From therapy to CBD: Dealing with chronic pain without opioids
Published Tuesday, May 14, 2019 6:00AM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 14, 2019 7:46PM PDT
Chronic pain affects one in every five Canadians and it costs our economy up to $60 billion a year in health care costs costs and lost wages.
Everything from supplements to sleep has been studied to help alleviate the problem. And with the dangers of opioid use, many people are looking for alternative treatments that are both safe and effective.
“There’s no magic bullet. Lasting solutions are usually made up of several different kinds of treatment,” said Lisa Gill with Consumer Reports.
The American College of Physicians recommends trying non-drug measures first. Consider types of exercise that incorporate mindfulness, such as tai chi and yoga. Acupuncture and massage have also been found to help some with chronic back pain and fibromyalgia.
“Another option is something called cognitive behavioural therapy. That’s where you work with a therapist on changing how you approach your pain,” explained Gill.
Many people trying to avoid prescription pain relievers turn to supplements. But for most supplements, there’s no data to show they actually work.
There’s preliminary research to suggest that cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive compound in the marijuana plant, can reduce inflammation.
Other people try over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or topical pain relievers in a cream or a patch.
Prescription drugs used for pain include antidepressants, muscle relaxants and opioids, which of course come with the risk of addiction and misuse. People can also consider injections. But when nothing else works, the last resort may be surgery.
Before proceeding with surgery there are three questions you should ask your doctor; Am I even a good candidate? Are there any other options? What results can I actually expect?