Nonpharmaceutical approaches to pain management

Top Companion Anim Med. 2014 Mar;29(1):24-8. doi: 10.1053/j.tcam.2014.04.001. Epub 2014 Apr 5.


A nonpharmaceutical approach to managing pain is one that does not employ a medication. The use of such approaches, in conjunction with pharmaceuticals as part of multimodal methods to managing pain, is becoming more popular as evidence is emerging to support their use. Cold therapy, for one, is used to reduce the inflammation and tissue damage seen in acute injuries and can be very effective at reducing acute pain. Incorporating the use of superficial heat therapy when treating pain associated with chronic musculoskeletal conditions is often employed as heat increases blood flow, oxygen delivery, and tissue extensibility. Acupuncture is gaining acceptance in veterinary medicine. Research is confirming that release of endogenous endorphins and enkephalins from the application of needles at specific points around the body can effectively control acute and chronic pain. The use of 2 newer therapies-extracorporeal shockwave therapy and platelet-rich plasma-represent an attempt to eliminate the causes of pain at the tissue level by promoting tissue healing and regeneration. Reviewed in this article, these therapies are intended to be used in conjunction with pharmaceuticals as part of a multimodal approach to pain management.

Keywords: acupuncture; cats; cold therapy; dogs; extracorporeal shockwave therapy; heat therapy; pain; platelet-rich plasma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / veterinary
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cryotherapy / veterinary
  • Dogs
  • Hot Temperature / therapeutic use
  • Lithotripsy / veterinary
  • Pain Management / veterinary*
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma