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Sharp Health News

Managing pain without opioids

Nov. 21, 2017

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. A recent study discovered that more than 2 million Americans are currently affected by opiate dependence.

Often times, 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 in many cases, taking opioids under a doctor’s supervision can be an effective way to manage pain, there are alternate pain management techniques that many patients find effective. Dr. Ari Laliotis, an internal medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy offers alternative methods that offer fewer or no negative side effects.

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
Integrative medicine that focuses on spiritual healing in addition to traditional Western medicine has been shown to help patients cope with chronic ailments,” says Dr. Laliotis. 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.

To learn more or to register for Sharp Mesa Vista’s Opiate Dependence Program, please call 858-836-8434, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For the news media: To talk with Dr. Ari Laliotis about non-opioid pain management for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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