Opioids Aren’t the Only Choice: 6 Alternative Therapies for Pain Management

Opioids Aren’t the Only Choice: 6 Alternative Therapies for Pain Management

By Kimberly Hayes.

When used properly, opioid drugs are a safe and effective treatment for pain relief. However, difficulty accessing medication and concerns over efficacy and addiction have lead many chronic pain sufferers to seek alternative therapies. Other chronic pain sufferers choose to complement conventional treatments with alternative therapies to effectively manage their pain.

Alternative pain therapies take a variety of approaches. Some, like massage, seek to affect pain directly. Others, like meditation, focus on coping strategies that reduce pain’s impact on quality of life. And others still, such as yoga, aim to build strength and physical function.

These are some of the most popular alternative therapies for chronic pain.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is quickly rising to the top of alternative pain therapies. CBD is derived from hemp, which means it can’t intoxicate users like THC. It does, however, contain compounds that reduce inflammation and regulate pain and moods. CBD can be taken orally as an oil, tincture, or edible product; inhaled as a vapor; or applied topically as a cream or salve.


Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine, sterile needles into the body to stimulate acupoints. Although typically associated with Chinese medicine, acupuncture is recognized as an effective and long-lasting treatment for chronic pain, particularly low-back pain, neck pain, knee pain, and headaches. The NIH advises that patients to seek services from a licensed acupuncturist or a conventional medical practitioner with training in acupuncture. Additionally, acupuncture is covered under some health insurance policies.


Chronic pain and mental health are intimately connected. Not only does living in pain increase the risk of mental health issues like chronic stress and depression, but stress and depression also amplify pain. Mindfulness meditation helps chronic pain sufferers overcome this feedback loop. Through meditation, individuals learn how to shut down negative ruminations and stop focusing on their pain. Meditation is simple to do at home but may take practice to get right.


Yoga combines the healing powers of meditation and strength-building exercise into a single practice. Through yoga, chronic pain sufferers can practice mindfulness meditation while also building strength and flexibility so their body functions better. There are many ways to practice yoga, from slow-paced Iyengar yoga to the highly athletic Vinyasa yoga. New practitioners should learn basic poses before advancing to more difficult yoga types to avoid injury.


Massage therapy relaxes muscles and stimulates the production of neurotransmitters that reduce pain and promote feelings of well-being. Pain Doctor recommends Swedish, deep tissue, trigger point, myofascial relief, and craniosacral therapy massage for chronic pain sufferers. Unfortunately, the expensive nature of massage makes this an inaccessible therapy to many individuals who are suffering from chronic pain.

Anti-inflammatory Diets

When inflammation is behind chronic pain, a special diet designed to reduce inflammation in the body may be able to help. An anti-inflammatory diet calls for adherents to avoid processed foods, added sugars, and alcohol while building a diet around colorful vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and plant- and animal-based proteins. This is also the core of any healthy diet, so chronic pain sufferers have nothing to lose by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet.

These six alternative therapies are proven effective against chronic pain, but that doesn’t mean they’ll work for everyone. Refining an individual’s pain management strategy may require experimenting with several therapies before finding the most effective approach. For some chronic pain sufferers, alternative therapies alone may not be enough, and conventional pain treatment is needed in conjunction to provide effective pain relief. As with all healthcare decisions, individuals with chronic pain should talk with their doctor to devise a pain management plan that’s safe, healthy, and effective for them.

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Authored by: Kimberly Hayes

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These alternate therapies are business models projected to increase revenue in the billions as people are abused by physicians, insurance companies and the CDC. As far as I know, I am the only person that was able to open the door of communication with the CDC and the FDA concerning the CDC Wonder Database and the 2016 CDC opioid prescribing guidelines. People would do well to look at the FDA, M.A.U.D.E. database. This is the manufacturer and user devise experience database. You can search the database by medical devices, manufacturer and models. Of particular interest to me is the data contained about spinal cord stimulators. Highly rated by pain management physicians, these devices have a horrible tract record. Once implanted, it is yours. I found two individuals that had these implanted and both had deep regrets. What happens you turn your pain management over to a non medical electronic technician. Adjustments to the device modulator cost about $275 per adjustment.
I have actually seen people come into the clinic in tears, buckling at the knees only to be told you can have an adjustment when the rep drives here from 200 miles away. “Sorry, No pain meds because you said the SCS worked for you”

Incurable painful disease patients carry many “tools” in their toolbox to aid their prescribed pain medication therapy in bringing their pain down to a manageable level. It is rare to find any patient who does not use any alternative therapy as an adjunct to their medication.
It is difficult to support any physician who states that these therapies will work as well as prescribed opioids stand alone.
For moderate to severe pain, that is not true and there are no good studies backing up these claims at all. Patient reports are spotty and sketchy at best, even doing these therapies medicated.

Furthermore, an elephant in the room that not one physician or government official has addressed to my knowledge yet is there are people who find some of these therapies offensive and against their religious beliefs.

Are we going to force these people to violate their 1A rights in the name of the opioid crisis?


