Unfortunate developments are a part of life, and the fact that things sometimes don’t go as you’d hoped they would is something we all have to accept. Chronic pain can be the result of debilitating medical conditions or severe injuries. While we might wish they’d never happened, the fact is that they did and the situation is what it is. When it comes to chronic pain treatment, regular physiotherapy exercises that are sometimes paired with prescription painkillers or inflammation reducers are the usual and most proven effective courses of action.
When treatment doesn’t relieve your pain, then it becomes a case of finding the best ways to manage and mitigate the pain. Chronic pain management takes a different approach. One where you accept that your condition is more long-term, and you seek to reduce the pain with the knowledge that you won’t likely be able to completely eliminate it. These days there is increasing debate about the best ways to manage pain without developing additional health concerns, and at the forefront of that is the use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain.
Causes of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts at least 12 weeks, and it can be either steady or intermittent. It is the steady chronic pain that is most problematic for people suffering from it because they never experience any type of a reprieve from it; it quite literally is ‘always there’ to varying degrees. Chronic pain treatment becomes a priority for these folks and primarily because being in constant pain becomes an impediment to their working life or renders them unable to participate in recreational activities or hobbies that are essential to their overall quality and enjoyment of life.
The primary causes of chronic pain are:
- Serious injury, and particularly soft tissue injuries
- Degenerative musculoskeletal conditions
- Arthritis, and particularly osteoarthritis
- Nerve damage (neuropathy)
Healthier Alternatives to Pharmaceuticals for Chronic Pain Treatment
The dangers associated with the use of opioids for chronic pain treatment have been front and centre in the news these days, and no one name is as infamous as fentanyl is right now. Before we rush to villainize these drugs, it is important to understand that opioids have been made available as painkillers for many decades now. For the most part, until recently, they were very effective with little in the way of abuse. Nowadays, however, there is a lot of ill negativity attached to them because of all the addiction and death attached to opioids.
Oxycontin, Tramadol, and other well-known powerful opioid painkillers have fallen into disfavour recently, and for good reason despite the fact they are legally prescribed and a proven effective way to deal with chronic pain. They can be addictive, and while that is also a possibility other drug-focused approaches too, the risk with oxycontin is different. After an individual is hooked but can longer obtain a prescription then he or she may end up pursuing street drugs that are similarly effective but entirely unregulated in their constituency.
An alternative to prescription drugs for chronic pain treatment is medical cannabis. Certain strains of marijuana are known to have pain-alleviating properties. While they may not have the capacity of an opioid in that regard, they come with much more in way of safety with the fact that marijuana is not physiologically addictive to anywhere near the extent that both oxycontin and tramadol are. Experts agree that marijuana use is something that becomes habitual rather than an addiction – which connotes that the individual experiences physiological ills when they stop using the substance.
A person who uses medical marijuana may feel a longing for the pleasurable sensation that the THC and CBD in the plant provides for them, but they certainly won’t feel any type of discomfort or illness when they stop using cannabis to treat pain. Indeed, marijuana can be used in the treatment of chronic pain, and there are many other ways of ingesting it besides smoking.
Other alternatives to pharmaceuticals for treating chronic pain are:
- Alternative remedies like acupuncture, massage, meditation, chiropractic, and biofeedback
- Low-impact exercise like walking, bicycling, and stretching
- Physical and / or occupational therapy – both of these are very effective in allowing people to learn and avoid the particular ways of moving that contribute to chronic pain
- Nerve stimulation – tiny jolts of electricity block the nerve impulses responsible for chronic pain
- Psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy most notably
It is important to understand, however, that many of these approached will be best employed as a secondary or maintenance approach to pain conditions. There will be instances or stages in a person’s pain experience where the use of opioids for chronic pain treatment will be necessary, but they should only be utilized when other possibilities have been exhausted.
Further, opioids should only ever be used temporarily and while following the exact dosage, timeline, and cessation guidelines provided by a doctor qualified to prescribe them for you.