Supplement chronic pain and inflammation treatment plans with these pain-relieving methods Chronic pain can be difficult for anyone to deal with. For many people, chronic pain can be so strong that it interferes with their personal lives—turning down plans because of a flare-up or quitting activities they once loved. Because of this, chronic pain can lead to mental health issues that only make the pain worse. That’s why it’s crucial to manage chronic pain and inflammation.
The way chronic pain is treated is dependent on the type of pain, the cause of the pain, and other factors, such as age. Oftentimes, treatment plans are a mixture of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. In combination with a treatment plan, there are other non-medicinal methods people living with chronic pain can use to help relieve their chronic pain, like low-impact exercise, finding anti-inflammatory creams and foods, and therapy techniques.
Non-Medicinal Methods Of Relieving Chronic Pain and Inflammation
Through supplements, creams, and therapies, people living with chronic pain can supplement their treatment plans to find relief
While in most cases, managing pain must be done through some type of medication, that leads many people living with chronic pain to look into non-medicinal options to find relief from their pain. Luckily, there are plenty of methods to help with pain management that do not involve medicine. Of course, everyone should talk to their doctor before changing or adding to their treatment plan, however, this list may help come up with some ideas on how people living with chronic pain can enhance their treatment plans.
1. Anti-inflammatory pain relief cream
For people with chronic pain, treating pain with treatments like injections or steroid packs are not always an option or a sustainable option for managing chronic pain. While these two methods are the most effective, both spread through the bloodstream, opening up risks to potential unwanted side effects.
As an alternative to these treatments, anti-inflammatory creams and gels are oftentimes more readily available and really do help with pain relief. When the cream is applied topically, it helps block the production of enzymes, which produce inflammatory chemicals that lead to pain and swelling. Where other treatments travel through the whole body, anti-inflammatory creams can relieve more localized pain, such as:
- Stiffness and immobility.
Some anti-inflammatory creams can cause some skin irritation, which is why more natural creams are generally preferred. As you look for an anti-inflammatory cream, you may want to look for options with natural ingredients, such as:
- Aloe vera – When used topically, aloe vera acts as a skin conditioning agent that eases inflammation of joints and reduces redness. Aloe vera tends to be very gentle on the skin.
- Arnica Montana – Arnica Montana is an herb that is believed to promote healing. As an anti-inflammatory, Arnica is often used for pain relief and rapid bruise relief.
- MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) – When used as a topical, MSM can reduce inflammation and bring pain relief. It also helps the body produce collagen and antioxidants.
2. Yoga and other low-impact exercises
Low-impact exercises are an outstanding method for managing chronic pain. While high-impact exercises can be harsh on your body, low-impact exercises are much easier on your body. These methods of exercise can help decrease inflammation in the body and enhance mobility. Working out, in general, releases endorphins, which boost mood and ease pain signals.
Yoga is one of the most beneficial forms of low-impact exercise for people with chronic pain. Yoga focuses on postures and poses, breathing, and meditation. Yoga helps stretch out the body and strengthens muscles while only using the body’s weight as resistance. All yoga poses can be modified to avoid overstraining the body to prevent injuries. For people living with chronic pain, yoga can reduce pain by decreasing inflammation in the body by decreasing the body’s stress response. The practice of yoga is fairly accessible, too. Classes can be found online to take at home or through a studio with an experienced instructor.
Not only are massages extremely relaxing, but they can also help with pain management. Massages increase blood flow in the body and enhance circulation. When working with a professional, they can focus the massage on specific areas of the body to help relax muscles and improve the range of motion in their clients. Much like exercise, massages release endorphins, which can help boost your mood and improve sleep.
While almost any massage can be helpful to manage pain, there are a few in particular that people with chronic pain find to be the most effective:
- Swedish massage
- Neuromuscular massage
No matter what type of massage, people with chronic pain tend to find relief through regular massages.
Biofeedback is a type of therapy technique that is used to help control bodily functions. When someone experiences pain, the body has an unconscious response to pain, like an increased heart rate, muscle tension, and poor breathing techniques. Biofeedback can help people gain control of their body’s automatic responses to pain. Biofeedback is found to help manage the following:
- Back pain
- Fibromyalgia pain
Depending on the health and goals of the biofeedback, there are a few types of biofeedback that a therapist may use, including muscle contraction, heart rate, and breathing. In a biofeedback session, a therapist will put electrical sensors on their patients to monitor bodily functions. Once a therapist understands the results of the study, they will recommend mindfulness techniques and breathing exercises that can help take control of those automatic responses.
While it has been popping up more heavily in the past few years, ashwagandha has been used for hundreds of years. Primarily found in India, the Middle East, and some parts of Africa, ashwagandha is an herb that is primarily used to boost energy and reduce stress and anxiety. However, people using ashwagandha find that it can help with:
- Lowering fatigue
- Reducing pain
- Relieving arthritis pain
- Reducing epilepsy symptoms.
It is thought that ashwagandha has neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects, acting as a pain reliever. Ashwagandha can also prevent pain signals from traveling to the central nervous system. Beyond just the pain relief benefits, ashwagandha can also help improve focus and concentration. The supplement helps stabilize energy, reducing the dips and peaks that lead to long-term fatigue.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in cannabis. Where the THC of the plant can cause feelings of being “high” when ingested, CBD only has a small amount of THC. So, when CBD is used those “high” feelings aren’t as prevalent. Because cannabis has been heavily restricted, the research and benefits of CBD tend to be a bit behind. However, the research that has been done in recent years has found that CBD products have a high potential for managing pain.
Researchers think that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. This is a cell signaling system that has receptors, which are tiny proteins that receive signals that inform cells how to respond to stimuli, in the brain and immune system. Using CBD is thought to create anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects in endocannabinoid systems that can help with pain management.
While the only FDA-approved CBD product is a prescription for epilepsy, there are still CBD products available that can help reduce pain. Those CBD products can be used as an oil, extract, or vaporized liquid.
7. Anti-inflammatory foods
For people living with chronic pain, even food can cause unwanted pain. Many experts have found that food can actually be one of the most powerful ways to reduce inflammation and fight pain long-term.
Foods that cause inflammation are the same foods that are bad for health—with or without chronic pain. In particular, processed foods can change gut bacteria. With that bacteria change, it also changes the way the bacteria communicates with the immune system, which triggers inflammation. For people suffering from chronic pain and inflammation, consider avoiding the following foods:
- Refined carbohydrates
- Fried food
- Sugar-sweetened drinks
- Red and processed meat
- Margarine, shortening, and lard.
When cutting these foods from a diet, people with chronic pain and inflammation should consider adding the following anti-inflammatory foods:
- Green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
- Olive oil
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
- Fruits like strawberries and blueberries
Many people that turn to food to combat chronic inflammation find that following the Mediterranean Diet helps manage inflammation. This type of diet is influenced by the food of Greece, Italy, and Spain among others. The food in this diet tends to be high in antioxidants and polyphenols through plant-based foods and healthy fats. Before making any changes to your diet, you should always talk to your doctor. Your doctor will make sure this is the best plan of action for you and help you modify the plan accordingly.
Chronic pain can be difficult to live with, but with the right treatment plan, it doesn’t have to be. While most treatment plans advise using a combination of medication, therapies, and lifestyle changes, many methods can be used to relieve pain. Through products like anti-inflammatory creams and supplements or more body-focused methods like therapies and massages, people living with chronic pain can supplement their treatment plans and live a life with better-managed pain.