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Alternatives To Opiates For Pain Management

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There are times when medication is necessary for pain management. When injuries first occur, pain is often most intense. Occasional flareups of old injuries sometimes require the temporary use of pain medication. Individuals with chronic pain may need to use medications on a daily basis. However, there are ways to manage pain and to lessen or eliminate the need for opiate painkillers, both for immediate pain from injuries and chronic or recurring pain.

Alternatives to pain medication after injuries

Immediately after an injury occurs, steps can be taken to reduce pain. Injuries to arms and legs should be treated with ice for the first forty eight hours to reduce swelling. Ice should never be placed directly on skin, and only applied for twenty minutes each time. Intervals between ice applications should also be at least twenty minutes. After forty eight hours, icing can be alternated with heat if swelling has subsided.

Elevation of extremities is also helpful in reducing swelling and pain, and rest is essential for healing. During this period, anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin or acetaminophen can be used for pain management and inflammation. Use of opiate medications should be avoided unless pain is too intense. They are physically addictive and have unpleasant side effects.

Unless an injury has been diagnosed as severe, such as torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments, then exercise is an important step on the road to recovery from an injury. Obviously, strenuous physical activity should be avoided, but even activities such as walking or using an exercise bike can help. Physical activity stimulates the healing process and causes the release of endorphins, synthetic opiates that help to minimize pain and elevate mood.

Alternatives to medication for chronic or recurring pain

There are treatments for pain management that can reduce the need for opiate medications. These include:

  • Acupuncture

This is a practice that originated in China centuries ago. Small needles are placed strategically in the skin to alleviate pain, facilitate healing, or to promote overall health. These needles are thought to redirect the internal energy that flows through the body. Scientifically, the benefits of acupuncture can't be proven. It may just disrupt nerve impulses that transmit pain, or provide a placebo effect. However, it helps some individuals with chronic pain, so it may be worth a try for those who suffer from chronic or recurring pain.

  • Chiropractic care

This practice involves manual manipulation and adjustment of the spine in order to ensure proper alignment of the vertebrae. When the vertebrae are out of alignment, spinal cord nerves can be pinched or irritated, causing back and neck pain. Multiple visits to a chiropractor may be necessary to align vertebrae and to maintain spinal health.

Pain management should always be approached from multiple angles, in order to ease pain as much as possible, while minimizing the use of opiate medications. Talk to people like the Pain Treatment Center for more information.