17 May Pain Management without Drugs
Pain is a part of life, at least occasionally, and most people use medication to alleviate it. However, for people who are recovering from a substance addiction, using pain relievers can put them at risk for relapse. Most prescription-grade pain relievers are addictive and may contain the very substance an addict is in recovery for or one that is very similar. Even someone who is in alcohol recovery may struggle with dependency on pain medications because they have already established a pattern of substance abuse and addiction.
Below are a few alternative methods of pain management that are helpful for people who want to avoid using drug-based pain relievers.
Relaxation Techniques Using relaxation as a means of pain relief involves turning your focus away from your pain and onto something calming. For muscle pain caused from spasms or stress, progressive muscle relaxation can be very effective. This is where you focus on one muscle group at a time, starting from the feet and working your way up. You concentrate on relaxing the muscles until your whole body feels heavy and relaxed.
Imagery exercises also work for pain relief. This is a mental exercise where you focus on the source of the pain and then imagine yourself letting it go. Imagine that healing is taking place and the pain is leaving. Then, imagine yourself in a calm, relaxing space, such as the beach. Imagine the sound of the waves and the warmth of the sun. This can train your body to block pain and refocus.
Exercise It may seem counter-intuitive to exercise when you’re in pain, but physical activity can actually relieve pain. This is because exercise releases endorphins in the body, natural chemicals that relieve pain and improve attitude. It’s best to speak to a physical therapist about what exercises would be best for you to do with your specific type of injury and in what amounts. Overdoing it can make things worse later on, so you will need to moderate your activity to gain the most benefit from it. Generally speaking, the more active you can be, the less pain you will experience.
Other Alternatives Alternative medicine professionals can provide other forms of pain relief that have been used for centuries to help with pain and injuries. Acupuncture employs very thin needles applied to pressure points to release endorphins and other natural pain relieving chemicals and to release pressure and stress. Hypnosis is used to create a state of reduced awareness where a person can redirect their focus away from their pain. Meditation is something that a person can do on their own in the comfort of their own home to reduce pain and improve their mental state. Alternating hot and cold compresses applied directly to the area of pain in 15 minute intervals is also very beneficial.
The best tool to use in pain management is your attitude. Anxiety, depression, and stress all play a role in how the body perceives pain. If you can work through your pain and find a way to concentrate on the things in your life that bring you pleasure and make you happy, pain will take a backseat and have less control over you. Knowing your limitations and accepting help from others will make all the difference as you work to stay focused on the positive.