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Alternatives to Opioid Treatment

In today’s society, the drug crisis is increasing daily. Patients are constantly searching for a non addictive opioid treatment for chronic pain relief. Each year millions of Americans are prescribed opioid medications for pain relief. A large number of Americans suffer from chronic pain. They suffer from chronic back pain or headaches; others are recovering from accidents or sports injuries, and surgeries. The majority of prescriptions written for pain medication are opioids that have side effects and have the potential to lead to addiction. Even though there are many non-opioid treatments available the number of opioid pain relieves that are prescribed remains high. Many non-opioid treatments such as over-the-counter and prescription aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are available and more cost effective. 


Also available are nondrug remedies such as acupuncture, hypnosis, messages, meditation, and many others. High-tech treatments using radio waves and electrical signals are also available and have been proven effective. A patient suffering from chronic pain that wants to avoid taking opioids a physician specialized in pain management can work with the patient to recommend a safe and effective pain regimen treatment. Physical therapy has had positive outcomes in pain management. A physical therapist or an orthopedic physician who is has a specialty in physical medicine and rehabilitation can prescribe a therapy regimen that has the potential to alleviate pain. This regimen can also help the patient function in daily living better. A pain management physician may also prescribe whirlpool therapy, ultrasound, and deep muscle massages. These can be used in conjunction with physical therapy. An alternative option for pain management is acupuncture, this is where very thin needles are inserted into alternating places in a patients skin to disrupt pain signals. Acupuncture has been effective in the united states as well as nationally. Surgery is another option when all other treatments have failed. Surgery is usually the last resort for treating pain and is not an immediate cure. After surgery most often physicians will still order a physical therapy regimen. 


When pain is coming from muscle spasms or nerves physicians might perform nerve blocks or give injections into the area where spasms are occurring. Local anesthetics injected into the area are a temporary fix. Local anesthetics and other medications assist in helping short-circuit the pain. When pain is from muscle spasms and nerve pain relaxation techniques, and biofeedback, where the patient learns to control involuntary functions such as the heart rate. 

Alternative medicine is gaining popularity daily. Researchers are working to find alternatives to opioids to help curb the opioid epidemic that is taking place. One of the most encouraging areas of research is harvesting stem cells from a patient’s bone marrow and inserting them into the tissue that has deteriorated and is causing the pain. This is performed in hopes that the stem cells will regenerate healthy tissue and permanently relieve the pain. It is always recommended that patient’s consult with their primary care physician before taking any medications or beginning any pain management regimen.

 

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