Living with chronic pain isn’t just tough; it can be debilitating.

Whether you suffer from fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, or just a lingering injury, the pain can get to you. But it’s not just a physical problem, as it can affect your mood and lead to depression.

When it comes to managing your pain, you need all the help you can get. You can get that by seeking out some holistic therapies and making some changes to your life. And while painkillers can help, you need to be careful with them.

Why Prescriptions Are Problematic

Painkillers are often prescribed by physicians to help you manage the pain. You could have a prescription for anything from Vicodin to Oxycodone. These can be a vital part of how you manage your pain, and you should always talk to your physician about them. But you also need to be careful, as these are opioids and can damage your body.

Opioid painkillers don’t actually kill the pain. They just decrease how you can feel it. They also give a sort of “high” that makes you not mind the pain that you feel. This can lead to some bad side effects, such as constipation, heartburn, muscle cramps, twitching, and hypersensitivity.

That’s the short-term side effects. Taking opioid painkillers for a long time can create all manner of problems for your body. Your liver, kidneys, lungs, stomach, and intestines can all suffer because those painkillers are interfering with how your body works. You can even develop an addiction after taking prescription medications for too long.

Holistic Alternatives That Work

What can you do if opioids are that bad? Again, first speak with your physician about painkillers to see what they think. That said, there are some holistic alternatives that can help you better manage your pain.

There is evidence showing that certain herbs can help relieve pain, even the chronic kind. Capsaicin (the heat in chili peppers) blocks pain transmitters in your nerves and makes a great topical rub. Ginger and turmeric can both help treat pain and inflammation, whereas unusual herbs like feverfew and devil’s claw can help but more research is needed. Hemp oil hemp has some compelling research behind it showing reduction in inflammation, anxiety, and depression.

Believe it or not, mediation and sleep can both help you manage your chronic pain. When you get enough sleep, your body tends to have fewer problems with inflammation, a leading cause of chronic pain. Meditation has been shown to decrease your stress and lower your hormone levels, both of which can help. Even going to see a therapist or psychologist can help.

Keep in mind that just because something is “holistic” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Always read the fine print, and speak to your doctor before going for any of these ideas.

Modify Your Home & Life

Getting holistic therapy can make a big difference, but there are a few other tips that can help you manage your chronic pain better. They involve making a few changes to your home and life.

First, make a pain journal. Keep track of when you have flare-ups, and note the activity you were doing just beforehand. This can help map out what triggers your chronic pain. For example, stretching too far to grab something can hurt, so you might want to place common objects easily within reach.

You’ll also want to watch what you eat and to get more exercise. As you exercise, your body releases natural painkillers called endorphins. These improve your immune system, reduce pain, and help with your mood. And there are diets that reduce your inflammation. These usually include plenty of water, fresh fruit and vegetables, and healthy fats.

You Can Beat Chronic Pain

This battle is not going to be easy, which is why it pays to look into more than just a prescription. Try out some holistic therapies to see what works for you. Then make a few changes in your home and life to help reduce flare-ups. And above all, keep communicating with your doctor.

-Jackie Waters