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Alternative Therapies for Pain Relief


Pain medications can play a large role in relieving pain, but did you know that adding supporting therapies to your treatment plan can expand your arsenal in the fight against pain? Remember to always consult your doctor first before beginning any treatment.

Here are a few facts you should know when you start researching supporting therapies:

  1. There are many different names for supporting therapies that all mean the same thing, like alternative medicine, holistic therapy and CAM (short for complementary and alternative medicine).
  2. Supporting therapies are often most successful when combined with mainstream medical therapies. Doctors call this “integrative medicine.”
  3. What works for one person might not work for another. And it may take some trial and error to figure out which therapy or therapies work best for your type of pain.
  4. Ask your doctor to help you locate a centre or refer you to a specialist.

We’ve done some of the research for you already so you can start weighing your options.


Canadians seek chiropractic care each year. Many of them are looking for an alternative way to relieve back pain, joint pain, headaches and a variety of other types of pain.

Chiropractors use something called manipulation — or adjustments — and other methods to properly correct alignment problems in the spine or other areas of the body, improve functioning, promote natural healing and alleviate pain. To perform a manipulation, the chiropractor uses hands or a device to apply rapid, controlled force to the spine or another area of the body.

A typical treatment plan under chiropractic care may involve one or more manipulations, exercise, rehabilitation, nutritional counseling, heat and ice, and relaxation exercises.


Some common types of relaxation techniques include guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation. Learn more about how to improve your mind, body and spirit.


Many pain sufferers find yoga quite beneficial in relieving pain. In fact, yoga’s original intention was to help make the body healthy and strong so it could tolerate being uncomfortable or in intense pain.

Today, yoga is used primarily for fitness and relaxation, but also still to reduce pain. Three aspects of yoga — breathing, relaxation and meditation — help keep your mind off of pain, lower your tension in response to pain and go beyond the pain. The physical poses of yoga also help relax your muscles. Plus, certain yoga poses actually help ease specific types of pain.


Aromatherapy is the use of essential plant oils to promote psychological and physical well-being. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that aromatherapy can have positive effects on mood, alertness, stress and pain management. It is believed that smelling these oils stimulates the brain’s limbic system and eases anxiety and pain.

Aromatherapy can be administered the following ways:

  • A room diffuser or drops placed nearby
  • Direct inhalation with an inhaler
  • Massage
  • Application to the skin