Kris Aaron’s comment sums it up for me! I’m fused 4 levels in my neck and from L2 through S1. I’ve struggled with back, hip, and leg pain since the mid 1980’s but I managed to finish 20 years in the Marine Corps. I’ve tried everyone of the alternatives suggested in this article – many of them numerous times. About the only thing I haven’t tried is voodoo! If I could do any of those alternatives to relieve my pain and get off my pain meds I’d do so. The knee jerk response from our politicians and medical “professionals” along with numerous journalists and pseudo-professionals that jump on the anti pain medicine bandwago are irresponsible, disrespectful, and down right criminal in their behavior. One of these days perhaps these propagandists will be in long-term chronic pain like so many of us and realize their fallacy.


I had neck surgery and lower back surgery and one of lower was infusion .so I am limited to movement now I have a neck surgery again for multiple disc problem and also a nother back surgery do to fail back infusion so with all of that and limited movement how do y’all think I can do yogo and others exercise to help the pain when there’s a lot of less movement of the spine.

Julie Kadair

As time passes, you might start thinking ” It seems like the Gov is trying to kill us”…..if you aren’t there already.
Is there a public document calling for population reduction? In the name of SUSTAINABILITY?
A few of my observations over the years are posted below in another comment. I’m guessing most aren’t aware of….we are our only advocates. And Dr. Forrest Tennant & Ken McKim (YT watch everything posted by them. Dr. Tennant is under ” The Dr. who refuses to quit prescribing opioids”….he was raided by the DEA a month later in spite of being the Nation’s leading expert on drug addiction since the 70’s and given a grant by the Gov to study pain management.
-peace & love to all, from another chronic pain pt since 2000.

Michelle Lynn Stevens

I joined this forum to stay informed on the every day changes within healthcare pertaining to chronic pain and treatment. When I saw a portion of the post in my email I thought, this could be interesting or possibly helpful information. With much sadness, I report that the article is no more helpful or interesting than the countless articles that are simply a waste of what precious time I have. But, thanks for sharing, I still have a sense of humor after being looked at and told I’m depressed, I should meditate! In fact, I’m on my way to meditation now….having taken my opioid medication IN ORDER TO DO SO! Further more…2016, having been on a number of narcotics and other drugs…all prescribed by MY physician for almost 10 years, I chose to go into a hospital which was also a drug addiction treatment facility. Because I had a chronic condition, I detoxed under a doctor’s care. Why did I do this? Because I no longer could answer the question where is my pain on a damn scale. High doses over the years had taken it’s toll and my body hurt despite the meds. The drugs ruled my body, my spirit, my world. I wanted to feel my pain once more. I had to know and the only way to do this was to detox. Let me just say that not 1 of the 10 or so individuals that were there for detox/treatment became addicts due to pain. Neither I nor the countless others who suffer debilitating chronic conditions are addicts, will ever identify with or as an addict. Habitual use, yes, addict, absolutely not. I was narcotic free for 2 years, working on my MIND BODY & SPIRIT. I moved across the country from Pitt, Pa. to Orlando Fl. with the sunshine in mind. Long story short, recent surgery failed to improve my condition. So, back to pain management, which includes opiod use. For me there’s no doubt, and to date, a treatment that has done for me what opiods have. For those trying to take drugs away, provide med coverage to those of us with chronic illness.


Myofascial massage helps me a bit. $70 per session. If I have only One session a week I then have $500 left for odds and ends-like food.
Where do people think the money will come from for Any type of massage etc? Why have acupuncturists added to insurance and not massage??
I have tried every form of Cannabis-it scares me CBD oil is suddenly a “cure all”. It is not.


Eveyone who has written in this forum, I thank you for sharing your experience. I cannot type long enough today to tell my own story, but I feel much less isolated after reading yours.
Vent: Knowing I can neither work nor maintain my household, a good-intentioned friend the other day suggested cold showers as a cure. A lifelong meditation and yoga practice has allowed me to maintain normal vital signs and the inner strength to live with 8/10 pain, but I am rarely able to do these practices with the physical limitations upon me. (A more recent adoption of Tai Chi and Qigong can easily be done consistently, from various positions, at home or in a group, in any state of mind, and offers cumulative health benefits.)
The demonized prescription pain medications are sometimes the only “alternative,” Elizabeth. hence their utilization is called “palliative care.”


Can’t these officials realize that pain patients are compliant and closely monitored? In order to obtain care we must adhere to the rules such as urine testing or we will be dismissed. Monthly visits, our prescriptions are tracked. Pain patients are among the most closely monitored patients in the medical field, and likely less risk of addiction than the general population.

Dry needling has been of great help to me in reducing the pain in my neck. I was scheduled for a 2 level cervical fusion last year & these sessions have bought me time. My arms are no longer going numb & the burning pain from a very large bone spur is gone. RFA- radio frequency ablation is a procedure l have done every 6 months to both sides of my lower spine. I get so much relief from this that my need for breakthrough medication is cut by 50%-75%.

I write quite a lot in published media on this subject. A recent paper with Dr Stephen E Nadeau may be of interest: https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/resources/practice-management/behind-ahrq-report “Behind the AHRQ Report – Understanding the limitations of “non-pharmacological, non-invasive” therapies for chronic pain.”

