5 Alternatives to Anti-inflammatory Drugs for Chronic Pain Relief
If you suffer from chronic pain, whether it is related to arthritis, migraine, fibromyalgia or sciatica, you may well have been advised to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen to help manage your symptoms. However, these medications aren’t without their side-effects – indigestion and stomach ulcers are not uncommon – and long-term use may possibly be linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. You may therefore wish to explore more natural pain remedies that are available. Here we take a look at some of the natural medicine options that may wish to explore in more detail.
Herbal pain relief is available, but were you aware that the dietary choices you make can influence inflammation and offer help towards pain management? By including those foods that have natural anti-inflammatory properties this is one helpful way to manage your discomfort. Oily fish and other foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseeds, canola oil, grass-fed meat and game are a good option, as these essential fatty acids help to dampen down inflammation. The vitamin D content of oily fish is another reason to include the likes of salmon, sardine, mackerel and trout in your weekly meals, as a lack of this vitamin is linked to chronic pain. While exposing our skin to sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, egg yolk and fortified foods such as margarine, milk and cereals provide additional in our diet. You should also consider including certain spices more often in your diet, as there is evidence that turmeric, ginger and capsaicin – responsible for the heat in chilis – can all act as natural pain relievers. While glucosamine cannot be sourced from the diet, supplements are available and these may act as natural remedies for arthritis pain. However, as spices and natural remedies can still exert powerful effects, it is best to discuss their use with your doctor to be sure they are compatible with your other conditions and medication.
Applying a source of gentle heat to the skin around the area where the pain is felt can provide comfort. As well as providing natural pain relief this boosts the circulation for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to aid healing, and can additionally reduce muscle tension and spasms if these are a problem. While taking a warm bath would be one way of adopting heat therapy, warmth can also be applied directly to the affected area by way of using a heat pack, hot water bottle or wheat pack; infra-red heat lamps can alternatively be used . However, care must be taken that none of these heat sources cause the skin to burn and as a consequence if you suffer from diabetes, nerve damage or a poor circulation you are best looking to alternative natural pain killers as with these conditions you risk not being able to sense if the source is too hot.
Physical therapy is nothing new and is commonly used to increase the range of motion at joints, as stiffness often accompanies pain. However, you may also be interested in trying yoga. Seek guidance from your physician or physical therapist before you commence this, but it may be a useful option, as not only does it aid flexibility it induces a state of relaxation that can help to reduce muscle tension and pain.
Electronic pain relief
Although this may seem more high-tech, electrical stimulation to control pain has been used for centuries. TENS machines, which were developed in the 1970s, provide nerve stimulation to dampen down the sensation of pain; this may work by reducing pain signals sent to the brain. Although they are commonly used as an alternative to pain killing drugs during labor, TENS machines can also be successfully used to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain. However, a new electronic device is on the horizon which may benefit those with migraines or other facial pain. According to Licensed Prescriptions this small device, which is inserted into someone’s gum, is able to deliver pain relief at the onset of discomfort. All someone with the device need do is use the remote control to emit signals that will allow activation of neurotransmitters to halt the pain. While this may be a more technical natural remedy for migraines and other chronic head pain, news of its development will certainly be of interest to anyone wishing to escape the need to pop pills for chronic headaches.
A range of alternative therapies are also offered to relive pain naturally, though they work more effectively for some people than others. Massage is a popular way to aid muscle relaxation, which aids pain relief and has the additional benefit that it also boosts the circulation. Alternatively, acupuncture involves the placement of very fine needles and studies show that this can be an effective way to manage pain in the joints, neck and lower back, as well as providing natural headache relief. Similarly magnets are also available to help with aches and pains, but as yet scientific evidence is limited for its use. Before commencing alternative treatments you would be best advised to discuss this with your doctor to check their suitability in your own case. However, counseling may also be helpful if stress or low mood is contributing to the severity of your pain.