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Pain Relief, Without Opioids

by Health After 50  

Opioids aren’t always the best way to treat chronic pain. The effectiveness of each of the following alternatives varies depending on the patient and the pain’s location, and research is ongoing for some therapies to assess their value:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn), celecoxib (Celebrex), and aspirin
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsive medications, such as pregabalin and gabapentin
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Topical agents such as capsaicin and lidocaine
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Exercise or physical therapy
  • Complementary medicine, such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture
  • Biofeedback
  • Portable transcutaneous electro-nerve stimulation (TENS) units
  • Brain, spinal cord, and nerve stimulation

These options come with their own risks, notably NSAIDs, which are associated with an increased risk of kidney damage, gastric bleeding, and cardiovascular disease. Other therapies, such as CBT, may not be covered by insurance or be available in certain areas.