If you have been diagnosed with a condition that causes chronic pain, you may be scared. Many patients are afraid of taking strong pain medications because they fear the risk of addiction. However, there are many non-medicinal treatments for chronic pain. Read on to learn more.
Explore your options
There are many options to treat your chronic pain that do not involve taking medication. Eliminate pain triggers in your home, and make sure you are not lifting heavy objects on a daily basis. For instance, don’t buy food in unmanageable-sized packages. Big cans and milk cartons can cause a muscle pull. To stock up, buy lots of smaller cans and boxes and lift them only one at a time. Don’t move furniture, even with a friend’s help. Hire someone to move it for you.
If your pain is triggered by sitting and using a computer, try to limit your time on the home computer. Some research can be done on an iPad in a reclined position. Make sure that your chair has good lumbar support and that your computer desk is at the right height so that you are not straining eyes, arms, or wrists.
Exercise therapy and diet
Some pain, especially back pain, responds well to moderate exercise. Check with your insurance company to see if your policy will pay for physical therapy. Physical therapists can target exercise to your pain-relief needs. They will not overwork or injure you. And they will give you appropriate exercises to do at home.
Many people with chronic back pain swear that long walks are the best therapy. Walking straightens your spine while moving the muscles that tend to otherwise cramp up. Brisk, aerobic walking that gets your heart pumping is also good for core strength, heart health, balance, and weight management. If you are overweight and suffering from back or leg pain, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to take off a few pounds.
A healthy diet is also your ally in fighting pain. A plant-based diet, rich in whole grains, vegetables, raw fruit, and lean protein like turkey and tofu, will keep you a lot fitter than a diet rich in red meat and desserts. If your pain is related to a digestive function, a healthy diet will be critical.
Opioids, such as fentanyl, were not constructed for long-term use. The principal danger of opioid use is suffocation due to overdose. The secondary risk is addiction and that the patient will “graduate” to street drugs.
It’s important to know the warning signs of opioid abuse. Opioids are particularly dangerous to people who have a history of substance addiction. If you ever had a problem with drugs or alcohol, you should disclose that to your medical providers. In the case of a former addict who is now a pain patient, medical treatment should be paired with counseling.
A new study suggests that doctors have overlooked non-addictive analgesics in pain treatment, to the detriment of their patients. The most common analgesic is aspirin. Aspirin and its fellow non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are effective, cheap pain relievers. And they tackle a wide range of pain from headaches to sore muscles, and even toothaches.
If your pain cannot be alleviated with exercise, diet, and over-the-counter NSAIDS, ask your doctor about ketorolac, a powerful prescription NSAID. If you have specific pain targeting one part of your body, like a back muscle, ask for lidocaine patches.
A diagnosis of chronic pain is about the last thing anyone wants to hear. The good news is that you can manage pain with a combination of good diet, exercise, and habits that do not trigger pain. Residual pain that does not respond to lifestyle changes can still be treated without using opioids.
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