Managing chronic pain without depending on medications

We all experience physical pain at some point in our lives.  When it persists for greater than 3-6 months, it’s considered “Chronic Pain”.  There are many different reasons for pain that can last for so long.  Some possible causes are:  1) Diabetic Neuropathy, 2) Joint arthritis, 3) Long term back pain with chronic muscle spams.  The list is very extensive and so are the possible treatments.

Many patients ask, how one goes about treating their pain.  They often want options other than  taking medications such as narcotics (also called opioids) because they have heard of side effects such as drowsiness, constipation and some even worry about dependence and addiction.  These are certainly valid concerns and before starting such a medication, a thorough discussion of risks of side effects and other treatment options should be considered.

In order to best decide how to manage the pain, it is necessary to find the cause, ie. reason for the pain.  Tests may need to be done to determine the etiology.  Some possible tests could be:  1)  MRI, 2) CT or Cat Scan, 3) Ultrasound, 4) Nerve Conduction Study, 5) X-rays or others.  Determining the cause is important because then the treatment can be directed to target the cause of the pain.

Some options for helping with chronic pain that I might recommend after a diagnosis is made might be: 1.  a regular exercise program, 2. Weight reduction, 3. A balanced diet, 4. Getting enough sleep, 5.  Meditation, 6.  Accupuncture, 7.  Osteopathic Manipulate Medicine, 8.  Stress reductions/biofeedback (which may entail seeing a counselor for help). 9.  Avoidance of harmful habits such as alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs,  10.  Surgery if needed,  11.  Appropriate medications if needed.  Usually picking more than one of the above treatments works better than just picking one.

Managing chronic pain can be challenging both for the patient and health-care provider.  Usually, a combination of treatments seem to work better than only one treatment approach.  There are multiple modalities that can help treat chronic pain without the need for narcotic pain medications, which help give the patient options instead of relying only on medications for chronic pain.

This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient.  If you have questions please contact your medical provider.


I hope that you have found this information useful.  Wishing you the best of health,

Scott Rennie, DO



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