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Avoiding Opioids: Alternative Treatments for Chronic Pain

Despite their highly addictive nature and a plethora of side effects, opioids1 remain the most common treatment for pain. For many people, chronic pain may be a sentence to a life of addiction and rehab. Though medical marijuana is gaining ground as a valid treatment for chronic pain, it remains illegal in many parts of the world. If you want to avoid opioid addiction but medical marijuana is not an option, here are a few alternative and natural treatments you can try for chronic pain.

Meditation

Meditation2 uses mind over matter and offers a variety of both physical and mental benefits. Meditation can reduce depression, anxiety, and stress as well as manage pain. Of course, learning to meditate effectively takes time and practice. When the skill has been honed, meditation can use the power of the mind to reduce pain by promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and distracting the mind. When used long-term, it is a very valid option for pain management.

Yoga

Exercise is a great way to fight chronic pain but can be very difficult to accomplish during flare-ups. Yoga3 is an easy, relaxed, low-impact exercise that is easily tailored to an individual’s needs. The stretching and focus on relaxation are great for pain management, even on days when the pain is particularly bad. The endorphins produced will also help tackle pain and improve mood.

Dietary Changes

Tweaking your diet can go a long way. The foods you eat have a significant impact on how you feel both mentally and physically. For people with chronic pain, this is particularly true. Certain foods can reduce4 the inflammation that is often responsible for your pain, while others will actually aggravate5 the inflammation, causing more pain.

By changing your diet to eliminate inflammation-causing foods and include inflammation-fighting foods, you may be surprised to find just how much more tolerable your pain becomes. Combine your new diet with exercise or other alternative treatments, and you might be able to eliminate your pain entirely.

Natural Remedies

Herbal remedies6 and essential oils7 are very commonly used by many anti-pharmaceutical movements. From Indian Ayurvedic herbs to naturally sourced painkillers, there are hundreds of options for non-addictive pain management. Herbs may be purchased in the form of capsules, drops, teas, or essential oils. Be sure to do your research and check whether or not a certain herb or natural remedy will have a negative interaction with any medications you are currently taking.

Chronic pain does not have to spell disaster for your future. Though opioids can be effective for short-term pain management, frequent use all too often results in addiction. Instead, you may want to consider an alternative treatment such as meditation or herbal supplements. When using alternative treatments, it is best to pick a few that work for you and combine their effects in order to fully manage your chronic pain. So pick up a yoga mat, write up a new meal plan, and try out some herbs. You may be surprised how well you can live without opioids.

Sources:
1http://opiateaddictions.net/
2http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/04/treating-chronic-pain-with-meditation/284182/
3https://yogainternational.com/article/view/restorative-yoga-for-chronic-pain
4http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html/view-all
5http://www.care2.com/greenliving/top-12-foods-that-cause-inflammation.html
6http://naturalsociety.com/16-natures-best-natural-pain-killers/
7https://blog.aromatools.com/2014/04/28/see-modern-essentials-essential-oils-for-pain-management/

About the Author

Jennifer McGregor is a pre-med student who loves providing reliable health and medical resources for PublicHealthLibrary.org users. She knows how difficult it can be to sift through the mountains of health-related information on the web. She co-created the site with a friend as a way to push reputable information on health topics to the forefront, making them easier and quicker to find.

*This post has been updated since publication.

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