Chronic Pain: Beyond Prescription Medication

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What is Chronic Pain?

Everyone feels some physical pain from time to time. When you break a bone or take a sip of coffee that is too hot, pain is a way of the brain letting you know something isn’t quite right. As soon as the injury is somewhat healed, the brain stops sending you that signal, and the pain subsides. Most headaches go away, and paper cuts heal, but chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for weeks, months, and in some cases years. Apart from the physical discomfort, chronic pain has greater effects on day-to-day life and mental health, often leading to depression and anxiety. Chronic pain is caused when the nervous system keeps sending pain signals to the brain after the injury has healed.

 

Common Chronic Pain Conditions

Some individuals experience chronic pain without an obvious cause, but for most people, chronic pain begins with an injury or a health condition. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Back problems
  • Nerve damage infections
  • Migraines
  • Past injuries
  • Surgery
  • Arthritis

Symptoms

Similar to pain most people experience, chronic pain can range from mild to severe, it can also last for days, or come and go periodically. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Soreness
  • Throbbing
  • Stiffness
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Squeezing

Some symptoms appear as a result of the pain:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

Physical discomfort is just the beginning— the biggest burden people with chronic pain carry is the depression and anxiety that manifests because of the constant pain. Pain and depression are fractal: pain can cause depression and depression can cause pain. When it comes to chronic pain, you have to look at both sides of the coin: medical and psychiatric.

Chronic Pain and Addiction

Aside from the symptoms above, chronic pain can cause an individual to become dependent on prescription opioids. Drug dependence and mental health issues increase the risk of addiction.

Opioids such as Percocet, OxyContin, and Vicodin affect the parts of the brain that perceive pain. They flood the brain with high levels of a “feel-good” neurotransmitter called dopamine. Unfortunately, such medication does not last exceptionally long and the people taking it develop a tolerance, needing a much higher dose to get the same pain-relieving effect. Opioids such as the ones prescribed by a doctor to treat chronic pain belong to the same class of drugs as heroin and morphine. Because heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain than prescribed medication many individuals with chronic pain progress to heroin use. Sadly, 80% of American heroin users started with prescription opioids first. 

The good news is there is a better way. Many clinicians recommend a different approach to treating chronic pain, and that is by tackling both physical discomfort and mental health. Here are some helpful and clinically proven treatments offered by Oasis Recovery Center that can ease chronic pain and help you break free from addiction:

  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Qigong (Asian form of yoga)
  • Anxiety and depression therapy
  • Adventure therapy

Oasis Success Story

Oasis had an individual come in immobilized due to chronic pain and dependence on pain medication. He needed a cane just to get around. Our team created an individualized treatment plan to help him not only overcome his addiction, but also increase his quality of life. After a few weeks of hard work, willingness, and all the support one could ask for, this individual was able to walk without his cane. He graduated from Oasis having gained the freedom to live the life he deserves, free of addiction and constant pain. With help from Oasis, he found the happiness that prescription medication could never provide.

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction? 

Oasis Recovery can help. Reach out to us today at (828) 330-9497, or get started here