Millions of people experience pain every year, leaving them in need of relief. Sometimes the pain is situational, such as related to an injury or accident. Other times a person develops chronic pain that may be long-term or even last the rest of their lives. In both cases, patients rely on their doctors to help them address the best option for their condition. Some physicians immediately point their patients towards opioids. Others look for alternatives to opioids.
Opioids became popular in the late 1990s, enjoying a widespread promise from pharmaceutical companies that they presented a low risk of addiction. After misuse and abuse of opioids became commonplace, the Department of Health and Human Services stepped in. It designated opioid addiction a public health emergency.
Politicians and medical experts began looking for ways to slow down the epidemic. Despite efforts that resulted in an annual reduction in the number of prescriptions for years now, many people feel caught in the middle. Patients dealing with pain do not want to get mired in the trap of addiction. Yet they are unsure of what options there are for alternatives to opioids.
Many Living With Chronic Pain Turn to Opioids for Help
Chronic pain drives a high number of people into medical care. The condition is cited as one of the most common reasons people visit doctors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of adults in this country who suffer from chronic pain numbers around 50 million. The age group with the highest percentage of sufferers is compromised of those ages 45-64.
Chronic pain can result in limited mobility or the loss of it altogether. It can impact the ability of a person to care for themselves. Many people develop mood-related conditions, such as depression and anxiety, as a result of living with daily pain. The sad and frustrating reality of life with chronic pain drives many to utilize opioids for relief. Some of the most popular types of prescription opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl, and tramadol.
Types of Alternatives to Opioids
The opioid addiction crisis has forced many people to look for alternatives for pain relief. Fortunately, many options worth trying exist.
Physical Therapy: Many physical therapists design treatment plans to address specific pain that their patients have. A series of ongoing appointments can focus on exercising certain areas of the body, massage, ultrasounds, and other options.
Massage Therapy: Licensed massage therapists spend a great deal of time training in the field of pain relief. A doctor may be able to provide a referral to a massage therapist who can help bring about pain relief. A person can also check with their insurance provider or do an online search to find resources near them.
Non-opioid pain relievers: These include medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, steroids, and nerve pain medications. Some options are over-the-counter, while some require a prescription. Those looking for alternatives to opioids should remain open to experimenting with some of these options. While their pain might have presented in a specific amount and way initially, pain needs can shift over time. What might not have worked or been dismissed previously might provide pain relief now.
Topical Medications: This type of medication is applied directly to the area involving the source of pain. Types of topicals include gels, creams, lotions, ointments, sprays, foams, and patches. Some offer a reduction in pain while others temporarily block all pain from the area.
Acupuncture: An ancient form of Chinese medicine, acupuncture offers many people pain reduction and relief. Regular sessions with a trained practitioner involve inserting very thin needles into targeted pressure points. Despite initial fears from first-time acupuncture recipients, most people report little to no pain from the needles being inserted or removed.
Pain Pumps: Surgeons can use pain pumps to help treat some severe cases of pain. A pump is implanted in the spinal cord during a surgical procedure. The patient can then control the amount of pain medication they recieve via the operation of the pump. This option has proven particularly effective for those dealing with nerve pain.
Nerve blocks: A doctor injects medication that can assist with muscle spasms and nerve pain using X-ray imaging.
Counseling Sessions: Many people are not aware that some licensed counselors offer treatment for those experiencing chronic pain. These therapists are trained to help a person deal with difficult emotions related to living with pain. For many, having an outlet to discuss their medical condition helps improve their ability to deal with it.
Surgery: A surgical consult can help explain any option for surgery that offers pain relief for a patient.
The Conversation to Have With Your Doctor
If you find yourself dealing with situational or chronic pain or know you may be soon, talk to your doctor. An upcoming surgical procedure may be expected to produce pain, giving you time to discuss a treatment plan. Some doctors may feel that an opioid prescription provides the best chances for relief. For many people, this proves true. When no risk for addiction presents itself, this type of treatment can help a great deal.
Still worth pursuing is a conversation that covers all options. Patients can let their physician know that they are concerned about the risk of opioid addiction. They are well within their rights to inquire about all options for pain relief, including alternatives to opioids.
If a patient feels concerned that their opioid usage shows signs of developing into a substance use disorder (or already has) a conversation about this needs to take place immediately. By the time an opioid addiction has taken hold, a treatment program can be the best option for treating it. If a patient anticipates getting off this substance, knowing what alternatives there are proves beneficial.
Opioid Addiction Treatment in Texas
Casa Colina offers a treatment program that helps men who suffer from substance use disorders. Our beautiful Dallas-area location provides the perfect backdrop for restarting your life with the assistance of our professional team. We offer long-term residential treatment, including options such as equine therapy, trauma therapy, family therapy, massage, and yoga.
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