There are a lot of options for managing chronic 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. Texas passed House Bill 2174 that requires opioid prescriptions not exceed 10 days and cannot include refills. It also states that all opioid prescriptions be electronically recorded to prevent abuse, misuse, and waste of medication. 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 for managing 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.
High-Tech Methods for Managing 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 sends mild electrical currents to the spinal cord. Pain is reduced due to the stimulation 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.
More recently, cell-based therapies have been introduced to patients looking for relief from their chronic pain. Using human allograft tissue has proven to be safe and effective in treating pain in patients who have not found success in other treatments. Therapies include Platelet-Rich Plasma, Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate injections, and Prolotherapy.
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 pain, talk to your doctor about these alternative options for managing chronic pain.