Healthy Living > aging well

Natural Remedies for Pain Management

By Sheryl Kraft

Share on:

When you experience pain, do you:

  1. Become anxious and depressed
  2. Pop a painkiller
  3. Lose sleep
  4. Call in sick
  5. Book a massage
  6. Do nothing, live with it and suffer in silence
  7. All of the above

There's really no simple answer to this question, because there are many dynamics—like the type of pain, your background and personality and family and social environments—that can determine what your treatment plan will be, says the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care and Education.

After all, chronic pain is a tenacious problem that will not go away anytime soon and has implications beyond the source of the pain.

Chronic pain becomes more common as we age, and that's partly due to health problems like osteoarthritis that become more persistent with the advancing years. It's no surprise that a national survey finds low-back pain and osteoarthritis to be the most frequent chronic pain conditions older Americans suffer. That's not to say there are not other conditions that can cause pain as well, like rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia. In addition, chronic pain can be caused by an underlying disease or health condition, an injury, a medical treatment like surgery, inflammation or a tricky nervous system (known as "neuropathic pain").

And sometimes, there's no explanation at all.

But let's not fall into the trap of feeling depressed, hopeless or despondent.

Here's some relatively good news for the 100 million adults in the United States who suffer from chronic pain: A recent study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledges that there are some pain management alternatives to popping a pill or throwing up your hands in despair.

There's a growing body of evidence suggesting that several alternative approaches—like , and —can effectively manage some painful conditions.

And there's one more—one of my all-time favorites, which dates back thousands of years: massage. The evidence for massage as a way to manage pain is mounting.

One study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine found that multiple 60-minute massages each week helped people with chronic neck pain more than fewer or shorter sessions did. 

Another study by researchers at various universities found that massage therapy helped reduce pain and improve function in people with low-back pain faster than usual medical care did. 

And yet another study has suggested that massage therapy is effective for reducing pain in cancer patients (at least, for the short-term).

Let's hear it for massage!

  • It relieves muscle tension by enhancing blood flow, which helps muscles relax.
  • It decreases inflammation by activating genes that naturally reduce swelling.
  • It reduces pain intensity by diminishing bodily substances that create and prolong pain.
  • It improves recovery by stimulating mitochondria, the "energy packs" that drive cellular function and repair.

I know what you're going to say: How many of us have the time/money/energy to "indulge" in massages? In my dreams, I have a master masseuse visit me at home at the end of each long, tough week. Presto, change-o: My sore muscles, stiff back and tension float away with their magic touch.

But reality enters and tells me to … dream on.

The solution? An all-natural, do-it-yourself massage; no expensive appointments required.

Take a tennis ball, foam roller or use your own (or a willing partner's) hands, and massage tight or painful muscles to work out your trouble spots.

Or, purchase one of the many handheld massagers that are on the market. makes a variety of massagers that are easy to use and large enough to alleviate discomfort in major muscle groups, while being small enough to hold right in your hand.

Take its , one of the many Wahl offers. It's one of the most powerful handheld massagers on the market. Through a combination of interchangeable heads and variable intensity controls, it zeros in on muscle pain that hides out deep below the surface.

True story: My son, a marathon runner and avid athlete, came to visit recently. When he complained that he went a bit overboard on lifting weights the day before, I brought out my massager. At first, he looked at me skeptically. But as soon as I stood behind him and gently began massaging his sore muscles, he was dumbstruck. I handed it off to him, and he quickly got lost in alleviating all the other parts of his body that he had overworked in his passion to stay in shape.

After all these years, it felt good to still be able to soothe my (now-grown) child's aches and pains.

But I can tell you this: He's not going home with my massager. 

Read more:

This post originally appeared on


Great solutions. I do alot of stretching with yoga. I also have a ball to help activate the natural healing ability of my body. I also do angel healing therapy.

Love it! I am an advocate of massage and go every few weeks. I had a neighbor who walked bent over, in pain. After three people suggested he try our local masseuse, he made an appointment and is pain-free, with regular visits. It is an expense I am glad to assume because it makes me feel so much better. I had not heard about this deep-tissue percussion massager and will look into it. Sounds like something my husband and I could use.

The most challenging thing about chronic pain is that when you are having an episode or a flare, it is very hard to keep your perspective and remember it is probably short-lived (for now). When you are in it, you think this is how it is going to be the rest of your life, every day.

My husband got one of those hand-held massagers when his back went out a few months ago. It helped and his back is now fine. But the massager still lies on the floor near our bed, looking like an oversized sex toy to the unwary visitor.

That looks like a product so many can use. Chronic pain is everywhere these days, all my friends suffer one form or another.

Wow, I never knew so many people experienced chronic pain. I shall share these great tips! That Deep Tissue Percussion Massager looks amazing!

I practice yoga and Pilates, and I can attest to their effectiveness in alleviating pain. The foam rollers and tennis balls do an amazing job of massaging deep tissue, too.

After reading this, I think I need to book myself a massage!

I have chronic neck pain and use a percussion massager and Without it I would be lost not to mention in so much pain without it.
It makes me feel so good to be able to soothe my adult kids. They seem to need me so little anymore.

Medical massage saved me when I was in pain. That and peppermint oil! Great info as always Sheryl!

That's so good to hear, Ruth; glad you were able to get relief.

What great and timely info! I have to schedule a massage soon. They really do help!

I love that I can now rationalize regular massages. In fact, I had one today and am so impressed that she was able to get out some of those really tight knots in my back/shoulders/neck. Sharing this post with my husband so he can see what a health benefit this is!

A rationalization is always helpful, Lois :)

Ages ago when I went through a prolonged time of pain, I had massages once a week. It really does help. I was younger, then, though. Much harder to find the time now.

Yes, I agree that it's hard to find the time. But when I do, I always end up asking myself, "why did you wait so long?"

Great advice all around. I'm a big proponent of acupuncture. I had chronic tennis elbow and this completely alleviated the problem.

It's so good you found something that is so helpful for your problem.

I've been meaning to book a massage, but will also look for one of these cool gadgets!

Whichever route you choose hope you enjoy, Jane!

Yay for massage and time devoted to self-care. I love deep tissue, but it's so important to get someone who knows what they are doing.

I like using natural remedies when I can...but every now and then I need medication. When I get my prescriptions, I always take with me my prescription discount card from . I already feel less stress when I don't have to pay an arm and a leg for my prescriptions!

Great advice!! Physiotherapists play a critical role in assisting people to live with chronic pain. Physiotherapy maximizes activity, improves quality of life and promotes self-management for people with chronic pain. We are also spreading information on orthopedic conditions and treating through physiotherapy. For more info visit our page.


Add new comment

Этот интересный веб портал со статьями про юридическое обслуживание
viagra en pharmacie