The exploding opioid epidemic in the United States has caused many people to become concerned about the pain medications their physicians prescribe for their conditions. Until recently, opioid medications have often been the first choice for managing pain, but in addition to the risk of addiction, and dangerous long term damage these drugs cause to your body, studies show these drugs may not be the most effective remedy. Physicians are now looking at other methods of pain management, in the hopes that they can help to curtail the problem of opioid addiction and deaths from overdose.
The Need for Effective Pain Management
Opioid medications were developed by pharmaceutical manufacturers to deal with a wide range of different types of pain, such as post-surgical pain, dental pain, back problems, spinal injuries, arthritis, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, nerve inflammation or cancer pain.
Unfortunately, opioids have been found to be highly addictive and are responsible for thousands of deaths from overdose. As a response to this serious consequence, a number of alternatives are being explored to provide effective pain relief for patients. The results of studies show that other medications and treatments can be as good as, and sometimes even better than, opioids for managing pain.
Acetaminophen is an analgesic drug that can be highly effective for relieving common types of pain. It has often been used in combination with other drugs, such as codeine and oxycodone, to boost effectiveness. It should only be used as directed, as long-term use is associated with liver damage.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are a category of medications that include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and ketoprofen. NSAIDs drugs work by blocking special enzymes in the body that are involved in the production of prostaglandins. Fewer prostaglandins in the body mean less swelling and less pain. Long-term use of NSAIDs can cause side effects, such as increased risk of stomach ulcers or kidney impairment.
Tylenol and Ibuprofen in Combination
A new study shows that a combination of Tylenol and ibuprofen can produce effective pain relief, comparable to results from opioid medications. This combination offers a good alternative for ongoing, moderately severe pain from many medical conditions.
Pain is often the result of inflammation of tissues in the body, due to injury or other causes. Corticosteroid drugs can be helpful in reducing inflammation and relieving pain. These drugs may be given orally or through injection. However, because of side effects, they are only used for short-term relief of pain.
Certain types of antidepressants, called serotonin reuptake inhibitors and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, have been found to be effective against certain types of pain and can help patients with painful conditions sleep better.
Anti-convulsive drugs, also called anti-epileptic drugs, can also be used as pain medication. These drugs have the effect of reducing the heightened stimulation of nerves that occurs in some conditions. These drugs are sometimes used in combination with other types of medication for maximum effect.
Acupuncture is an ancient Asian technique of inserting fine needles into specific nerve crossroads in the body to relieve pain and improve function. It can be used to effectively relieve discomfort from a variety of conditions.
The use of chiropractic care is growing because of a number of studies that indicate it can help to reduce pain, not only in cases of back or neck injury, but also for other types of pain. The manipulation of the spine, as well as other techniques, can help to improve function in affected areas and reduce discomfort. Because it is a drug-free and non-invasive method, it can be used safely for most conditions.
Massage therapy is another treatment option for pain that has shown promise for effective relief. Massage involves the use of the hands on the body in specific ways that help to improve circulation and the release of naturally produced pain-relieving chemicals in the body. The effects can last for several days and can be used either alone or along with other methods of pain relief.
Talk To Your Doctor About the Best Options For Your Care
There are serious concerns about the use of opioid medications for pain. Be prepared for close monitoring, and don’t be concerned if your doctor switches to another medication at some time during your care. These measures will help to give you the best possible treatment, without taking unnecessary risks.