From all that I have observed in 21 years of advocating for patients, the techniques which Kimberly Hayes recommends may have a constructive role to play for some patients, some of the time — not as replacements for analgesic therapy, but as additions or “adjuncts”. Where I get off the trolley, so to speak, is when government authorities mandate the use of these techniques as replacements or in so-called “Step” therapy. There is simply no credible medical evidence that supports such policies.

I AGREE: opiates are not the only choice in treating chronic pain. I have been in pain for over 20 years. In the past 20 years, I have tried reflexology, acupuncture, chiropractors, massages, different diets, meditation, tens units, physical therapy, knee and back braces, counseling, over-the-counter and prescription medication, marijuana … Opiates are what actually work for me. I have taken a new DNA test and the results specifically look at a strand of your DNA that gives the physician and the pharmacist the scientific proof of which medicines work well, not very well, or detrimental to your body. I have been taking the wrong type of pain medicine. My point is the CDC and FDA and the government in general, has no business telling doctors what to prescribe or to tell patients how much medicine to take. My DNA is different than yours, different than the person in the waiting room, different from the patient that has an appointment tomorrow … you get the idea. Punishing people in pain is equivalent to cruel and unusual punishment. No one who has never been in chronic pain should criticize or control those who are in pain. As the government agencies interfere, they should expect doctors will lie to the policing agencies and patients will lie to their doctors. I doubt that was the intended goal but I’m hearing quite a bit of lying about opiates going around so far.

Mildred Bradway

Not ever one can afford $40.00 prescriptions.
NoT everyone can afford $30.00 Physical Therapy 2 times a week. That’s $60.00 a week.$240.00 a month.
NOt everyone can afford needles in there spine.
NOT everyone can affird, $30.00 to $50.00 a session for Massages. If insurance companies would flip the bill maybe we could get better. Otherwise we sit,at home in pain

john smithD5rRA

Agreed but chronic pain patients should not be punished for some doctors irresponsible prescribing nor faulty use of data nor deaths resulting from misuse of fentanyl analogues.

Joe Hager

You know, I joined this blog to learn about pain so I can be there for my daughter; now 23 and suffering with fibromyalgia.

Just today during fundraiser for a high school, I met a very bright young mother of 2, with 1 on the way.

She told me about CBD for the first time, again just today. She has suffered from fibromyalgia for years and had been on many different medications, but she said that the side effects were worse than the relief. So she decided to quit all of the Meds and just tough it out.

Then she learned about CBD and began to take it 3 times a day. She told me that she is now taking the oil tablet twice a day and is practically free from the pain of this terrible disease that is taking the best years of her life away.

Thank you Kimberly for your post. I’ll be looking into it tomorrow. If you have any more info that I may share with my young one, please let me know.

God Bless,


Amanda Payne

Kris Aaron, you summed it up. I am in alot of pain right now and it is hard to find a doctor to prescribe my medication. I dont want to go to a pain management clinic. I should be able to get what I need to function well, like I could a few years ago. I want to print your comment and take it to every Dr. in Chattanooga, TN. Thank you.


SAD BUT TRUE: I have lost family members and friends, and I am always reading about too many young and old who have died from misusing DRUGS. It is tragic, for sure.

HOWEVER, I feel compelled to defend these prescription PAIN killers (opiates and others in that class) that are truly MIRACLE drugs for the 99% of the people who NEED/REQUIRE them and take them AS prescribed. Some people I know have been prescribed them for up to 10 years for chronic debilitating PAIN. They cannot live a quality productive life without them. They are 100% safe when used AS PRESCRIBED.
Please STOP blaming these prescription drugs because 1% abuse them. It’s the illegal street drugs HEROIN/FENTANYL that are killing our family and friends; very, very few from illegally obtained prescription (OXYCONTIN) drugs. It’s the HEROIN/FENTANYL, NOT the synthetically manufactured OPIATES;  i.e. OXYCONTIN.  Alcohol, which has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and destroyed families throughout the years in the USA alone, is a perfect example.

There are always those who will abuse whatever they have access to.  

Yeah right. If there were alternative treatments that would help my pain I would love that. But I’m in excruciating pain constantly. I’m not walking today because of the pain. So just because people are abusing pain medication myself and others are suffering with the pain. My doctor cut my meds down, now I’m fighting to control my blood pressure. My doctor doesn’t give a [edit] if I can’t walk, my blood pressure is out of control. Doctor tells me; well your cardiologist needs to adjust your medication! Really! I’m taking 5 different blood pressure meds and a b/p patch. The pain is so excruciating that I can not walk or clean or cook meals. All because someone wanted to get drunk and hit my car from behind breaking my back. Whoever changed the laws cutting down pain meds to people who really hurt, I hope you get hurt and suffer!!!


