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7 Alternatives to Opioid Pain Medication

By on Mar 1, 2023 in Addiction, Blog, Recovery

pain, opioid, opioid pain, therapy, recovery

You have pain. Your doctor is no longer willing or able to offer you pain medication to treat it. This can seem infuriating, and it’s happening throughout the U.S. because of the rise in opioid-related overdose and death. You may be terrified about the lack of ability to stop your pain. What can you do?

Opioids Work but Create Risk

Opioids are powerful drugs that work to change the way your brain experiences the pain signal. When you incorporate this medication into your treatment, it helps to stop the brain from recognizing those pain signals. It does not cure the underlying cause.

The problem with these drugs is the way they interact with the brain. Over time, many people develop a dependence on them, and that can quickly lead to addiction. And because tolerance comes with dependence and addiction, a person will need to take more and more of the drug to get the same level of relief. Because of the risks of overdose, sudden death, and long-term health complications, many doctors are not prescribing opioid pain relievers as much as they used to. 

How to Get Pain Relief That Works Without Pain Medications

It’s easy for someone who doesn’t know what chronic pain feels like to say that there are alternatives to opioids. And it may be true that nothing will offer quite the same pain relief as an opioid. But as you wean yourself off of opioids and opt for healthier alternatives, you may find that you can significantly reduce pain and maybe even heal the underlying cause. It might take time and experimentation, but finding the right option or mix of options can effectively reduce pain without the risks of opioids.

#1: Physical Therapy

Working with a physical therapist can help to alleviate pain, not only eliminating it but curing it at its source. Physical therapy addresses the underlying cause of your pain, even if you’ve suffered from it for years. Look for those who specialize in pain relief to improve function and reduce discomfort.

#2: Topical Agents

You may see significant improvement in pain through the use of topical agents like lidocaine or capsaicin. These products allow you to apply the lotion or use a patch to allow the medication to move through the skin into the area needing treatment. Consider this type of pain relief for muscle, bone, and joint pain, including pain brought on by osteoarthritis. It can also help neuropathic pain, such as pain in your feet.

#3: Exercise

That may not seem like a logical choice when it hurts so much to move, but exercise can offer a few key benefits to your pain regimen. For example, people with fibromyalgia can use low-impact aerobic exercises, like swimming or biking, to help alleviate pain very effectively. If you have joint pain, back pain, or other types of musculoskeletal pain, seek out water aerobics, walking, and biking as treatment options.

#4: TENS

Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) is a newer type of treatment that aids in reducing pain significantly for many people. A device is positioned on your skin in the area where the pain is. A very low level of electrical current helps to treat the pain area through stimulation. This helps to alleviate pain in various areas, including pain from cancer, chronic neck and back pain, fibromyalgia, and muscle damage.

#5: Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been one of the most effective, long-term pain treatment options for hundreds of years. This process involves the use of very small needles positioned at specific points in the body. It works to help address the pain signals traveling to the brain from impacted areas. Over time, acupuncture can provide significant relief while also creating a sense of well-being without the use of pain medications.

#6: Nerve Blocks

For many people, intense pain is brought on by damage to the nerves in specific areas of the body. Opioid medications tend to work well because they can stop the transmission of pain signals from that area to the brain. Nerve blocks can do the same without the same risks. An injection into the impacted area can help to reduce muscle spasms and nerve-related pain. This can last for months, providing long-term improvement in the way you feel.

#7: Spinal Cord Stimulation

Some people may benefit from spinal cord stimulation, a treatment that works much like a pacemaker. It works to replace the pain you feel with a more tolerable sensation that can help you to feel better for long periods of time. For example, instead of intense pain, you’ll feel a sense of tingling. This type of treatment is often beneficial for those who have back and neck pain but can be used for the treatment of neuropathy brought on by diabetes, too.

Finding Treatment for Opioid Addiction

If you’ve found it very hard to stop using opioids, it could be because your body has developed a dependence on them. That means when you stop using them, you feel the intense withdrawal symptoms that could be causing or exacerbating some of the pain you feel. Let us help you.

Our drug addiction treatment program in Lafayette, LA, can help you to break through that addiction and dependence to create a new way forward where you don’t have to feel dependent on drug use. Contact Victory Addiction Recovery Center now to learn more. 

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Looking for co-occurring disorder treatment in Lafayette? To learn more about our programs at Victory Addiction Recovery Center, please contact us anytime at (337) 379.7700.

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