Health Team

Alternative Therapies Relieve Pain Without Drugs

Posted January 1, 2007 6:48 p.m. EST

— Common pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen sometimes produced side effects like kidney and liver damage. So more people are looking for ways to relieve pain without drugs.

Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, and many people say it stops their pain. It's a Chinese technique using needles to supposedly unblock and balance the flow of energy.

"For certain types of pain I think it can be very helpful," said Dr. Todd Schifstein of the New York University School of Medicine.

Another proven pain killer is called bio-feedback, which trains the mind to control muscle contraction, the pulse and even blood pressure. Electrodes read muscle activity and give sound and visual feedback when there's tension.

"They'll be surprised how much underlying tension they really have in those muscles and how much pain and spasm they're generating by themselves," Schifstein said.

A simple foot massage called reflexology is supposed to stop pain.

"We have reflex areas in our feet, hands and ears that correspond to every part of the body," reflexologist Laura Norman said.

Massaging those areas relaxes the body, which helps to reduce the pain, Norman said.

Different people will respond to different treatments, and in some cases, a combination of therapies might work best. It's important to discuss any pain relief approaches with a personal physician before trying them.