18 April, 2024

Alternative Treatments to Help Manage Pain

Chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide. While traditional medications like painkillers and anti-inflammatories can provide relief, they also come with side effects and risks. Many people are now turning to alternative and complementary treatments as additional ways to manage pain without relying solely on prescription drugs. Here are some of the most popular alternative pain management options to consider:


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing technique that involves inserting very thin needles into specific points on the body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, this helps correct imbalances in the flow of energy (known as qi or chi) along pathways called meridians. Modern research suggests acupuncture stimulates the release of natural painkillers called endorphins and changes brain chemistry to help block pain signals.

Acupuncture in Bristol is commonly used to treat chronic pain conditions like osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches and back pain. During a session, a Bristol acupuncture specialist will insert sterilised stainless steel needles into points along the meridians that correspond to the location of your pain. You may feel a slight tingling sensation or dull ache when the needles are inserted. The needles are left in place for 15-30 minutes. Acupuncture is generally considered very safe when performed by a licensed, certified practitioner. It provides pain relief for some people, but responses can vary.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy applies pressure and manipulates the muscles and joints of the body. It comes in many styles - Swedish massage uses long gliding strokes while deep tissue massage applies more intense pressure to target deeper muscles and connective tissue. Shiatsu and Thai massage involve pressing on acupressure points.

No matter the technique, massage is thought to help ease pain by reducing muscle tension, improving circulation, releasing endorphins and blocking pain signals to the brain. It's often used to treat low back pain, osteoarthritis pain, fibromyalgia, headaches and other conditions involving tight, painful muscles. Massage therapy is considered very low risk when performed by a trained massage therapist. It can provide temporary pain relief and allow people to move and function more comfortably.

Mind-Body Therapies

Mind-body therapies help induce relaxation to reduce feelings of pain and stress. Methods like meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi and qigong use a combination of focused breathing, prescribed body postures and concentration.

For example, mindfulness meditation trains people to be present and detached observers of their pain instead of anxious participants. Yoga combines gentle stretching, focused breathing and meditation. Regular practice of these activities may alter brain chemistry to help block pain transmission and activate natural pain relief. Mind-body therapies are considered safe and can empower people to take an active role in managing their pain. 

Dietary Supplements

Certain vitamins, minerals and herbs are thought to have anti-inflammatory effects and pain- relieving properties. Popular supplements for pain include turmeric, omega-3 fatty acids, devil's claw, capsaicin cream, magnesium and ginger. Many people take glucosamine and chondroitin for joint and arthritis pain. While some small studies show benefits, more research is needed to confirm effectiveness and establish optimal dosing for pain relief.

Always consult your healthcare provider before trying alternative therapies, especially if you have an underlying medical condition. Most treatments are considered safe when used appropriately. Alternative options may be used in addition to, or in place of, conventional pain medications for some people. Keeping an open mind and being willing to try different therapies is key to finding the right pain management plan for your individual needs.

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