When you’ve got an aching head, back or neck, aspirin, acetaminophen or other over-the-counter drugs can help. But you don’t want to rely on them too often, as these pills can have side effects. The good news? A variety of alternative therapies may help lessen your pain naturally, with a little practice or repeat visits to licensed practitioners. After speaking to your healthcare provider, try any or all of the following to see which works best for you:
Acupuncture- What’s involved: Thin needles are inserted into the skin at key points. How it’s done: During an office visit, a licensed acupuncturist manipulates needles to relieve discomfort. Best for: back pain, joint pain, migraine, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis.
Biofeedback- What’s involved: Electronic sensors showing measures like heart rate, skin temperature and muscle tension help you figure out how to relax muscles or change your thoughts, for pain relief. How it’s done: A licensed therapist attaches sensors to your body. The goal is being able to duplicate the pain-relieving maneuvers at home. Best for: muscle pain, stress.
Diet- What’s involved: Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can reduce inflammation associated with pain. How it’s done: Follow the food pyramid and avoid excess saturated fat, which can trigger joint inflammation and pain. Best for: arthritis.
Hypnosis- What’s involved: While in an altered state of consciousness, you visualize pain disappearing and reap tangible results. How it’s done: A clinical hypnotist uses imagery to guide you toward pain relief. The goal is to duplicate the results at home with self-hypnosis. Best for: fibromyalgia, headaches, arthritis.
Massage- What’s involved: Deeply kneading muscles can relieve stiffness and pain and may improve the body’s production of painkilling endorphins. How it’s done: A massage therapist rubs your back, feet or other muscles. Best for: arthritis, back pain, chronic pain, stress.
Yoga- What’s involved: Meditating while getting into different positions and focusing on breathing leads to relaxation and pain relief. How it’s done: A yoga instructor or DVD can teach you proper form, postures and breathing techniques. Best for: back pain, chronic pain, stress.