I grew up watching my dad suffer from chronic intractable neuropathic pain from his TM (transverse myeltitis) and am now experiencing it myself, having been recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (after several years of symptoms; it only took getting private insurance to get the diagnosis). I know all about the insurance and outs of the pain management agreement and I’m terrified to even try to go into a pain management office before I’ve checked off EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE THING with my neurologist so that I don’t get labeled as drug-seeking. I’m on cymbalta, topomax, lamictal, nortriptyline, lyrica, and I’ve taken neurontin and depakote and dilantin which have had bad effects or are contraindicated by other medications I’m on. have a tens unit – it makes things worse. (I was lucky and hit 3 branches on the autoimmune tree going down – Grave’s the, Ehlers-Danlos, MS).

My dad keeps telling me that MS is a legitimate disease and any pain management doctor worth their salt will treat me as I need to be treated (which unfortunately does include opiates, I’ve learned from experience via hospital), but I know plenty of people who have been in pain management for chronic pain for DECADES and never violated their agreements and are being cut back because of what politicians are dictating as policy – not doctors. It’s absurd when patients are scared to get the help they need to live an actual life (I pretty much just exist, no work, no play – just bed and pain) or be a functional member of society. Something has got to change.

Chronic pain pt and advocate

Thank you Kris Aaron for putting the truth to our personal hells on earth…
Well explained of the frustrating repeative info each new Dr and even some of our existng Drs put us thru.
I truly believe that if one has not experienced life altering chronic pain and suffered greatly that they are not able to empathize or realistically talk to us about chronic pain and what we go thru. Well said.
Physician Assistant (PA)

Louis Ogden

I have tried half of these therapies with no success. All I can say is see https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/resources/practice-management/behind-ahrq-report

Susan Ulrich

I have suffered from daily chronic migraines for almost 18 years now. I am on social security disability because I cannot work, and have depleted what 401k money I had saved on alternative therapies, supplements, and rx co-pays. I’ve tried everything. Yes, they all help somewhat, but first you have to bring the pain level down enough to let you leave the house, and for many years I could not. I now meditate and love it; it helps bring my stress and anxiety level down, but if you are in so much pain you can hardly ooen your eyes or stop vomiting from the nausea, meditation is impossible. Someone needs to recognize this. Yes, there are people in so much pain they wish they would just pass out; I was one of them. Only through opioid therapy (which took my doctors 12 years to ok) did my pain become under control enough to allow me to even explore alternative therapies. After all this time I finally (almost) have a diagnosis of a rare inflammatory auto-immune disease and am getting the medicines I need, but it took 18 years for medical science to figure it out.

FM Mama

Ditto, well said by those before me. I did chiropractic,and special trigger point massage and injections. The first two the doc retired and I couldn’t find anyone like him and it cost a lot after my private insurance ended. The injections did not hel but the trigger point massage did if the practitioner is talented and few are. I did meditation and biofeedback. I did tai chi and yoga in the past, its now unlikely I could move enough with my new added conditions in my spine and two kinds of arthritis. I have had and learned from I from one person and then been to a famous healer who was a fraud. I tried cbc which also weighed on my budget,it helped a bit but my pain management doc in NY forbade me to use it because its another pain reliever and I can’t take both according to him I would be out of his practice if MJ showed in my urine. I suspect he did not know what he was talking about because cannabidiol has little to no THC and I told him so. But he insisted. I have tried acupuncture it only worked for a while then it didn’t work. It is also not covered by any insurance. I am on a fixed income on disability so you know I have nothing extra besides what is covered and even meds have copays that add up. So do doctors appointments.
Many of us were put on pain meds after other ways did not work! I did not plan on this but it is what it is. It is very hard to function with out something to assuage physical pain.Now that the govt has stopped taking advice of docs and docs are scared to lose licences, while other docs have done illegal things, this situation is being handled by mixing metaphors and invoking fears. The drug problem in this country is real but chronic untreated pain is real too.

JohnMichael Sabo

Anyone with lifetime pain mgmt. issues, wishing to contact me re: pain mgmt.-and the current persecution of legitimate opioid users who legally & properly use them as part of a comprehensive pain mgmt. program, are welcome to contact me at jsabo207@ msn.com. I DO speak with my congressman, and I urge everyone like me, living with our chronic pain, to do the same. WE need to become more outspoken about OUR situations- and differentiate ourselves from the idiots out to have a good time getting a buzz. My situation has gotten to the point that I am seeking legal representation, and I believe that in the current political climate, all of us need to begin organizing to protect not just our rights, but meaningful lives!

JohnMichael Sabo

I have suffered from back pain since I was 14- I am now 57. It has been less than 10 years since I was found to have an underlying genetic problem (LHA-B27). Add a lifetime of active repetitive-motion wear & tear…plus a fall from a roof in 94- and an auto accident in 89 that added fracture L1-2 vertabrae…AND a head on collision with a DUI driver in 2007! 24 operations/procedures later, I find #25 needs to be done ASAP due to L4-5 potentially leaving me paralyzed due to progression of my issues. After 12+operations within prior 2 years- I had a hospital doc (with no consideration of my history- AND without consultation with my docs),in 2014, label me an opioid seeking drug addict and getting me blacklisted @ the hospital and my GP (who still has both overdoses & respiratory failure on my official charts!…tho NEITHER ever happened…and official hospital records CONFIRMS that there was ABSOLUTELY no proof of those events! The doctor who intubated me specifically state that AT NO TIME did I have resp. failure!). I went thru 2 years of pure hell, but I went thru the entire pain management protocols to get my opioid meds back…as part of a multi-faceted pain mgmt. regimen…WHICH I HAD ALWAYS FOLLOWED! SINCE age 15, I had NEVER, NOT ONCE-abused, misused, overused, or illegally used ANY OPIOD OR ANY DRUG! NOT ONCE! I also used or tried every possible means to reduce my pain. Oh, and btw, for years-decades- my main breakthrough med for pain- IS TORADOL INJECTIONS! (Which I highly recommend, over morphine or demearol even, if you can take it- it is an aspirin class drug that doesn’t leave you stupid for days afterward).


