We’re in pain. There’s no way to sugar-coat it. It’s estimated that over 20% of Americans have chronic pain, that’s close to 50 million people struggling with pain. Pain has always been there, and 20 years ago, the most common treatment was opioids. Unfortunately, the freedom to prescribe opioids for pain management turned into a devastating epidemic, with more than 130 people in the US alone dying of an opioid overdose every day.
Thankfully, patients, doctors, and regulatory agencies are pushing away the use of opioid prescriptions to treat pain and looking into non-opioid treatment options instead.
1. Over the Counter Solutions
Some of the CDC’s recommendations include turning to over the counter analgesics instead. When pain stems from tissue damage, solutions like Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Aspirin have proven to be effective at managing pain symptoms.
For decades, people have resorted to acupuncture for pain management. The practice involves using tiny needles inserted into the skin to release endorphins, your body’s natural painkiller chemicals. Acupuncture has even been used for treating PMS symptoms. Consult with your primary care doctor to see if acupuncture can help.
Recently, CBD as a pain management treatment is on the rise. While much more research is needed to understand the benefits and risks of marijuana fully, it’s currently seen as a non-opioid alternative for pain. Read more about the differences between CBD and marijuana, CBD and THC, and CBD versus hemp, to understand more about the way this compound interacts with your body.
Select anti-depressants can help treat neuropathic pain, such as fibromyalgia and chronic migraines. Anti-depressants can provide practical analgesic effects in chronic pain patients with or without depression. Consult with your health care provider to see if anti-depressants may help your pain.
Whether you sign up for physical therapy or take workouts on your own, they can both help ease pain symptoms. Activities such as walking, yoga, and free weights encourage patients to be active. They also help with posture and weakness. Staying active is a fantastic way to reduce musculoskeletal pain and improve overall well-being. All you need is a few minutes of moderate exercise each day to reach your goals.
6. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT addresses all psychosocial contributors to pain, for example, fear, anxiety, distress, and avoidance. The goal of CBT is to treat patients by modifying situational factors and their cognitive processes that exacerbate their pain. Relaxation techniques, support groups, and self-help programs are all part of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The search for non-opioid treatment options for pain continues. So far, it seems we’ve made tremendous progress towards an opioid-free management program. As always, consult with your doctor before introducing any of these treatment options to your wellness plan.