Ways to Reduce Pain Without Drugs

Pain has a variety of causes and sources and affects individuals differently. Though, the majority of discomfort is manageable, particularly when you interact with your nurses and doctors. Some people easily go to pharmacies and look for best over the counter painkillers. However, there are already proven ways of eliminating pain without the intervention of medical professionals or the use of medications. 

There are various kinds of pain that we can encounter throughout our lives, including toothache, headache, stomachache, gout, muscle sores, and more. 

Pain can occasionally have a function — for example; it can alert us to the fact that we’ve sprained an ankle. However, discomfort can persist for weeks or even months for many people, causing unnecessary suffering and diminishing quality of life.

There are numerous approaches to managing, eliminating, or reducing pain, including pain medications, physical therapy, and complementary therapies, as well as nonpharmacological management.

What is non-pharmacological pain management?

a man in pain holding his arm

Non-pharmacological pain management is a term that refers to the treatment of pain without the use of drugs. These non-drug ways of easing pain focus on shifting one’s thoughts and concentration to manage better and lessen discomfort. Non-pharmacological pain management techniques include the following:

Psychological conditioning and education. Uncertainty about what to expect throughout cancer therapy is quite distressing. However, if you are prepared and can foresee what will occur, your level of tension will be significantly reduced. Consider the following to help alleviate your anxiety regarding cancer treatment:

Inquire about a detailed explanation of each stage of a method, accompanied by basic illustrations or diagrams when available.

Consult with the individual who will do the treatment and jot down any pertinent information.

Take a tour of the room where the surgery will occur.

Inquire about the expected outcome of the treatment.


a woman hypnotizing another woman

A psychologist or physician guides you into an altered state of awareness through hypnosis. This assists you in focusing or narrowing your attention to alleviate discomfort.

Hypnosis techniques include the following:

  1. Imagery. Guidance through mental imagery of sights, sounds, tastes, scents, and feelings might assist in diverting focus away from the pain.
  2. Distraction. Distraction is frequently employed to assist children, particularly infants. Distract preschoolers by using colorful, moving objects or singing songs, telling stories, or looking at books or movies. Adults and older children find it beneficial to watch television or listen to music. Distraction should be used sparingly and not instead of explaining what to expect.
  3. Relaxation. Through relaxation/guided visualization methods such as deep breathing and stretching, Guidance can frequently alleviate discomfort.

Other non-pharmacological pain management techniques may include comfort therapy, physical and occupational therapy, psychosocial therapy/counseling, and neurostimulation. The following are some examples of non-pharmacological pain treatment techniques:

Comfort therapy. Comfort therapy may involve the following:

Heat/cold application


Lotions/massage therapy


Music, art, or drama therapy

Pastoral counseling


Physical and occupational therapy. Physical and occupational therapy may involve the following:

Tone and strengthening



Psychosocial therapy/counseling. Psychosocial therapy/counseling may involve the


Individual counseling

Group counseling

Family counseling

Neurostimulation. Neurostimulation alleviates pain by interfering with the transmission of pain signals between the spinal cord and the brain. In other terms, it outwits your discomfort. Neurostimulation may involve the following:

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)



Consider the patient’s age, developmental stage, medical history, prior experiences, the current degree of pain, and/or predicted discomfort when determining the most effective non-pharmacological method. Non-pharmacological treatments have the advantage of being reasonably affordable and safe.

If your pain has outstayed its welcome, you should be aware that you now have more treatment options than at any point in history. We’ve compiled a list of nine strategies for managing and alleviating pain that doesn’t involve an intrusive procedure — or even the use of medication.

1. Application of heat and cold.

Man with headache at home

These two time-tested techniques remain the foundations of pain relief for some types of injuries. If a DIY hot or cold pack does not work, see a physical therapist or a chiropractor for their opinions about these treatments, which are more effective at penetrating deeper into the muscle and tissue.

2. Physical activity.

Physical activity like exercise is critical for breaking the “vicious cycle” of pain and decreased mobility associated with certain chronic diseases, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. Consider modest aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling.

3. Occupational and physical therapy.

These two subspecialties can be some of your most stalwart partners in the battle against pain. Physical therapists will lead you through a series of exercises to maintain or improve your strength and mobility. Occupational therapists assist you in learning how to conduct a variety of daily activities without aggravating your pain.

4. Techniques involving the mind and body.

These practices, which include meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises (among others), assist you in regaining control of your body and decreasing the “fight or flight” response, which can exacerbate chronic muscle tension and discomfort.

5. Yoga and tai chi are also beneficial.

A woman stretching on a pink yoga mat

These exercises combine breath control, meditation, and modest muscle stretching and strengthening motions. Numerous studies have demonstrated that they can assist individuals in managing pain caused by various diseases, ranging from headaches to arthritis to chronic injuries.

6. Biofeedback.

This technique teaches relaxation and breathing techniques using a biofeedback system, which converts physiological data (blood pressure and heart rate) into visual cues such as a graph, a blinking light, or even an animation. Through observation and modification of the images, you have some control over your body’s response to pain.

7. Psychotherapy through music.

Studies have found music to help with pain relief during and after surgery and childbirth. While classical music has been shown to be particularly effective, there is no harm in experimenting with your favorite genre – listening to the music of any genre can distract from pain or discomfort.

8. Massage therapy.

Not merely a luxury, massage can help alleviate pain by relaxing muscles and joints, alleviating stress and anxiety, and possibly distracting you from pain by introducing a “competing” sensation that overcomes pain signals.

9. Pet therapy or therapy with animals.

A man kissing a woman holding her book and a dog

If you experience periods of agony lasting five, ten, or fifteen minutes, finding something nice to divert and relax — such as touching an animal’s soft fur — can be beneficial.

A pain measuring scale is also one instrument that can assess the pain one is experiencing. You will be asked to rate your pain on the scale below and select a number between 0 and 10, with 10 being the worst.

Bear in mind that your health care team will not know how much pain you are experiencing until you inform them. You may assist them by asking questions and learning more about pain management.