What Are the Different Types of Alternative Pain Management?

A. Pasbjerg

For those who are suffering from pain but are not comfortable using medication to control it, there are an extensive number of alternative treatment options available. Exercise-oriented therapies such as physical therapy, yoga, and tai chi can help strengthen and stretch muscles, improve overall physical health, and release endorphins in the process. Techniques like meditation and biofeedback can help pain sufferers focus their minds so they concentrate less on their discomfort. Another common option for alternative pain management is physical manipulation through practices such as massage or chiropractic. Other possible forms of treatment include acupuncture, dietary supplements, and bioelectric therapy.

Yoga may be beneficial in combating chronic pain.
Yoga may be beneficial in combating chronic pain.

Some of the most common types of alternative pain management are those focused on physical exercise. In order to keep the body healthy and strong, regular exercise is a must, and the overall improvement it causes in health can translate to pain relief. There are also specific types of exercise that can target areas of pain by improving local muscle strength and range of motion, including yoga, tai chi, or Pilates. Physical therapy can be used to regain lost flexibility and strength from an injury or a degenerative condition like arthritis.

Pain can interfere with a person's normal sleep cycle, which in turn can exacerbate the pain.
Pain can interfere with a person's normal sleep cycle, which in turn can exacerbate the pain.

Alternative pain management can also be focused on the mind. Since pain is truly experienced in the brain, these types of techniques can help focus its attention elsewhere, and also ease tensions which can in turn relax the body. Meditation, guided imagery, and hypnosis can all help the mind focus on other subjects besides pain to reduce stress. Biofeedback and relaxation techniques can be used to make a person more aware of his or her body and learn to control muscle tension.

Physical manipulation of the body may also be used for alternative pain management. Massage can relieve muscle tension and improve blood flow. Chiropractic and osteopathy can help to align the spine and other joints to reduce pressure on nerves and muscles.

In addition to those mentioned above, there are numerous other alternative pain management options as well. Simple methods like application of heat and ice, elevation, and compression may be particularly effective for acute pain from injuries. Techniques like acupuncture, acupressure, and reiki are thought to improve the flow of energy through the body, while supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may improve joint function and therefore reduce pain. The application of a small electric current directly to painful muscles helps some. In some cases, lifestyle changes like dieting to lose weight or those that improve one's sleep may work.

Reiki therapy can improve energy flow through the body and be used as a way to manage pain.
Reiki therapy can improve energy flow through the body and be used as a way to manage pain.

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