7 Natural Ways to Manage Chronic Pain in Recovery

Hi there, thanks for joining me. This podcast is all about sharing positive advice and wisdom for daily life in recovery. In this episode, I’m going to provide 7 natural ways to manage chronic pain in recovery.

Often when we go to the doctor, the first option for pain relief is medication. However, this may not be the best option if you are recovering from severe addiction and the benefits of using opioids for pain relief may not outweigh the risks.

If you are recovering from opioid addiction, pain management in recovery can be a complex challenge. Many people in recovery choose to avoid prescription medications like opioids. However, dealing with chronic pain daily can make sobriety difficult and relapse more likely.

Fortunately, there are many different natural pain relief methods and treatments that are just as effective as medication, without all the harmful side effects or potential for relapse.

“Natural” pain relief methods are holistic treatment methods that do not involve prescription medication like opioids, antidepressants, or other over-the-counter medications that could potentially be abused.

If you struggle with chronic pain and you’re in recovery, there are several different types of holistic or natural pain management methods that may help you adjust to a life of sobriety. Here are seven effective ones.

1. Yoga

According to Harvard Health, yoga practice can improve both physical and mental well-being. There are countless variations of yoga that can be used to manage chronic pain conditions such as migraines, fibromyalgia, and low back pain, among many others. Not only does yoga help relieve pain, but it can also help you connect to a place of peace, well-being, and inner connection with the spiritual principles of the 12-Step Program.

2. Massage Therapy

When massage therapy is provided by a trained professional, it can help relieve tension, stress, and muscle and joint pain. It can even help you get better sleep. A massage therapist can tailor their massage treatment in a way that best addresses your condition and symptoms while preventing any further aggravation of them. Depending on the level of pain and the type of pain you’re experiencing, experts have found massage therapy may be helpful for lower back pain, shoulder pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, neck pain, and carpal tunnel.

3. Physical Therapy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical therapy is highly effective and often a much better option for treating chronic pain than opioid drugs. Working with a physical therapist can be very beneficial to reduce pain and improve physical health. A physical therapist may also combine physical therapy with exercise therapy or heat and cold application to help you get the most benefits from your treatment.

4. Mindfulness Meditation

A study on the efficacy of mindfulness meditation for pain relief found people who practiced meditation experienced more pain relief, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and improved mental health than those who didn’t. Meditation is something that is commonly practiced in drug and alcohol rehab programs, so continuing the practice while enrolled in IOP, sober living, or an aftercare program may also be an easy way to relieve pain while maintaining a consistent and healthy routine in recovery.

5. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine that was primarily used for pain relief. Although research is unclear whether acupuncture helps with various medical conditions, it is effective in managing pain, especially back and neck pain, arthritis pain, and headaches. It works by using small, thin needles to stimulate nerves in the body, which send signals to the brain to release beta-endorphins. These beta-endorphins are the body’s natural form of pain relief and they lower your pain threshold.

6. Individual and Group Counseling

Emotional trauma and physical pain are strongly connected. One study found that 97.1 percent of people with chronic pain had experienced at least one instance of physical or emotional trauma prior to their chronic pain. Individual and group counseling can reduce feelings of isolation and reinforce the idea that your experience with chronic pain in recovery is not unheard of and you’re not alone. Counseling can also provide education about mindfulness exercises that can help you adjust the way you perceive the pain and reduce negative thoughts associated with it. Emotional pain can intensify physical pain, so if you can work through the emotions, you may also begin to see some improvements in physical pain as well.

7. Exercise

Many different studies have demonstrated the pain-relieving power of daily exercise. When we exercise, our bodies produce endorphins, which interact with receptors in the brain to change our perception of pain and increase our pain threshold. As a result, exercise can help reduce almost any pain condition. However, that doesn’t mean you need to become an exercise fanatic to manage your pain. Research shows combining several different simple forms of exercise can provide effective pain relief. This includes stretching exercises, strengthening exercises like squats or wall push-ups, and cardio like walking, swimming, or biking. Many fun outdoor activities can serve as exercise therapy for people in recovery.


All seven of these natural pain relief methods can help improve mental health and ensure that the body can function at peak performance to combat fatigue, illness, and chronic pain in recovery.

Well, that concludes episode 12 of the Sober Now Podcast. If you have questions, comments, or want to suggest a topic for our next episode, email me at kelsey.brown@novarecoverycenter.com.

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