Pain Management without a Prescription
When used in the wrong situations, prescription pain medications can be dangerous. They carry quite a few unpleasant side effects, and can be extremely addictive. Plus, for some individuals, painkillers aren’t very effective. For these reasons, doctors often suggest non-pharmaceutical pain relief treatments that can be used alongside painkillers, or on their own to treat chronic or short-term pain.
Remember, there is no “magic bullet” for pain management. Often times, individuals will need a combination of therapies in order to reach optimal quality of life. Below, you’ll find information on three drug-free ways to treat pain. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it does provide an introduction to some of the most popular non-medical options for pain relief.
This ancient form of Chinese medicine, which involves placing thin needles at specific points throughout the body, has been around since 6000 BC. Although acupuncture isn’t considered mainstream medicine in the United States, it is becoming increasingly popular. The most recent statistics show that 3.1 million adults use acupuncture every year. Back, neck and joint pain are the most common reasons for individuals seeking help from acupuncture.
If you don’t like to base your pain management choices solely on popular opinion, consider this: science supports acupuncture. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reports that the treatment has been proven effective for several conditions including pain in the lower back, neck and knee, and even headaches. In addition, side effects and complications are extremely rare when individuals seek care from a professional who is educated and trained in acupuncture.
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
TENS is a pain management therapy that uses low-voltage electrical currents to eliminate the feeling of pain. Individuals using TENS place two electrodes at the site of the pain and wear a battery-operated device that sends electrical currents into the body.
How does an electrical current stop pain? Research shows a few possible answers to this question. Some scientists believe that electrical currents stimulate the nerves, which blocks other pain signals traveling along the nerves. Other scientists think that the nerve stimulation prompts the body to make natural pain-killing substances like endorphins.
Research regarding the effectiveness of TENS is mixed. Medscape reports that nearly 80% of people using the treatment have initial pain relief, but that number goes down to 30% after individuals have been using TENS for a few months. Other scientific studies say that TENS is not effective at all.
TENS has been used to treat a wide range of painful conditions—pain originating from the nervous system, musculoskeletal pain, post-surgery pain, diabetic neuropathy, and pain from broken bones. If you’re interested in trying the therapy, be sure to speak with your doctor. They can write a prescription for this therapy and many insurance companies will pay for the rental or purchase of a TENS unit.
Physical activity is surely one of the most natural and safest ways to treat pain. In particular, the low-impact exercises involved in Tai Chi and yoga have been touted as excellent pain-relieving therapies.
- Tai Chi: Like acupuncture, Tai Chi has its roots in ancient Chinese culture. The exercise is extremely slow and gentle. Its movements are concentrated on deep breathing, strength, flexibility, and meditation. Research shows that Tai Chi is especially effective for joint pain (conditions like arthritis and low-back pain) because it improves circulation, relieves tension, and repairs tissue.
- Yoga Another gentle and relaxing exercise therapy. It also focuses on breathing and flexibility. Individuals practicing gentle yoga report feeling less stressed, more relaxed, and less stiff. Much like Tai Chi, this exercise has been shown to be effective for joint problems like osteoarthritis, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Remember, prescription painkillers are not the only option when it comes to dealing with acute or chronic pain. The next time you speak with your doctor, be sure to ask about adding these three non-medical therapies and other natural pain management treatments to your regime.
If you are on a prescribed medication and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone.
References: The American Chronic Pain Association, Acupuncture Today, Prevention, WebMD
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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