More than two million Americans are dependent on prescription opiates for pain relief, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Some of these drugs are commonly prescribed medications such as morphine, oxycodone (Percocet), codeine, and hydrocodone (Vicodin).
Drugs like these are used to treat pain, but they can also be addictive. Opioids act by binding to receptors in the nervous system and brain. Although the significant pain relief may result from this interaction, there are also side effects, such as drowsiness, constipation, and slowed breathing. Addiction and overdose are also possible. If you take opioids for pain relief, you are at an elevated risk for addiction. Since more people die from overdoses of prescription opiates than any other drug, you should be aware of the risks of prescription opiates if you or someone you know is taking them.
Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking these medications. There are also resources available to help you if you’re worried about addiction. However, despite their popularity, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, prescription opioids are not more effective at reducing pain than over-the-counter medications, which are safe and effective in relieving short-term pain.
Non-opioid OTC Medications for Pain Management
There are several effective non-opioid medications available to treat pain. These include over-the-counter (OTC) medications like:
- Acetaminophen: Tylenol and Panadol are both brands of acetaminophen that can effectively treat mild to moderate pain. Unfortunately, despite their effectiveness in reducing pain, they can only be used for temporary pain relief. Excessive daily use has been associated with liver damage.
- Ibuprofen: This is another common OTC medication. It belongs to the class of drugs known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs reduce inflammation. They’re effective at treating pain but can also cause side effects like stomach pain and bleeding. So, again, moderate use is advocated.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories: Motrin, Advil, and Excedrin reduce inflammation, which is a leading cause of pain.
Non-opioid Prescription Medications for Pain Management
Also effective at reducing pain are prescription medications such as tramadol (Ultram) and gabapentin (Neurontin). These are designed for chronic pain management since OTC medications can only be used for temporary pain relief because of their long-term side effects. However, since there is a risk of addiction to these prescription medications, you should talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits before using them.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions and be aware of the potential risks. Tramadol: Tramadol is a prescription medication used to treat pain. It is a synthetic opioid, meaning that it has some of the same effects as morphine. Gabapentin: Another prescription medication used to treat seizures and nerve pain. It is not an opioid but can be habit-forming. Take gabapentin for pain relief.
Drug-Free Methods of Pain Management
Pain relief isn’t limited to over-the-counter or prescription medications. There are several non-drug treatments for chronic pain. Here are a few examples:
- Massage: By far this is the most popular. It is effective for a variety of chronic pain conditions, including low back pain, neck pain, and headaches. This is accomplished by relaxing muscles and increasing circulation. Additionally, it releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
- Exercise: Relieving chronic pain through exercise is another great method. Exercise strengthens muscles and improves flexibility. * Ice and heat: Sometimes, ice packs and hot water bottles can be used to increase blood circulation to muscles and reduce inflammation.
- Physical therapy: This can also be extremely helpful. You can learn exercises designed specifically to relieve your pain from a physical therapist.
- Acupuncture: This is another option that is becoming increasingly popular. It involves inserting thin needles into certain points on the skin. This helps to relieve pain by stimulating the nervous system.
- Relaxation training: You can learn how to control your pain using this method by relaxing your mind and body. Different techniques can be used, such as breathing exercises and visualization.
These methods can be highly effective for chronic pain sufferers who are looking for alternatives to medication. Call our counselors at 833-846-5669 to learn more about pain management strategies. You can receive advice from us on how to break free from a narcotics addiction or how to decide which medications are right for you.