I think that anyone who has never experienced the type excruciating pain that many of us have, and who have made it harder for those of us with excrucriating pain to get our meds and those who dare presume to know what it’s like to have chronic pain and suggest “alternative therapies”, should be given 5 full minutes of the worst pain I’ve ever had. How dare you presume that you know me and know what I’ve tried
– (” alternatives”), what I have gone through, how heart wrenching it is for a 50 year old woman who worked as an RN for 30 years of her life (yes RN at age 20,) intelligent., compassionate,to have her life changed so suddenly
(in my case, after being given chemo for NHL.). You have no clue. Could not return to work, have lots of physical limitations due to pain, can not do the things I used to love doing. Oh and those alternative treatments cost money. 250.00 for each session of biofeedback, at least 70-80 dollars for a massage, 200.00 to join the only gym in your area then 60.00 per month to move around in the best therapy- warm water. For those of us with legitimate pain management, we sign contracts, give random urine specimens. And DON’T abuse it, use it to.get high….I know I want only relief from the relentless pain. SO, QUESTION: why would any uneducated person ( someone who has never experienced these levels of pain ) want to punish people who are responsible with the meds they need and take them as prescribed? Alcohol is deadly and legal. Smoking cigarettes is deadly and legal. Greasy cheeseburgers and fries are deadly and legal, but those of us in chronic pain don’t deserve to use pain meds responsibly and live as normal a life as possible?? I have a novel idea! Go after the bad guys, if you can figure out who they are.

Susan Simpson

1st give me marijuana it’s the THC that has the strongest anti-inflammatory benefits and 9 other benefits! I will take the massage must be a catch to that but the gov’t needs to bring back opiates too – we deserve a choice! Other than Suboxone you will find they will try to push on you – if they haven’t already


Those who have commented prior to me have already stated my exact concerns and rightful complaints. None of these so called treatments are covered by insurance, and I have no money to pay cash. I’m already paying $8000 a year for health insurance. That’s $500 a month for premiums and $2000 out of pocket which I met by the middle of June. Have been on short term disability for almost 5 months with severe chronic pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia and CRPS. When I was working full time I made less than $40,000 a year. Pain management doc has tried several nerve blocks, steroid injections, radio frequency ablation and then a dorsal root ganglion neurostimulator. Ortho doc has done surgeries, revisions and hardware removal. All these were covered by insurance but NONE gave me ANY pain reduction. Referred to physical therapy, hands on type with manual stretching and myofascial release, which was actually helping a bit, but Blue Care Network REFUSES to pay for more than 12 visits, which I’ve already used up. I do guided meditation, deep breathing, ice packs, an anti-inflammatory diet and as much stretching and strengthening as I can without causing even more severe pain. My pain management doc wants me off oxycodone, which is only 40mg a day, and wants to do a buprenorphine infusion, which is NOT covered by insurance. Just like all the meds he prescribed in the past, including Lyrica, tapentadol, butrans patch and lidocaine patch. I DO NOT get high or sleepy on the 10mg oxycodone tabs. They cause NO side effects. For about 8 hours a day (2 hours with each dose) my pain level is reduced from a 7 or 8 to a 4 or 5. For many years I used 800mg ibuprofen tablets 3 times a day, and up to 3000mg of acetaminophen daily with no pain reduction. Then tramadol (before it was scheduled) and it made me a nervous wreck. Withdrawal from tramadol was horrible, and I would GO INTO WITHDRAWAL in between doses. Oxycodone is the only thing that helps. If that goes away then I will as well.

Maureen M.

While I can appreciate Kimberly’s efforts for acute pain sufferers ….
I Ditto Kris Aaron’s post. Those of us longtime warriors who have painful chronic moderate to severe conditions have truly been through it all, all therapies in hope of getting or feeling better. I’ve said it many times on this site…we know our bodies best and we know what works best. We need to be heard.
While my opioids help control my days/nights of pain…I also use supplements, anti-inflammatory diet, I see an energy therapist who clears blockages, I take walks when my broken body allows me to etc etc but I’ve also already tried many other modalities.
When will we be looked at as intelligent folks who know what works best and be respected and treated the way we deserve to be?!

