We are all too familiar with pain; it is truly one of the unfavorable guarantees that we have in life. Whether it be emotional or physical pain, we learn at a young age that pain is a reality that we all must face. In fact, there is a direct link between our physical pain and emotional wellness. Often times, emotional stressors are manifested in our physical ailments. Just as often, we find ourselves with physical impairments that can trigger certain emotional responses affecting our moods and perspectives.
If we understand that pain is inevitable in our lives and that this pain affects our mood, we must also understand that healthy pain management is critical for our wellness. For many of us who have been suffering chronic pain and illness, the hard truth is that in most cases, medication will never completely eradicate our pain, but can often produce unwanted side effects and addictive properties that can make things worse. This creates a need for safe, effective non-drug approaches to pain management. Here are a few safe ways to manage your pain.
Physical activity has been associated with reduced pain severity and improved quality of life. During and after exercise, the body releases various compounds that modulate pain perception, including anti-inflammatory cytokines, serotonin, and endogenous opioids that are produced within the body. Exercise may also benefit individuals that are limited by joint pain as weight loss results in reduced stress on joints.
Research indicates that certain types of activity may benefit individuals with various chronic pain conditions, including:1,2
Physical therapy treats pain holistically meaning we evaluate and treat pain from its source while managing its effects on one’s mental and physical wellness. With a thorough evaluation and examination, physical therapists are able to pinpoint the functional impairments that might be resulting in your pain and, in doing so, we are able to develop a plan of attack to address the body’s physical ills. This mitigates the need for opioids and unhealthy pain management strategies. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends physical therapy as more effective in pain management when compared to opioids in all cases aside from cancer treatment, palliative care, and certain acute care cases with proper dosage.3 Physical therapy will unmask your pain by identifying its root cause and partner with you to develop treatment plans to address functional limitations.
A systematic review and research examined the association between chiropractic treatment and opioid prescriptions in patients with spinal pain, including back and neck pain. The study results suggested that individuals with spinal pain undergoing chiropractic care have 64% lower odds of receiving a prescription for opioids than individuals without chiropractic care.4 These findings indicate that manual therapies such as chiropractic care (and physical therapy) may be an effective complementary treatment for chronic pain.
Scientific research suggests that certain dietary components may reduce pain as a result of managing the inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies. For example, certain phenolic compounds found in extra virgin olive oil, such as lignans and oleuropein, are associated with its anti-inflammatory properties. An anti-inflammatory diet that includes a number of these components may prevent chronic conditions associated with pain.5 Additionally, the elimination of nightshades (a botanical family of plants, more technically called Solanaceae) and gluten from the diet may help alleviate chronic pain conditions.
Athletico is proud to partner with SAFE Project to take on the national opioid epidemic. This partnership aims to educate individuals on the risks associated with opioid medications and provide practical solutions to communities, campuses, workplaces and active-duty service members, veterans, and their families on safer ways to manage pain. Learn more about our partnership including the “No Shame” pledge to help fight the stigma within our nation.
If you’re experiencing pain or an injury and don’t know where to start, schedule a Free Assessment at Athletico. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Mills, Sarah E E, et al. “Chronic Pain: a Review of Its Epidemiology and Associated Factors in Population-Based Studies.” British Journal of Anaesthesia, Elsevier, Aug. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6676152/.
2. Yang, Seoyon, and Min Cheol Chang. “Chronic Pain: Structural and Functional Changes in Brain Structures and Associated Negative Affective States.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, MDPI, 26 June 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6650904/.
3. “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain – United States, 2016.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Mar. 2016, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fmmwr%2Fvolumes%2F65%2Frr%2Frr6501e1er.htm.
4. Corcoran KL;Bastian LA;Gunderson CG;Steffens C;Brackett A;Lisi AJ; “Association Between Chiropractic Use and Opioid Receipt Among Patients with Spinal Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Pain Medicine (Malden, Mass.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31560777/.
5. Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K. “Stress, Food, and Inflammation: Psychoneuroimmunology and Nutrition at the Cutting Edge.” Psychosomatic Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2868080/.
6. Williams, Leython. “Say No to Pain Killers, Say Yes to Physical Therapy.” Athletico Physical Therapy, 23 Oct. 2020, www.athletico.com/2020/10/26/say-no-to-pain-killers-say-yes-to-physical-therapy/.