Alternatives to Painkillers: Do they work?

Pain Relief 6 July 2017 | Comments Off on Alternatives to Painkillers: Do they work?

There are many alternatives out there to prescription painkillers for relieving chronic pain. Some have been proven to be more beneficial than others. This article will discuss some of those alternatives and whether they work or not. So before you go online to buy co-codamol or a similar powerful antidote to pain consider that there might be a safer alternative although it may not be quite as effective.

Types of Pain

Pain can be felt anywhere throughout the body, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. It can vary in degree from dull to sharp. These symptoms will generally fall under three categories and can either be acute or chronic.

Nociceptive pain is the normal response to injury skin, organs, muscles, tendons, joints and bones. This includes both somatic and visceral.

Inflammatory pain comes after the tissue is damaged and inflammation occurs. This can include warmth, swelling and redness. This is the body’s biological response to the injury and promotes healing.

Neuropathic pain is more complex than the other two types of pain previously discussed. Nerve pain occurs when the sensory system is compromised by injury or disease. This can be caused by peripheral nerve problems or injury to the brain or spinal cord. Common symptoms are numbness, tingling and loss of sensation. This pain is chronic and does not come on quickly, nor does it subside easily.

Acute pain is caused from injury to soft tissue and lasts less than a few months, usually just a few days. Sprains, cuts and minor burns fall into this category. Acute pain is normally more sharp and severe than chronic pain.

Chronic pain can last for weeks, months, years and even a lifetime. There are times when acute pain can turn chronic. These problems can stem from traumatic injuries, or be the result of ongoing illnesses. Sometimes the cause can be cured, sometimes it can’t; but the pain can usually be managed successfully.

Typical Painkillers

There are quite a few pain relievers on the market that your physician will recommend or prescribe for your pain. Some of the most common are:

  • Tramadol
  • Paracetamol
  • Codeine Phosphate
  • Dihydrocodeine
  • Opioids
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Other Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Co-codamol
  • Morphine
  • Medical marijuana or THC

Alternatives to Painkillers

For one reason or another, whether it be fear of dependency or sensitivity to certain drugs, many people seek alternative ways to control their pain. Here are few other approaches that can be used instead of, or along with, narcotic painkillers.


Some patients may be skeptical about doing exercise when they are already in pain, but it has been proven to help provide relief from certain ailments, like arthritis and lower back pain. This should never be done, except under the advice of an authorized medical professional.

Exercise has been shown to help with pain, stress, fatigue and insomnia. While it can be greatly beneficial, depending on the severity and cause of the pain, medication may still be needed in conjunction with exercise.

Massage Therapy

There have been endless studies that show that massage therapy can be extremely helpful with chronic pain. Arthritis and fibromyalgia sufferers are frequently recommended to get massages to help control their pain, decrease stiffness and help with functionality. This can help lower the frequency that painkillers must be used, but doesn’t necessarily replace the need for those drugs altogether.


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment using fine needles inserted into certain points on the body which stimulate the body’s self-healing mechanisms. When acupuncture started gaining attention in the 1970’s, doctors were skeptical. Today, the treatment is widely accepted in the medical community.

Acupuncture is commonly used and is successful in treating back and neck pain, shoulder pain, chronic headache and osteoarthritis.


There has been a lot of talk lately about using supplements to treat chronic pain. Supplements like SAM-e, capsaicin, boswellia and glucosamine have all been reported to help with arthritis pain. White willow bark, caffeine and feverfew are said to help with headaches. Fibromyalgia suffers are recommended to increase their Vitamin D intake.

It is true that some vitamin deficiencies can result in pain. It is also true that an increase in certain supplements may be recommended for certain illnesses. But, if your pain is significant enough to seek treatment, it is not likely supplements will end the aches and pains you experience.


It has been recommended that doctors should choose alternatives to painkillers, like opioids, unless the case involves active cancer, palliative care, or end-of-life care. While many of these drug-free approaches can help greatly, there are times when they cannot completely diminish the need for pain control medications.