Over 20% of adults in the US suffer from chronic or constant pain. From long-term conditions like arthritis to acute lower back injuries that never go away, the continuous pain suffered is detrimental to an enjoyable life.
While prescription painkillers take the edge off pain, long-term use causes problems for many people. Over time, patients build up a tolerance to painkillers and require stronger doses – until they max out and can’t take any more. When this happens, the pain continues.
Other pain sufferers worry that strong painkillers will lead to addictive behavior or that opioids will impact their ability to live a normal life.
The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do if you suffer from chronic pain that doesn’t involve prescription medications.
How to Manage Constant Pain Without Prescription Painkillers
If you want to avoid prescription painkillers, or need to find ways to improve your pain management program, try some of these tips.
1. Meditate Daily
Stress exacerbates pain. The more stressed you are, the tenser your muscles will be – and this impacts on your posture, your pain levels, and your ability to handle daily activities.
Regular meditation will help you to bring more focus to your life and reduce stress. It also teaches you deep breathing techniques which are useful for managing bouts of acute pain, too.
2. Use a TENS Machine
Electrical stimulation reduces pain by blocking the signals from the painful area to the brain.
A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine works by applying pulses to the painful area via pads attached to the skin. These electric pulses disrupt the pain signal in the nerve pathway, which means pain is reduced or temporarily alleviated.
3. Invest in Heat Packs
Heat provides comfort and reduces pain for many people. Warm baths can be effective for many chronic pain conditions such as back or knee pain. However, a bath is not always a practical solution.
Rice- or gel-filled heat packs allow you to apply heat to the problem area to soothe it.
For some people, heat may make things feel worse – such as in the case of an acute and inflamed injury. In this case, the application of ice packs will work instead. You may have to experiment with heat and ice packs to find which works best for you.
4. Get a Massage
A qualified massage therapist has plenty of experience working with chronic pain clients. They’ll understand limitations to consider, such as using a lighter touch in very sore areas, as well as the benefits of massage for a pain sufferer.
Massage aids blood flow to the muscles. This, in turn, relieves tension around the painful area. Massage also relieves knots in the muscles, which is where muscle fibers have tightened together to become permanently stiff and sore.
5. Rest When Your Body Tells You
It’s easy to just try to keep going and ‘push through’ the pain. However, not resting will minimize the possibility of long-term relief from your condition.
Saying ‘no’ is hard to do, but it’s important that your body has time to rest and heal. If you really can’t say no to things, adapt your lifestyle to allow for rest periods where your body can heal and relax.
For example, instead of traveling to see friends for dinner, see if they can come to you instead. Or, speak to your boss about working flexible hours or remotely from home on the days when your pain is hard to bear.
6. Try CDB Oil Products
CBD oil is a popular non-prescription option for people who manage chronic pain. The oil is a great way to experience the pain-reduction and stress-relieving benefits of the cannabis plant family, without getting high.
You can take CBD oil in a variety of ways, depending on which one suits you. From a few drops in your morning coffee to baking delicious CBD cakes, these useful tips will show you how to make the most of the pain-relieving effects of CBD.
7. Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Some foods, such as sugar and refined carbohydrates, are known to increase inflammation in the body. This will impact your pain levels, too.
An anti-inflammatory diet involves plenty of fresh vegetables and lean protein. It focuses on the avoidance of sugars including many fruits and dairy.
Try this type of diet for a few months to see if it helps to reduce your pain levels.
8. Exercise Regularly
Even when your knees, hips, back, or other joints are telling you to stay put, it’s important to exercise. You don’t need to go to the gym or take on a hard-hitting fitness regimen, but gentle daily exercise will help reduce your pain.
Great exercises to consider include walking, yoga, Pilates, and tai chi. These exercises can all be adapted to manage your painful areas, such as avoiding inverted poses if you have back pain.
Exercise increases blood flow to muscles, maintains flexibility, and improves your core strength. All of these effects will help to reduce your pain by boosting the strength of supporting muscles.
9. Ask for Steroid Injections
Chronic inflammation causes pain levels to increase. Steroid injections into sore joints, such as into the hip or knee, help to reduce pain over a longer period of time than daily painkiller medications.
A steroid injection works in two ways. First, the anesthetic in the injection provides some immediate relief. After that, the pain may return for a week or two until the steroid has had time to work. This will then reduce the inflammation around the joint, with effects lasting up to a few months at a time.
10. Consider Radiofrequency Ablation
Disrupting the nerve that sends pain signals to the brain is a more dramatic, yet effective, solution to reduce or eliminate your pain.
Radiofrequency ablation uses a heated needle near to the nerve inside the painful area. The needle cauterizes the nerve pathway, blocking the pain signal.
This is a more drastic option to consider, but it does have long-term results with a high success rate. Speak to your physician if you think it could help you to live a pain-free life.
More Ways to Live a Pain-Free Life
Constant pain causes anxiety, stress, and often depression, too. It’s hard to live a normal life when pain restricts the things you’re able to do.
Following the tips above will help you to learn how to manage your life with pain, and ways to minimize pain levels when things get really bad. However, there are still many more things you can do to become pain-free, too.
Check out this guide to living a pain-free life to get started on your road to pain recovery today.