If you suffer from nagging aches, pains, stiffness, or tension, you know how debilitating life can be. The hurt can stop you from working, exercising, socializing, and generally living your life, especially if it’s chronic or recurring.
You may feel that finding relief feels useless, especially if you feel like you’ve tried everything. But there may be a few things that can bring real, noticeable relief that you haven’t yet tried. Reference the list below for some great solutions that can lead to a reprieve from the pain.
Note: If you have lingering, chronic pain, it’s a good idea to see your physician and inquire about treatment options before you try any solutions on this list.
Have you heard the buzz about low-level laser therapy for back pain? This is a non-invasive therapy that uses low levels of lasers to affect the function of tissues and increase local blood circulation, providing temporary relief from minor muscle aches, pain, and stiffness. The beauty of this kind of treatment is that it can be done anytime, with at-home devices in just a half-hour or so each day while you read or watch TV. The devices temporarily relieve pain while helping you relax and relieve stress, providing a two-for-one pain relief benefit.
Hydrotherapy is anything and everything having to do with using water for healing, including sending time in the sauna, pool, or hot tub. This kind of therapy is routinely used in treatment for osteoarthritis, especially in the knee. Studies have shown that people who suffer from osteoarthritis in the knee experienced less pain and better function in the knee after partaking in a hydrotherapy treatment program in a heated pool (R). Hydrotherapy may also help relieve aches and pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis and muscle strains.
Massage is one of the best ways to work out knots and muscle tension that may be causing you pain throughout your body, especially in the back, legs, and neck. While seeing a professional masseuse is always the best way to enjoy the benefits of this type of therapy, you can also use self-myofascial release (SMR) devices—massage balls, foam rollers, etc.—to give your pain points a gentle massage yourself. This therapy works by relaxing contracted muscles and stretching them and realigning them so they no longer cause pain.
Cryotherapy and Heat Therapy
Cryotherapy (cold therapy) is commonly used for pain management following injury, but it’s becoming increasingly clearer that it can also lead to relief from muscle sprains, tendonitis, arthritis, lower back pain, runner’s knee (chondromalacia patellae), and more common triggers of aches and pains. This therapy involves using ice or gel packs, sometimes coupled with compression and elevation, to reduce swelling and ease the pain (R).
Similarly, applying a heated pad to muscles and joints can promote blood flow and relax the muscles. Your doctor may recommend alternating hot and cold therapies at different intervals throughout the day for the best results.
You may be surprised to find how much stretching can do to relieve aches and pains throughout the body. Not only will a quick, daily stretch session—such as yoga or a 15-minute full-body stretch routine—help to lessen the tension and knots in specific muscles throughout the body, but more limber and flexible muscles will also lead to less pain and injury risk in general.
For example, stretching out the hamstrings can help prevent pain in the hips and lower back. Be sure to incorporate a thorough stretch into your routine each day.
Change Your Diet
Much of the pain throughout your body may be caused by inflammation, especially if you struggle with arthritis and other conditions that can trigger inflamed, tender muscles and joints. However, there is evidence to suggest that you can use food to help your body ward off inflammation. Specifically, research shows that food affects your blood’s C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which are markers for inflammation (R).
Plant-based foods, like fruits and veggies, help your body fight oxidative stress, while certain processed foods do the opposite by creating an inflammatory response that leads to chronic pain. Fill your diet with antioxidants—berries, leafy greens, avocados, beans, turmeric, green tea, ginger—as well as omega-3s and plenty of plants.
This alternative therapy has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and involves using thin needles throughout the body to balance its flow of energy. When it comes to pain, acupuncture is frequently used to treat neck pain, osteoarthritis, dental pain, migraines, and low back pain. While there is some debate on the efficacy and science behind acupuncture, experts say that it releases endorphins, which provide natural pain relief.
Medical researchers are just starting to understand the full spectrum of ways that stress affects the body, but we know now more than ever that it has an incredible impact on our physical health. In fact, in its list of signs and symptoms of stress, the American Institute of Stress lists headaches, jaw pain, neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms, chest pain, and stomach pain. Engaging in some stress-relief activities, such as yoga, meditation, hydrotherapy, or going on vacation can help mitigate stress and, in turn, relieve some pain.
With these treatments, you’ll surely find an option that works for you. The goal is to find non-pharmaceutical treatment options that are effective and reliable, so you can get back to feeling like your best self again. As always, be sure to consult a doctor before making any drastic changes to your health and wellness routine.