Complementary therapies

There are many complementary therapies available which can be used alongside conventional medicine.


It’s best to regard any therapy with the attitude, “I’ll try it for a few weeks and see what happens.” Not every therapy suits every person or their particular pain, so monitor your progress carefully and don’t carry on unless, after a fair trial, you continue to make progress. Before you start any particular therapy it is best to check with your doctor that the therapy is suitable for your condition.

The Therapies

These are some of the therapies that PainSupport members have found helpful.

Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique teaches better ‘use of the body’ for freedom of movement. With the Technique, balance, posture and overall use of your body can improve which encourages a reduction in pain levels. Find a teacher from your local Natural Health Centre or from The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT):

Acupuncture, which originated in China has been used for over 2000 years and looks upon pain and illness as signs that the body is out of balance. Acupuncturists stimulate various points on the body using very fine sterilised needles, a laser pulse, magnetism, heat or manual pressure. Acupuncture is sometimes available on the NHS. After a treatment you often feel very relaxed and sleepy.,
or The British Acupuncture Council,

The aromatherapist uses essential oils and extracts from various plants, diluted in a carrier oil to massage into the skin. They should never be taken internally. Aromatherapy is very relaxing and enjoyable and can give pain relief for a while after the treatment. More information from The International Society of Professional Aromatherapists: Website:

Bowen Technique
The therapist uses a light touch to make a series of gently rolling moves which can be done through clothing to rebalance and stimulate energy flows. Good for stress-related posture problems. For further information contact The Bowen Association,

Chiropractors specialise in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of biomechanical disorders of the musculo-skeletal system particularly those involving the spine and their effects on the nervous system. They work manually to improve the function of joints, relieve pain and muscle spasm and irritation to the nervous system. Contact the British Chiropractic Association for further information and a list of practitioners:

CBT – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
CBT can help you to change how you think (‘Cognitive’) and what you do (‘Behaviour’). These changes can help you to feel better. Instead of focusing on the causes of your distress or symptoms in the past, CBT looks for ways to improve your state of mind now. More information from the Royal College of Psychiatrists,

Counselling is a talking therapy which allows individuals to deal with specific life issues rather than very deep issues, for which Psychotherapy may be more appropriate. Talking through your problems with a trained counsellor can be extremely helpful and give you a new perspective on any issues you may have,

Feldenkrais Movement Therapy
Similar in its aims to the Alexander Technique, the Feldenkrais teacher re-educates your body into moving efficiently and effortlessly through improved mind and body co-ordination. For further details contact The Feldenkrais Guild UK,

A non-denominational method of healing, where the healer either touches the body gently or feels the energy field around the body. The process is non-invasive and very relaxing. For a reputable healer contact the National Federation of Spiritual Healers,,
or Therapeutic Touch,,
or Reiki Healing,

Herbs in various forms, in a tea or as a tincture, can be very helpful in supporting the body and gently encouraging healing. Many herbs are as strong as prescription drugs and are also capable of affecting any prescription drugs you may be taking, so always take the advice of a qualified medical herbalist rather than buy off the shelf. Also check with your doctor that any particular herbal remedy is suitable for you. More information from the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, NIMH,

During a Hypnotherapy session you are put into a deep relaxation where you will be  more receptive to the new ideas that are suggested. For instance, to give up smoking, the suggestion could be that smoking is an unpleasant habit. A good hypnotherapist might be able to help you reduce your pain by altering your perception of the pain, and by releasing stress and muscular tension. For more information contact Hypnotherapists Org UK,

Institute of Complementary and Natural Medicine
The ICM can help  you can find information and qualified complementary practitioners in your area,

Mindfulness Meditation
You can teach yourself basic mindfulness meditation skills from information on this website, from books, CDs or by attending a meditation class. By concentrating on a focus, normally your breath, you watch your thoughts as they arise, letting them go, and returning to the focus, without being affected by them. Mindfulness Meditation has profound calming effects upon your body and mind, you remain alert yet you are relaxed and pain, stress and anxiety are reduced. You learn to live more in the present moment. This is a very popular and successful method of living well with chronic pain. More information from the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy website,

NLP – NeuroLinguistic Therapy
NLP is a short term and practical approach to problem solving, including issues around pain. Many therapists are also psychologists. It is often used as a business tool so for pain issues choose a  therapist who specialises in health problems. Useful information from: NLP-Therapy,

Nutritional Therapy
If you have digestive or other health problems, a Nutritional Therapist can be very helpful. They can analyse your diet and make suggestions to improve it, send for tests, provide supplements and monitor your condition. More information from the Institute of Optimum Nutrition,

Osteopaths believe that by adjusting the structure of the body by massage and manipulation the body will heal itself, not only joints and muscles but internal organs and general health, as one affects the other. More information from,

Pilates is a form of exercise based loosely on the Alexander Technique and yoga. The movements are very precise, so you need a good teacher and one who is experienced with your condition,

Psychotherapy takes a deeper look than counselling in helping you to understand why you experience difficulties. Psychotherapy is useful for such things as recurring anxiety states, lack of confidence and depression,
or United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy,

Physiotherapy is best suited for injury or pain caused through misuse of the body. Physiotherapists treat by manipulation and by giving a programme of stretching and mobilising exercises. You can see physiotherapists privately or via the NHS. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy,

Finger and thumb pressures are applied to pressure-points as with acupuncture. For further information contact The British Reflexology Association,

TENS – Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation
A TENS machine is a small machine with wires which have pads attached. You stick the pads around the site of the pain. The current from the machine stimulates the area to give pain relief. TENS machines are often available on the NHS from a physiotherapist or from a Pain Clinic. You can also buy by mail order and from major chemists. There is more information on the NHS,

Yoga is a system of exercises or postural movements, combined with breathing techniques. Usually taught in a class situation but regular practice at home is also recommended. Find a practitioner who is used to dealing with people in pain and uses a gentle type of Yoga, such as Hatha Yoga. For more information contact The British Wheel of Yoga,

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