Non medicinal pain relief is used by many people worldwide either on its own or alongside traditional medicine. There are many different types of drug-free pain relief, many of which being suitable for the long term management of chronic pain. Whilst some products and techniques won’t provide fast acting relief like medication does, they have been shown to help long-term and make sufferers more comfortable in their daily lives. Non medicinal pain relief is used by people with temporary pain and chronic pain due to how versatile some of the methods are.
People turn to non-medicinal pain relief for many reasons. It could be due to medication allergies or interactions, fewer side effects, or it could just be a lifestyle choice. Either way, whether these treatments are used on their own or alongside medication, there is evidence to show that they help patients suffering with pain.
“non medicinal pain relief can really make a difference to a patient’s life. People with chronic pain often use some drug free treatments to help them in their daily lives either with or without taking traditional medicines. For minor injuries, many GPs recommend heat or ice packs to relieve pain and swelling alongside other treatments such as anti-inflammatories”.
Non Medical Pain Relief
What is non medicinal pain relief?
Non medicinal pain relief is a broad term to describe products that you buy or techniques you use to help manage your pain, but the one thing they have in common is that they don’t make use of any medication. This means that any treatment that falls under this category isn’t subject to a prescription.
There are so many reasons why someone may opt for non-medicinal pain relief, such as drug interactions, undesirable side effects of medications, or more personal reasons. There’s no argument that there are advantages to both avenues, which is why topic of non-medicinal pain relief is an interesting one. Some people exclusively use non-drug methods to manage their pain whilst others choose to stick strictly to prescription medication. At Doctor4U, we think the best solution is to use both methods to complement each other.
There are so many products available to help with pain, from ergonomically designed cushions that support specific areas to mineral sprays and plant-based oils. One advantage of using these drug-free alternatives is that a majority of them are safe to use alongside medications you might be taking as most options don’t interact with it or affect how it works. We’ve compiled a list of some of the choices available if you’re considering using non-medicinal pain relief:
- TENS Machine:
TENS machines have been widely used for several years now, with home units now being fairly inexpensive. TENS is an abbreviation for transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation. Whilst the name might sound mind boggling, the science behind it is quite simple. Adhesive electrode pads are placed on your skin at the site of pain which send electric impulses through your body. This drug-free method works by interrupting pain signals sent to the brain from the nerves, ultimately lowering your symptoms. The small impulses can feel strange at first, almost like pins and needles, but you can adjust the strength of them until you feel comfortable. It is generally advised to set the machine high enough so you can feel it, but not so it’s causing pain or discomfort.
Due to the device working via a mild electric current, you must NOT use it in water. TENS units aren’t advised for people with pacemakers or metal implants, pregnant women (unless otherwise advised), and people with epilepsy or heart conditions. However, the units are safe to use alongside medications.
- Ergonomic supports:
There are countless different types of ergonomic aids available today. Depending on where you struggle most with your pain, you’ll likely be able to buy something to help. For example, people with low (lumbar) back pain or tailbone (coccyx) pain, cushions are available that have been especially designed to relieve pressure in this area. Many people use them to help with daily activities such as driving or office work.
For people who may struggle with rheumatoid arthritis in the hands, specially designed mice can help with computer work to lessen the symptoms of arthritic pain. The chances are that if you struggle with pain in a certain area that’s aggravated by a certain task, there’ll be an ergonomic support out there to help ease it.
- Temperature therapy:
For those struggling with nerve (neuropathic) pain, cold weather can exaggerate the symptoms and make pain worse. People with neuropathy often struggle with temperature perception, so heated items can often make a huge difference between comfort and agony. Starting with the feet, heated foot warmers that plug into a mains socket can work wonders for those that struggle with temperature perception in the extremities. These are intended to be used whilst you’re sat down, so they’re ideal to use while at a desk or on the sofa. Some people struggle with more localised pain, often joint or muscle related. In these situations, microwavable heat packs could do wonders for your symptoms. These are inexpensive and relatively easy to find either online or in local shops. The packs are usually heated in a microwave for around 2 minutes and then applied to the painful area to soothe it. Electric blankets are ideal for people who struggle with neuropathy or joint & muscle pain at night. Much safer than when they first came onto the market, electric blankets now have several safety features built in, but they still advise against using a hot water bottle at the same time (although heated wheat packs are fine).
For many people, alternating between heat packs and ice packs can alleviate pain. We recommend buying an ice pack with elasticated straps so you don’t have to worry about keeping it in place. The cooling sensation can often be enough pain relief on its own.
- Natural options:
Magnesium oil is often recommended by many chronic pain patients. Magnesium is a mineral that occurs naturally in the body which helps to regulate muscle and nerve function as well as promoting strong bones. It is thought that magnesium oil applied topically can boost the effectiveness of the mineral and relieve pain.
CBD (cannabidiol) products are also increasingly popular in the UK. Whilst it may still be a controversial issue, CBD is legal (and no, it won’t get you high). There are creams, lotions and oils that all contain the cannabinoid on sale in Britain now. CBD oil is arguably the most heard of, with some high street stores selling the product since last year. CBD can come in different strengths depending on your need, and many people have reported it to help with pain.
- Exercises and therapies
For long-term pain relief in a specific area, physiotherapy is a fantastic treatment to adopt into your daily routine. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option for physio exercises as some movements can exacerbate pain, but finding a reputable and qualified physiotherapist may help you live a less painful life.
Walking is recommended for a lot of pain due to it being a gentle exercise and encouraging movement. It may hurt a little at first but the key to is to not over-do it and to ease yourself into it gently.
The suggestions we’ve provided above are by no means extensive, but you may find that one of these or a combination of them may help with symptoms of pain, especially when used alongside medication. For people suffering with chronic pain, long-term management is the best solution to allow them to live a comfortable life, and many of these options above are fantastic methods for non-medicinal pain relief that can be used continuously.