If you’ve got a nagging ache in your neck, or persistent back pain that makes you twinge when you move – you’re not alone.
Nearly 40 million people in America deal with chronic, severe pain, and sometimes medication isn’t enough to treat it. About 30 percent to 40 percent of these people use drug-free, complementary medicine treatments during any given year, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The government agency recently analyzed 105 clinical trials on alternative pain treatments. They found that certain treatments may help ease common aches and pains as part of an overall wellness plan.
Dr. Samuel Bederman, an orthopedic spine surgeon at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, spotlights the following five drug-free treatments:
Yoga: Promoting flexibility, strength and deep relaxation, yoga can ease pain by building a supple body and easing stress. If you have chronic pain, consider signing up for a yoga class. Let your yoga teacher know, as some poses may be more beneficial for you than others. Yoga is also good for back pain.
Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese treatment relieves pain when needles are stuck into points throughout the body; the location of the needles depends on where the pain is originating. Treatment may require multiple, ongoing session. Acupuncture is good for knee pain caused by osteoarthritis and back pain.
Tai chi: Like acupuncture, tai chi also comes to us by way of China. It’s an exercise that consists of low-impact, slow and deliberate movements paired with focused breathing. As with yoga, you should make sure your chronic pain doesn’t contradict any tai chi moves. Tai chi is good for knee osteoarthritis.
Massage therapy: It’s hard not to feel good after a message, thanks to its pain- and stress-relief powers. There are many types of massage out there so you can pick one that will most benefit your particular pain problem. Ideally, find a state-licensed massage therapist. Massage therapy can also help with neck pain.
Relaxation techniques. Living with chronic pain can be stressful, so relaxation techniques are a valuable way to manage that while instilling a positive mindset. Try deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relations, positive visualization or art therapy. Relaxation techniques are also good for headaches.
Dr. Bederman is a double fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, part of the St. Joseph Hoag Health network of care.