How To Relieve Pain (When You Can't Take Painkillers)

If you're in pain, you've got a problem -- and if you're in pain but can't tolerate pharmaceutical painkillers for whatever reason, that problem may seem insurmountable. Fortunately, there are plenty of other treatment methods that can grant you the relief you seek. Here are some drug-free pain relievers to consider.

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Even if you're familiar with ultrasound as an imaging technique, you may not know that a variety of it can also be used to relieve pain. Therapeutic ultrasound is applied to painful joints or injured tissues by an instrument that emits high-frequency sound waves (above the level of human hearing). The sound waves cause tissues to vibrate, heating up as they do so. This thermal effect seems to help loosen tight muscle fibers and connective tissues, including scar tissue that contributes to pain and stiffness. The end result is freer, less-painful range of motion.

A session of therapeutic ultrasound may take only 3 to 5 minutes, with the device being moved around constantly to prevent any one spot from getting uncomfortably hot. This makes it not only useful for pain relief but also extremely easy to schedule into your busy day. For more information on ultrasounds, check out a website like


Your body is quite capable of producing its own safe, natural painkillers. They're called endorphins, neurotransmitters that convey an opiate-like pain relief effect. An ancient but effective technique known as acupuncture can harness that internal painkilling mechanism to help you cope with acute or chronic pain without reaching for the medicine cabinet. It seems that the stimulation of specific acupuncture points causes white blood cells to interact with calcium in a way that triggers the release of endorphins. 

Spinal Decompression Therapy

If you have a pinched nerve from a herniated or bulging disc in your spine, spinal decompression therapy might provide the drug-free relief you're looking for. Spinal decompression therapy is not to be confused with spinal decompression surgery, an invasive procedure that necessarily involves painkillers during recovery. This form of therapy uses a motorized treatment table to apply a small amount of flexion distraction (pulling-apart) force to the spinal column. This force creates a vacuum in the space that accommodates the problematic disc, pulling it back into position -- and away from the nerve it was pinching. Mission accomplished, with no painkillers needed.

Weight Loss

If your pain seems to have increased along with your waistline measurement, then shedding some extra pounds might just as easily reverse that trend. Obesity is known to cause a variety of health problems, some of which can cause chronic or acute pain. For one thing, the extra pressure on weight-bearing joints can result in knee, hip or ankle pain as well as back pain. More indirectly, excess weight can bring on conditions such as diabetes, which is associated with peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain in the extremities). It even appears that otherwise healthy individuals are more likely to suffer pain simply because they're obese.

Ask your primary care physician for advice on how to lose weight safely. A combination of diet and gentle exercise such as walking can help you lose those painful pounds without hurting yourself inadvertently in the process. The less weight your body has to carry around, the less strain it will be under and the less pain you may feel.

Dietary Changes

Did you know that the food on your plate can play a role in how much pain you're experience? The reason for this is that some foods promote inflammation, while others discourage it. For instance, trans fats, red meat, sugar and refined fats are all associated with inflammatory responses; unfortunately, they all tend to be common features of the modern diet as well.  On the other hand, foods such as fatty fish, kelp, blueberries, garlic, turmeric and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and their kin) have anti-inflammatory properties. By selecting your menu with care, you can thus employ the foods you eat as part of a larger pain/inflammation relief strategy.

From therapeutic ultrasound to dietary changes, you have more control over your pain than you might think -- control that doesn't come from a medicine bottle. Ask your doctor about these and other techniques for feeling better without pharmaceuticals.

About Me

Working With Excellent Physicians

I have never been one of those people who love going to the doctor, but a few years ago I was told that I had a serious back condition. I needed my doctor's help to cope with the daily pain I was experiencing, and it really helped a lot. My team of medical professionals was excellent, and I quickly found my condition well-controlled and comfortable. This blog is all about finding the right team of doctors and communicating with them effectively. By knowing how to choose a doctor and talk with them in a clear, concise manner, you can make your recovery easier.