When we think of pain management, the first thing that comes to mind is a pill or some other chemical means. Pain can be managed effectively in a number of ways, but since chemical treatments are the most popular form of pain management, we often turn to those first.
Pills, ointments, liquids, creams and sprays can be readily obtained over the counter, some without a prescription. Depending on the person's condition, these may be given in the form of injections for faster relief. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin are widely used to control inflammation, muscle aches and pains brought about by sprains and strains. These can be bought over the counter or may be prescribed by your doctor. Patches are also used to control muscle aches and pains.
Corticosteroids are available in prescription strengths and are used to treat inflammation and pain due to arthritis and other conditions. Opioids are narcotic pain meds used in acute cases such as following surgery. Some common ones are Morphine and Codeine. Antidepressants and seizure medications also contain pain relievers.
The downside to using these pain medications is that they may have serious side effects, such as:
- Stomach irritation, bleeding into the stomach as in the case of anti-inflammatory medications.
- Corticosteroids - Weight gain, upset stomach, headaches, mood swings, trouble sleeping, weakened immune system.
- Opioids - Drowsiness, nausea, itching, constipation, breathing problems, addiction if used over a long period of time.
Natural pain management
With the emphasis on natural medicine, more people are turning to this means to control pain. Herbal medicines include herbs, teas, supplements, creams and ointments, many of which have proven successful in treating pain without the side effects. In recent years, glucosamine, chondroitin and fish oils have become very popular with arthritis sufferers. Other alternatives to chemical treatments are use of heat and cold, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, acupuncture, laser treatments, massage therapy, myofascial release and a host of other techniques practiced in physical therapy clinics.
Psychological pain management
In addition to these, some people believe you can think your pain away - that is, you tell yourself you don't have a headache and it goes away. This, of course, has not been medically proven. Or, you can try hypnosis. Again, the efficacy of this is questionable. In the clinic, patients are taught guided imagery to help them take their minds off their pain. Some people have reported good results with this method, but it may not always work for everyone. Biofeedback is another technique that teaches patients to monitor their pain and control their responses.
From this we can see that there are alternatives to managing pain. If you suffer from chronic pain, you may be better off seeking out natural rather than chemical means, since over a period of time those chemicals may be detrimental to your overall health. As always, come in and see us to discuss your case and the type of pain management that is right for you.
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