Opioid pain relievers are the most commonly prescribed medication in America. They treat discomfort related to a wide array of problems ranging from sports injuries to kidney stones. However, the risks and complications involved in using these medications are becoming more evident. The result is an increase in patients seeking alternative methods of controlling pain.
What Are the Risks?
Medicine can play a vital role in managing pain for patients in the wake of events such as invasive surgeries, but many patients discover that they are not always safe. Here are some of the major risk factors:
1. Addiction: Many people begin their use of opioid pain medications as prescribed. Over time, however, many individuals think their pills become less effective. Some choose to increase doses without permission from their doctor. This path can lead patients to addiction.
2. Interactions: Patients who have prescription opioid pain relievers must adjust their intake of other substances. These individuals must cease consuming alcohol and change their anti-anxiety pills, muscle relaxants, and sedatives to prevent interactions.
3. Ineffectiveness: The majority of people who suffer from chronic pain manage it with prescription opioids. However, they frequently report moderate to severe pain despite the medications.
4. Side effects: Some patients experience breathing problems, confusion, disorientation, constipation, drowsiness, itchiness, and nausea.
For many patients, these risks are not worth the benefits.
What Are the Alternatives?
Nonpharmacological alternatives often provide versatility and safety, while still operating with great efficacy. Recent studies have found that nearly one out of every three people is opting for fewer chemically based health care options. Some people are using melatonin rather than sleeping pills, yoga and chiropractic care are replacing muscle relaxants, and some are using massage or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units rather than pain medications.
This trend has attained enough popularity and credibility that hospitals across the country have taken notice. Some have begun to implement acupuncture, massage therapy, and even some herbal supplements into their programs. These options come without risk of addiction or overdose, and are highly customizable to the individual. Patients can get the help they need without the severe side effects associated with opioid use.