With more prescribes trying to avoid using opioid pain relievers for chronic pain, patients are trying to find pain relief methods that might help. Below are various opioid-free pain relief strategies.
Lower potentiates of lidocaine can be found at retail stores. It is usually found the form of a cream, but patches are also an option. Lidocaine can be helpful for joint pain, especially any breakthrough pain that is not responding to other pain-relief methods. If the retail version of lidocaine is not helpful, consider asking your doctor for the prescription version. Prescription lidocaine is typically available in significantly higher concentrations, which might be more effective and longer lasting than their retail counterpart.
Both hot and cold therapy remain common approaches to treating pain without the use of opioids. You may need to experiment with different temperature therapies to determine what is best for your pain. If you frequently deal with different types of pain in the same location, it can be even harder to find the right temperature. Generally, heat works well for sore, stiff, and achy body parts. Heat might also calm muscle spasms and loosen tightness. If you have inflammation—such as a joint that is hot, swollen, or burning—cold is typically a better option. You can often find retail products that make it easier to use temperature therapy without a heating pad or cold pack. Menthol can give a cooling sensation, and some topical ointments warm after they are applied.
Although vigorous exercise might simply make pain worse, some gentle exercises are actually helpful, especially for joint problems. If you can, include leisurely walks in your daily routine. Another type of exercise you should try to incorporate is stretching or yoga. Both types of exercise can help improve range of motion and flexibility. Some people use Tai chi as their preferred exercise because the movements are slow and purposeful, so they reduce stress while improving flexibility, especially in older adults. Swimming can be an ideal, gentle exercise, especially if you have access to a pool with temperature control. If you experience stiffness, it is much easier to loosen up tight muscles or an arthritic joint if you can swim in a heated pool.
Although opioids remain an important part in treating some types of pain, addressing chronic pain with alternative approaches is often a better strategy. There are many opioid-free approaches to pain relief that you can try.