Here are some alternatives to powerful painkillers

raig Schroeder, shown on February 6, was injured in 2006 while serving with the Marines in Iraq and suffers from traumatic brain injury and pain, for which he has been on a steady regimen of opioids. (Ted Richardson | The Washington Post)

Craig Schroeder, shown on February 6, was injured in 2006 while serving with the Marines in Iraq and suffers from traumatic brain injury and pain, for which he has been on a steady regimen of opioids. (Ted Richardson | The Washington Post)

The Bangor Daily News posted a great article recently by Eva Quirion, a nurse practitioner at St. Joseph Internal Medicine, on treatment of pain and some options to consider instead of opioids.

Eva writes:

“As a nurse practitioner who specializes in the treatment of chronic pain, I am often asked by patients if it would be beneficial to get off pain medications. As with any medical treatment, we in the medical profession strive to do the most good with the least possible intervention.

“Opioids, more commonly known as narcotics, include drugs like morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone and others. These drugs are very powerful and should only be used under certain circumstances and with great care. Medical professionals like to limit their use to short-term, acute pain episodes than can follow injury or surgery, or to end-of-life treatment of pain for those with a diagnosed terminal illness.

“No medication is risk-free, but opioids are a particularly scary class of medications for a number of reasons. If they are used long term for chronic conditions, there is a 40-percent chance of addiction. One can become dependent on them in a very short time.”

So what are the options if you need to manage your pain long-term? Some people find exercise — often paired with physical therapy — helpful. It might seem difficult at first, but exercise has been shown to reduce pain over time.

Others may find help through acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation and therapeutic massage.

It’s possible, too, for aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen to be acceptable options. And, as Quirion points out, some antidepressants and anti-seizure medications can dull pain — and are much less dangerous than narcotics.

No single treatment will work for everyone, but you can work with your health care provider to treat your pain in the safest way possible.

Please CLICK HERE to read the full article.