How Can I Treat Chronic Pain Without Pain Relief Medication?

Dr. Dimitrios Lambrou Sep 21, 2021

In a CDC study, more than one in 10 people over the age of 20 said they had used prescription painkillers in the last 30 days. However, there are many people who would prefer to manage their pain without medication due to religious and cultural factors, fear of addiction, a desire for holistic wellness or the price of medication. Luckily, there are treatment options for chronic pain that don’t involve medication—many of which are offered at NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine. 

Discover some potential ways to treat chronic pain without pain relief medication below.

Laser Therapies

Laser therapies are treatment options that may help with healing and pain management. NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine provides MLS laser therapy and cold laser therapy

MLS Laser Therapy 

MLS laser therapy is a noninvasive treatment for pain relief. The energy from the laser may cause an increase in blood flow, a potentially healthier metabolism and decreased inflammation. MLS laser therapy provides positive outcomes in around 85% of patients, though it may take multiple treatments before the effects are felt. The procedure only takes around eight minutes, and treatment plans usually involve seven to 10 visits.

This laser treatment differs from other laser therapies in that it uses two laser waves simultaneously. This may promote healing along with pain relief. Also, during the treatment, pain signals may be blocked entirely, providing a period of relief for patients with chronic pain.

Cold Laser Therapy

Cold laser treatments use light to help cells heal and return cell function to normal. The lasers are used at a very low level, so the treatment area isn’t warmed, which is why it’s called "cold" laser therapy. Like MLS laser treatments, this therapy may help reduce pain-causing inflammation. It’s used to help ease and treat chronic and acute pain, including pain from spinal injuries and sports injuries. 

Cold laser therapy sessions last around five to 10 minutes. Laser therapy is considered safe and effective for pain management when administered by qualified professionals.

Occupational Therapy 

Occupational therapy is a treatment method that focuses on recovering the ability to perform daily tasks. This form of therapy considers the lifestyle needs of a patient in the treatment plan. At NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine, our occupational therapists work with you and adjust your treatment plan to fit your expectations and goals.

Daily tasks — even folding clothes and washing dishes — can be difficult with chronic pain. Occupational therapy specialists can help you find ways to complete tasks without agitating the issues causing your pain as much. This may be achieved through environmental changes, such as not keeping things on the top shelf so you don’t have to reach up, or by learning new ways to do things, such as picking up a box in a way that won’t hurt your knees.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy focuses on improving range of motion and physical performance as well as reducing chronic pain. Patients are usually prescribed exercises based on their injuries or other physical needs to help them improve without making issues worse. Strengthening your body and improving your mobility can make daily tasks less painful and may help prevent future injuries.

Physical therapy specialists work with you to create goals and plans to make sure you get the most out of your therapy. Physical therapy treatments can vary greatly in duration depending on the patient's situation and the severity of their injury.  

Chiropractic Treatment

Many forms of chronic pain are treatable with chiropractic care. Chiropractic treatments generally address musculoskeletal problems, which often cause chronic pain. Here are some of the chiropractic services offered at NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine:

  • Spinal manipulation. This treatment involves the chiropractor applying a controlled jolt of pressure to a joint with the patient lying in a certain position. Spinal manipulation is one of the most performed chiropractic treatments and may help with chronic back pain.
  • Decompression therapy. Decompressing the spine may remove pressure from nerve endings, causing pain relief. In this therapy, the patient is slowly stretched to create negative pressure. 


Deep tissue massage therapy involves applying pressure to soft tissues like muscle and connective tissue. This treatment may help alleviate chronic pain by increasing circulation and loosening stiff muscles. Massage is recognized as an effective part of pain management treatment, and studies indicate a connection between massage and a reduction in certain forms of chronic pain. NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine has a licensed massage therapist on staff.


Acupuncture is a form of traditional medicine that attempts to correct energy flows in the body by inserting needles at specific points. It has become increasingly accepted as a viable treatment for certain conditions, including chronic pain, and is approved by the FDA. When performed by a specialist, acupuncture treatments are considered very safe. 

Treatment sessions can range from 10 to 45 minutes, and the initial treatment involves a short interview. Acupuncture is reported to be painless by most patients, and the needles are always sterilized and only used once.  

For patients with chronic pain, acupuncture is often used in conjunction with other therapies to create a holistic pain management treatment plan. 

Dietary Changes

A lot of pain is associated with some kind of inflammation, so eating inflammatory foods could be increasing or causing pain for some people. Sugar is a big issue in this area, for example. Added sugar and processed sugars are a large part of many people's diets and are known to cause inflammation. Lowering your sugar intake may be a step to take for treating your chronic pain, but it’s always a good idea to consult a medical professional before making changes to your diet.

In addition to cutting out inflammatory foods, you can add in anti-inflammatory foods and beverages. Leafy greens, nuts and tomatoes are some diet additions that may help lessen inflammation that leads to pain. Cannabis strains from may also help with inflammation. 

Weight Loss

Weight loss may help reduce the amount of stress your body has to deal with on a daily basis. That stress might be causing pain. For example, overweight people often overpronate, which means they stand and walk with their feet rolled onto their arches, and overpronation is known to cause hip, spine and foot pain.

Meditation, Relaxation and Breathing Exercises 

Pain is usually caused by a physical problem in your body, but the experience and management of pain is often as mental as it is physical. 

Meditation is a mindfulness practice where you focus on feeling sensations without judgement. Acknowledging any pain you feel may help you cope with it and even reduce it. An article in Harvard Health suggests the body scan meditation technique for pain.

Breathing and relaxation exercises may help you relieve the tension you build up throughout the day. Techniques like progressive relaxation may help you manage and treat muscle pain caused by tension and stress.

Consult NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine

The best way to manage and treat chronic pain is with the help of experienced medical professionals. Contact us to learn more about treating chronic pain and the therapies we offer.