The opioid crisis has resulted in devastating consequences for millions of people. From addiction to overdose and the spread of infectious diseases, opioids have wreaked havoc on our communities for decades. The crisis isn’t just on the streets. It’s in the homes of everyday people. According to the National Institute of Health, 21 to 29 percent of people prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and 8 to 12 percent develop an addiction. The best way to prevent the development of an opioid addiction is to avoid opioid medications altogether. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with pain. There are a number of non-opioid pain treatments available. Read on for more information.
Non-opioid pain management
Opiate drugs, also known as narcotics, block pain receptors and create artificial endorphins in the body. This is what makes them great for treating pain from injury or surgery, back pain, or severe pain associated with cancer. But it’s also what makes them highly addictive, especially when used to treat chronic (long-term) pain. Doctors and health researchers have been working to actively combat the opioid crisis by helping patients find new ways to alleviate their pain without the use of opiates. Some common non-opioid pain management options include:
- Non-opiate oral pain medications – There are a number of different types of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that do not contain opiates. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin are highly effective in alleviating many types of pain.
- Other oral medications
Certain antidepressants and anticonvulsants are sometimes prescribed to treat pain, even in people who do not suffer from depression or convulsions.
Topical creams, gels, patches, lotions, and ointments can be applied to the skin to treat certain types of localized pain, including musculoskeletal pain and neuropathic pain.
Pain pumps involve the surgical placement of a small pump under the skin that delivers medication to the spinal cord and nerves, for the controlled treatment of chronic pain.
Nerve blocks are injections of local anesthetics that can be used to numb the nerves in a specific area in order to provide pain relief.
Physical therapists can help patients manage pain through a customized program involving some combination of exercise, manual therapies, and patient education.
Studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in the treatment of various types of chronic pain, including chronic headaches, musculoskeletal pain, and pain from osteoarthritis.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, involves a low-voltage electrical current that blocks the transmission of pain signals to treat both chronic and acute pain.
Radiofrequency therapy uses radio waves to produce an electrical current, which heats up the targeted nerve tissue, blocking the pain signal there.
Not all of the above non-opioid pain treatments will work for all situations or conditions. The best way to determine which non-narcotic pain treatment will work for you is to consult with a doctor experienced in chronic pain management and committed to long-term patient health and wellness.
Treat pain without opiates at Pacific Health Systems in San Diego
If you suffer from chronic pain and you’re looking for alternatives to opiates for pain relief, we can help. At Pacific Health Systems in San Diego, our pain management doctors understand the risks of opioid medications and will work closely with you to customize a treatment plan aimed at helping you live a healthy and pain-free life. For more information on chronic pain management at Pacific Health Systems, give us a call at (619) 267-9257 or fill out our contact form today.