Chronic pain can bring a person to their knees, and the worst part is that it doesn’t end. There may be temporary reprieves, but the chronic part of the equation means that the pain isn’t really going anywhere.
So it’s no wonder so many people have struggled with side effects from prescription painkillers. But there’s some good news here. Prescription medications aren’t the only answer. There are ways to complement your chronic pain relief protocol naturally. In fact, there are at least five and we’re going to cover them here.
Before we dive in, it's critical to note that you should consult a medical professional before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine, especially pertaining to altering use of prescription medications.
Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of many compounds in cannabis. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD doesn’t interact with the CB1 receptor, producing the intoxicating feeling of being “high”. But both CBD and THC work on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays many roles in bodily processes like appetite, pain and memory.
A 2018 meta-analysis review assessed CBD’s ability to relieve symptoms of chronic pain by looking at studies that were conducted between 1975 and March 2018. Researchers concluded that CBD is effective in pain management for cancer and neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. And the best news is that were unable to identify negative side effects to CBD use.
CBD is widely researched for pain related to cancer and arthritis. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation estimated in 2019 that 29 percent of people with arthritis used CBD for treatment. And some researchers are beginning to study CBD’s effect on chronic pain related to other conditions, such as migraines.
And while research is still mounting on the subject, many people are finding relief from chronic pain using CBD with little to no side effects.
Tell someone with chronic pain that they could “mind over matter” their pain away and they’ll either laugh you out of the room or flip you off, there’s no in-between.
But as it turns out, there may be some truth in this mind over matter thing. And there’s scientific proof to back it up.
A mounting body of research tells us with increasing certainty that mental processes actually can alter sensory phenomena, and that includes pain.
In the past decade, researchers have extensively studied meditation’s effects on things like attention span, body awareness, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. But possibly the most exciting research is in the field of chronic pain.
Before we get ahead of the research, this is a good time to note that mediation will never cure pain. The best it can do is alter the way your body perceives the pain. And as it turns out, that may be life-changing.
A Wake Forest University study performed MRI scans of 15 healthy volunteers while inducing pain. In the four days that followed, subjects learned mindfulness meditation. And on the fifth day, they had MRIs again. This time, participants had two MRIs. Pain was induced in both sessions, but one was while meditating and the other was not.
The study showed about a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity during meditation versus non-meditation.
One of the most interesting things about this study is that participants were beginners at meditation and only learned and practiced meditation for four days before the MRI evaluation.
So this debunks the idea that you have to be a Buddhist monk or a yogi to see the effects of meditation. As it turns out, you can do it right now to start relieving your pain.
Kratom, an extract of the Mitragyna Speciosa plant, is an herbal supplement that is gaining popularity as of late for its ability to treat chronic pain. It’s also used to help wean people off of opioids because it has similar effects in the brain and body to opioid pain relievers, and it doesn’t seem to have the same adverse side effects.
A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that kratom doesn’t seem to have the addictive side effects that opioid pain relievers are famous for. Still, kratom is currently illegal in six states, and several cities and counties banned sales with local ordinances.
Researchers surveyed 2,800 kratom users and found that over 91 percent of them endorsed kratom for pain relief, and 40 percent said they took kratom to treat opioid withdrawal. Two-thirds of participants said they would recommend kratom for treating anxiety and depression.
Like so many people suffering from chronic pain, you may have given up on physical therapy. But you should know that moment-based therapies like physical therapy produce cumulative effects, meaning that they become more effective the more they’re practiced.
Physical therapy for pain relief is based on the holistic view that all bodily forces affect one another. All nerves and blood vessels travel through muscle and fascia tissue, so nerve pain or damage is often as a result of muscle or fascia compression. As you work to restore coordination, strength and flexibility, you can improve your mobility and reduce pain.
Acupuncture has been used in Asia for centuries to relieve pain and treat many other conditions. This healing modality has gained popularity in Western cultures for pain relief, and it has been studied quite extensively.
Even though we are talking about tiny needles being inserted into your skin, acupuncture is generally considered very safe.
Studies have been mixed on the results, but if you’re suffering from chronic pain, it may be worth a shot. Many people swear by acupuncture for pain, and you may end up being one of them. As a bonus, acupuncture is now covered by many of the large insurance companies, so there isn’t much to lose by trying it.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, know that there is hope. And that hope doesn’t have to involve a doctor’s prescription pad. Experiment with natural ways to complement your chronic pain relief to see what works for you.