accupuncture needles in skin
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Acupuncture

It may look uncomfortable, but this traditional Chinese practice doesn't hurt when it's done by a licensed pro. He puts thin needles just under the skin at certain points in your body. It may help ease long-term pain in your knees, lower back, and neck. You can also try it for headaches. 

Exactly how it does the job isn't clear. Just believing it works may be part of it.

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tumeric powder
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Turmeric

Popular in Indian cooking, this bright yellow spice does a lot more than add flavor. Curcumin, one of its main ingredients, cuts inflammation in your body. Some studies show it may treat pain from arthritis and bursitis. 

Turmeric in food is safe, but don't take it in the form of pills if you have diabetes. They may lower your blood sugar to risky levels if you're on meds for that condition.

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man listening to music
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Music

If you're hurting, you might want to crank up your favorite tunes. Listening to music releases a chemical in your brain that helps control feelings of discomfort. Some people with fibromyalgia, which causes muscle and joint pain, get relief this way. It may also work if you've got arthritis or a nerve disorder. 

How long should you listen? One small study showed just 20 minutes a day gave relief to people with arthritis.

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marijuana leaf
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Medical Marijuana

It doesn't work like a typical painkiller. Instead of getting rid of your hurt, it tricks your brain into believing that it's not so bad. 

Studies show pot may treat some symptoms of multiple sclerosis. It may also help you sleep better if you have long-term pain. 

To use medical marijuana, you need to live in a state where it's legal and get your doctor's OK.

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chopped ginger root
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Supplements and Herbs

If you want to go "natural," you've got a few choices to ease your pain. One study shows ginger extract may be as good as ibuprofen for arthritis. Willow bark and devil's claw may help your aching back. And fish oil can sometimes ease symptoms from Raynaud's syndrome and lupus. 

Check with your doctor before you try anything. Supplements can interfere with other drugs you take, or could harm you if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

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woman having spine adjusted
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Behavioral Therapy

It sounds too good to be true, but just talking about your pain with the right people can help make it go away. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you skills that let you feel more in control of what's hurting you. It can help you get relief from back pain, headaches, and arthritis.

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black pepper corns powder
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Aromatherapy

Can a pleasing smell put an end to your aches? There's not a lot of research to make a case one way or the other. But what we do know is that certain scents relax you, which can put some distance between you and your pain. Lavender oil may help your headache. Black pepper, clary sage, and marjoram may soothe sore muscles.

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dried alternative medicine herbs
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Hypnotherapy

There was a time when people thought of hypnosis as a carnival sideshow. Not anymore. Now it's used to help relieve pain from things like irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer, and sickle cell disease. 

A trained hypnotherapist guides you through relaxation exercises, and uses the power of suggestion to change how you think of pain. Many people see an improvement in four to 10 sessions.

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woman getting neck massage
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Massage

Anyone who's had a back rub knows the healing power of touch. A therapist's hands can often help ease arthritis and fibromyalgia. 

Here's how it works. When your soft tissue gets moved around during a massage, electrical and chemical signals are sent throughout your body. These reduce pain, boost your blood's circulation, rev up your defense system against germs, and cut down feelings of stress.

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man doing childs pose
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Yoga

This ancient Indian practice combines breathing exercises, meditation, and moving your body into different poses. It may help ease pain in your lower back and knees, and manage migraines, too. 

There's another reason to get on the mat. Over time, long-term pain can lead to memory and emotional problems. There's some evidence yoga can reverse that.

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woman having spine adjusted
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Chiropractic Manipulation

A "hands on" adjustment can be a great way to treat tender muscles and joints. Over time, changes in your injured tissue can lead to inflammation and make movement more difficult. By manipulating your spine or other muscles, a chiropractor can often reduce the soreness you feel. 

Chiropractic care can relieve lower back pain as well as some prescription drugs. It also may help treat neck pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

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meditation class
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Guided Imagery

It's a way to use your imagination as an ally in the fight against pain. Focus your mind on calm, peaceful images to get a "mental escape" from what's hurting you. It puts your body into a deeply relaxed state that promotes healing. 

You can't do this on your own. You'll need a professional to show you how, but it's simple enough that kids can learn it. Guided imagery may help relieve tension headaches and pain from cancer and fibromyalgia.

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dried alternative medicine herbs
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Homeopathy

The idea behind it is simple: A little bit of what's making you sick may also cure you. Remedies, which you can buy at stores or from a trained homeopath, include diluted amounts of herbs and other plants, minerals, and animal products. 

While some studies show homeopathy may ease pain from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, there isn't enough strong research yet to know for sure.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/15/2015 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 15, 2015

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Tan, G. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, Vol. 4, Number 2, 2007.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 15, 2015

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.