Physical pain during benzodiazepine withdrawal can be deeply challenging, encompassing nerve, muscle, bone, and joint discomfort that might confine you to the couch or bed at times. I spent quite a bit of time horizontally to cope with my pain. Over time, pain subsides. To navigate through this period without exacerbating your condition, here are thirty-three non-pharmacological strategies aimed at managing pain. While these methods primarily enhance your coping ability rather than eliminating pain instantly, their role in mitigating pain’s impact cannot be overstated.

If the pain reaches a point where non-pharmacological methods are insufficient and you consider an over-the-counter analgesic, Tylenol is typically less likely to aggravate withdrawal symptoms compared to Advil or Aleve. It’s crucial to approach pain relief cautiously: the benzodiazepine recovery community generally advises against using opioids or muscle relaxants, as these can trigger symptoms or possibly slow down your healing. Moreover, doctors unfamiliar with benzodiazepine withdrawal might prescribe Gabapentin, Lyrica, tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs, or SNRIs for pain management—each of these can lead to their own challenging withdrawal symptoms.

Here are thirty-three ways to cope with pain.

  1. Massage Therapy: Helps to relax muscle tension, improve circulation, and reduce stress levels which can exacerbate pain. Make sure to avoid deep tissue or sports massage. Cranial Sacral massage, as gentle as it is, can cause a wave due to the head manipulation. Gentle stroking and effleurage are best. 
  2. Acupuncture Can effectively manage pain by stimulating nerves, muscles, and connective tissue to boost your body’s natural painkillers and increase blood flow. Acupuncture is a test-and-learn therapeutic: it may or may not cause a wave. 
  3. Heat Therapy: Applying a heating pad to areas of muscle pain and stiffness can help relax and loosen tissues and stimulate blood flow. Electric heating pads, as well as ones that heat up in a microwave, are effective.
  4. Cold Therapy: Ice packs on inflamed areas can help reduce swelling and numb deep pain. A bag of frozen peas works wonders! Be sure to label the bag so you don’t cook the peas. You can use the bag numerous times. 
  5. Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation can reduce pain intensity and improve emotional regulation by fostering a greater awareness of bodily sensations and developing an attitude of acceptance. Many meditations are available on YouTube. 
  6. Gentle Yoga: This can help stretch and strengthen the body, enhance blood circulation, and reduce muscle stiffness and discomfort. YouTube has many Yoga practitioners to follow, including char yoga for anyone having trouble getting on the floor.
  7. Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing techniques can help manage the anxiety and stress that often accompany withdrawal, potentially reducing the perception of pain. 
  8. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups, which can be particularly helpful in managing muscle tension and pain.
  9. Hydrotherapy: Soaking in a warm bath can help soothe muscles and joints and reduce pain. Avoid Epsons Salts as the magnesium may cause a wave of symptoms.
  10. Dietary Adjustments: Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like blueberries and dark green leafy vegetables is helpful. 
  11. Staying Hydrated: Staying well-hydrated can help minimize withdrawal symptoms and flush out toxins, potentially reducing muscle aches and pains.
  12. Hypnosis: This technique can help alter one’s perception of pain by inducing deep relaxation and increased suggestibility to encourage positive mental coping strategies.
  13. Distraction Techniques: Engaging in activities that occupy the mind can help divert attention from pain. This could include watching movies, reading, or engaging in hobbies. Gardening has been a wonderful distraction for many who are in benzo withdrawal. Gardening has been proven to increase the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. 
  14. Learning Something New: Taking up a new skill or hobby distracts from pain, can provide a sense of achievement, and can improve mental well-being by boosting dopamine.
  15. Art Therapy: Expressing oneself through art can be a therapeutic distraction and help manage symptoms by focusing on creativity rather than discomfort.
  16. Music Therapy: Listening to calming music or playing an instrument can reduce stress and pain by providing a soothing distraction and emotional release.
  17. Nature Walks: Spending time in nature can be therapeutic and soothing for the mind and body. The gentle activity of walking can also help with circulation and muscle relaxation. A few minutes out in greenery has been shown to help settle the nervous system. 
  18. Peer Support Groups: Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can provide emotional support and practical advice on managing symptoms.
  19. Journaling: Writing about your experiences and feelings can be a helpful way to process emotions and reduce stress related to withdrawal.
  20. Swimming for Pain Management: Swimming can be highly beneficial for managing pain during benzodiazepine withdrawal. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on joints and muscles, allowing for gentle, low-impact exercise that improves circulation, flexibility, and overall physical strength, which can help alleviate pain and discomfort. Additionally, the soothing properties of water can provide a calming effect, reducing stress and promoting relaxation. 
  21. Ice Caps for Headache Relief: Ice caps or cold compresses can effectively manage headaches during benzodiazepine withdrawal. The cold temperature helps constrict blood vessels, reducing inflammation and numbing pain, which can provide immediate relief from headache symptoms. This method is beneficial for tension and migraine headaches.
  22. Weighted Blankets for Pain Relief: Weighted blankets can help alleviate pain during benzodiazepine withdrawal by providing deep pressure stimulation, promoting serotonin and melatonin release, enhancing mood, and aiding sleep. This gentle, firm pressure mimics a therapeutic technique known as deep pressure stimulation that can reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and lessen chronic pain, making it easier to manage discomfort associated with withdrawal.
  23. Biofeedback: This technique teaches control over bodily processes that cause pain. Through sensors that provide feedback on physical functions, patients learn to decrease muscle tension and improve temperature regulation, which can help manage pain levels. Some people have said that biofeedback caused a wave. You will need to test and learn how you respond. 
  24. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise program that helps manage pain by improving strength, flexibility, and posture.
  25. Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic adjustments may help reduce withdrawal-related musculoskeletal pain by improving spinal alignment and overall body function. Avoid manipulation of the head or neck that may cause a flare-up in symptoms. 
  26. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT can be particularly effective in helping individuals manage chronic pain by changing how they perceive and react to it.
  27. Tai Chi or Qigong: These gentle forms of martial arts focus on slow, deliberate movements and deep breathing, which can help reduce stress and pain.
  28. Pet Therapy: Interacting with pets can elevate oxytocin and dopamine levels, improving mood and reducing pain perception.
  29. Spiritual Practice: Engaging in spiritual activities, such as prayer, meditation, or community worship, can provide comfort and strength and reduce feelings of pain and isolation.
  30. Embracing the Pain: Adopting a mindful approach to being present with pain rather than avoiding it can lead to better pain management during benzodiazepine withdrawal. This practice involves acknowledging and observing pain without judgment, which can decrease the emotional response to pain and enhance coping strategies, ultimately reducing the overall suffering associated with the withdrawal process.
  31. Gratitude in Pain Management: Cultivating gratitude can shift focus from pain to appreciation, reducing stress and enhancing the release of pain-relieving endorphins, which improves pain tolerance during benzodiazepine withdrawal. 
  32. Guided Imagery for Pain Management: Visualizing calming and restorative scenes using guided imagery can activate the body’s natural relaxation response, reduce the perception of pain, and promote emotional well-being during benzodiazepine withdrawal.
  33. Playing for Pain Relief: Engaging in playful activities or games can be a powerful distraction technique, shifting focus away from pain during benzodiazepine withdrawal. Play stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and mood elevators, which can alleviate discomfort and enhance overall well-being.

Please leave a comment and share what has helped you.