How to Spend Less on Physical Treatments for Chronic Pain and Decrease Your Pain at the Same Time

I ask group members regularly what topics they would like me to share about, “how to save money on physical therapies” was the top request on the last post where I asked for suggestions. So here I share how you can spend less money on physical treatments for chronic pain and strategies for decreasing your pain at the same time.

What a whopper! As soon as I read the comment, I was formulating ideas. As a person who has tried physiotherapists (many different ones), Eastern practitioners, massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, personal trainers (who did not get it) and more, I know the costs involved here. We run a public system here in New Zealand so none of these private physical treatments are funded at all.

When I was at my worst I was going weekly, paying $50 or $60 a session to very little benefit. As I have finally put these things into place I have reduced to three or four weekly – this is a saving of $150-200 per month! That adds up!

These are the things that you can do to reduce the amount of treatments you need from physical therapists (physiotherapists, massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, etc.). If they are not necessarily easy, when are they ever?

The four ways of how to spend less on physical treatments for chronic pain

1. Remove or reduce the things that perpetuate the physical issue the physiotherapist/massage therapist/chiropractor etc. has to work on.

This might be a tough one as you may not be willing or able to do the things. For example, working full-time on a computer really exacerbates my neck and shoulders. I cannot, no matter the steps I take to mitigate it, experience less pain and keep doing it. Do you engage in something that aggravates your tricky spots? Is your bed and pillow correct for your needs? Check your breathing!

Let yourself brainstorm as there might be lots of things that come up.

2. Work on the whole of life things

So a lot of our physical issues are related to our overall health. When the fibromyalgia was worse, I needed to see the physical therapists for in search of relief (which never came).

When I changed my entire life – reducing work hours, cutting my commute, moving to a warmer climate, learning to rest (and later meditate), gentle exercise (which for me meant cutting back!) etc. – the amount I needed to see the physical reduced.

3. Finding the right treatment

This alone halved how often I had to go. For severe, recurrent trigger points in my neck – for which I’ve spent at least $1500 per year for over 10 years trying to get some relief from – I have the right practitioner and treatment at last. It’s a physiotherapist who places acupuncture needles into the trigger point, leaves it to relax and then performs gentle traction and stretches. The amount of time and money I spent on massage therapists, physiotherapists, osteopathy and chiropractic is insane.

Ask yourself, does that massage or chiropractic session actually help enough to justify the cost? Does the benefit hold long enough to be justifiable?

4. Learn to do things yourself

This might be the most important and the easiest!

For me, this is copious amounts of stretching/yoga.

You can learn about yoga for fibromyalgia in my free workshop! We look at commonly asked questions, myths, my favourite poses, the benefits and more.

for the first time i feel like i can do yoga

Meditation is also helpful, especially guided meditations for pain relief and relaxation. You’ve heard me talk about this for years. Insight timer free app.

I also use a Theracane trigger point massager and foam roller. You could self-massage or buy a personal massage aid. This post talks about inexpensive items I use to fight chronic pain.

Always ask a practitioner you see to give you suggestions for things you can do at home and DO them.

So these are my top four ways to spend less on physical treatments (and reduce your pain at the same time). Are you working on any of these areas? What is your favourite way to cope with physical pain?

Struggle to be Well While Pregnant with Fibromyalgia

There is more than a little vulnerability involved when you have a reliance upon a certain treatment in order to maintain wellness.

I have experienced this many times over in the near decade in which I have been trying to live well with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I have had to gather information, learn about my condition, and learn to advocate for myself.

I have tried many of the physical therapies available. My heart has been broken a few times by enthusiastic practitioners who believed they could cure me.

In the last two years, I have found an amazing physiotherapist who combines acupuncture with deep tissue work, specifically for patients with fibromyalgia. She armed me with things I could do to help myself, supported me to adapt a Pilates routine to help strengthen my back and neck and we managed to reduce my visits to two-weekly (from weekly). At the same time, I had been making changes to my lifestyle and taking my battle for wellness in hand.

Little did I know that last year, there was something around the corner to throw me off balance.

I became pregnant.

Pregnancy has had huge physical implications for me. In the first trimester I was beset by worse fatigue than several years of chronic fatigue syndrome could prepare me for. In the second trimester I pulled a muscle in my hip and lower back. As the third trimester has dragged on, my physical limits are being severely tested.

Luckily, I have many coping mechanisms in place. But nothing could prepare me for the emotional impact of several weeks of deteriorating sleep, increasing fatigue and increasing pain. Unfortunately, this has been coupled with needing a new physiotherapist, due to mine also becoming pregnant.

I began my search by Googling those that say they do acupuncture and calling them to confirm. I turned up to an appointment with a physiotherapist, whose receptionist told me she does acupuncture, only to find she does dry needling instead. In desperate need of treatment, I continued with the appointment. But, in comparison to the whole-body, gentle effect of acupuncture, dry needling a couple of muscles did little for me.

The day before an appointment with a different physiotherapist, with whose receptionist I explained my situation and stressed that I needed acupuncture, I received a call from that physio telling me that she didn’t actually do acupuncture, it was dry needling. I cancelled the appointment.

Trying a different tact, I Googled physical treatments specifically aimed at pregnant women. And the prices alone were enough to deter me. Being on maternity leave with my family on reduced income, I cannot justify these prices – especially as I need treatments at least once a fortnight.

One of the organisations I spoke to said, “we do do acupuncture, but we call it by a different name, dry needling.” This made me angry. If I didn’t know exactly what I need, if I hadn’t already been through the dry needling phase, I might have been sucked in.

And that is one important finding of having fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome – I have to continually be my own advocate. Which is somewhat tiring when you are so sore and so tired that you want to give up!

This is a pregnancy diary from my first pregnancy in 2013/14. For my most recent pregnancy diaries and my pregnancy resources see here.