There are over 100 million Americans
who suffer from chronic pain. If you
have ever experienced severe pain that
lasts over a week, you know the personal
cost of chronic pain and the levels of
desperation that pain can drive you to
get rid of it.
Pain As A Separate Condition
Doctors and researchers have discovered,
though, that after 3-6 months, any severe
pain that lingers following an accident or
a surgery is likely not merely a symptom of
the original accident or surgery.
Pain that lingers is actually a separate
condition, one where the nerve cells that
transmit pain signals become hard-wired
to signal there is pain…even when there is
no reason to transmit pain signals.
The problem with chronic pain, then, may
no longer be in your back or your knee…
it’s in your brain and your nervous system.
Addiction to Narcotic Pain Meds
Treating chronic pain using narcotic pain
medications is rarely effective, as you will
develop a tolerance for the medication and
eventually become addicted to it. It will
become less and less effective in managing
pain, but you will have to take it to avoid
More and more physicians in the U.S. are
recognizing the ineffectiveness of narcotic
pain medication for pain management and
the terrible toll that addiction to these drugs
is having on individuals taking them.
Healing the “Nervous” Nervous System
What are effective alternatives to taking
pain medication to manage severe chronic
pain? As opposed to numbing the nervous
system or providing a temporary escape from
the pain experience, the most effective methods
calm the nervous system and may change the
way the brain responds to pain signals, which
ultimately leads to a perception of decreased pain.
If a treatment method allows a person to move
their pain level from a 9 or 10 to a 2 or 3, that’s
effective pain management, even if all we have
done is alter the way your brain perceives pain
3 “No Pain Pill” Alternatives
1. The “bible” that I use with clients who want a
drug-free method to manage even the most severe
chronic pain is Full Catastrophe Living by Dr.
Jon Kabat-Zinn. Dr. Kabat-Zinn founded the
Massachusetts General Hospital Pain Reduction
Clinic, working with the most damaged medical
patients in severe chronic pain, using no-drug
and no-surgery techniques. 15 years after it’s
first publication, it remains the best program I
know of for managing chronic pain without
drugs. Working with a therapist who can teach
you mindfulness skills and cognitive behavioral
therapy makes the program even more effective.
2. Acupuncture has been proven to relieve
chronic pain better than standard drug treatment
and better than placebo. If you have never had
acupuncture, I highly recommend you try it.
It is painless (a good thing if you suffer from
chronic pain) and some insurance companies
now cover it as a procedure.
3. Massage Therapy. Although there is
inconsistent empirical support for massage
therapy as an effective treatment for chronic
pain, over 28% of those who received therapeutic
massage report that it gave them the greatest
relief from their pain. I often recommend it
for both stress management and as an adjunct
for clients suffering from chronic pain.
Getting Off Drugs – Safely
If you are on narcotic pain medication now
and are interested in getting off of them and
managing your pain without them, the best
advice is actually to stay on them while you
learn and experiment with alternative methods
for managing your pain. As you become
able to successfully manage your pain, you
can work with your doctor to slowly reduce
your reliance on your pain medication.
Under no circumstances should you stop
your pain medication without consulting with
your doctor, as there can be serious side effects
and withdrawals symptoms related to doing so.
Hope for Drug Free Pain Management
Although you may not have been given hope
that you can manage your pain without drugs,
there are effective alternative treatments for
pain management that you can explore.
More than just freedom pain medication,
feeling empowered to manage your chronic
pain is an amazing achievement…one that
is certainly possible for you.