4 Ways To Fight Pain Without The Pills
This article was reviewed by David W, DPT.
According to the CDC, it is estimated that the prevalence of chronic pain in the US may be up to 40%. Pain is considered to be chronic if it lasts over 4 months, and in some cases may even lead to emotional effects including depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of re-injury. Pain signals may remain active in your body for days, months, or even years after an event. The all too common solution to pain management these days is to take some ibuprofen, a Tylenol, or opioids in severe cases.
1.See a Physical Therapist:
This past January, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams named Physical Therapists as a key player in the fight against the opioid epidemic, “Physical therapists are key to overcoming not only the opioid epidemic but in creating healthier societies.” This in part due to the role of Physical Therapists as a primary healthcare provider, in addition to their expertise in addressing bio-mechanical dysfunction, and painful musculoskeletal conditions. However, aside from seeing a Physical Therapist for your chronic pain there are other simple and evidence backed ways to fight your pain. Physical Therapy can help you manage pain by creating exercise routine tailored to your medical needs (5).
2. Throw Away The Processed Junk.
There is a lot of new evidence that shows a higher ratio of Omega-6 fats to Omega-3, to be associated with higher levels of pain and dysfunction in those with knee pain. Other studies have shown an increased ratio in those with other conditions including major depressive disorder, insulin sensitivity, cancer and other systemic inflammatory conditions. The western diet has been shown to have a ratio as high as 20:1, where an ideal ratio is thought to be closer to 1:1. While Omega-6 fats are essential for healthy functioning, it is thought that a skewed ratio may lead to more inflammation. By reducing your intake of safflower, corn, and canola and substituting with olive oil, increasing your consumption of fish high in omega- 3 (salmon, herring, sardines, trout etc), you can effectively improve your ratios (3,4).
A recent study compared the effectiveness of a curcuminoids with essential oil of tumeric ( to improve bio-availability) against NSAIDs in an adult population with osteoarthritis of the knee. Aside from having a similar analgesic effect over the 28 day study, a weight lowering, anti-ulcer, and anti-flatulent effect was noted (1).
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce pain in a multitude of different studies. Through neuro-imaging, it was determined that the neurologic mechanism behind the pain relief was different from sham techniques used. While the length of time needed to have an analegesic effect varies by study, a study conducted in 2016 reported that 20 minutes per day resulted in up to 21% pain reduction (2).
Clearly, there are many methods you can utilize to improve your pain. What’s important to note is that while no one solution will give you a total fix, by taking a holistic approach and addressing your diet, physical activity, and mental health, you can take control and reduce your pain.
- Safety and efficacy of curcumin versus diclofenac in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized open-label parallel-arm study
- Mindfulness-Meditation-Based Pain Relief Is Not Mediated by Endogenous Opioids
- . https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28542024