Nobody likes to be in pain. Whether it’s an injury or an illness, a headache, a toothache, or some other malady, when you are in pain, all you want is for the pain to go away.
Now, imagine living with that pain on a daily basis.
What is chronic pain?
Johns Hopkins defines chronic pain as pain that is long standing and persists beyond a typical recovery period. It can be from an ongoing health condition, like arthritis, which affects more than 50 million Americans each year, or an illness, like cancer.
Chronic pain affects around 116 million American adults—more than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. It is one of the most costly health problems in the country, costing between $560 and $635 billion annually in medical expenses and lost productivity.
According to a National Health Interview Survey, in 2019, more than 20 percent of adults reported having chronic pain, and 7.4 percent reported having chronic pain that frequently limited their life or work activities over the past 3 months. Chronic pain increases with age and is highest among those over the age of 65.
Other examples of chronic pain include:
- Headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, tension headaches
- Back pain, low back pain
- Lyme disease
- Muscle strains
- Nerve damage, shingles
The pain can be constant, or intermittent, but anyone who has suffered from chronic pain knows it can be debilitating. It can affect you to the point where you can’t work or take part in daily physical activities, or even eat properly. It can cause depression and interfere with your ability to enjoy life.
There’s a whole medicine cabinet full of pain relievers on the market from over-the-counter ones to heavy duty prescription painkillers. But those all come with side effects and possible dependence on them.
What if you prefer to try natural remedies for chronic pain?
Natural Pain Remedies
There are many natural remedies for treating chronic back pain, chronic nerve pain, chronic pelvic pain, as well as other types of chronic pain.
From treatments like infrared saunas, which are wonderful for alleviating arthritis pain and other inflammation like joint pain from Lyme disease, to herbal remedies for chronic pain, we’ll go over different treatment options and the benefits of each.
Supplements & Herbal Remedies
There are a number of herbs that help ease chronic pain and inflammation. For all natural relief from chronic pain, try these:
- Ginger. Relieves arthritis pain, migraines, nausea, and more. Use fresh or powdered in cooking, tea, soups, smoothies, and more. Add chopped crystallized ginger to recipes or eat as a snack.
- Turmeric. Member of the ginger family. Contains curcumin, an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals. Eases inflammation. Use in food, tea, or take in capsule form.
- Willow Bark. Called ”nature’s aspirin.” Contains salicin, which tames inflammation. Use for headaches and low back pain. Take as a tea or in capsule or liquid form.
- Feverfew. Member of the sunflower family. Contains parthenolide, which reduces inflammation, eases muscle spasms, and prevents the constriction of blood vessels in the brain, which can help with migraine relief. Available in tablet, capsules, or liquid.
- Epsom Salts. Also known as Magnesium Sulfate. Hot Epsom salt baths are not only relaxing, they shift the input from your nervous system and relieve back spasms and other muscle aches.
- Cloves. Contains eugenol, a natural pain reliever used in some OTC salves. When used topically, it creates a warming sensation that helps relieve inflammation from arthritis , and pain from headaches and toothaches. Use as a topical anesthetic.
- Cannabis. Used to treat joint pain, neuropathy, headaches, muscle pain and more. Available in oils, edibles, tablets, juices, flower and more.
- CBD. The non psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Comes in everything from salves to tinctures, edibles, nasal sprays, tablets, teas and more to treat everything from fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and limb amputation.
- Kratom. Plant from Southeast Asia. Derived from the evergreen tree. Leaves or powdered. Use to make tea, dissolve in drinks, capsules, liquids, resins, and patches. Use to treat chronic pain, mood disorders, and withdrawal symptoms.
- Vitamin C IV injections. Boosts immunity, used in cancer treatment. High doses are said to be toxic to cancer cells and can improve treatment and reduce side effects of cancer drugs. Can reduce neck and lower back pain, and pain from arthritis.
- Niacinamide. A form of vitamin B3. Reduces inflammation, relieves pain from osteoarthritis. Take by mouth or apply topically.
- Capsicum/capsaicin. The heat from chili peppers. Use in a skin cream to treat nerve pain, back pain, and cluster headaches. Capsules may ease cramps and diarrhea.
Devices to Treat Chronic Pain
Electrical stimulation and infrared heat are both effective remedies to help relieve all types of chronic pain. Below are some examples:
- TENS device/E-STIM. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation uses low-voltage electric currents to stimulate nerves to block pain. Used to treat chronic pelvic pain, Fibromyalgia, tendinitis, bursitis, low back pain, and osteoarthritis.
- PEMF. Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy uses a low-frequency electromagnetic field of less than1000 Hz, to stimulate the body to cure pain. Used to treat arthritis, joint and muscle stiffness, migraines, diabetic polyneuropathy.
- Spinal cord stimulators. An implanted device that sends low levels of electricity directly into the spinal cord to relieve pain. Used to treat back pain, nerve pain, cancer pain, and pain after an amputation.
- Sauna. Dry sauna therapy via infrared rays increases blood flow and decreases muscle spasms. Relieves joint stiffness, low back pain, and chronic pain.
Therapies to Treat Chronic Pain
There are many all natural remedies that are effective in relieving a wide variety of painful ailments. Here are a few:
- Acupuncture. An ancient Chinese practice of inserting tiny needles into the skin to treat chronic pain, migraines, back and neck pain and osteoarthritis.
- Essential oils. The benefits of essential oils are many and varied. They can be used for aromatherapy to reduce stress or invigorate. Applied topically, usually with a carrier oil, they can be used in massage therapy and for possible pain relief.
- The scent of lavender is lovely and relaxing to inhale.
- Peppermint oil contains menthol, which has a cooling effect. Feels amazing on sore muscles.
- Clove oil might relieve toothache pain, muscle pain, and can relieve an upset stomach and respiratory problems like asthma.
- Massage Therapy. There’s nothing like a relaxing massage to relieve tension and stress. Once considered an indulgence, it’s now recognized as a legitimate therapy for some painful conditions, according to Harvard Health. Therapeutic massage helps relieve pain by relaxing the muscles and stimulating competing nerves to interrupt the pain signal to the brain. It is effective in relieving chronic neck pain, chronic back pain, and knee and hand pain, as well as overall chronic pain.
- Meditation/Relaxation. Putting yourself in a quiet state of mind can relieve stress, which causes inflammation. Meditation helps your brain release endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.
- Gentle Stretches/Yoga. Yoga involves various poses and stretches combined with mindful breathing. Certain poses and practices, like Yin yoga, are beneficial for those suffering with chronic pain from ailments like rheumatoid arthritis, and many other painful conditions. Combined with meditation, it is even more effective than drugs and surgery for alleviating chronic low-back pain, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The saying “you are what you eat,” is certainly true. Diets full of processed foods and refined sugar are not just bad for your waistline, they are bad for your overall health and can actually cause or increase your chronic pain. Take a proactive approach to preventing chronic pain by adding these to your diet:
- Leafy greens, fatty fish, cruciferous vegetables, kefir or Greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and healthy fats like olive oil and avocados. These foods are high in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids and can reduce inflammation and ease chronic pain from fibromyalgia and various types of arthritis.
- DASH diet. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a healthy-eating plan that lowers high blood pressure and ‘bad’ cholesterol levels—two major risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
Now you have the knowledge and resources to relieve your chronic pain and improve your quality of life—using all natural techniques!
These are all personal recommendations and do not constitute medical advice. You should always consult with your physician when ill or before starting any new supplements or using any new devices or pain relief therapies.