Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen have their place, but natural pain relief strategies can be just as effective without the side effects.
At a recent men’s health seminar, I listened to a talk on the “false promises” of back surgery. The speaker, Dr. Steven Atlas, a Harvard physician and researcher, referred to spinal fusion as the “poster child” for expensive, risky, painful and unnecessary surgery.
“Based on the evidence,” he said, “the indications for fusion are few and far between but that doesn’t stop surgeons from doing them or patients from getting them.”
Interestingly, surveys of doctors typically show that at least half would refuse to undergo many of the treatments they recommend for their patients.
I’ve had many clients over the years who have opted to forgo surgery. Rotator cuff surgery. Back surgery. Neck surgery. Knee surgery.
Instead, they chose alternative treatments like physical therapy, tai chi, yoga, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. For most, it’s been years and they are doing things their doctors swore they’d never be able to.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who robotically pop Advil or Aleve daily for pain and inflammation, you may increase your risk of heart and kidney failure, ulcers, and internal bleeding.
Before you reach for conventional pain killers, consider these natural pain relief strategies to for both acute, exercise-induced discomfort, and pain caused by chronic and degenerative conditions.
Eat more berries
They contain disease-fighting compounds known as anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation and pain. Cherries in particular have been shown to be more effective than aspirin in pain relief.
Many professional and collegiate sports teams in have their athletes drinking tart cherry juice as a natural pain relief strategy against inflammation and other issues. Montmorency is the variety of tart cherry that scientists use in their research.
Aside from raising your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, excess sugar in the diet can increase pain. Sugar leads to the production of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which raise inflammation levels throughout the body.
Simple carbohydrates like bread and rice are quickly converted to glucose and can produce similar effects. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, processed sugars and refined carbohydrates trigger inflammation. This can present itself as pain, swelling, and redness.
Cut back on the booze
Alcohol damages the intestinal lining, which allows bacteria to pass into the bloodstream.
Heavy drinking is a common cause of gout, a condition that triggers pain in inflammation of the joints.
Long-term alcohol use can also lead to inflammation of the nerves in the arms and legs, resulting in painful symptoms such as tingling, pain, and spasms that most people have a hard time getting relief from.
Additionally, drinking can cause alcoholic myositis, another inflammatory condition, this one painfully affecting the muscles in the shoulders and chest.
Use olive oil
Eat more fish
The omega-3s it contains are anti-inflammatory. Each week, try to consume several servings of fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and trout for easy pain relief. Those who do usually report less morning stiffness, inflammation and joint tenderness.
Natural pain relief and more
As a bonus, these natural strategies will also increase energy, help with weight management, and fight disease while getting relief from inflammation and other pain.