Non-Drug options for Pain Management

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Pain Management: Beyond Drugs: Massage for Easing Pain (from WebMD).com

When someone is dealing with a serious, or even life-threatening illness, one of the first things they are likely to worry about is pain. In fact, it’s just about the most common question patients and their caregivers ask. There are effective treatments for pain, and you can put those treatment plans in place ahead of time. It’s also important to know that medications are not the only option available to treat pain .  There are many Non-Pharmacological Options for treating pain without drugs.

Non-Pharmacological Options for Easing Pain

There are a number of non-drug tools for coping with pain. They can be used on their own or in combination with drug therapies.

Some of the options patients have found helpful include:

  • Massage. A lot of people find relief from gentle massage, and there are many people who are trained in massage therapy. Several studies have found that massage is effective in relieving pain and other symptoms for people with serious illness.
  • Relaxation techniques. Guided imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, breathing techniques, and gentle movement such as tai chi. Relaxation techniques are often very effective, particularly when a patient — or a caregiver — is feeling anxious. They can be incorporated into daily activities, done by themselves, or used to enhance a massage experience.
  • Acupuncture. Several studies have found that acupuncture can be helpful in relieving pain for people with serious illnesses such as cancer.
  • Physical therapy. If a person has been active before, Physical therapy can sometimes provide rehabilitative programs to relieve pain.  Manual Therapies (Massage techniques) are the top Non-Pharmacological options that a Physical Therapists use.   Exercises and stretches also compliment the Massage Techniques  and have great success for pain relief.
  • Pet therapy. If you have bouts of pain that last 5, 10, or 15 minutes, trying to find something pleasant — like petting an animal’s soft fur — to distract and relax yourself can be helpful.
  • Hot/Cold packs. These are simple packs that can be warmed or chilled and used to ease localized pain. They are often sold at the local drug store and can even be made at home with common household items.

Ask your health care team if they can provide you a referral for any of these forms of pain management.  Maintaining a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere around the patient goes a long way toward easing pain.

Sources WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on August 13, 2017

Sean Morrison, MD, director, National Palliative Care Research Center, New York, N.Y.

Leisa Rebold, MSW, social worker, Capital Caring, Washington, D.C.

Post-White, J. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 2003.

Filshie, J. Acupuncture Medicine, 1990.

Johnstone, P.A. Palliative Medicine, 2002.

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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