Limited options exist in the medical world for chronic pain. Many patients are offered pain medications indefinitely without shedding light on other alternatives, and the most common complaint I hear from people put on these hefty meds is, "my brain no work good".
There are alternatives and quite effective ones at that. I'll shed some light on the top 3 here. Long-term medications will always be there as an option if you don't find any alternative options work for you.
1. Acupuncture. This is very effective for arthritis, bursitis, nerve pain, muscle pain, acute injury, and pretty much any other kind of pain. Needles are placed around the painful site, as well as some in other places on the body, which help to stimulate blood flow and encourage endorphin release. By stimulating blood flow, this can also encourage healing of the tissue in cases like bursitis, muscle pain, and acute injury. As a bonus, electrical current can be added to the needles to increase the effects. TENS works well for pain relief and microcurrent helps stimulate cellular energy production (called ATP) which promotes healing of damaged tissue. Healing! Let's see naproxen do that.
2. Turmeric. This is the most potent anti-inflammatory herb out there with extensive research on it, particularly for arthritis. Since arthritis management is often long-term symptom relief, taking something that's actually beneficial for your liver and digestion seems like a better option. Turmeric's main active component is called curcumin which is often the bit that's concentrated in supplements. There's a catch though: curcumin needs to be paired with a fat to absorb. Good quality supplements will already have this taken care of, but if you're just taking good ol' turmeric, be sure to have some coconut oil with it.
3. Ginger. Recent research has shown ginger to be as effective as a triptan when it comes to reducing severity and duration of acute migraines. My own personal n=1 study recently concluded similar results (what is with this weather?) and removed all trace of a migraine hangover. Ginger is also effective for osteoarthritis pain and period pain.
Depending on what type of pain you're dealing with, the best treatment for you might not be listed here. You may also find you need the occasional acetaminophen or ibuprofen for if you overdo it, and that's totally fine. Reducing the dose or amount of meds you're taking might be your goal. Either way, talk to a licensed ND about options that would be good for you so that you can get out there!
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