Many people become addicted to opioids while trying to manage their chronic pain. Addiction to opioid medications can occur in just one week of taking them. It is important to learn of alternative treatments to diminish pain without the use of addictive drugs. As time goes on, the opioid epidemic is only getting worse. By educating people about other pain management techniques we can help reduce the number of people who begin to abuse prescription opioids.
The rise in prescription opioid abuse in the U.S. is nothing short of terrifying. Each day, approximately 3,900 people begin using opioids for non medical use. In addition, there are 650,000 opioid prescriptions written daily and 91 people overdose due to opioids each day. It is cheaper for doctors to send patients home with a prescription than it is to send them to physical therapy. It is easier to write a single prescription than it is to require weekly physical therapy sessions.
These numbers are devastatingly high. Opioid addiction is tearing lives apart and harming communities. At this rate, it seems evident that some doctors may be over prescribing opioid medications. However, in many cases, alternative treatments like yoga and mindful meditation can be effective in treating chronic pain.
Yoga has been proven to help alleviate chronic pain. It is beneficial to people who suffer from arthritis, chronic migraines, lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and more. Yoga involves stretching different parts of the body and holding various positions. Stretching helps release any tension held in the body and may even diminish inflammation. However, if a certain position causes you to feel any pain, you should stop immediately and not pursue that position. It should merely be a stretching and strength building activity, not a painful one. The good news is that there are hundreds of different yoga positions. You are bound to find ones that work well for you!
Most forms of chronic pain are due to inflammation in the body. Yoga focuses directly on your muscles, rather than your joints, in order to relieve pressure and inflammation. Several people have reported that yoga helped increase their range of motion, decrease their pain, and improve their sleep. By building muscle strength, less stress will be placed on your bones and joints. This allows the inflammation in your body to decrease and the pain to be diminished.
Not only does yoga strengthen the mind and body, but it has several other benefits as well. It increases awareness, focus, flexibility, and blood flow. Not to mention, it is safer than prescription opioids as it has not been found to be addictive. Many yoga instructors will end each session with a guided meditation. This allows both the mind and the body to further relax.
Chronic pain isn’t only physical – it takes a toll on the mind as well. If you are suffering from obsessive thoughts about desperately trying to escape your chronic pain, meditation can help. Thinking about the pain in a negative way only makes a person feel the pain even more. Participating in meditation is a practice that is known to calm the mind and relieve tension.
A specific form of meditation called mindful meditation has been proven to reduce chronic pain by up to 57%. In this form of meditation, you are typically instructed to begin by focusing on your breathing. When you are focusing on taking full, deep breaths and the expansion of your diaphragm, it is difficult to focus on much else. This breathing technique will stop your racing thoughts. You will then be instructed to focus your attention on different parts of the body. In observing the areas where you feel pain, you will begin to be more connected with your body. The mind-body connection is a powerful phenomena. Observing these sensations in a non judgemental way, then letting go of struggling with them, allows your suffering to slowly slip away.
Using mindful meditation to manage chronic pain is free and can be done at any time of the day. In practicing this technique, you will become better at it and become increasingly aware of how much your brain amplifies pain. Your mind will also be given an opportunity to relax. Like yoga, meditation is not addictive. It is an effective way to relax your mind and help reduce chronic pain.
The Importance of Alternative Pain Management Techniques
By providing alternative treatment options for patients with chronic pain, we can reduce the number of opioid medications written. This is so important due to the highly addictive nature of prescription opioids and the rate of opioid overdose deaths we are seeing in the U.S. If you are struggling with chronic pain, give yoga and meditation an honest try!
Cassidy Webb is an avid writer from South Florida. She advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.