There are two types of pain. Acute pain is usually a mild reaction to injury or illness that lasts for a short period. Chronic pain can be defined as a severe condition that lasts for at least three months. It may feel like a different sensation, with various intensity and in more than one part of the body.

Occasional pain is a normal reaction from the nervous system signaling possible injury to the brain. When pain occurs most of us feel uncomfortable and want to make it stop. So, we’ll use a pain killer from our home pharmacy. One or two pills are usually enough to stop the headache or to help with burns and cuts. Chronic pain demands a different kind of medication. Unfortunately, opioid drugs can cause addiction and are the main reason why some people with chronic pain have to reach out and seek help by contacting addiction number or  calling to addiction help line. Such helplines can provide free consultation to help with addiction without visiting a rehab.

The problem with chronic pain is that after a while body continues to send signals to the brain, long after the injury or disease is gone and it can last for years. The most known conditions with chronic pain are arthritis, cancer, nerve and back pain, fibromyalgia. People with these conditions could suffer from physical effects such as lack of energy, appetite changes, limited strength, mobility, and endurance. The emotional effect of chronic pain could be depression, anxiety, fear of pain and injury, anger. These sensations can seriously affect everyday functioning. It’s not a surprise that people are willing to use highly addictive opioids and make their life slightly better, at least for a while. Most of the stories about problems with opioids, revealed during communication with addiction helpline counselors have almost the same chronology and outcome.

Opioids, also known as narcotics, are medications prescribed to treat severe and chronic pain. This class of drugs is naturally found in opium poppy plant and throughout history, it was used to relieve the pain. When used, opioids will attach to nerve cell receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body. They will block the message about the pain, sent to the brain, which will effectively ease its intensity, for a certain period. However, the use of opioids comes with a serious risk because they can be highly addictive. The most commonly used opioids are Oxycodone, Vicodin, Codeine, and Fentanyl in the pill form or as lozenges. Some of them can also be administered thorugh a vein and skin patch.

To avoid side effects or risks of addiction, opioids should be used only and exclusevly under doctor’s supervision. Pain management specialists, who have enough experience and training can make sure that both the pain and the use of medications are always under control. This will minimize the side effects as well as the risk of addiction, that could end up with a call to drug hotline.

Luckily, many alternatives can be found on the market, to treat chronic pain.

There are several groups of non-opioid medications, that can be combined with other therapies and technics. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Tylenol, Motrin, and Naproxen can help with some conditions such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis, while Diclofenac is used for pain in case of osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal pain. Antidepressants such as Norpramin and Pamelor can assist with mood swings, eating and sleeping disorder, and some neuropathic pains.

However, these medications can have very extreme side effects and their use have to be controlled. Otherwise, the result could be the same as with opioids, meaning a patient would be forced to contact rehab numbers.

Anti-seizure medications can help with pain caused by nerve damage, while steroids like Dexamethasone are often used to control the pain from inflammation.

There are other approaches to pain management, therapies that can be used to treat pain in several different ways. For example, physical therapy if done by professionals and exercising under trained supervision can both build a tolerance to pain and lower its intensity.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches patients how to understand the source of pain, its influence on life, how to deal with it, and how to eventually overcome it.

Other modalities that can assist with different types of pain are electrical nerve stimulation, massage, and chiropractic therapy.  They should all be performed by trained specialists.

Meditation, relaxation techniques such as visual imagery, and yoga can improve breathing, control over muscles, and connection between body and mind. In some cases, people managed to reduce the pain for over 50%, by using the combination of these technics.

Herbal remedies were used for pain management for centuries and are known to be effective with chronic pain. However, their use should be discussed with a physician as some of them can jeopardize the effects of prescribed medications.

Those who are suffering from chronic pain should seek help before it becomes an obstacle for normal life. With some professional guidance and help, it can be controlled.

People who tried to fight it with opioids and are now coping with addiction, should not hesitate to call any 24-hour addiction helpline and ask for advice before it’s too late. Opioid misuse affects both personal and public health and social welfare. Quitting opioids can cause serious health issues so detoxification should be done with professional guidance.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "How to deal with pain without opioid," in Medicalopedia, April 30, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/8770/how-to-deal-with-pain-without-opioid/].