Yoga, massage or plain old exercise? It could be just what the doctor ordered to minimize pain from chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, neck pain, low back pain or fibromyalgia, according to the September 2005 issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.
Given recent news about the risk of some pain relieving medications, many people are considering other ways to manage chronic pain. While not a quick fix, therapies such as massage, ice, heat and even acupuncture can be very effective if you give them time to work and use them consistently.
The September issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource explores alternative ways to manage chronic pain.
Exercise: Most people with chronic pain feel better if they are physically active every day. But don't overdo. Exercising too much or too intensely can make pain worse.
Ice and heat: Applying ice or heat provides short-term pain relief. Ice reduces pain and swelling. Heat is useful for reducing joint stiffness and for muscle spasm, back pain and arthritis.
Acupuncture: Extremely thin needles inserted at one or more of about 350 strategic points on your body may relieve low back pain and pain from fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.
Electrical stimulation: Electrically stimulating the nerves that control muscles is a safe, easy and effective way to control many types of pain. One example is transcutaneous electrical stimulation, where a small device directs mild electric pulses to nerve endings beneath the skin. A physical therapist can teach you how to do this therapy at home.
Relaxation: Meditation, deep breathing, guided visualization, biofeedback and self-hypnosis can reduce stress, pain, anxiety and depression.
Manual therapy and massage: Osteopathic doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists use various techniques to improve movement and function and relieve pain in muscles and joints.
Before you try alternative therapies, learn all you can about the safety and effectiveness. If nothing seems to work, talk to your doctor, who may refer you to a pain management program to suggest other ways to cope with long-term pain.
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