Kimberly R Corrigan

I have personally found Kratom works well for most of my pain due to pancreatic cancer and the surgeries ive had to endure. Now they(the FDA/Govt.) want to criminalize this natural plant and call it an opioid. Im terrified my opioids are going to be taken away and im going to be left with the alternatives suggested. Im looking for the very best alternative possible. I want to be able to take care of my child and be involved with his school activities/education. Do you think for one second one poltician is going to do that for me? Nope! It breaks my heart. Be proactive and call or email your senators. I do.. Nearly everyday.

Jorge Navas

I wish I had something different to say than every chronic pain sufferer. Living in pain is similar to barely living in small segments of time. The small periods of time we have are used by most of us to take care of others, meet obligations, and have a small glimpse of normality.
Many of the therapies described are valid and each have their merits, but some will work for you and not for me, some will work on one season and not another, some may not even work all the time.
I’m finally getting off my bed after a crisis of a week, and I can honestly say that without opioids, I may have jumped into the abyss.
Please don’t judge me, all I want to do is what you do, live, take care of loved ones, work hard. Don’t make me and those I love, pay for political decisions and the abuse of pills by admittedly many.
But, at l least for me, those pills are the only lifeline at times.

Richard A Chapman

I’m a 63 year old male who had my first of many back surgery and fusion over 30 years ago. I won’t go into detail but I’ve been on disability since I was 45. All the alternative methods suggested are all good ideas but like some have mentioned I’m on a fixed income and can’t afford those methods. my Doctor Who had prescribed my opioids for the last 8 years was not a pain center so he could no longer prescribe my meds. I was instructed I had to go to a pain clinic. November 2001 I went to my first pain clinic for 6 years with regular urine test every month. I have used cannabis for decades but the DEA said no more. I was kicked to the street to find another pain clinic. For three years I made a 250 Mi round trip every 21 days to get my meds. Thankfully 7 years ago I found a general practitioner who wrote my prescriptions until recently when he was deemed no longer considered qualified and my choice was to go to a pain clinic. I have tried 3 so far. One was taking no new patients the second one never return my calls and the third one which happened to be the one that required the 250 Mi round trip said they were taking patients and after sitting on my paperwork for 2 and 1/2 Weeks they declined me as a patient without any explanation. After talking with the nurse I deducted that they have plenty of patients and so they get the pick of the litter. It gets old trying to maintain some sense of pain relief but rejection after rejection takes away all of your incentive for seeking compassionate help. Big Pharma and greedy doctors ruined it for the people who legitimately need and use the medication responsibility. In 17 years not once did I have to call the doctor because I lost or misplaced my prescriptions. So I’m down to my last few pills experiencing unbelievable withdrawals. I’ve been told heroin helps and there appears to be a thriving market for the product. I hope to not become an overdose statistic but it has to be better than hell on Earth.

Karen C.

CBD shows on most drug screens now, Medicare will not pay for Acupuncture or Massage, I have tried numerous times to do Yoga (for seniors) and I always end up injuring myself, and I am currently eating a anti-inflammatory diet. All that being said, your suggestions seem to be only for people with extra money to spend. I am on disability and barely survive as it is. If you can tell me who does Acupuncture and Massage on a sliding scale in my area I would jump at the chance but it just doesn’t exist.

Julie Kadair

I’ve tried all of the above I can afford. Most insurance does mot and will not pay for alternative therapies in the future.
“Most addicts are over the age of 65,”. Ugh. Maybe it’s getting old that causes illness & injury?????
Back pain is a small part of my problems. Well, it affects 1/3 of my body….not so small. But I have chronic illnesses as well.
Massage causes severe inflammation & pain in back. Acupuncture can’t afford & requires multiple visits.
Why don’t you say more people commit suicide from having their meds removed than die of OD’s on prescription opioids? Oh yeah, because we’re addicts that OD’ed.

Most people have already tried these or they are too expensive and wouldn’t be enough to control their pain anyway. Stop pretending the Gov isn’t deliberately killing addicts & pain patients.
FYI the DSM-5 was updated last year & changed the definition of addiction to dependence. So the person with bone cancer is EXACTLY the same as the person who is using recreationally in the eyes of Drs & INSURANCE CO (the DSM is their Bible). One Dr walked out on the revision, the head Dr works for BIG PHARMA developing a new addiction drug for EVERYTHING & she claims there is no conflict of interest.
If you can’t see how this was planned ahead of time by the Gov….why did they change the definition of addiction before the “CRISIS” hit the media?
WHY doesn’t the media report that “fentanyl” is actually a mixture of amphetamines when tested? That’s why addicts die & Narcan doesn’t work.

Thanks for the brilliant ideas, I’ve never thought of them!!!!
Why don’t you let me write about something important….
Like WHY did my pharmacist just tell me my neurontin WASN’T bumped to a Scheduled med, THEY’RE “JUST TREATING IT LIKE IT IS.” Direct quote.
Neurontin is not a CNS depressant…..what’s up?


Why do hospitals use opioids?


