Managing Chronic Pain Without Opioids
There are a lot of options to treating pain without the use of narcotics. The opioid epidemic is spreading across the nation at frightening rates. Many state laws are cracking down on opioid prescriptions to prevent excessive prescribing.
However, this leaves many chronic pain patients feeling lost and confused about what options are available. The North Carolina Medical Board passed a law which limits the initial opioid prescriptions to 5 days in an effort to reduce opioid misuse and addiction. Chronic pain is a legitimate medical concern.
Non-Opioid Treatments for Chronic Pain
Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers
Taking OTC pain relievers may not be the best way to manage your chronic pain, but will help reduce symptoms on a daily basis. Many doctors prescribe Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for those suffering from chronic headaches, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis because these medications help fight pain and inflammation.
Patients who suffer from chronic pain are typically unable to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. This leads to weakened joints and muscles. Physical therapy helps patients build up to their full potential by using low-intensity therapies like hydrotherapy and ultrasound. Once they get used to that routine and intensity, the focus can shift to more targeted exercises for their specific pain. Physical therapy encourages a higher quality of life and helps patients regain mobility.
This ancient Chinese form of pain management is most often used to help treat back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headaches. The needles stimulate a nerve, signaling the brain to release endorphins that act as a natural opioid. By stimulating the nerve that runs from your brain to your colon, inflammation will lower and often reduce the cause of pain.
High-Tech Methods for Treating Chronic Pain
With technology, new methods for treating pain are becoming increasingly popular with both doctors and patients.
This process uses heat to reduce pain by eliminating communication to the brain. It’s common in patients who suffer from chronic pain in the lower back, neck, and joints. It provides immediate relief and gets the patient back to a restored quality of life in a shorter amount of time.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation hides the pain signal before it can reach the brain. A small device is surgically implanted under the skin and send mild electrical currents to the spinal cord. Pain is reduced due to the stimulations modifying the pain signals and redirecting them away from your brain. Patients may sense a tingling sensation instead of pain.
Nerve Block Injections
These injections, with the help of an X-Ray, can dampen or block the pain. Nerve blocks help the pain from spreading to other parts of the body, by minimizing the signals sent to the brain. There are different types of nerve blocks, depending on a patient’s pain. Injections can be used to treat painful conditions, determine the source of pain, or to predict the result of a treatment.
Physicians are using these non-opioid treatments instead of writing prescriptions. Other therapies that don’t include medication like exercise therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) are gaining popularity. They focus on changing the patient’s attitude and awareness of their pain and teaching coping mechanisms to better manage their pain.
If you suffer from chronic pain, talk to your doctor about these alternative options for treating pain.