Millions of Americans deal with chronic pain on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many of them rely on pain medication and prescription pills to treat their symptoms. And in many cases, the drugs actually create more serious problems. By learning how to treat your pain naturally, you can lessen your chances of experiencing negative long-term side effects.
The Problem With Pain Pills
Prescription painkillers are seen as an easy fix to serious pain. But they serve as a quick bandage rather than a long-term solution. Despite this, many use them for months or years before they realize the problem with what they’re doing. Whether it’s codeine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, morphine, oxycodone, or propoxyphene, consequences can include –
- Physical Side Effects – Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, itching, sweating, depression, and a weakened immune system. (Large quantities can lead to overdoses, which can stop your breathing.)
- Increase in Pain Perception – If you use opioid pills for four or more weeks, it actually makes you more sensitive to pain. In some cases, the pain even becomes worse. (Your body recognizes the pain-blocking mechanism and increases the number of receptors it uses to try and get a pain signal through. Once the drug wears off, the pain is significantly worse.)
- Addiction – Opioids are among the most addictive drug classes in the world. Much of this is due to the fact that they rewire the brain to make users feel as if they need opioids to live. According to Rehab Adviser, opioids attack the brain’s hippocampus (which is a significant source of dopamine) and change reward processing. Once the drugs wear off, the user actually experiences less natural dopamine.
- Exacerbates Sleep Problems – Opioid medication is known to make sleep problems worse. And unfortunately, poor sleep is associated with numerous health problems – some minor and others more serious. With just a few weeks of consecutive opioid use, sleep quality can decline significantly and make the individual more sensitive to pain (among other things).
5 Natural Ways to Treat Pain
While there are times when pain medication is necessary like immediately after surgery – it should be carefully monitored and only used for a few days at a time. Afterwards, individuals will benefit from natural treatment options like these –
If you have pain in the lower back, neck, knees, or shoulders, you may find acupuncture to be an effective pain-relieving treatment option. Whether the pain is chronic or acute, acupuncture induces a pain-relieving effect by releasing endorphins and simultaneously creating a local anti-inflammatory effect.
2. Massage Therapy
For many of the same reasons as acupuncture, massage therapy is a powerful pain-relieving treatment option that promises significant relief for those suffering from soft tissue issues, joint discomfort, and other localized pain.
3. Healthy Eating
Sometimes, the only thing you need is a healthier diet. Not only does a natural diet help you lose weight (which removes pressure on your joints), but it also improves your digestive system and provides the necessary nutrients to create a balanced flow of hormones and chemicals (which activate the body’s healing systems).
The best piece of advice is to cut out processed foods, additives, saturated fats, and animal protein. Instead, focus on a balanced intake of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
4. Natural Supplements
In addition to eating healthier, certain dietary supplements may be able to reduce your pain levels and provide relief. Two specific supplements – glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate – are known to be especially powerful. However, you’ll need to consult with your doctor to see if they’re right for you.
When you’re in pain, the last thing you want to do is exercise. It’s often the best remedy. The human body is designed in such a way that it needs the motion to thrive. By increasing your exercise level in spite of the pain, you promote the release of mood-enhancing chemicals that are known to reduce the perception of pain. You also improve circulation, lose weight, increase muscle strength, and enhance joint flexibility.
Treat Your Pain Naturally
There’s no single solution to the pain. Every situation is different and our bodies respond differently to various treatment options. However, pain pills should never be seen as a long-term solution. By learning to manage pain without drugs, you can increase your chances of living a happy, healthy, and pain-free lifestyle.