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Six More Ways to Reduce Pain Naturally

Millions of Americans are impacted by pain in their daily lives. In fact, according to "Health United States 2006," released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, one in four Americans have experienced a full day of pain in the last month -- and one in 10 said the pain lasted for a year or more!

chronic pain suffering

More than half of Americans suffer from chronic pain, and one in 10 say their pain has lasted for a year or more.

Another national poll found similar results: more than half of the respondents said they suffer from chronic or recurrent pain, and 46 percent said they had felt pain in the last two weeks.

"Pain has been a hidden disease," says Raymond Gaeta, MD, an associate professor of anesthesia at Stanford University's medical school and director of pain management at Stanford Hospital & Clinic. "It has not received as much attention as other diseases. But now there's a growing recognition that pain really is not just the sensation we have. It's something that interferes with every one of us, with life."

11 Percent of Americans Feel They Have "Hardly Any" Control of Pain

While more than eight out of 10 Americans polled felt they had some control over pain, another 11 percent said they had "hardly any" or "no control at all" over pain.

Among the most common methods used to relieve pain were over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs, with 84 percent and 60 percent, respectively, of poll respondents trying them at least once. Other common methods were home remedies (81 percent), bed rest (58 percent) and prayer (58 percent).

How to Relieve Pain Naturally

Fortunately, whether your pain is in your back, knees, hands or head, and whether you know the cause or not, there are natural methods that can help steer you toward a more pain-free life.

"Alternative therapies often help," says Ronald V. Myers, M.D., president of the American Pain Institute. "I think it's important for both physicians and the public to keep an open mind. I support whatever works."

In Physical Pain: 8 Non-Drug Tactics to Eliminate Back, Joint & Other Pain we brought you eight strategies, and now here are six more natural, alternative therapies to consider:

1. Listening to Music

A study of 40 Ohio pain-clinic patients found that those who listened to music (ranging from pop to jazz to nature sounds) for an hour a day reported a 12 percent to 21 percent reduction in pain. Music has also been used to effectively reduce labor pain, post-surgery pain, and burn treatment.

2. Chaste Tree Berry for PMS-Related Pain

A study in the British Medical Journal reported that women who took an extract of chaste tree berry for three consecutive menstrual cycles had a 52 percent reduction in PMS symptoms compared with only a 24 percent reduction for those taking a placebo. Among the symptoms relieved were breast tenderness, headache and irritability.

yoga relaxation pain relief

Yoga's meditative deep breathing and therapeutic poses have been found to ease chronic pain significantly.

3. Increase Your Omega-3 Intake

Inflammation causes the pain associated with arthritis, multiple sclerosis and many other conditions. By avoiding processed foods, food with a lot of salt, fat and sugar, and trans fats, inflammation can be greatly reduced.

Also important is avoiding an excess of omega-6 fats (from corn oil, sunflower oil, and other vegetable oils), and eating plenty of anti-inflammatory foods, like fruits and vegetables.

Along with avoiding the "bad" fats (trans fats and too many omega-6 fats), experts say eating plenty of good fats, like the omega-3 found in cold-water fish and fish oil, is essential.

"Changing the kinds of fat in your diet plays a big role in decreasing or increasing inflammatory hormones," said dietitian Marla Brodsky, RD, LD.

In fact, researchers in Cincinnati found that women who took fish-oil pills for two months had significantly reduced pain from severe cramps, compared to women who took a placebo.

4. Consider Getting a Pet

Having a pet has been found to lessen stress, provide a better quality of life for those with orthopedic disorders and contribute to better overall health.

And while visiting a friend's pet may have some benefit, said Mara Baun, D.N.Sc., professor at The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston, "People derive the greatest health benefits from their own pet, or one to whom they feel some personal attachment."

5. Yoga

A study by researchers at UCLA found that yoga is also an effective tool to relieve chronic pain from migraines, osteoarthritis and more.

"People suffering from chronic pain go through more than just the pain itself," said Sonia D. Gaur of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center's department of psychology. "They contend with anxiety and depression as well as medication usage. Our study found improvement in every area."

In the study, 18 people with chronic pain participated in 90-minute yoga sessions three times a week for four weeks. Most of the volunteers experienced pain reduction that was significant enough for them to "ask their physicians to decrease their medication."

"Some people live with chronic pain their whole lives," Gaur says. "Yoga is another way of coping with these ailments."

6. Hypnosis

A 2000 meta-analysis of 18 published studies found that 75 percent of study participants experienced "substantial pain relief from hypnotic techniques," according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

The psychologists who performed the meta-analysis reported that "hypnotic strategies are equivalent or more effective than other treatments for both acute and chronic pain, and they are likely to save both money and time for patients and clinicians."

"Evidence suggests that hypnosis might be considered a standard of treatment unless the person fails to respond to it or shows a strong opposition against it," according to the APA.

If you haven't already, also be sure to check out our past article, "Physical Pain: 8 Non-Drug Tactics to Eliminate Back, Joint & Other Pain."

Recommended Reading

You Don't Have to Live with Pain! The Self-Healing Benefits of Stretching

The Amazing Benefits of Massage and Different Types of Massage Explained


National Center for Health Statistics December 14, 2006

Emerson Ecologics

American Psychological Association

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