Coping with pain is never easy. When people feel pain probably their first thought is to reach for a medication that will hopefully relieve it. However, pain can be managed in various ways, including without prescription and/or over the counter (OTC) drugs. In this blog we will cover the various ways to manage pain – without medication.
Thinking Outside of the Pain Management Box
There are many techniques for easing pain. There are great standalone alternatives without medication or they can be used in conjunction with medication. Below are several different ways to think “Outside of the Box”:
Meditation has been so effective in relieving stress and in a lot of cases decreasing pain symptoms that on any given day you can find numerous articles about the positive effects of meditation. I have been doing meditation for almost a year, and I see a difference in myself already, as do others. Meditation focuses the mind. It lets you live in the moment and as a result causes stress and therefore, pain symptoms to decrease in many cases. It is so simple and yet so hard to do! Just focus on your breath – designate a time and place every day and sit, stand or walk and just focus on your breath. Count your breaths to 10 and then start again. Sounds easy, right? But rarely will you get even to the 4th breath, before your “Monkey Mind” is jumping from branch to branch and tree to tree. Each time you realize that your mind has diverted from the breath to another subject, just gently acknowledge it and go back to the breath. Try it! And, for your patients, ask the physicians if they think that meditation is a good adjunct therapy for the patient. You may be surprised at how many are very accepting of meditation!
- Music Therapy
According to studies, a great pain reduction therapy and diversion is music therapy. One study examined the effectiveness of using music as an intervention for relieving pain caused by osteoarthritis experienced by people over 65 years and living in a community. The results were astounding! Seniors who listened to music experienced a significant reduction in pain. Results show that the experimental group experienced a decrease, both in the perception as well as in the intensity of pain, throughout the entire period of the study. However, the control group maintained relatively the same level of pain. So, do not disregard music as an effective intervention for patients with chronic pain. I know personally music helps me a LOT with pain – it helps me to relax and basically forget about the pain symptoms!
With aromatherapy, scents from essential oils are either applied directly to the patient’s skin or inhaled. This type of alternative pain management dates back thousands of years with it being used by the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. Studies have demonstrated that it has been effective in easing pain for those with rheumatoid arthritis, headaches and cancer. Note: Be sure to have a physician’s order for this therapy.
Massage can be used for managing various types of pain. By manipulating the body’s soft tissues, not only the muscles, but also circulation, and lymphatic and nervous systems are positively impacted. According to multiple recent trials, massage is beneficial for chronic lower back pain. Note: Be sure to have a physician’s order for this therapy and use a trained massage therapist for patients.
- Getaway in a Bag
This is an alternative pain management technique offered by Duke University’s Homecare Pain Management Program. Along with medications, the home health team offers patient education on ways to manage the pain without drugs during every visit. The patient receives a bag that includes a variety of opportunities for relaxation, aroma and guided imagery therapies, and a meditation CD, as well as a squeeze ball and cuddly item for general comfort. This program has resulted in increases in outcomes and patient satisfaction. So, your agency can make their own Package for Pain relief for all patients that your interdisciplinary team has identified. The patient’s pain is an outcome that they will strive to improve during the home health admission!
Pain Medication is not the Only Answer
In conclusion, do not only rely on pain medications to help your patients or yourself! Non-pharmacological techniques can be very successful and what works for one person may not work for another. Remember, home health is meant to be holistic, so don’t just teach medications for pain!
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