How to treat pain without using opioids

It is known that opioids are powerful painkillers, but they are not the only option to reduce pain.

In addition, opioids can bring dangerous health risks such as addiction.

Scientists from University of Southern California say that there are non-opioid pain medicine and other tools that can help people treat pain.

Melissa Durham, associate professor of clinical pharmacy at the USC School of Pharmacy, and Faye Weinstein, director of pain management psychology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, give important suggestions about non-opioid treatments people can use.

According to them, there are over-the-counter non-opioid medications and psychological interventions and mind-body therapies.

These treatments can help minimize opioid use and prevent opioid addiction.

These are a few non-opioid treatment options that provide effective relief:

Over-the-counter drugs

Research has shown that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, help reduce the inflammations that cause pain.

Acetaminophen (in the brand name Tylenol) is also an effective pain reliever, but it doesn’t reduce inflammation.

Researchers suggest that combining an NSAID with acetaminophen can be an effective pain treatment. It is always important to use the lowest dose of medication for the shortest duration.

Drugs for depression

People don’t feel pain in the part of the body that hurts, instead, the sensation of pain stems from the brain.

Research has shown that depression and anxiety are also from the brain and that one symptom of depression is physical pain.

Some antidepressants, such as duloxetine, can help lessen pain even if people are not depressed.

Drugs for seizures

Drugs that counter seizures, like gabapentin and pregabalin, work on the same neurotransmitters as pain.

Drugs for relaxing muscles

Some muscle relaxants help release tension and restore functionality, which could reduce pain.

Local anesthetics

A variety of prescription topical solutions, patches, gels, and creams can help alleviate pain.

Usually, these medications contain a numbing agent, such as lidocaine.

Other drugs

Research has found that other medications may play a role in pain management.

For example, naltrexone is used to save people from an opioid overdose, and scientists have found that using this drug in extremely low doses also can help quiet pain.

Another medication called ketamine (often referred to as a horse tranquilizer) may also help patients to manage pain.

More research is needed to determine the safest and most effective ways to use these drugs.

It is important to talk to doctors about ways to reduce pain with non-opioid treatments.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

It is known that therapies may provide some benefits to patients with chronic pain.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people learn to swap negative thought patterns for more optimistic—and realistic—thoughts and behaviors.

This can help stop the catastrophic thinking about pain.

Occupational therapy

It encourages patients to go back to regular, routine activities.

The daily activities can act as distractions and ultimately may lessen the perception of pain.

Mind-body therapies

Research has shown that practices such as deep breathing and meditation can keep people from panicking about pain or the threat of it.

Scientists say that pain is a complex process that affects areas of the brain involved in sleep, motivation, and emotion.

The best approach to pain management is a combination of therapy, mindset, and medication.

It requires multiple disciplines and almost always includes medications and psychological intervention.

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