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Drug-Free Pain Management Tool

Drug Free Pain Management Tool

Learn about drug-free alternatives to arthritis pain management. Pain is the number one concern for the majority of people with arthritis. Pain is complex, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Additionally, chronic or persistent pain may require a combination of strategies for maximum symptom relief. Medications are only one part of an overall strategy to help you reduce and cope with your pain. This tool can help you learn about different drug-free pain management options for arthritis and what the research says about their effectiveness.

Use the three filters below to search by Arthritis Type, Treatment Type and/or Level of Recommendation to find drug-free options for pain management. Learn more about the filters and how to use them.


More information about the filters and how to use them:

  • Arthritis Type

    You can select which Arthritis Type is relevant for you: osteoarthritis or inflammatory arthritis (which includes rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis).

  • Treatment Type

    You can also select which category of pain management you would like to learn more about: self-management, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, or complementary therapy.

  • Level of recommendation

    Our pain management options are divided in three levels of recommendation: high, medium, and low.

    • An approach with a high level of recommendation is endorsed by credible organizations such as the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI), the Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA), the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPA), or the American College of Rheumatologists (ACR). Highly recommended options are often affordable, low risk, and supported by reliable evidence from multiple studies.
    • An approach with a medium level of recommendation is conditionally or minimally endorsed by credible organizations. These tools have been used and may have shown some efficacy but are not necessarily recommended as effective techniques due to factors such as a lack of scientific evidence, costs, or potential risks.
    • An approach with a low level of recommendation is either not recommended by credible organizations or recommended with caution. Options with low levels of recommendation generally have multiple factors that may not be favourable, whether they are higher risk to perform, more costly, or not strongly supported with evidence.

This information was reviewed in August 2020 with expert advice from:
Sue MacQueen PT, BScPT, ACPAC (Advanced Clinician Practitioner in Arthritis Care)

Thank you to Stephanie Au, Meg Zhang and members of the Online Consumer Panels for their contributions to this project.

Disclaimer: This tool has been created to provide general information about drug-free pain interventions for arthritis symptoms. It should not be used in place of medical advice from licensed healthcare professionals. Please consult your healthcare provider and treatment team to determine if an intervention is appropriate for you.


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