15 Pain Relief Methods Doctors Don't Approve Of

People have always looked for ways to relieve their aches and pains. The Native Americans of the US used the bark of the willow tree, from which aspirin was originally made. The Chinese invented acupuncture, using tiny needles along nerve pathways to stop pain signals from arriving at the brain. For much of history and through the middle ages some people would carry an opium soaked sponge that they would put in water and suck when they felt pain. The Inca shamans would chew on coca leaves while ‘operating,’ and would periodically spit the coca into the wound to numb it. Coca leaves contain a small amount of cocaine. Many cultures used marijuana, which doesn’t actually numb pain directly, but a person’s mind is in a different state that makes managing pain easier.

As medicine has progressed, there are now many synthetic painkillers. Some of them still based on opium and cocoa. Pain is usually a signal that something is wrong with the body and is a symptom of illness or injury. However, with pregnancy and giving birth, pain is the process by which our children are born. The body must push out the baby using the muscles of the abdomen. Medicine has provided safe, reliable means of relieving pain for women during childbirth. However, some women want to use more ‘natural’ means, but it’s pretty certain their doctor will not approve.

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15 Aromatherapy - Letting The Smells Do The Work

When someone has pain, one of the traditional methods of dealing with it may be some kind of physical therapy. Something a bit less traditional also involves therapy. It is called aromatherapy. As the name suggests it is all about scents. It uses scents from plant oils that are either applied to the skin or inhaled.

Aromatherapy is another pain relief method that that has been around for a long time. It dates back thousands of years. It was used by various ancient cultures, including the Chinese, Romans, and Greeks. Studies have shown it to relieve pain from conditions. These conditions include things such as headaches, arthritis and even cancer. It is little wonder why so many cultures felt the need to use aromatherapy.

14 Disassociation Of Mind And Body

Another pain relief method that very much involves the mind is disassociation. In fact the whole concept involves separating the mind from the body. A person in pain is supposed to mentally separate her mind from her body. The person needs to imagine that the mind and body are separate from each other.

The idea is that if a person's mind is apart from her body it will help with her pain. After all, it is the body that is in pain and not the mind. Essentially, a person is separating herself from her pain. Of course, doctors are reluctant to simply rely on a person's mental state to handle pain. That is fairly understandable since one does have to wonder how effective this will be if a person is in severe pain.

13 Foursquare Breathing

Julianne Moore in a scene from David Cronenberg's movie Maps to the Stars. Credit: Seville.

Moving on from techniques that involve the mind to ones that involve something more physical. That something is breathing. The next technique is called foursquare breathing. A person is supposed to breathe deeply from the abdomen where it expands and contracts like a balloon.

A person is supposed to inhale and count to four which is where it gets its name from. Then they hold for a count of four. Then the person's exhales for a count of four and hold for another count of four. A person is meant to do all that ten times. This breathing technique is purported to help with stress. It has already been explained how stress can contribute to pain. This method essentially forces people to calm down, relax and literally take a breath.

12 Biofeedback - A New Method

Not every alternative pain reliving method has to be an ancient one. There is one that is fairly recent. It is called biofeedback. The idea of biofeedback is to teach people to consciously affect involuntary bodily functions. These functions include heart rate, muscle tension, and blood pressure.

The whole idea behind all of this is that if a person becomes aware of these things, that person can adjust them in relation to her pain. This likely sounds pretty great, but no one is entirely sure why this actually helps relieve pain. Some believe it may simply be because it helps people relax. As one can easily imagine stress typically makes pain worse so relaxing in and of itself can be a pain reliever.

11 Fit For A Queen - Hypnotherapy

Another pain relief method that medical doctors might not care too much for ironically involves another kind of doctor. More specifically it involves a psychologist, and the pain relief method is hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is essentially a person being hypnotized by a psychologist. This is suppose to help a person gain control over their states of awareness.

Once a person has control over their state of awareness the idea is that person can gain control over the body which would include pain within the body. Research suggests that this actually works. The research suggests that hypnotherapy can actually reduce the need for pain medication. Of course, since doctors tend to be fond of medication they likely would not be overly fond of hypnotherapy, and may not even view it as something that actually works.

10 Relaxation Therapy

The next pain relief method seemingly could not be more simple. It’s name pretty much says it all. It is called relaxation therapy. It is essentially just a person relaxing. It may seem simple, but relaxation therapy involves a variety of techniques.

These techniques include progressive muscle therapy and meditation to just name a few. The idea of relaxation therapy is to simply do what it takes to reduce stress because stress can oftentimes be the body's worst enemy. Stress has been shown to contribute to a wide variety of diseases. It is also the case with pain. Stress has been sure to contribute if not flat out cause pain. Many doctors might not view relaxing as a viable pain reliever, and believe a patient needs something more medicinally based.

9 Giving Tai Chi A Go

The next pain reliever method is yet another ancient method from China. It is also fairly well known. It is called Tai chi. It may vaguely sound like a form of martial arts, and basically it is yet so much more. Tai chi is also a meditation method. What makes it unique is that it is a moving meditation meaning that a person does not just sit quietly and think.

The method involves slow, gentle movements that are coordinated with deep breathing. Tai chi is supposed to help with emotional and physical ailments. That naturally includes pain. Tai chi is not completely ignored by doctors. Some doctors do prescribe it but with pain medication. That means doctors are still hesitant to rely solely on Tai chi to handle a person's pain, likely because they prefer something far more modern.

8 Altered Focus

Doctors deal with the body. That much is clear. Their whole purpose is to heal a person's body. It is because of that focus on the body that they might ignore the mind. However, this could be a mistake on their part. One pain relief method is all about the mind and how it affects your pain.

It is called altered focus. It is all about focusing your mind on a part of the body that is not in pain. For example, if a person's back is hurting that person should focus on another part of the body such as the hands. Doing that is suppose to help relieve a person's pain in their back because the mind is not focused on the back.

7 Guided Imagery


Whereas foursquare breathing is all about breathing, there is yet another one that is all about the mind. It is called guided imagery. The idea is that when a person is in pain she is supposed to imagine herself in some place tranquil to take her mind off of it. The person is intended to include colors, sounds and smells in the imagery.

However, not everything is all about imagery. It also involves breathing. A person is also supposed to breathe slowly and deeply while doing this. It is supposed to be done for five to ten minutes. This again seems largely to be a technique that is all about getting your mind off of the pain that a person is going through.

6 Self-Talk Away From The Pain

In dealing with pain, both the body and the mind has been mentioned. On that note, the next pain relief method involves perception. It is know as self-talk. It is all about how a person thinks about pain. Essentially, a person is supposed to talk to themselves when they are going through pain.

Self-talk is not not so much about relieving pain as it changing how you deal with it. For example, a person's pain might make her feel bad because it prevents her from keeping the house like she thinks she should. That person is meant to use self-talk to not feel bad about such things, and change her perception of pain. It is not a bad idea, but it is a little easy to see why a doctor would not feel the need to rely on it.

5 Music Therapy

One way to deal with pain is to simply distract a person from it. One good way to do that is with music therapy. Music therapy could not be more simple. When a person is in pain she simply listens to music.

It might sound overly simplistic, but studies have actually shown that it works when dealing with pain. It has been shown to work particularly well after surgery and childbirth. Classical music has been shown to work especially well for whatever reason. Of course there is no harm in trying any genre of music to soothe pain. In fact, the more a person likes a certain kind of music the more likely she is to be distracted by it from her pain.

4 Good Ol' Exercise

The next pain relief method may sound a bit strange to a great many people. It is exercise. Exercise is sometimes thought to bring on a certain level of pain as opposed to relieving it. Many people become sore after a heavy workout. Nevertheless, physical activity is important in interrupting the cycle of pain especially when it comes to chronic pain.

Gentle exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling can help with pain. Doctors are certainly not going to be against exercising since it is good for the body in general, and doctors tend to always recommend it to patients. However, doctors probably are not willing to rely on exercise as a pain reliever. They will likely feel the need to couple exercise with medication to treat pain.

3 Mental Anesthesia

When it comes to relieving pain, a very common method is anesthesia. This is especially true when a person is having surgery. However, the next pain relief method is not actually anesthesia, but essentially just the thought of anesthesia. It is mental anesthesia.

Basically, when a person is in pain she simply imagines that she is getting some kind of anesthesia. For example, if a person's back is hurting she can just imagine getting anesthesia injected into her back. The mere thought of getting pain relief is suppose to ease a person's pain. Of course, it is pretty easy to imagine that a doctor would rather rely on actual anesthesia to handle pain since it actually has a proven track record.

2 Herbal Remedies

When it comes to dealing with pain, doctors more than likely prefer tried and true pain medication. However, at the other end of the spectrum are herbal remedies. They are somewhat controversial in regards to if they actually work or not. The truth is it is probably not a good idea to solely take herbal remedies to handle pain, and anyone thinking of using them should probably consult their doctor first.

Nevertheless, that is not to say herbal remedies do not do anything. There have been examples of herbal remedies actually helping to relieve pain. Omega 3 fish oil supplements and anti-inflammatory spices have in particular been shown to work. So herbal remedies are certainly worth giving a shot for anyone in pain.

1 Trying Acupuncture Instead

The first pain relief method your doctor probably would not be too fond is one that's actually fairly well known. It is called acupuncture. No one knows exactly when it first started being practiced, but it has been around for a really long time. It has been used for at least two thousand years, and used successfully by many accounts as well.

It is an ancient Chinese practice that involves inserting thin, hair like needles in the skin. This is done in an attempt to regulate the movement within the body's meridian system. This is suppose to relieve pain in the body. Numerous studies indicate this actually works, but odds are your doctor will not look too fondly on it. After all doctors tend to favor modern techniques, and not something that possibly predates Jesus.

Sources: Prevention.com, EverydatHealth.com, SpineHealth.com, Health.Harvard.edu, WebMD.com

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