Did you know that there are over 200 different pain medications on the market, and only 20 of those are narcotics (opioids)? The fact is, opioid-based drugs are not the first choice for pain management. One of the most significant issues with using opiates is the patient develops a tolerance for them over time, decreasing their effectiveness against pain. As a result, the patient must increase the dosage in order to achieve the required pain relief.
Depending on the illness or injury, there are two types of pain: nociceptive pain and neuropathic (nerve) pain. Each type responds differently to various kinds of medication or therapies.
Nociceptive pain can be described as a sharp, throbbing, or aching pain accompanied by inflammation at the site of the injury. Such injuries can include cuts, scrapes, or burns. Nevertheless, forces inside of the body can also be a source of nociceptive pain, such as tumors or cancer as it spreads to the bones, muscles, or joints.
Neuropathic pain can be defined as nerve pain and occurs when the nerve(s) tell the brain it’s in pain even though there is no damaged tissue around it. This sort of pain stems from damaged nerves (the body’s pain messenger). Some common causes of neuropathic pain are diabetes (diabetic neuropathy), shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia), compression of nerves (as with spinal stenosis), and even alcohol abuse. Neuropathic pain is often described as a burning, shooting, or tingling sensation. This sort of pain has been known to result in numbness as well.
If you are suffering from pain because of an injury or illness and want to understand more about the options available to you, contact Neurosurgery and Beyond today to schedule a consultation.
What Kind of Alternatives Are There?
Neurosurgery and Beyond offers a number of non-narcotic pain management options for those who want an alternative to the use of opioid-based drugs. Below is a list of some non-narcotic management options.
Facet (joints of the spine) injections are the injection of small doses of local anesthetic or steroids into the facet joints with the intention of anesthetizing the affected area.
Trigger point injections involve injecting non-narcotic medications into areas of muscle tissue containing trigger points. Trigger points are knots in the muscle that refuse to relax and irritate the nerves. The nerves send pain messages to the brain, which in turn send messages back to the tissue to tighten further. To halt this chain reaction, it may be required to administer this sort of therapy.
Epidural injections are another type of spinal injection. This kind of treatment is commonly used on pregnant women during childbirth since any other type of pain medication could be dangerous to the baby. An epidural is an injection of steroids into the lower back region with the intention of decreasing lower back pain.
Also known as antiepileptic drugs or antiseizure drugs, anticonvulsants are commonly used to treat epileptic seizures. Due to its effectiveness in pain reduction, these sorts of medications have become the first line of use for neuropathic pain.
Non-narcotics such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline, and desipramine are recommended for pain management, especially for those suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy, polyneuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, and post-stroke.
Physical therapy regimens have been proven to have very positive effects on those suffering from sports-related injuries and brain injuries. When it comes to brain injuries, physical therapy helps strengthen parts of the brain affected by the injury.
If you have suffered a sports-related injury or have a brain injury, our doctor can use his years of expertise in the field of surgical and neurological medicine to find the best non-narcotic pain management program for you. There are many options out there for patients, so please give Neurosurgery and Beyond a call today so we can better assist you further.