Accessible Alternative Short-term Pain Management Options

Last updated: November 2022

You need many options when you are battling varying degrees and types of pain on a daily basis. Whether it is stabbing, throbbing, on fire, or frozen, pain always comes in different forms.

The only way to get relief from the pain is to have as many options as possible to combat the various cycles of pain. Usually using different forms of heat or cold are the first line of defense. Along with OTC pain medications like aspirin, NSAIDs, or acetaminophen, we need to have more accessible alternative pain management options to combat all the different types of pain.

Accessible pain management options for immediate relief

What is pain relief really about? Instead of a yes/no button for relief, it is more often a measure of “to what degree” something may or may not work, all of which is balanced out with the question, “is it worth it?”

As everyone knows, what works well enough one day, won’t do a lick of good the next. So, I’ve compiled a list of some of the accessible alternative pain management options that I’ve tried over the years for immediate pain relief.


CBD oil, in all its forms, was my first stop in my quest to find alternative pain management options. I’ve tried tinctures, roll-ons, rub-ons, and vapes, all with varying degrees of success. While some states offer legal medical marijuana, mine isn’t one of them so I had to stick with the highest legal level of THC that I could find. In addition to finding a decent degree of relief myself, I know many other people that have found tremendous relief using CBD oils. For me, I do think it is worth it to keep in a chronic pain care toolbox if your budget allows. Let's be honest, you really need to find a good, quality company and unfortunately, that doesn't always equate to affordable.


Whew, kratom. If you have ever tried kratom, then you likely know what I’m talking about there. Technically, kratom is a plant that is native to southeast Asia. Without going into the technicalities of the plant and how it works, I will only speak of my personal experience. Keeping in mind that like medical marijuana, it is only legal in certain states.

I have found it to be the most helpful in terms of pain management, of everything that I’ve tried so far. With that said, I only choose it on very painful days and in very small doses. If kratom is something that you might choose to try, proceed with caution. And most importantly, be sure to do your research. And be aware of all the pros, cons, doses, usages, and all possible side effects before choosing to give it a try.

From my experience and extensive research, it does have some addictive qualities. So, if you already know that you struggle with addiction, you might want to steer clear of kratom. While for me it is the most helpful, I also know that I must be careful with it and I must remind myself to only use it with caution.

While it does have its drawbacks and warnings, it has allowed me to play games with my kids, make it to weekly mass, and do laundry without breaking down in tears. Just like with pretty much everything with RA/RD, you have to personally weigh the pros and cons.

TENS units

A few years ago, I bought one of those smaller, stick-on TENS units (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) at a big box store. When I remember it as an option, particularly with my back pain, it did seem to help enough to bring some measurable degree of relief. Or rather, the electrical pulses from the unit were able to confuse my body’s pain signals well enough to garner me some real relief.

However, the stick-on pads only worked so many times. Between the cost of the batteries and the replacement pads, the small introductory priced unit quickly outlived its usage. A few months ago, my husband being the wonderful man that he is, invested in a larger digital unit that pretty much allows me to zap my entire body all at the same time if I wanted. Plus, this unit came with slip-on shoes that allowed me to buzz the heck out of the bottoms of my feet too. Talk about amazing! For me, it is totally worth it.

I'm always on the hunt for something new

As someone who loves research and hates pain, I will always be on the hunt for new pain relief options to try. I'll try it so you don't have to waste your money. Some new things on the horizon for chronic pain relief research include virtual reality, cognitive behavioral therapy, and something called “neurofeedback.” Hmmm, it looks like there might be some additional promising alternative pain management options in the future.

What have you tried? Is it worth it to add it to your chronic pain toolbox?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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