Each year, over 200 million opioid prescriptions are given out in the US. However, recent studies have suggested that opioids may not effectively treat some types of acute or chronic pain. An estimated 39 to 100 million Americans are experiencing chronic pain at any time. Chronic pain is defined as at least three months or more past the normal time of tissue healing. It can be intermittent, or persistent. The most common conditions that cause chronic pain are arthritis and spine conditions of the back and neck. Other common causes of chronic pain include cancer, fibromyalgia, migraines, trauma or post-surgical pain, and endometriosis.
There are many different options available for the treatment of chronic pain. Talk with your doctor about different ways to treat your pain and remember, there are 5 P's to pain treatment:
- Physical therapy and activity.
Stiffness from inactivity is a huge contributor to the cycle of chronic pain.
- Personal care.
Daily meditation, gentle stretching or yoga, getting a good night’s sleep every night (without using sedatives, which can increase your risk when used in combination with opioids), setting realistic goals for yourself all contribute to the reduction of pain.
This includes: topical medications (creams/patches), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, anti-depressants, and anti-seizure medications among others.
Chronic pain causes many subconscious changes in the brain, affecting our thoughts and emotions and self-concept. Visiting a pain psychologist can be very helpful.
Local injections and other minimally invasive procedures performed by a specialist physician can also be very helpful in your path to getting better pain relief.