This post includes affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy for more details
With the latest obsession about the “opioid epidemic” doctors and politicians are increasingly phasing out medication as a treatment for pain. Most often they like to point out that there are a number of coping techniques that people can use to deal with pain that are supposedly more effective. This of course makes every person with chronic pain laugh, because of course we’ve tried a million things before we ever tried pain medication. However, I like many people in pain prefer to avoid opioids if at all possible. There are many techniques I recommend for dealing/coping with pain that do not involve medication.
1. Epsom Salt Baths
This is probably the cheapest method of dealing with pain without pills. I take a hot bath with epsom salts every night before I go to bed. This helps to relax my muscles that tense up from pain during the day. I buy epsom salts in bulk from Sams, and can usually get away with only buying 1 box a month for about $11.
2. TENS device
I only discovered TENS about a year ago, and I wish I had tried it sooner. A TENS device is actually a fairly cost effective short term solution for pain. I use my TENS every night to help me to go sleep. It’s not magic because it doesn’t actually make the pain go away, but it makes the pain feel better temporarily.
3. Pain relief creams
There are tons of pain relief creams out there and you never know which one is going to work for you. I’ve tried:
- CBD rub– Worked the best, but extremely pricey and hard to get ahold of
- more CBD rub– Worked really well, but only sold through chiropractors
- Penetrex– Only worked a little bit, and still was $34 for a tiny jar
- My Fibro cream– Did absolutely nothing
- BioFreeze– Works really well for about 15 minutes.
I currently use BioFreeze as a short term solution (usually when I’m trying to go to sleep and I can’t because my pain levels are so high).
4. Quell wearable pain relief
I’ve shared my experience with Quell before. I’ve had mine for a year and a half and I continue to use it every day. Quell is specifically designed to help with chronic pain and I do believe it has helped mine. However, it comes at a cost. Whereas a months supply of pain medication costs about $3, Quell costs $249 up front, and approximately $30 each month for electrodes (none of which is covered by insurance). That is a huge price differential which puts Quell out of the realm of possibility for many. I would never be able to afford one if I hadn’t gotten mine in exchange for a review.
5. Heating pad/infrared mat
Heat is a great way to cope with chronic pain. I own both a heating pad and an infrared mat which I use every single day. Unfortunately I have tried every brand of heating pad that exists and have yet to find one that will last me more than 4 months. On average I spend about $40 every 3 months to replace my heating pad. Again, as none of this is covered by insurance, and pain medication is significantly cheaper.
Finding ways to deal with chronic pain that don’t involve medication is complicated. It takes years of trying different things and throwing a lot of money down the drain before finding the right mix. Additionally, while all of these suggestions work for me some of the time, none of them can bring my pain levels down when they get out of control. When my pain level spikes (usually because I did something normal like clean my garage), no heating pad alive can control the pain. At that point I can either take pain medication and be back to my regular pain level in a day or so, or I can live in agony for about a week before my pain level goes down. I have children I have to take care of, so I choose the 24 hour option. Plus, like most people I prefer to not be in agony.
What pain management techniques have you found work for you?