Here is a quick list of some popular non-drug therapies for arthritis pain relief. They may be used alone, or in conjunction with each other.
• Hot and cold treatments. Usually applied directly to the pain site; heat may be more useful for chronic pain, and cold packs provide relief from acute pain. If you find heat works for you, try these warming techniques.
• Positive attitude and thoughts. Consciously switching to positive thoughts can distract your brain from feeling pain.
• Exercise. Keeping your joints and muscles moving helps improve your general fitness level and can decrease pain.
• Relaxation techniques. You can train your muscles to relax and your thoughts to slow down by using these techniques, which include deep breathing, guided imagery and visualization, among others.
• Massage. Done properly, the method can relax your muscles, help you let go of tension and provide some arthritis pain relief.
• Electrical stimulation. Also called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), the therapy is delivered through a small device that sends a painless electrical current to large nerve fibers, generating heat that relieves stiffness and pain. The current also stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers. TENS is usually prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist, so consult your health-care provider about this therapy for rheumatoid arthritis pain relief.
• Topical lotions. These are applied directly to the skin over the painful muscle or joint. They may contain salicylates or capsaicin, which decrease sensitivity to pain.
• Acupuncture. Considered a complementary or nontraditional therapy, acupuncture is the practice of inserting fine needles into the body along special points called “meridians” to relieve pain.
• Sense of humor. Many studies have demonstrated that humor can bolster the immune system and increase the ability to handle pain.