8 Therapeutic Modalities for Chronic Pain Relief

Created by Marianne Pierce

Last Updated: May 23, 2022

Chronic pain affects millions across the globe. In America, it’s estimated that 50 million adults (or 20.4% of the U.S population) deal with chronic pain. But as prevalent as this condition is, there is no easy cure for chronic pain. This article explores different therapeutic modalities for managing chronic pain.

(This post includes affiliate links for which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase)

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There are two main types of pain:

  • Acute pain results from an injury or disease. It usually comes on suddenly and is resolved once the individual recovers. However, acute pain may turn into…
  • Chronic pain is a persistent and long-lasting source of pain. Typically, this is pain that lasts longer than three months.

Many patients find that the side effects of medications outweigh the benefits. For example, opioids are effective at treating pain, but they carry a high risk of addiction. Those with chronic pain often seek alternatives to these medications. 

Tired of letting pain dictate your life? Looking for a non-invasive way to treat your pain (without causing other unpleasant side effects)? You don’t have to live in pain and discomfort. Try these therapeutic modalities for chronic pain management

happy lady posing on a rock amid nature-therapeutic modalities for chronic pain relief

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

At first, the connection between your mental health and your physical pain might seem unclear. How will a therapist help reduce your physical pain? 

First, let’s take a closer look at how the body experiences pain. There are a few factors at play here:

  1. The physical sensation of the pain
  2. Our mental response to the pain
  3. The effects of that pain on our day, from our mobility to our mood

In some cases, you cannot control your experience of pain. But you can control your reaction to it. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) encourages patients to challenge the way they think about and react to their pain. 

Studies show that CBT is an effective treatment for chronic pain. Consider meeting with a cognitive behavioral therapist to help manage your pain. 

Yoga

Exercise is one of the therapeutic modalities that can be used for pain management. However, depending on your age and the condition of your body, certain types of exercise may put too much pressure on your joints. If you’re looking for a low-impact exercise that will strengthen your muscles and alleviate your pain, try yoga!

Practice gentle exercise by starting a daily yoga practice. You can stretch your muscles and ease your mind without straining your joints. There are plenty of great yoga channels on YouTube that provide free yoga content. Search for videos that are tailored for those with chronic pain.

[Try these top yoga poses for tension headaches].

Yoga is one of the therapeutic modalities to try for chronic pain-lady with arms extended in child's pose

Electrical Stimulation

The machine sends mild electric pulses to stimulate injured muscles. Those pulses increase blood flow, which helps initiate the healing process. This treatment can help you recover from an injury and manage ongoing pain. If you’re interested in trying this treatment, contact a chiropractor near you. 

[Check out these top benefits of going to a chiropractor].

Physical Therapy

When you’re in pain, the last thing you want to do is get up and move around. But gentle exercise can provide relief for chronic pain. Research shows that physical activity is an effective intervention for chronic pain. It’s most effective when it’s tailored to meet an individual’s needs. For that, you can visit a physiotherapist

The owner of Fit4Life Physiotherapy in Winnipeg writes, “Arthritic conditions that we commonly treat include Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Osteoarthritis.”

Another form of physical therapy is massage. During this treatment, a massage therapist applies pressure to sore muscles and inflamed areas. They knead, rub, and press the skin to promote relaxation and dissolve muscle tensions. A few benefits of deep tissue massages include:

  • Stress relief
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduction in pain & inflammation 

Physical therapists and personal trainers often use myofascial release tools such as trigger point balls and massage guns as part of their therapeutic modalities to help release muscle knots and relieve pain.

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Mindfulness & Relaxation

When you’re feeling stressed, you may notice that it exacerbates your symptoms of pain. While stress may not be the main source of your pain, it can be a contributing factor. Managing your stress can improve your overall quality of life and may reduce symptoms of pain. 

Stress management techniques can help alleviate this discomfort. One effective way to reduce your stress is by practicing mindfulness.

Strengthening the mind-body connection helps you expand your awareness of your thoughts and experiences. With mindfulness, you can focus your attention and redirect your thoughts. 

There are four ways that mindfulness changes your thought processes:

  • Detect when your mind wanders
  • Distance yourself from distractions
  • Redirect your attention
  • Sustain your attention

All of these processes can help someone who’s trying to manage their chronic pain. But contrary to popular belief, mindfulness is not always relaxing or easy. It’s difficult to be present with yourself and sit with your racing thoughts or painful bodily sensations. 

A lady practicing mindfulness meditation for relaxation outdoors in nature

Exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the body. Not sure how to get started with your mindfulness practice? Set aside a few minutes each day to try these prompts:

  • Use mental imagery to create a sense of calmness and peace. Picture a place where you feel relaxed. By thinking about a peaceful situation, your body will respond by relaxing and releasing tension. 
  • Listen to a guided audio meditation that walks you through mindfulness practice. Find a quiet place to enjoy your practice, lie down, and close your eyes.

[Find out about this incredible 4day Mindfulness Discovery Program].

A New Sleep Routine

Tossing and turning all night can lead to more than a groggy morning. Sleep deprivation can also worsen your aches and pains. It interrupts valuable time your body uses to heal.

But those with chronic pain often have a harder time falling asleep. Sore muscles and aching joints keep people up at night. Try this sleep regime to get a more restful night of sleep:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night. Set the alarm, so you rise at the same time.
  • Follow the same routine each night before bed; this will signal your body that it’s time to sleep. For example, you can drink a specific flavor of tea before bed. 
  • Take any electronics outside of your bedroom, including your TV, computer, or cell phone. 
sleep can help with chronic pain relief-woman sleeping on stomach

Dietary Adjustments

The foods we eat affect how we feel on a day-to-day basis. Following that logic, our diet may contribute to health conditions that cause pain. Dr. Sean Ceaser, a Winnipeg naturopath, writes, “The foods you eat can aggravate arthritis.” 

Try to avoid foods that may trigger inflammation, which includes refined carbohydrates, fried foods, and red or processed meats. In turn, replace them with anti-inflammatory foods, which include leafy greens, nuts, and fish. 

While it’s unlikely that your diet is the sole cause of your pain, it may be a contributing factor. We recommend adjusting your diet based on these guidelines, which may lessen your symptoms of discomfort. 

Acupuncture 

If you’re afraid of needles, you might want to pass up on this pain reduction technique. But even so, it’s worth a try if other healing modalities have proved ineffective. 

Acupuncture is used to relieve discomfort and stimulate the body’s healing process. Thin, sterile needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points. If you’re interested in trying acupuncture, we strongly recommend contacting an experienced and licensed acupuncturist professional. 

Pain is a subjective experience that’s different for everybody. As such, the success of one treatment or another varies based on the individual. You may need to try several different pain reduction techniques before you find one that works for you. 

We recommend speaking with your doctor before starting a new pain management treatment. A healthcare provider can help you identify ways to safely and effectively try new therapeutic modalities. They can also identify any potential interactions with your current treatment to ensure you’re safe from dangerous side effects.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these recommended service provider links, like an insurance broker, or a travel agent, I may earn a commission – at no extra cost to you. [For my full disclosure, please see my DISCLAIMER page]

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Marianne Pierce

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