Nonopioid alternatives to pain management

Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are more effective than oxycodone in significantly reducing acute pain after six months.

If you’ve had surgery or a serious injury, you likely were prescribed a short course of narcotic painkillers, or opioids. With the opioid addiction epidemic, physicians are taking a closer look at alternative pain management.

“Research shows there are some short-term benefits in certain situations, but there have never been any studies showing the long-term effectiveness of opioid therapy for chronic pain,” said James T. Jennings, M.D., medical director for adult primary care for Norton Medical Group.

Researchers found that ibuprofen (such as Advil) and acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) were more effective than oxycodone, a type of opioid, in significantly reducing acute pain after six months.

Alternative Pain Management Questions?

If you are concerned about opioid use or chronic pain, talk to your health care provider about all your options.

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A 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded opioids were no better than nonopioids at treating moderate to severe chronic back pain, and pain from hip and knee arthritis.

According to Dr. Jennings, someone taking opioids for eight days has a 13.5% chance of taking them a year later. Someone taking opioids for 31 days has a nearly 30% chance of taking them a year later.

Medications aren’t always the answer for long-term pain control. Many people are finding relief with alternative pain management therapies. These include meditation, acupuncture, yoga and massage.

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