Alternatives to Opioids
- Over-the-Counter Acetaminophen
Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is another common and effective pain reliever. It is recommended as a first-line of treatment by the American College of Rheumatology.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
These are more potent than acetaminophen, but also available in over-the-counter dosage. Higher doses can be taken with a prescription. NSAIDs include anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Aleve. The downside to these drugs, for older patients, is risk of organ toxicity, kidney or liver failure and ulcers.
Steroids inhibit injured nerves to provide pain relief. Drawbacks include the potential to accelerate joint destruction. Other side effects can include immune system suppression, gastrointestinal issues and psychiatric effects.
- Serotonin and Norephinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
These anti-depressants are appropriate for treating nerve, muscular and skeletal pain. Anti-depressants can also help people sleep. They offer help without the side effects of opioids.
This treatment uses implanted electrodes to interrupt nerve signals. This does not cure what is causing the pain, but stops the pain signals before they reach the brain. It can be used for back, neck, arm, or leg pain. Trials are currently underway to test their effectiveness on headaches.
Traditionally used to treat epilepsy, anticonvulsants can also relieve neuropathic pain by suppressing pain signals from the brain.
Arthritis, injuries, muscle pain, and headaches are among the kinds of pain treatable with injections. Types include nerve, trigger point, radiofrequency, and epidural injections.
- Physical Therapy
This requires more work from the patient (attending sessions as well as following up at home with recommended exercises) but is often essential to improving physical healing and relieving pain long-term.
- Massage, Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care
Some report these methods are just as effective, if not more effective, than medications. Plus, they are safe and free of side effects.
Doctors recommend exercise to all patients, but research has shown that it is especially important for those with chronic pain. Low-impact exercise helps improve mobility and functionality. Studies have shown that chronic back pain, joint pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia can all be improved with yoga and tai chi.
- From DrugAbuse.com
- Please check with your physician on the clinical approach best suited for you