ways to manage your symptoms. Some of the best tips from health professionals include:
- Don’t feel guilty. Pain is not your fault
- Learn to accept the things you cannot change
- Forgive yourself
- Don’t worry about what others might think of you
- Feel happy for others, rather than resentful
- Ask for help
- Be your own best friend
- Start your own support group
- Understand that your friends and family are frustrated as well
- Do something creative, make something, draw, paint, or sew
- LOL everyday
- Keep a journal
- Get help from mental health professionals
- Practice self-care
- Help others whenever possible
- Be grateful for those who are there for you
About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.