Non-Drug Therapies for Pain Management

Retiree having backache

Do you have arthritis? Lower back pain? Joint pain? Pain is a common health condition reported by seniors, with up to 85% of those living in retirement homes reporting they have serious pain. Chronic pain can be debilitating, frustrating and emotionally exhausting.

There are some techniques to help with both acute and chronic pain. Even if you are currently on a drug regime for pain management, some of these techniques can be used as an adjunct therapy to help you feel the best you can.

Relaxation Techniques
Meditation, yoga, tai chi, biofeedback, and breathing techniques are some examples of relaxation techniques. The effectiveness of a particular technique can vary for each individual, so trying a wide variety of techniques can increase your chances of finding something that’s a good fit for you. Reducing your stress through these techniques could very well reduce your pain levels. In addition, all of these techniques can help you with better posture and proper alignment of your spine, which will also help reduce pain.

Massage Therapy
Massage can be very therapeutic. Several studies have found that massage is effective in relieving pain and other symptoms especially if the pain or tension is in the neck, back or hip. Before going for a massage, talk to your doctor to make sure that the massage won’t adversely affect your medical condition.

Chiropractic Care
Chiropractors perform “adjustments” to manipulate the spine and other parts of the body to alleviate pain, improvement alignment and restore mobility. Depending on the area of body feeling pain and the cause of the pain, chiropractic care could be helpful. Discuss with your doctor before you see a chiropractor.

Physiotherapists are licenced healthcare professionals who can perform a number of effective techniques to help you feel better. Physiotherapists can provide area massages, help move your joints through their proper range of motion, and recommend exercises to help improve your condition. Even those with mobility issues can engage in physiotherapy.

Research has found that acupuncture can be helpful in relieving pain, especially chronic pain. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about it if you are interested.

Lifestyle Changes
Certain lifestyle choices can impact the degree of pain you feel. Remember to eat nutritiously and stay hydrated. Eating foods that are good at reducing inflammation (e.g. leafy greens, omega-3 rich foods) and increasing your water intake can help alleviate pain.

In addition, regular exercise will increase flexibility and strength in your muscles, which in turn should reduce pain as well.

Cold or Hot Packs
Depending on the nature of the pain, you might be able to use cold or hot therapy techniques to ease the pain. Heat applied at the site might be able to provide some relief for pain caused by muscle strain. Cold packs and ice are typically used for acute pain, and are useful for reducing swelling and inflammation. Be careful about what you choose and monitoring whether it is helping, as using the wrong solution (i.e. heat where you should be using ice) could make things mildly worse. Talk to your doctor to see whether heat or cold therapy is right for you.