Chronic pain management: Eight alternatives to narcotics

There are other ways of treating chronic pain that can be just as effective as narcotics. More on the exact therapies that can work here, with a section at the end for your questions.

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Chronic pain management alternatives

Chronic pain due to illness, accident, and injury affects millions of people worldwide. In fact, people have different levels of pain tolerance and pain management is a field of medicine that’s now more popular and necessary than ever before. At the same time, symptoms of prescription pain medication addiction are becoming more noticeable as Rx drug addiction has reached epidemic proportions.

Without a doubt, narcotic (opiate or opioid) pain medications are helpful for many people experiencing chronic pain. Sometimes it’s the only thing that works; but narcotics should be saved as a last resort. There are other ways of treating chronic pain that can be just as effective as narcotics and should be attempted first, especially for people with a history of addiction. We review these alternatives here, and invite your questions about chronic pain management and the pain pill problem in America at the end.

8 Alternatives to pain killers for chronic pain

1. Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is especially helpful for back, neck, and spinal column injuries. By manually manipulating your bones and joints, a chiropractor can help your body return to a normal alignment, which will reduce and sometimes eliminate your pain. Chiropractic usually needs to be done on a weekly basis to maintain its effect.

2. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help reduce pain from an injury in any part of the body, and your routine is tailored to your personal condition and needs. Generally, physical therapy strengthens your muscles and increases your mobility. Your physical therapist may help you practice standing, sitting, walking, and moving in ways that decrease your pain. Physical therapy is usually done a few times per week for a period of at least two to three months.

3. Electrotherapy

Electrotherapy is often performed in conjunction with chiropractic care or physical therapy, and it can also be done at home with a small electrotherapy machine. The machine is attached to painful parts of the body and mild electric currents stimulate natural pain relief. Pain is usually decreased or eliminated for several hours after each treatment.

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient therapy that involves placing very small needles into the skin of key points on your body. The goal of the needles is to correct nerve issues and realign energy pathways. The procedure is usually painless and can work for just about any type of pain, but it is most effective for headaches, migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and back pain.

5. Injections

A doctor can also give you an injection near the site of your pain in order to provide relief by numbing the area or reducing nerve inflammation. There are different types of injections, including steroid, epidural, facet joint, and nerve block injections. The procedure is usually performed with a local anesthetic, sedation, or anesthesia. The effects from the injection can last anywhere from several weeks to several years.

6. Relaxation Therapy

There are many different types of relaxation therapy including massage, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, guided imagery, Pilates, and deep breathing. Relaxation therapies can be very effective in reducing or eliminating pain in many different parts of the body, and they can have other benefits such as stress and anxiety relief as well.

7. Non-Narcotic Pain Medication

There are many different types of non-narcotic pain medication in varying strengths that can be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by your doctor. There are also homeopathic (natural) remedies. Sometimes these medications are enough to eliminate pain without the need to try addictive prescriptions.

8. Surgery

As an extreme resort, sometimes your doctor may recommend surgery to address the source of your chronic pain. If your chronic pain is permanent, severe, not responding well to other treatments, and possible to fix through a surgical procedure, it may be worth considering this solution. Surgery can be a permanent fix to what may otherwise be a lifelong problem.

Questions about chronic pain management

Please share your questions or experiences with managing chronic pain in the comments section below. We do our best to respond to all legitimate queries personally and promptly.

About the author
Lisa Hann is a freelance writer and author of the books How to Have Fun in Recovery and 365 Ways to Have Fun Sober. She has a B.A. in Journalism from Temple University. She has been sober since 2010 and resides in NJ with her son.
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