For years, doctors have prescribed prescription opioids for people suffering from chronic pain, and although prescription opioids are a medically effective way to relieve chronic pain, there are some non prescription alternatives that may also provide some relief. Unfortunately, even when prescribed and taken correctly, these powerful painkillers are addictive, and opioid use and abuse often leads to heroin use and abuse. By some reports, every one in four people exposed to opioids develop an addiction to them. Fortunately, there are alternatives to taking opioids to minimize chronic pain, and we share three ways you can treat your chronic pain at home so you can avoid becoming dependent on opioids.
- Alter Your Diet
For people dealing with chronic pain, it is important to eat foods that can minimize inflammation and avoid foods that make you more sensitive to pain. Cleveland Clinic cites the benefits of a vegan or Mediterranean diet as well as the following diet tips for people with chronic pain:
- Eat the rainbow – Incorporate colorful, fresh fruits and vegetable into your daily meals. Aim to include 7 to 9 servings a day with one or two of those servings being fruit.
- Restrict dairy and grains – Avoid refined sugar and processed foods and carbohydrates as much as possible, opting for whole grains instead. Limit your dairy intake as much as possible.
- Avoid red meat – Consider eating red meat sparingly, while eating more fish and chicken.
- Exercise Correctly
While it may be difficult for people who live with chronic pain to exercise as intensely as people who don’t experience persistent pain, it is important for you to exercise regularly and correctly. Exercise is an effective alternative treatment for pain because it can reduce and eventually reverse the cycle of doing fewer activities and experiencing more pain due to lack of movement. After a period of regular, proper exercise, people who have chronic pain can do more activities and go about their daily lives with less pain. Exercise Right recommends the following exercises for people with chronic pain:
- Stretching exercises – Stretch at least once a day to increase flexibility and loosen muscles while improving your range of motion
- Strengthening exercises – Build muscles by doing squats, wall push-ups, or bicep curls
- Cardiovascular exercises – Walk, swim, or ride a bike to get low-impact aerobic exercise that provides healing benefits
It’s also important for you to consider exercise a form of medicine that you should stick to daily to manage your pain. To avoid worsening your pain, stretch to cool down rather than to warm up and to do short bursts of exercise. Also, start slowly and do not push yourself into activities that exacerbate your pain. Be sure to monitor your pain using the 0-10 scale and to talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.
- Get Better Sleep
One of the most common complaints among those living with chronic pain is their inability to sleep well. However, researchers from Arizona State University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Florida found that sleep disruptions predict pain severity and increase pain sensitivity. Thus, getting more, good quality sleep is an alternative way to minimize chronic pain. The National Sleep Foundation recommends some tips for practicing good sleep hygiene to get a good night’s sleep:
- Eliminate or severely limit caffeine consumption
- Limit alcohol consumption, particularly at night
- Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing
If you are looking for a way to minimize chronic pain without relying on prescription opioids, you should alter your diet to avoid foods that can worsen pain, exercise regularly and correctly, and get better sleep.
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