Since the late 1990's, Big Pharma had us thinking the only way to deal with chronic pain was through prescription painkillers. Fast forward to now where the death toll inches it's way toward one million American lives claimed by drug overdose over the last 20 years. We see now money lies in the treatment and not the cure, but there is a better way! Here are a few pain management alternatives that don't rely on the addictive nature of opioid pills.
What skeptics deem as ancient medicine, this age-old methodology certainly does have a few points! Long, sterile needles are inserted into pressure points as a means of nerve stimulation. Though rather than "qi" or energy being released, it is increased blood flow to the area.
Do your research! Find a licensed acupuncturist who is knowledgeable with demonstrated experience rather than going to your nearest shoddy strip mall. If acupuncture is performed incorrectly, you may be left with damage to the nervous system or even punctured organs.
What was once considered a ludicrous specialty in the medical field, chiropractors have proven themselves as a viable option for acute and chronic back pain. Physical pushing and pulling of the neck, back, and hips, are all done with the focus mainly on alleviating lower back pain by manipulating the spine into alignment.
The aim of physical therapists is to treat chronic pain, as well as the source. Certain exercises will be implemented as a means of targeting the stiffness and pain. These may include low impact training utilizing your body weight or resistance bands. Additionally, elements of ice and heat may be introduced to reduce inflammation and loosen the muscles. Physical therapy is considered to be a long-term solution to long-term pain.
Nerve Block Injection
This is recommended for pain concentrated in a single area typically around the spine, neck, and lower back. These injections put the pain signaling function of the nerve to sleep, reducing pain and inflammation. However, pain relief is temporary as they last up to two weeks.
Pain pumps can be used to treat chronic pain for those who likely wouldn't get better from surgery. A small device is implanted under the skin and administers morphine via catheter to the spinal cord to prevent pain signals, wherever they're originating, from reaching the brain. The medicine is released with the push of a button on an external remote when pain is experienced. Regular visits to the doctor are necessary to refill the pump.
The Bottom Line
Patients undergoing any of these alternative pain treatments are encouraged to stick directly with what's ordered by their doctor and not try to take matters into their own hands if immediate relief is not achieved. Doctors are recommended to perform medication monitoring to ensure patients seeking alternative pain solutions aren't already consuming medications for pain management.