Many Americans suffer from pain such as chronic headaches and back pains. The causes are diverse and so are the possible treatments, but the most common pain management option is oral medication. For example, you can take over-the-counter (OTC) drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen to relieve minor aches and pain. But if you need stronger medication for conditions like postoperative pain, your doctor may prescribe you oxycodone, codeine, or fentanyl.
You need to be cautious when taking these prescription drugs and make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions to prevent developing a dependency on them. If you notice a strong craving for your pain relievers that compels you to take more than what is prescribed, you need to let your physician know immediately. They may refer you to a treatment facility to help you wean off usage safely. You may enter a nearby treatment facility or stay in a Dallas drug rehab center to get proper help. During your treatment, your doctor may recommend alternatives to painkillers. Here are some options you may want to explore.
Topical Pain Relievers
Topical pain relievers come in the forms of gels, creams, sprays, or lotions. They are applied directly on the skin to relieve pain often caused by sore muscles and arthritis. Containing anti-inflammatory properties similar to those found in OTC pain medications, these topical creams work the same way as anti-inflammatories taken orally. The main difference is that they only work in the area where they are applied. Once your skin absorbs these topical pain relievers, they move deeper into the areas of the body where the inflammation is. This can relieve pain and reduce swelling affecting joints and muscles.
Regular exercise is used as an alternative to relieve pain. It can have a long-term effect as it improves and strengthens your muscles. Also, exercising helps your body release endorphins, known to be natural painkillers. If you suffer from chronic pain, you can do low-intensity exercises such as swimming, walking, biking, and yoga.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine where thin needles are placed at specific points in the body. This method is believed to help reduce pain by promoting the release of endorphins. Since many acupuncture points are near nerves, they stimulate muscles and block sending pain messages to the brain.
Acupuncture can also be used to accompany treatment for pain-related conditions such as headaches, lower back pains, menstrual cramps, and osteoarthritis. It can be an alternative or part of your comprehensive pain management plan.
Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Treatment
If you have chronic back and neck problems, massage therapy may help lessen your pain. It is said to reduce stress and relieve tension as it enhances blood flow. Also, massage can help diminish headaches.
On the other hand, chiropractic care is one of the most common non-surgical treatments to relieve back pains. It follows the theory that proper alignment of your body’s musculoskeletal structure allows it to heal without surgery. By manipulating the spine, chiropractic treatment restores the joints’ mobility previously restricted by tissue injury—which relieves pain. It is used as an alternative treatment for muscles, joints, and connective tissues, as well as to supplement conventional medical treatment.
Bioelectric therapy helps block pain messages to the brain and promotes the body’s production of endorphins. It is used to treat chronic and acute conditions causing pain like muscle and back pains, headaches, migraines, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), arthritis, and diabetic neuropathy. Often part of a comprehensive pain management program, bioelectric treatment is an effective way to give temporary pain control.
Trigger Point Injection
This is a procedure where painful areas of your muscle that contain trigger points are treated by injecting a local anesthetic, which may include steroids. A healthcare professional supervises the trigger point injection as a brief course of treatment to achieve sustainable pain relief.
Trigger point injection helps treat muscle pains in your legs, lower back, neck, and arms. It can also be an alternative approach to treating fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and myofascial pain syndrome.
If standard medications can no longer provide pain relief, your doctor may recommend surgical implants to help control pain.
- Intrathecal drug delivery is also known as infusion pain pumps or spinal drug delivery systems. During the surgery, a surgeon creates a pocket under the skin to hold a medicine pump. Usually, the pump is about an inch thick and three inches wide. The surgeon also inserts a catheter to carry the pain medicine from the pump to the intrathecal space around the spinal cord. The pain medicine may be morphine or a muscle relaxant. It is delivered directly to the spinal cord, where pain signals travel. It effectively provides a fraction of the dose required by taking pills orally.
- Spinal cord stimulation implants use low-level electrical signals to block pain signals from reaching the brain. These signals are transmitted to the spinal cord or specific nerves. The method is often used for those suffering back and limb pain. Through surgery, a device is implanted to deliver the electric signals. Then, the patient uses a remote control to turn the current on and off or adjust its intensity. Two kinds of devices are available. The more commonly used one is fully implanted and has a pulse generator and a non-rechargeable battery, while the other has an antenna, transmitter, and receiver. The receiver is implanted inside the body while the antenna and transmitter are carried outside the body.
These are some alternatives to painkillers you may want to consider to minimize the risk of developing drug dependence. Before making any decision, make sure to consult your healthcare provider on the best pain management plan for your health condition.