There are options to manage many types of pain and minimize the prescription drug use. Some types of pain require the daily use of some type of prescription drugs. Someone who has been in an accident, for example, recovering from surgery or struggling with cancer rely on prescription painkillers. A primary care provider will prescribe analgesics based on the cause, severity, and expected duration of the patient’s pain. The doctor or nurse practitioner should also help these patients discover different options to manage pain to optimize the benefits of prescription pain relievers.
While prescription painkillers make you feel better, pain relievers are not good for your body. Using these drugs for a long time – especially at high doses – increases the risk for side effects, ranging from constipation to addiction and even death from overdose. Managing pain while minimizing prescription drugs can reduce your risk for serious side effects.
Pain Management Techniques to Replace Prescription Drug Use
Use ice and heat. When pain strikes, reach for an ice pack and heating pad instead of a bottle of painkillers. Ice reduces swelling while heat relaxes painful muscle spasms. Alternate between ice and heat, applying for about 20 minutes each, for best results.
Meditate. People who meditate regularly find pain to be less unpleasant, according to researchers from the University of Manchester in England. The scientists think medication helps patients spend less time anticipating pain, which blunts its emotional effects.
Eat a healthy diet. Choosing the right foods can reduce inflammation in your body. Over time, inflammation can lead to pain in muscles, joints, and tissues. Chronic inflammation can even lead to the development of certain diseases and pain. Sugary and highly processed foods, such as pastries, soda, and fast foods promote inflammation while fruits and vegetables naturally reduce inflammation.
Schedule regular massage therapy sessions. According to a survey by the American Hospital Association, 91 percent of respondents said that massage effectively reduced pain. Massage therapists use a variety of techniques to promote relaxation, alleviate the perception of pain, and stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals.
See your chiropractor. Misalignment of the spine can cause serious neck and back problems potentially leading to debilitating pain. Chiropractic adjustments restore proper alignment to the spine to relieve headaches, neck and back pain, and joint pain.
Engage in regular exercise. Frequent, gentle physical activity can often relieve pain better than can bed rest. Yoga and swimming can be soothing to sore muscles and fibromyalgia symptoms. Strength training eases the pain of arthritis. Even a short walk around the block stimulates blood circulation, stretches muscles, and gets joints moving. Exercise can also release endorphins to make you feel happier and less likely to anticipate pain.
Lose weight. Carrying around excess baggage is hard on your body – especially on your back. Avoid crash diets and excessive exercise programs, however, as these can increase pain levels. Aim at losing three to five pounds each week for best results.
Use a TENS unit. TENS is an acronym that stands for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. A TENS unit is a portable, battery-powered, pocket-sized device that sends mild, safe electrical signals that help control pain. TENS is an external device that you attach to your skin when you need relief from pain.
Talk to your doctor about spinal cord stimulation. Also known as SCS, spinal cord stimulation works similarly to a TENS unit except that a surgeon implants the electrodes near your spinal cord. Like the TENS unit, a SCS unit delivers pulses of electricity to ease pain.
Consider alternative medicine. Aromatherapy, music, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and biofeedback help thousands of people relieve pain.
Develop a good support group. Surround yourself with understanding friends and family. Remember – laughter is still one of the best medicines.
Talk to your physician about your specific case and other ways that you might be able to manage pain while minimizing prescription drugs intake. Even if you must remain on prescription analgesics, you may be able to incorporate these non-pharmaceutical options into your daily routine to lead a happy, pain-free life.