A 2014 report by the World Health Organization found that opioid overdoses cause almost 70,000 deaths per year worldwide. While prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin have been tremendously helpful for many people in chronic pain, these drugs also carry tremendous danger for abuse and addiction. Living with severe chronic pain can make every moment feel torturous, but reckless use of opioids can cause more problems than it seems to solve.
If you are already working on your recovery from another substance, there is particular danger that going on these highly addictive drugs could derail your sobriety. The good news is that there are alternatives that allow for responsible and careful pain management that can best support your full health. Ultimately, a multidisciplinary approach is the best way to deal with the problem of pain.
Talk to Your Doctor:
Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experiences caused by some kind of injury or signal from the body that it is in need of healing. Pain is not always your enemy, but can sometimes be an important warning that you need to avoid continuing to place stress on certain parts of the body, but rest until they heal. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your doctor, and work together to find real solutions and treatments for your pain. Pain is a subjective experience, and some people can endure more than others, so don’t be ashamed to state your own needs and ask until you get the full help you need. Together, you can work with your healthcare providers to create a program that would help you feel better.
There are a variety of alternative, less addictive medications that you can ask your healthcare provider about to help manage pain. These include acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which are both available at higher doses intravenously. There have also been some promising results with anticonvulsant drugs, and SSRI antidepressants for helping alleviate at least some pain. There are also some options for topical gels and patches over the specific area that is injured.
Gentle exercise can be a very important way to help manage pain. A 2011 study of people suffering from fibromyalgia found that exercise had tremendous benefits for improving their overall quality of life. Although it may be difficult at first, careful exercise can be a very important way of working through pain and strengthening your body’s natural ability to heal.
There are a wide variety of exercises that can help. A physical therapist can be especially helpful in observing your natural habits of movement and adjusting to what is less painful and more conducive to healing. He or she can work with you to find an exercise program that works best for you.
One exercise that works especially well for people suffering with chronic pain is the Chinese martial art tai chi. By combining slow, deliberate, and gentle movements with breathing techniques and mind-body awareness, tai chi helps to reduce stress and pain, Similarly, yoga which is personally tailored to your needs, is an excellent way to exercise in the midst of pain.
Both tai chi and yoga involve the use of meditation, an essential skill for coping with pain. Meditation can help you bring your concentration to something other than the pain you are feeling, enlarging your ability to endure, or even temporarily eliminate suffering that otherwise be unbearable.
Other Ways of Relief:
Acupuncture can help to regulate the body’s meridian system, and has been shown to be very effective in pain relief. Biofeedback techniques, in which you learn how to regulate your body’s functions can help build endurance, body awareness, and relaxation in a way that can help manage pain. Massage therapy can also be a very important way to relax and improves the lower back’s health, lessening pain. Enjoyable sensory experiences, such as aromatherapy or eating moderate amounts of sweet foods, can also be important ways to take your mind off your pain in a way that makes it easier to endure.
Chronic pain is often a difficult condition to work through, but you have many resources at your disposal to help you cope and manage. Even if your doctor decides that addictive opioids are not a good option for you, there are a variety of ways you can draw on your power and inner strength to make it through.