The CDC estimates that 8% of adults in the US had high-impact chronic pain in 2016.
Chronic pain is defined as recurring pain that is experienced most days for six months or more. This type of pain can affect the patient’s quality of life in a big way. It can reduce one’s productivity, deplete finances, and even affect one’s social life.
Researchers have been looking for safe, non-addictive ways of managing pain. Opioids are considered by many to be the most potent for pain relief. However, they are known to have adverse effects.
For example, fentanyl is a powerful opioid pain reliever that can address high-impact pain and for surgery. Unfortunately, fentanyl pain relief and fentanyl anesthesia side effects can be severe and are responsible for a high number of overdose deaths in the United States.
Non-opioid pain medication
Physicians and researchers are looking for non-opioid pain medication because:
- Opioids don’t address the physiological mechanism of pain
- Opioids can reduce the quality of life over time and intensify pain
- The danger of dependence and overdoses
- Opioid-induced hyperalgesia
Opioids are considered to be risky and they should be prescribed only under severe cases of chronic pain. Tolerance, dependency, and addiction are some of the fentanyl analgesia and fentanyl anesthesia side effects. Medical practitioners are now required to exhaust other alternatives before prescribing medications such as fentanyl.
A thorough medical examination is necessary before any pain medication can be prescribed. The doctor will establish the kind of pain you are experiencing. Nociceptive pain refers to pain caused by physical damage on parts of the body. Neuropathic pain refers to pain caused by illness or injury that affects the somatosensory nervous system.
Opioids are not recommended as the first option for the treatment of neuropathic pain. In mid-term, to long-term pain management, their efficacy has never been established. Antidepressants like Bupropion have been found to be effective in managing nerve pain.
People struggling with nerve pain can benefit from other types of medication. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants can address neuropathic pain. Anticonvulsants are not always effective and may depend on the individual’s specific physiological profile. There may be a test period to determine the efficacy of the drug on the patient.
Drugs aren't the only treatment options for pain management.
Physiotherapists are trained medical practitioners who assist patients with chronic pain or mobility issues. They help patients improve the mobility of their joints to reduce stiffness and discomfort. They assist patients to stretch out their tendons and strengthen muscles to support the movement and reduce pain.
Physiotherapists can also provide other alternative therapies that include:
- Heat and cold therapy
- Electrical stimulation therapy
Another alternative to managing chronic pain is hypnosis. There is scientific evidence to suggest that it can be effective in treating many pain conditions. Hypnosis may not work for everyone in part because not all people are hypnotizable.
Hypnosis has several advantages. It is a simple, non-intrusive procedure that does not require any medication. It can be done virtually in any place as long as the patient is comfortable. It is cheaper than many other procedures and can be done at home if the patient learns self-hypnosis.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a related therapy that can be effective in treating chronic pain. Some studies suggest it can be as effective as other evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
There is no perfect cure for chronic pain, but the most powerful drugs are known to have serious adverse effects, an example being fentanyl analgesia/fentanyl anesthesia side effects. The best way to avoid them is not to use fentanyl.
Just as there are many alternative anesthetics, there are many science-backed alternatives for pain relief—including therapies such as mindfulness—that should be considered first.
They could be even more effective if used together with non-opioid medication to manage severe pain. Just be sure to seek the advice of your doctor before adopting any strategy for managing chronic pain.