Wage Up! Exploring drug-free pain relief treatments

As an avid hiker, I get a few scratches here and there considering how clumsy I tend to be. Unfortunately, I banged up my knee once all because I wanted to jump atop a big rock — and my knee smacked up against it instead.

After my shock wore off, I walked back to my car thinking I was fine. As the day wore on, I could barely move my right leg. I remember looking down and seeing a massive bruise the size of my knee.

After going to the doctor, I was prescribed some medication after determining I didn't break anything. A few weeks pass and the pain comes and goes. It wasn't unmanageable, so I braved the pain and forged on.

When you can't ignore your pain

I had a pretty hectic work schedule ahead of me — I was prepping for testing when I was still a teacher and my husband and I were packing to move — so all I did to manage the pain was to wear more supportive shoes and a knee brace. I'm not a fan of taking medication all the time (especially since I thought the pain wasn't that big of a deal) so I thought that my DIY solution was good enough for now.

As the weeks wore on, even the knee brace could only do so much. After much prodding from my husband, I finally booked an appointment with my doctor to see what was going on. The good news was that I got an appointment. The bad news was that he was on vacation for the next two weeks, so I had to wait.

So, what types of drug-free treatments are available?

I knew I had to do something while waiting to see the doctor, so I looked at other drug free treatments to ease the pain. My husband suggested I try a TENS machine which is a small battery-powered device that applies small electric currents so that the pulsing sensation helps to reduce pain. While it worked, a few hours later the pain would return.

Something else one of my friends who regularly practices meditation suggested was using visualization and mind-body therapy. The theory is that pain can be heightened when you're stressed or reacting to pain in a negative way.

Now, I'm not a doctor, but I did have some success with some alternative-type treatments. I started practicing meditation daily and practiced reducing stress by delegating a few tasks on my to-do list to my husband and inviting friends over for coffee.

The pain didn't go away, but it did make me feel better while I was awaiting my doctors appointment.

Getting help

After going to the doctor, it was determined that I had a small fracture in my knee that was causing the swelling and pain. After doing some physical therapy and another round of medication, the pain went away. Every once in a while I'll feel a numbing pain that'll go away in a day, so I'm glad I went to do the doctor when I did before it got worse.

I'm also thankful I explored some drug-free options while I was waiting to see the doctor. If I had tax-free funds to use back then, I would have done some research to see if any of those counted as qualified medical expenses. Either way, I'm glad I made my health a priority.


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