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  • Claire Crockett

It's never Nice to take pain killers for chronic pain

A draft guidance released last week by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said there was “little or no evidence” the most commonly used pain relief for chronic primary pain made any difference to people’s quality of life, pain or psychological distress. In addition, they also stated that they may in fact cause harm to a person in the long term. Excessive use of common over the counter and prescribed pain killers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can lead to addiction, breathing issues, even gastric and kidney conditions. An alternative suggested by Nice is the use of low grade anti-depressants, but these too can lead to unwanted side effects.

Public Health England estimates that nearly 12 million people (approximately 1 in 4) are taking medication for pain, depression, or insomnia. So, what else can you do to help combat chronic pain?

Here are a few suggestions –


Gentle exercise such as walking, or swimming may ease some of the pain by blocking pain signals to the brain.

Gentle yoga can also be a good way to combat chronic pain. Slowly easing in to postures and slow deep breathing are perfect, no need to turn yourself in to a human pretzel.

Studies have shown that practising mindfulness can lead to improved pain acceptance. Completing an eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course can help to reduce the pain severity. Taking a look at your lifestyle and seeing if you can reduce your stress levels can support this.

A TENS machine (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) works by blocking pain signals however if you have a pacemaker, cardiac condition or are pregnant then this is not the thing for you.

Developing a hobby can be a distraction from the dull nag of pain. Painting, reading, gentle gardening and sewing are just a few ideas.

Acupuncture has been linked to giving relief from chronic pain.

Finally, who can forget the wonder that is reflexology? Whilst studies are small, there are links to be found with the easing of chronic pain and an increase in relaxation during and after a treatment.


For anyone suffering from chronic pain, remember, you are not alone. There is support available from organisations such as the Pain Toolkit, the British Pain Society, Pain Concern and Action on Pain. Don’t suffer alone.




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