Pain without medicines???
Introduction to pain management
Pain management can be simple or complex, depending on the cause of the pain. An example of pain that is typically less complex would be nerve root irritation from a herniated disc with pain radiating down the leg. This condition can often be alleviated with an epidural steroid injection and physical therapy. Sometimes, however, the pain does not go away. This can require a wide variety of skills and techniques to treat the pain. These skills and techniques include:Interventional procedures
- Medication management
- Physical therapy or chiropractic therapy
- Psychological counseling and support
- Acupuncture and other alternative therapies; and
- Referral to other medical specialists
All of these skills and services are necessary because pain can involve many aspects of a person’s daily life.
Managing pain without medicines
Many non-medicine treatments are available to help you manage your pain. A combination of treatments and therapies is often more effective than just one.
Some non-medicine options include:
- heat or cold – use ice packs immediately after an injury to reduce swelling. Heat packs are better for relieving chronic muscle or joint injuries
- physical therapies – such as walking, stretching, strengthening or aerobic exercises may help reduce pain, keep you mobile and improve your mood. You may need to increase your exercise very slowly to avoid over-doing it
- massage – this is better suited to soft tissue injuries and should be avoided if the pain is in the joints. There is some evidence that suggests massage may help manage pain, but it is not recommended as a long-term therapy
- relaxation and stress management techniques – including meditation and yoga
- cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) – this form of therapy can help you learn to change how you think and, in turn, how you feel and behave about pain. This is a valuable strategy for learning to self-manage chronic pain
- acupuncture – a component of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the skin. It aims to restore balance within the body and encourage it to heal by releasing natural pain-relieving compounds (endorphins). Some people find that acupuncture reduces the severity of their pain and enables them to maintain function. Scientific evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in managing pain is inconclusive
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy – minute electrical currents pass through the skin via electrodes, prompting a pain-relieving response from the body. There is not enough published evidence to support the use of TENS for the treatment of some chronic pain conditions. However, some people with chronic pain that are unresponsive to other treatments may experience a benefit.
Your doctor or other healthcare professional can guide you through the best treatments for you.
Over-the-Counter Treatments for Nerve Pain
- Topical painkillers. Many over-the-counter creams and ointments are sold to relieve nerve pain. They include ingredients that work as a local anesthetic, numbing the pain in the area where you apply them. Some contain capsaicin, a painkiller derived from chili peppers. Others use different natural ingredients, like botanical oils. One advantage of topical treatments is that you can apply them precisely where you need relief.
- Painkilling medicines. Some people with neuropathic pain turn to familiar over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. While these drugs might help with mild or occasional pain, they’re often not strong enough for serious nerve pain. There’s also a risk that someone with chronic pain might begin to rely on these medicines too much. So, always make sure to follow the directions on the bottle. Most painkillers should never be taken for more than 10 days. If you are still in pain and want to take them for longer than that, you need to talk with your doctor — it may be a sign that you need a different treatment.
- Supplements and vitamins. In some cases, nerve pain can be worsened — or even caused — by a deficiency of vitamin B12. If your doctor decides you need it, he or she might recommend injections of vitamin B12 or supplements.
Other supplements are sometimes used as treatments for nerve pain. There’s some preliminary evidence that a few of them — like acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, and gamma linolenic acid — might help with nerve pain caused by diabetes. However, the evidence isn’t clear; more research needs to be done. Always check with a doctor before you start taking a supplement regularly.
10 Ways to Manage Pain without Opioids
The over-prescription of opioid painkillers such as Hydrocodone and OxyContin is one of the main causes of the current addiction epidemic in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 50 percent of all opioid-related overdose deaths in the US involve a prescription painkiller and almost two million people in this country abuse or are dependent on prescription opioids.
Unfortunately, people have legitimate pain issues that can lead to a substance use disorder. As many as 25 percent of people who receive prescription painkillers in a physician’s office or hospital are struggling with addiction. The CDC has recently released guidelines aimed at reducing the misuse of opioid pain medications. Here are ten ways that various experts recommend managing pain without the use of opioids.
