Get help today 888-319-2606 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

12 Clean and Sober Pain Management Techniques

Has a doctor ever asked you to rate your pain? Health care professionals use these tools to try to make an objective assessment of pain. It provides an aid to track changes and progress. It can be helpful, but there is one problem:
Pain is always subjective.

Defining and Treating Pain in Recovery

The International Association for the Study of Pain includes the above statement in their definition of pain, pointing out that it is, in fact, completely subjective. Pain affects each and every human being differently. It is never experienced the same by two people and the only common denominator is the burning desire to be rid of it.

It’s the desire to live pain-free that often leads us to utilize unhealthy methods of coping. Fortunately, healthy and reliable methods do exist. If you or someone you know is in recovery and suffering from physical pain, try the following alternative and non-narcotic pain-relieving techniques:

  • Technique #1: Behavioral Modification, Relaxation Training
    These methods teach you to reduce pain by altering your response to it. Relaxation training, for example, teaches you to relax using concentration and slow, deep breathing exercises to release muscle tension and reduce pain.
  • Technique #2: Biofeedback
    By using the electronic monitoring of an involuntary bodily function, patients can train themselves to develop voluntary control of that function. When pain is present, biofeedback allows you to control your heart rate and prevent muscle tension.
  • Technique #3: Low-Impact Exercise
    This may seem counter-intuitive, since those in pain most likely believe exercise will simply be painful. However, keeping muscles trained and your body fit will help you manage pain better both physically and emotionally.
  • Technique #4: Hypnosis
    Research suggests hypnotherapy can reduce a patient’s need for medication by decreasing anxiety levels associated with the correlating pain.
  • Technique #5: Manual Therapy
    This includes physical therapy and chiropractic care. Affected areas are manipulated to promote proper movement and alignment.
  • Technique #6: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
    This therapy applies low-voltage pulses of electricity to nerve endings just under the skin. The pulses cause your muscles to contract and relax over and over again, increasing blood flow and relieving painful tension.
  • Technique #7: Counting
    One of the simplest techniques for pain relief is counting. Simply count when your pain flares up…count the tiles on the floor, the clouds in the sky or numbers in your head.
  • Technique #8: Acupuncture and Massage
    Acupuncture is a form of ancient Chinese medicine that involves placing thin needles just under the skin at specific pressure points throughout your body. The needles are thought to positively influence energy flow and decrease pain. A professional masseuse, on the other hand, provides massage therapy that relieves muscle tension and reduces pain.
  • Technique #9: Tai Chi and Yoga
    These arts are comprised of movement techniques that can be very beneficial in treating chronic pain. Practiced slow movements and strength-building poses are coordinated with deep breathing, decreasing overall pain sensations and muscle fatigue.
  • Technique #10: Hydration
    Drinking plenty of water can actually help reduce some chronic pain. Dehydration is often the cause of muscle cramping and can aggravate certain types of pain, such as headaches and back pain.
  • Technique #11: Emotional Support
    Counseling and support groups for those dealing with physical pain are effective methods of pain management, providing a release of the emotional pain that accompanies the physical.
  • Technique #12: Proper Food Choices
    It’s true; we really are what we eat. As such, certain foods are notorious for promoting inflammation (Diary, Chocolate, Citrus fruits, Caffeine),which is a major source of pain throughout the body. On the other hand, there are several foods known for their anti-inflammation properties (Leafy greens, Asparagus, Low-sugar fruits, Soy products).

Additional Reading: 7 Sure-Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Recovery

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.