Non-Pharmacological Pain Management

According to an article I found on CINAHL, chronic pain is persistent pain that continues for an extended period of time (3-6 months or longer). Chronic pain could be associates with a specific disease process and could negatively affect daily well-being or living. Chronic pain has been found to increased cases of disability, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, poor quality of life, and healthcare costs.

Usually patients, especially older adults, receive pharmacological treatment for management of chronic pain, but due to age related changes in the body, older adults are at significantly higher risk of adverse side effects from pain medications. Those include liver and kidney damage, gastrointestinal bleeding, high blood pressure, worsening of heart failure and the problem that is the same around the board, constipation

If we were to use non-pharmacological pain regimens in the older adult population and any population, it may provide alternative therapeutic balance to pain-relieving medications; decrease the doses of medications needed and minimize adverse events and side effects. Non-pharmacological methods are found to have short-term efficacy and good tolerance which makes them a good choice to try and counteract the pain. Although these non-pharmacological methods aren’t always going to work by themselves, by using this in addition to the pain medications, we should be able to treat pain better and have relief longer.

After reading the study, the main goal of this study was to try and gain knowledge about the efficacy of non-pharmacological interventions for chronic pain management in community-dwelling older adults. In this study, 75% of the studies identified demonstrated interventions and no intervention or sham interventions. Out of these, the intervention group showed lower pain intensity. This study is going to continue to need repeated with different controls, like comorbidities, long term follow-ups and a larger sample size, but it shows me enough evidence to continue to try and divert my patients to the use of non-pharmacological pain interventions as well as pharmacological.

Now after reading all of that you are probably thinking, what exactly are “non-pharmacological interventions?” Doing some research, I found there are many different methods from music therapy to acupuncture. Some of these non-pharmacological methods can cost nothing, while others may have a hefty price tag. I will go over some of the methods I found, but I will attach the website so you can visit and explore all the different options on your own time.

The first non-pharmacological method of pain management that comes to most peoples head, or at least mine, is acupuncture. It is when a licensed practitioner inserts needles into specific points on the skin to stimulate the release of chemicals that the body makes naturally for pain relief. This method is not practiced in the hospital setting, but there are many places you can go to have it performed by a licensed practitioner.

Art and music therapies are two other ways to help control pain. It may help you express your feelings, feel better about yourself and may even distract you from the pain. This goes onto another non-pharmacological pain method, distraction. If you are distracted by watching the television, listening to music or even playing cards, you might forget about the pain while you are doing those activities.

Massage is another well-known non-pharmacological pain management method. Massage increases circulation and can reduce tension. Massages can be as small as someone rubbing your back with lotion, to a trained massage therapist performing a “Swedish massage.” There are also tools and devices that are made to add heat and vibration to a massage. Chronic pain has been found to be relieved by massages.

The last method of non-pharmacological pain management is hypnosis. Hypnosis can put you in a state of deep relaxation. While you are in the hypnotic state, the hypnotist could suggest different ways for you to experience the pain. Once being acclimated to the hypnosis by a trained therapist, you might be able to use recordings so it is more effective and in the comforts of your own home.

While you may not agree with all the non-pharmacological methods to manage pain, you may want to try some of them out if pharmacological pain managements are not working out for you. I hope you enjoyed the post and can’t wait to hear your experiences with non-pharmacological and pharmacological pain control!!

Please share your stories and opinions!





Park, J., & Hughes, A. K. (2012). Nonpharmacological Approaches to the Management of Chronic Pain in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Review of Empirical Evidence.Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society, 60(3), 555-568. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03846.x

RelayHealth. (n.d.). Retrieved from,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.52109249,d.dmg,pv.xjs.s.en_US.8f7UbUMizFk.O&biw=1280&bih=904&dpr=1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=TOgxUrLuOcT94AOMvIDQDg#imgdii=_





3 thoughts on “Non-Pharmacological Pain Management

  1. Thank you, jxr31 for your response.

    My friend is currently being treated with a holistic method for her headaches, acupuncture. She has suffered from a headache everyday for the past eight years. She has tried pharmacological pain management and it doesn’t seem to relieve her from her headaches. She says she has had two sessions of acupuncture and she has only had two headaches in the past two weeks. She feels that her headaches were brought on by hunger and lack of sleep and once she ate and got some sleep, her headache subsided. She says she was nervous about getting acupuncture before because she is highly afraid of needles, but she said you don’t even feel pain from the needles, just pressure and it goes away after they are inserted. Also, I asked if she bleed from the sites after removing the needles, she informed me that you should not bleed from the sites due to the small size of the needle and the needle not being inserted very far. I was happy to hear her story and how well it was working for her!

    I hope I can continue to share her success with non-pharmacological pain management and others can join in and share as well!

  2. There are many holistic methods for pain control. Studies have validated the effectiveness of massage, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, and hypnotherapy.

Leave a Reply