- Biofeedback. Biofeedback is a treatment or exercise that allows a patient to learn to consciously control his or her heart rate and response to stimuli on a screen. It is useful for pain management because it can teach patients to bring their own pain levels under control.
- Chiropractic Care. Chiropractic care is now an accepted form of treatment for chronic low back pain, neck pain, and headaches. A chiropractor manipulates the spine to help the body function properly and may also order physical therapy and massage treatment.
- Eastern Medicine. Also referred to as Chinese medicine, this is a term that encompasses both herbal treatments as well as acupressure and acupuncture. Acupuncture, in particular, has been used for the relief of pain in the shoulder, low back, neck, and knees.
- Hypnosis. When patients undergo hypnosis, they receive suggestions that help them respond differently to sensations and feelings in their body. A patient can learn to use relaxation and other techniques to reduce anxiety, which can also result in lower levels of pain.
- Cold and Heat. Cold and heat are accepted as effective therapies against chronic pain in various parts of the body. Cold helps reduce inflammation and heat can alleviate spasms in muscles.
- Meditation. One method of reducing pain is incorporating various relaxation exercises into everyday life. This includes learning to breathe to lower blood pressure and practicing meditation techniques. Meditation can help reduce the “fight-or-flight” response to pain, and there are even smartphone apps that act as simple guides.
- Massage. Massage therapy is another effective way to provide relief from chronic pain. Most massage therapists will provide massage to the affected area as well as the whole body with the goal to relieve muscle pain as well as improve circulation.
- Medication. Just because you are avoiding opioid painkillers, that does not mean that you cannot take any medications for chronic pain. Among the medicines that the CDC recommends for pain relief are:
- Analgesics such as Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen
- Topical agents
- TENS. A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) produces electrical stimulation in the affected area, which has been shown to reduce pain related to musculoskeletal conditions.
- Yoga and Tai Chi. Exercise can be an excellent way to build up the muscles around damaged tissue and vertebrae. Among the best forms of exercise are those that use slow and smooth movements such as yoga and Tai Chi. These are both guided programs that also focus on breathing and relaxation techniques.
4 Ways To Manage Chronic Pain Without Medication
Four ways to manage chronic pain before taking pain medication include:
- Regular exercise: Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you’re in pain. But gentle activity can actually help you recover. Exercise in the form of walking, biking or swimming loosens stiff muscles and improves blood flow, both of which speed your body’s natural healing process.
- Integrative medicine techniques: These techniques – which include yoga, tai chi and acupuncture – tap into the mind-body connection. “There is growing evidence that shows that the connection between the mind and body is greater than previously appreciated,” Zador says. Integrative techniques combine the power of breath, movement and mindfulness (the practice of being present in the moment) to relieve pain by calming unhealthy activity in the mind.
- Stress management: There is a strong connection in the brain between stress and pain. Finding healthy ways to cope with the pressures of everyday life can help you gain peace of mind and control of your symptoms.
- Physical therapy: Stretching and strengthening muscles with the help of a physical therapist not only relieves pain, but can prevent it from coming back. Physical therapy can also improve overall muscle functioning, which reduces strain and risk of injury in the long run.
There are a variety of benefits to overcoming chronic pain without medication. For starters, many people enjoy not having to remember to take pills several times a day. Other benefits include avoiding unpleasant side effects that may come with the medication, such as:
- Upset stomach
- Hormone imbalances that can lead to problems like weight gain
- Increased risk of organ damage, including kidney problems
The treatment options that are best for you depend on several factors, including the type of pain you are experiencing and what caused it. In some cases, especially when non-medication treatments aren’t successful, medication is the best option. But it’s often possible to get relief without medication and avoid unpleasant side effects.
“When medications are appropriate, we consider each patient’s lifestyle, overall health and personal preferences toward medication and pain procedures. This combination of factors helps us prescribe the treatments that are likely to help patients achieve long-term relief while avoiding side effects,” Zador says.
If chronic pain has become part of your daily life, learn more about the pain treatments available by talking with a provider specializing in pain management.