According to the World Health Organization, nearly 15 million people around the globe suffer from some form of dependence on opioids, and that number continues to grow every year. Long-term opiate use not only increases the risk of addiction but carries with it side effects ranging from constipation to liver damage. For many individuals who experience chronic pain, opiates have been the go-to- choice for physicians for years.
As the problems inherent in the over-prescription of opioid painkillers become clearer, many now wonder about the alternatives out there. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, what are some of the other options out there?
Therapy is beneficial for some chronic pain patients. By learning mindfulness about one’s posture, for example, it becomes easier to avoid positions that exacerbate your pain. In other cases, strengthening muscle groups or re-developing flexibility in injured parts of the body can have a dramatic effect on pain relief as well. Therapy can be used to treat pain on its own, though more doctors seek to enhance its effectiveness by combining it with other therapeutic options as well.
For lower back and leg pain, spinal cord stimulation is a high-tech name for the uncomplicated technology. Through the implantation of tiny electrode wires attached to a single generator, this treatment method can disrupt the body’s errant pain signals and put up a roadblock that keeps them from reaching the brain. Follow-ups to this outpatient procedure typically only require changing the battery in the generator. Many patients whose diagnosis makes them suitable candidates for spinal cord stimulation report a significant reduction in pain — no chemicals needed.
If your chronic pain stems from overworked or damaged muscles grouped into areas called trigger points, these injections can give you the relief you seek without the help of an opioid. Under a local anesthetic, patients receive simple doses that work to relax the muscles at the source. This short-to-medium term solution shows effectiveness for several types of chronic pain, but especially for issues relating to the joints. Patients often experience up to several weeks of pain relief.
This option, usually targeted for chest pain, involves the use of a steroid medication injected in between the patient’s ribs. With months-long relief setting in a few days after the treatment and a minimal number of side effects, this therapy shows especial effectiveness for chronic pain that other methods have trouble reducing. Like trigger point injections and spinal cord stimulators, a nerve-blocking injection is a quick “in and out” procedure that allows you to return to your day — not to spend all day feeling hazy because of an opioid prescription.
At Redefine Healthcare, we believe in finding individualized solutions that work for each patient’s circumstances. When you want to move away from opioid treatments or avoid them altogether, consider some of these alternatives we can offer. To schedule a consultation for answers to your questions, please contact us today.