Natural and Home Remedies for Pain

Fight pain with self-care strategies like yoga, Tai chi, meditation and more.

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7 Natural Remedies for Pain

It takes a multifaceted approach to take the edge off chronic pain. That means employing several pain management techniques, rather than a single pain remedy. Yes, it's important to follow your doc's recommended pain medication plan, but don't stop there. Explore other do-it-yourself pain remedies until you've developed a combined chronic pain treatment plan that really relieves your aches and pains. Here are seven options to try.

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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Heat or Ice for Pain?

Ice packs can help reduce swelling and numb muscle and joint pain, but some folks prefer moist heat to ease aches and pains. Others find the best pain relief from a combination of both. Follow these basic guidelines: Use ice—never heat—in the first 48 hours after an injury, and make sure never to place an ice pack directly on the skin (use a paper towel or cotton lining). After the first 48 hours, use heat or alternate heat with cold. Not sure which is best for your muscle or joint pain? Check with your doctor.

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Analgesics for Pain

Suffering from muscle spasms, a soft-tissue injury, or osteoarthritis? Over-the-counter or prescription analgesic creams containing arnica menthol, wintergreen, peppermint, camphor, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help soothe your chronic pain. Ask your doc whether combining topical analgesics with oral pain relievers might help even more. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, or ibuprofen can help relieve pain, as can prescription pain relievers.

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Breathing Exercises for Pain

Deep-breathing exercises not only reduce the stress associated with chronic pain (or a crummy day at the office), they may also help fight pain itself. You can use deep breathing as an emergency pain- or stress-reducing measure. Better yet, make it a daily ritual to see if it reduces pain levels and lifts your mood.

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Meditate to Fight Pain

Can Zen meditation relieve pain? Studies have revealed that people practicing mindfulness meditation are often less sensitive to pain, experience noticeable drops in chronic pain levels, and are better able to cope with pain than folks who don't meditate. One way meditation helps is by boosting production of pain-killing hormones in the brain.

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Can Hypnosis Fight Pain?

Hypnosis—or hypnotherapy—is an intentionally induced trance-like mental state thought to make a person more receptive to suggestion and helpful guidance. It has been used to help people lose weight, quit smoking, and enhance athletic performance. Some claim hypnosis also curbs and enhances the ability to cope with chronic pain. However, some people are less susceptible to hypnosis than others, so the technique isn't for everyone. If you want to try it for pain, seek the services of a trained and licensed hypnotherapist.

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Fight Pain With Your Mind

Can how you think about your pain worsen or improve it? Maybe. Studies examining cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have found that chronic pain sufferers who undergo CBT become more optimistic about their abilities to relieve and cope with their pain in as little as 6 days. If you want to explore this avenue, ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist trained in CBT.

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Two Eastern forms of meditative exercise—tai chi and yoga—are prized for enhancing strength, flexibility, and a calm spirit. Studies have revealed that both may also reduce pain and improve physical function in people with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic lower-back pain. Beyond that, both disciplines may lower stress levels and boost overall quality of life in chronic pain sufferers.

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