Non-Opioid Treatment for Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is one of the leading causes of hospital visits and medical care costs. In fact, the CDC estimated that about 20.4% or 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Some of the most common culprits of chronic pain include:
- Low back pain
- Neck pain
- Joint pain / Arthritis
- Neuropathic pain or neuropathy or nerve damage
- Migraine headaches
Chronic pain may be a complex condition, but many pain management techniques now exist to battle this ailment. However, many in practice still prescribe opioids immediately as a first-line treatment option against chronic pain.
Opioids are strong pain medications that have a wide array of side effects. They are also not advisable medications to treat long-term chronic pain as they can lead to addiction and other adverse complications. Furthermore, the pain relieving effect wanes over time.
Read below to learn more about how Advanced Pain Medical Center manages chronic pain safely and effectively while minimizing the use of opioids.
Non-opioid alternatives for chronic pain management
The goal of pain treatment is to relieve pain and dysfunction safely. So, the first-line therapies should be the ones that provide the most benefit at the lowest risk. Therefore, the initial treatment approach for chronic pain should start with non-opioid treatment options, such as the following:
In some cases, patients may find that over-the-counter (OTC) medications are all they need to alleviate pain. When these OTC medications become ineffective, your doctor may then opt for a prescription drug to help with the pain. Some examples of non-opioid medications include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – are medications that reduce inflammation, a common cause of pain. Examples include meloxicam and celecoxib.
- Antiepileptic drugs – are medications used to modify the transmission of pain along nerves. They are broadly classified with different medications that treat seizures. Research suggests that these drugs can treat chronic pain associated with nerve damage. Examples include gabapentin and pregabalin.
- Antidepressants – tricyclic antidepressants and SNRIs may be used to relieve chronic pain due to various forms of neuropathic pain. Examples include venlafaxine and duloxetine.
- Topical creams – are also widely used as an alternative to opioid medications in treating chronic pain. Some examples include lidocaine and diclofenac.
Interventional therapy refers to various non-surgical procedures that can manage chronic pain. This may include a wide array of techniques, such as soft tissue injections, minimally invasive procedures, and other high-tech methods. Some specific examples include:
Chronic pain that affects the soft tissues or musculoskeletal system may be alleviated using steroid injections. Steroids are potent anti-inflammatories. Steroids can be useful when injected into joints or around inflamed nerves.
You may receive this type of treatment option if you have any of the following conditions:
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Radiculopathy or “pinched nerves”
A nerve block refers to a procedure used for chronic pain treatment and management. It identifies a particular nerve that is transmitting pain to the brain. After a successful block of the nerve, an ablation or neurolysis may be performed to provide longer lasting relief..
Some examples of commonly used nerve block injections include:
- Medial branch block
- Pudendal nerve block
- Stellate ganglion block
- Celiac plexus block
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or neurolysis
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that manages chronic pain by “heating” the nerve fibers. This disrupts the transmission of pain signals from the nerves, thus bringing long-lasting relief. You may benefit from an RFA procedure if you have any of the following conditions:
- Lower back pain / spondylosis
- Chronic arthritis
- Cancer pain
Spinal cord stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation works by implanting a small device under the skin, near the spine. This device will emit electrical pulses into the nerve fibers of the spinal cord, thus masking the pain signals going to the brain. Some of the conditions that it can treat and manage include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Nerve-related pain
- Phantom limb pain
Medical marijuana treatment
Medical cannabis or marijuana has been gaining much recognition, especially in its ability to manage chronic pain. According to a 2019 clinical study, 80% of people using medical marijuana treatment found it significantly helpful in managing chronic pain. In fact, these patients have been able to discontinue their use of OTC medications and opioids.
Research suggests that tetrahydrocannabinol or THC interacts with the pain receptors in the brain, exerting their pain-relieving properties.
Advanced Pain Medical Center for the best Pain Management Solutions
It’s entirely possible to manage chronic pain without suffering from the consequences of opioid side effects. If you want to subtract your pain while adding more function and quality to your life, then you’re on the right page.
At Advanced Pain Medical Center, we provide various pain management solutions in Gainesville to address the main source of your discomfort. Our lead physician, Dr. Brent Stewart, utilizes innovative techniques for chronic pain.
If you’re a Florida resident with a qualifying condition listed below, then you can definitely enjoy the benefits of medical marijuana treatment.
Contact us now so we can evaluate your condition and create an individualized treatment plan for you.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.