Young woman suffering from backache at home. Portrait of a young brunette girl sitting on the couch at home with a headache and back pain. Beautiful woman Having Spinal Or Kidney Pain

Treatments to Relieve Chronic Pain

Pain that won’t go away is more than frustrating. It can be harmful to your health and well-being. It can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, and exercising. It can affect your mood and your work, and it can keep you from spending time with friends and family. If you are one of the 100 million Americans with long-term pain, also called chronic pain, you know how debilitating and frustrating it can be.

Each year, millions of prescriptions are written for painkillers, many of them powerful opioids that can cause addiction and other side effects. But there are many other pain treatments available instead of opioids.


Opioids are strong pain medications. They can help you if you have severe short-term (acute) pain after surgery or if you have a broken bone. They can also help you control pain if you have a disease such as cancer. If you have cancer, you should talk to a doctor who specializes in pain relievers, such as a medical anesthesiologist, about which opioid or alternative treatment is best for you.

Opioids are powerful medications, but they are generally not the best way to treat long-term (chronic) pain, such as arthritis, low back pain, or frequent headaches. If you take opioids for a long time to control your chronic pain, you may be at risk for addiction. Before taking opioids for chronic pain, you should talk to your doctor about other options. Here’s why:

Opioids have serious side effects and risks.

Over time, your body gets used to opioids and they can also stop providing pain relief. To get the same relief, you may need to take more and more. Higher doses can cause serious side effects, which include:

  • Breathing problems and a slow heart rate can be life-threatening.
  • Confusion and mental disturbances, such as moodiness or outbursts of temper
  • Constipation

Opioids can be highly addictive.

As many as one in four people who take opioids long-term become addicted. Worst of all, in 2017, data showed that 115 Americans die every day from an overdose of opioid painkillers, and hundreds more go to the emergency room.

Other pain treatments may work better and have fewer risks than opioids.

Talk to your doctor about trying these treatments before opioids:

Over-the-counter medications:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic).
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB and generic)
  • Naproxen (Aleve and generic)

Non-drug treatments

  • Exercise, physical therapy, and/or massage
  • Counseling
  • Acupuncture
  • Cold” therapy, known as cryotherapy

Interventional therapies:

  • Steroid injections
  • Radiofrequency ablation (use of heat to target certain nerves)
  • Neuromodulation (nerve stimulation)

Other prescription medications (ask about risks and side effects):

  • Anticonvulsant medications

Most insurance companies and Medicare will cover these treatments, but you can check with your provider.

What should you do if your doctor prescribes opioids?

Talk to your doctor about side effects, risks, and addiction, and be sure to monitor them as well. Things to watch for include unusual moodiness or bad mood outbursts, cravings, and unusual risks. Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor and be sure to store and dispose of your opioids carefully:

Take your opioids exactly as prescribed by your doctor and never share them with anyone else.

Store your medications in a place where children or others cannot access them.

Dispose of your expired, unwanted, and unused medications safely. The best way to do this is through local “take-back” or “mail-back” programs and medication boxes (located at police stations, Drug Enforcement Agency collection sites, or pharmacies). If you are looking for some information, go check this site to know more.