I guess it’s good that you throw out these alternatives to new sufferers. Clearly, even opiates are just another part of a coping strategy. But for those of us with moderate to acute chronic pain, telling a person, who still be struggling to be active, to do yoga is at best a minor issue. And it should be noted that sufferers in the moderate to acute pain range will find CBD to be totally ineffective once the pain ramps up. There are scholarly research results that confirm this. While I agree that these options should be explored, I read these things and think, not only for myself but other sufferers I know, that the presentation is saying that these are viable alternatives – for acute pain, they are NOT. I think back to when I could ease my pain with a TENS and some muscle relaxers years ago. Oh I wish my pain level was only like that now. It wasn’t even called chronic pain back then.


I tried most of these. Try having a broken back and being told to accept pain and meditate. People who insist on these usually are not among those who are suffering, they have no idea what we go through. I have heard about these alternatives so often I am sick of it. What is next, have surgery and get a massage in the recovery room?

ruththella white

CAUTION: Some pain patients taking CBD oil have tested positive for THC and have been terminated by their pain specialists. After all these years i just discovered I have MS along with DISH a form of arthritis that calcifies the tendons and ligaments of the body. I have bone spurs that have grown so large they are compressing my spinal cord. Without pain medication, movement, bumpy sidewalks while riding in my wheelchair and showering cause intense pain. With MS sometimes being touched sends me into muscle spasms so intense I cannot talk or take a deep breath. After going out to medical appointments I am totally bedridden for 2 -3 days. I also have been through every treatment modality. My different specialists cardiology, neurology and endocrinology all had the idea that I was just given opioids at the first sign of pain. Nope, it took decades. These doctors did not read my medical record. At some point pain medication does not cause euphoria, if at all, it only stops the pain. People looking for a high, wanting to take their lives or with undertreated pain overdose. Doctors that do not understand drug interactions can cause overdoses and it has nothing to do with addiction. There is also a way to control tolerance to slow increasing the dosage of medication if your body becomes tolerant to the medication. All of these take time, education and training. With the advent of managed care doctors are forced to limit the amount of time they spend with patients. For patients on limited incomes these treatment modalities are too expensive and are not covered by insurance. No bills have been created to make these modalities less expensive. Chronic pain patients continue to be the scapegoats.”Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.


Thank you for a balanced and informative article.

All great suggestions for relieving pain. I’m pretty sure that a lot of legitimate chronic pain patients have already tried most if not all of those methods you listed, I know that I did and had some success from a pain psychologist and meditation. The first time I tried it I had no pain for a whole hour after the session, pain free! The next five sessions I got relief for five minutes once and the rest nothing. There has to be something to it. It is the same words, the same routine every session, the idea is you memorize what the doc repeats every week and eventually you can silently get to that pain free zone on your own. I think, unfortunately my ADD took over, repeating things over and over to someone with ADD is not a good idea, my mind really wandered. The point is, there are plenty of methods to try and some may even work for some but the people that want to take opiates are mostly doing so because many of the methods just don’t work for BAD chronic pain. In my case my pain is so widespread to different sections of my body that if something worked, say yoga, it affects some other part of my body negatively, it’s a trade off. Most of us know what we need, it’s just unfortunate that the government had to get involved and go off half cocked based on incorrect and skewed statistics.Even if the government walks it all back, do you really think the doctors are going to tell us, “hey, come on back, I’ll put you back on your opiates! They’re so paranoid I’d be surprised if they ever prescribed ANY opiates again. Let’s face it, we’re all screwed.

If one of these treatments…then that’s not chronic pain, it might be a sore back by over excursion. Before I had my 13 back surgeries I pulled, twisted to where these treatments will work.
Here in California all doctors and hospitals are connected together on the web, so the people who are screwing things up, can’t double dip. If you follow your doctors advice and take what they prescribe then the person who takes pain meds for the Euphoric feeling instead of the proper reason “pain” so they can go back to the back ally’s .


Even before my chronic pain began, for decades, I had enough medical problems that I’ve seen a lot of doctors a lot. I found that none of them knew anything about nutrition or anything remotely holistic/alternative. Even on the recent side, as opposed to decades ago.

Surprisingly, and wonderfully, my new PCP in FL is all about nutrition and diet. I have fibromyalgia plus acute chronic pain since my hysterectomy 10 years ago. She wants me gluten free and on an anti-inflammatory diet and has given me written handouts of guidelines for each diet.
Problem is, for the same diet, different sources have different info. Yes tuna and certain types of fish; no to any of those fishes; Yes avocados; no avocados; and on and on. So it’s really hard to decide what to do, and in the end, I decided not to avoid foods I like which are on some avoid lists but not all of them, since apparently this is not settled yet.

Another problem for me is that, I feel so lousy between the pain and exhaustion that my pre-chronic-pain, really great diet of organic brown rice, organic spinach, wild salmon, etc and very little processed food and added sugar, had declined to tons of frozen dinners and other processed foods and way too much added sugar.

Last week, for the first time in months, I finally did cook a little, but my sink is still full of dirty pots and pans and bowls. When I started to see mold grow in the sink, I took care of that but still haven’t felt up to a real cleaning. So, even if I want to cook again, I have no pots/pans to use.

The solutions for exhausted people in tons of pain is a lot of $$, to pay for cooking and cleaning and massage and all the rest. But most of us dont’ have that.

