3 Pill-Free Pain Fixes

You may be used to turning to pills and prescriptions when you’re not feeling your best, but studies reveal what more than 38 percent of Americans have already discovered: The healing potential of alternative modalities is powerful. Read on to learn about three of the most popular forms and if they’re right for you.

Chiropractic Care
What it is
: An analysis and adjustment of imbalances in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may contribute to symptoms like pain and discomfort.

What to expect: Your chiropractor will ask you about your lifestyle and any pain and health concerns. Then you’ll situate yourself fully clothed on a treatment table. Using a variety of techniques—including hand pressure, joint and spinal manipulation and movement therapy—he will adjust your body to promote injury recovery and better postural alignment, and to release tightness.

Who it’s good for: People who suffer from headaches and chronic pain in the back, neck, arm, legs and joints report reduced pain and increased mobility with regular chiropractic care.

Massage
What it is
: The therapeutic manipulation of your muscles and soft tissues by a trained professional.

What to expect: A therapist will ask you about your aches and pains as well as your medical history, then leave you alone to disrobe. You’ll then lie down on a massage table, often in a candlelit room with soothing music playing. Your therapist will return and apply pressure all over your body, usually focusing on areas that are tight or sore.

Who it’s good for: Studies have shown that athletes experience reduced muscle soreness and recover from injuries more quickly with regular sports massages, while pregnant women benefit from reduced swelling and back pain after prenatal massages. Swedish massage, a form that employs gentle, sweeping pressure, has been shown to reduce stress as well as headache severity and frequency.

Acupuncture
What it is
: An ancient Chinese practice of inserting very thin needles into specific points along the body to improve health and wellbeing.

What to expect: Your practitioner will conduct an “intake,” where she will ask about your lifestyle, diet and any medical symptoms, as well examine your pulse and tongue, two indicators of overall health. She’ll use this information to develop a treatment plan, which consists of inserting hair-thin needles into select points along your body. You’ll be left alone for about 20 minutes, and then the needles will be removed.

Who it’s good for: Research suggests that acupuncture may promote a surge in feel-good, pain-squelching endorphins, which may help reduce back pain, migraines, and PMS and menopause related-symptoms.

What kind of alternative healing therapy would you most like to try?

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About Liz Plosser

Liz loves these things, in no particular order: Kansas City Chiefs football, manicures, red wine and running along Lake Michigan. She had boy-girl twins in March of 2011, so spending time with her sweet babies trumps all these things. When she's not having fun singing and snuggling them, she's at work as the managing editor at the weekly magazine Time Out Chicago, or writing about health, fitness, nutrition, psychology and family for publications such as Women's Health, Runner's World, Fitness, Self magazine and Prevention. Liz lives in Chicago with her husband and babies and has completed nine marathons, a Half-Ironman triathlon, and dozens of half-marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks.

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