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Managing pain without opioids

By The Health News Team | June 20, 2023
Managing pain without opioids

Prescription pain medication can increase quality of life and provide relief to patients who suffer from chronic or severe pain. However, certain pain medications known as opioids are highly addictive and can be dangerous if taken without close medical supervision. In fact, a recent study discovered that more than 3 million Americans are currently affected by opiate dependence.

Oftentimes, we associate opioids with illegal drug use. However, opioids also include common medications such as codeine and hydrocodone (Vicodin®), oxycodone (Percocet® or OxyContin®), and fentanyl.

While taking opioids under a doctor’s supervision can be an effective way to manage pain, Dr. Ari Laliotis, an internal medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy, says there are alternate pain management techniques that many patients find helpful:

  • Non-opioid medication
    Talk with your doctor to find out if an acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil® and Motrin®) treatment plan is right for you. These medications are non-habit-forming and your body metabolizes them differently than opioids. Ibuprofen provides pain relief by reducing swelling and may be beneficial for joint pain. Acetaminophen typically provides relief from pain related to fever and headaches.

  • Holistic treatment
    According to Dr. Laliotis, integrative medicine that focuses on spiritual healing in addition to traditional Western medicine has been shown to help patients cope with chronic ailments. Alternative wellness activities such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation, massage, stretching and art therapy may help recovery — especially when combined with traditional Western medicine. Dr. Laliotis also suggests avoiding cigarettes and alcohol to help boost recovery and wellness.

  • Psychological treatment
    The human mind is a powerful tool. We can minimize physical discomfort by altering how we perceive pain. A licensed psychologist can help you identify emotions that intensify physical pain and help you find constructive ways to avoid these triggers. Therapy can also help combat the depression and anxiety that often accompanies chronic pain. Support groups are another option to supplement treatment.

If you or a loved one have an opioid prescription, Dr. Laliotis recommends taking the medication exactly as prescribed and staying in close communication with your doctor and pharmacist. Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about the use of opioids. Effective treatment for opioid use disorder is available.

Learn more about pain management and dozens of other women's health topics, hear from dynamic keynote speakers, get pampered, and attend free screenings and assessments at the Sharp Women's Health Conference on Saturday, June 24. Register now.

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