I live very frugally, figuring that I’ll need my savings for way more years in Assisted Living than my Long Term Care insurance will last for. So, I’m afraid to spend $ on certain types of help that I’d love to have.

In this country, if you’re sick, you need to be rich.

Kris Aaron

Nearly every chronic pain patient has already been put through these alternatives. We’re too familiar with “But, have you tried…?” and “You need to use…” when seeing a new physician who, for whatever reason, can’t be bothered to look at our medical history.
Very few people living with broken, damaged bodies that can’t be healed want to use opioids for fun. We need them to be fully functional, to care for our families and hold down jobs. We’ve already tried everything from mindfull meditation to acupuncture, special diets and supplements, yoga, massage and exercise. We know what works and what doesn’t. Opioids are our last line of defense.
But too frequently, physicians who have been intimidated by government agencies’ abuse of practitioners who bravely continue to prescribe opioids decide to stop rather than put their licenses to practice medicine (and everything they own) at risk. I wish this article had addressed that issue, rather than blithly promoting alternatives that may not provide the help they promise. Our doctors have already brought these to our attention — over and over again.
Believe me, I wish they worked as promised. I wish meditation would take my pain from a 7 down to a 5. I wish I was one of the lucky ones who got positive results from yoga or an anti-inflammtory diet. But it ain’t happenin’. For me, it’s opioids or death. That’s the reality of pain for many of us, and ignoring that fact leaves us feeling even more abandoned.


I can appreciate alternative pain management. There is always “ice”, and heat but a “management therapy” for many includes not, being able to use alternative therapy while trying to stay alive, work, manage children possibly in school. Just because life needs to go on does not mean that pain stops. Opiate medication must not be taken off the board simply because a minority of the people choose……not to use it responsibly. Just sayin.

Kathryn Krampitz

Of all 6 CBD and Acupuncture are the only ones that help. However, they mainly only help. Chronic pain sufferers who are lucky enough to still be prescribed opioids really need them though there are millions in need who have been cut off. Acupuncture an CBD may possibly help them some but they, like medical marajuana are not covered by insurance.

Shirley Patterson

You did not cover PEMF Therapy! Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field Therapy has been helping many of the clients who cone to my wellness cdnter for pain relief. NASA utilizes the technology, why is it not publicized more???


A lot of people do benefit from the alternative therapies listed, yet I do not. I’ve also tried tens unit, prolotherapy, acupuncture, spinal taps, surgeries, fusions, different types of medications none of which helped but many caused severe side effects. I have always tried to be as active as I can be but it’s getting harder and harder. I do use the inversion table, have and use the infra red sauna, stretch as much as I can, then if I do to much one day I’m out of commission for a number of days. I’ve tried counseling, psychology, psychotherapy and each doctor I’ve seen tells me I’m doing all that I can, have tried everything available to me with no success except the Opioids helped me live a better daily life. No I wasn’t feeling high nor had I ever abused them. So dealing with this incredible pain every day where do a lot of us chronic pain patients fit into the new guidelines that’ll be coming out? We’ve all got the documentation stating what we’ve tried, what works and doesn’t work? We’re not Damn drug seekers or abusers we want the quality of life back that was wrongly taken away from each of us. There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to managing pain.

Linda Godowsky-Bilka

It’s too bad that my doctors are only interested in one thing – getting patients in, and getting them out. There is no interest in discussion of comprehensive anything. They are each however more than willing to pass the buck, by referring me to mental health therapy.

I’m so sick of this mindset. It keeps me on a constant downward spiral.

Last month my family medicine doctor moved out of state so a new one was assigned to me. She took me off of my two inhalers I use each month. So on top of extreme physical pain, I struggle for every breath I take. This, along with the pain, makes life impossible.

I’m 58 and struggle on every trip to the bathroom, and can’t even make myself a. cup of coffee.

Massage would be so beneficial, but I do not know of any place here that covers it


I have tried most of these, and they offer little relief. I am tired of hearing sanctimonious lectures from people why do not suffer from chronic pain. Think of a beautiful painting, then drain the color out, leaving it black, white, and gray. That is my life without my medication. So many things I can no longer do.

Lisa Osborne

Speaking for myself, I want to put it another way: “Opioids are not my only choice for pain control”. I use them as simply one tool in a toolbox of many different therapies and medications and approaches.

One aspect of this discussion that I find most disheartening and offensive is this idea that I reach for the drugs when I hurt. Pain management is a LIFESTYLE. How can it be anything else, when pain touches on every aspect of my existence? Pain management is talk therapy, social and spiritual support, diet, movement, acupuncture, massage, TENS, my hobbies, who and how I love, ice packs, heating pads, canes, walkers, the car I drive, my adjustable bed, non-narcotic pain meds, how I sleep, how I schedule my day, the way I position my body in every moment of every second– and yes, narcotic pain meds.

I have yet to meet a fellow pain warrior who does not live a pain lifestyle. Managing any severe chronic illness is a lifestyle, is it not? Diabetes, arthritis, asthma, MS, Lupus–all chronic, potentially fatal diseases that require lifestyle management. Until chronic pain makes that list, you just aren’t “getting” it.