Chronic pain is a problem that is impacting a growing number of Americans. Currently, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. in their 50s or older suffer from chronic pain in their neck or back, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. A similar percentage are suffering from chronic knee or leg pain. And, more than 20 percent of those in their 40s or older have some type of recurring pain.
The reality is that chronic pain is a significant problem in the United States. Ongoing pain from automobile accidents, falls and sports injuries is a widespread reality that affects millions of people.
Interestingly, lifestyle choices have have much to do with this very common problem. There is a clear link between obesity and pain that was studied by Gallup senior scientist Dr. Arthur Stone. Dr. Stone outlined in his analysis of data, that there are complex physiological processes that result in inflammation and chronic pain due to excess fat. As well, certain medical conditions that cause pain, such as arthritis and certain spine conditions, can also lead to lower levels of exercise and more weight gain. In other words, there is a perpetuating cycle of weight gain and increased pain.
Using Prescription Painkillers For Chronic Pain
Many of those who are combatting pain due to chronic conditions are taking prescription painkillers on a regular basis. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of these drugs is addiction. The risk for addiction is particularly high for those who are recovering addicts or have a family history of addiction.
Because opioid painkillers release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that acts on the reward and pleasure system of the brain, they can quickly produce cravings for more of the medication and eventually cause addiction. Most individuals who currently are addicted to opioids are those who began taking them for chronic pain. The scenario usually begins with getting a prescription for chronic pain, then developing a tolerance and requiring higher and higher doses to quell the persistent pain.
Some pain experts believe that opioids are inherently ineffective in treating chronic pain. This begs an important question. What should someone do who is struggling with persistent, ongoing pain, but doesn’t want to risk developing a prescription drug addiction?
Alternatives To Prescription Painkillers
It’s important to stress that each person experiences pain in a unique way, and we all have varying abilities to tolerate it. For those who have difficulty managing day-to-day life because of pain, it’s wise to try all treatment options for pain-relief before turning to addictive opioid painkillers.
Stress and anxiety are closely linked to physical pain. Often, stress management techniques, such as meditation, massage, yoga and individual therapy, can reduce stress levels and subsequently decrease levels of chronic pain. If you’re not sure where to start, you can simply start right now, wherever you are, by taking in a few slow, deep breaths. After just 30 short seconds, you can generally notice a greater sense of calm. This is a simple and well-known, but often underutilized, stress-relieving go-to.
Strengthening muscles and improving overall range of motion can also combat daily pain. In physical therapy, patients learn how to better care for their body and manage aches and pains. Talk to your doctor about getting on a physical therapy plan that works for you. If this is something your insurance doesn’t cover (often many insurance companies will, if a doctor recommends it), you can still research physical rehab facilities that can work with you and your needs.
A fundamental component to staying healthy and free from pain is regular exercise. Even those who suffer from chronic pain can incorporate exercise into their daily life. Inactivity is often the source of pain and can also cause decreased bone density, heart disease and depression. Starting with a trainer is a good idea to avoid overdoing it. In time, the body grows stronger, and pain is often relieved. Good exercise options that won’t exacerbate painful conditions, include yoga, walking, cycling and swimming.
This ancient treatment is an alternative treatment that has become increasingly popular. In fact, many insurance companies are willing to cover acupuncture treatments for patients because of their ability to relieve pain. Make sure to choose an acupuncturist who is credentialed, licensed and in compliant with state regulations.
Holistic Addiction Treatment Facility
Have you or a loved one become addicted after taking prescription opioids for a pain condition?
Summit Behavioral health treats addiction from both clinical and holistic methodologies. We focus on healing the mind, body and spirit. When you recover at one of our inpatient or inpatient treatment facilities, our specialized treatment staff will work with you in a personalized approach. Now is the time to recover and heal.