The current opioid crisis is a very real and very widespread national problem. 72,000 Americans died from overdoses in 2017. That’s a new record. And two thirds of those overdoses were from opioids, whether prescription or illicit.
One consequence of the national focus on the opioid crisis is a burgeoning interest in opioid alternatives. Don’t misunderstand. A carefully regulated medication regimen is still among the mainstays of effective pain management. But the challenge of neuropathic pain has led to a re-examination of some alternatives to opioid medications. (The term “neuropathic” describes pain that persists long after its physiological source has been eliminated.)
Natural pain relief is receiving enhanced interest
Please note we’re not suggesting that any of these options for natural pain relief are reliably effective. One thing all these alternatives appear to have in common is the idiosyncrasy of their results. In other words, what seems to provide relief for some patients may fail utterly for others. And the full spectrum in between those two extremes.
Most of the evidence related to these methods is anecdotal, and the anecdotes vary wildly. But another thing these remedies have in common is that they are generally innocuous. Used reasonably, they haven’t produced negative consequences. So there’s not much to lose in experimentation, other than time and money.
Cannabidoil to relieve pain
Otherwise known as CBD. Cannabidoil is derived from marijuana, but it lacks THC, the intoxicating component of marijuana. CBD is, in fact, legal in most states. It is credited with helping treat myriad physical problems, from back pain to epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to insomnia.
Currently, there appears to be little substantial scientific evidence to support those claims. There’s also a lack of regulation, so CBD products vary widely in both strength and effectiveness. But there has been one isolated breakthrough. A variety of cannabidiol, called Epidiolex, has been approved by the FDA for treatment of some types of epileptic seizures. Epidiolex is covered by Medicare and private insurers. Coverage for other CBD applications is awaiting further FDA approvals.
Acupuncture for pain management
Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese art and science of inserting pins and needles into various parts of your anatomy to relieve pain. It’s replete with history, and it really does appear to work well in at least some contexts. The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicare support acupuncture as a viable treatment. Many private health insurers will cover at least some amount of acupuncture treatment.
Mindfulness-based pain management (known as MBPM)
Mind-body modalities such as biofeedback, hypnosis, yoga, and meditation can help to relieve pain. They all provide relaxation of both mind and body. This calming effect leads to a reduction of the mind’s hyper-responsiveness to misleading signals from damaged nerves. Insurance coverage is variable; check with your carrier.
Marijuana for pain relief
Weed has been shown to dependably relieve the pain and nausea which accompany some cancer treatments. While marijuana has become legal under California law for all uses, the Feds adamantly classify reefer as a Class I forbidden substance. That’s why you still can’t get your health insurer to pay for it.
Massage can be helpful for acute pain
Massage increases the flow of blood and oxygen to soft tissues. This helps relax tense muscles. That relaxation can reduce nerve compression. In turn, reduction of compression inhibits activation of pain-inducing and inflammatory cytokines. One study indicates that massage can be helpful for acute pain. Post-surgical patients reported significant pain reduction following a 30-minute massage. As with acupuncture, insurance coverage is available, but is usually limited.
And don’t forget physical therapy and occupational therapy for pain relief
These should be prominent among your most powerful weapons against pain. Physical therapists can provide you with exercises that will help you work your way through the pain and regain your strength and mobility. Occupational therapists can teach you to perform your regular daily activities in the most pain-free manner possible.
Why Nuvo Spine and Sports is your best choice for pain management
We approach our work armed with tried and true medical techniques and state-of-the-art regenerative strategies bred from sports medicine and the neurological sciences.
The Nuvo team of medical professionals is solely dedicated to minimizing or eradicating pain by resolving the underlying conditions that cause the pain. We are proud that we consistently achieve that goal and successfully enhance our patients’ overall quality of life.
To request more information or schedule a consultation, please call (888) 370-9334 or make your appointment online.
Dr. Vahedifar's pain management strategies integrate cutting-edge medical technology with targeted interventions to minimize pain and treat pain’s underlying causes.
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