Drug Free Pain Management Techniques that Worth Knowing

Infection, surgical incision, and nerve injury are some of the major causes of pain. Pain can be either short-lived (acute pain) or last much longer in the case of chronic pain. Pain can make a person lose concentration on the work at hand, leading to poor performance. Pain is mainly related to conditions such as headache, shingles, low back pain, osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, and nerve damage. Every day professionals come up with different methods and drugs that promise incredible pain relief. However, not all these techniques can be used by all since different people have different genetic make-ups. The use of natural and drug-free methods of pain management is the best alternative since it is safe to all.

Ways of Managing Pain without the Use of Drugs

· Exercise

Pain-ManagementDoing some healthy exercise is the easiest and least expensive way to alleviate pain. It works by releasing endorphins, a naturally occurring neurochemical in the brain that has analgesic properties. In addition, exercise improves bone health and sleep, increases body flexibility, controls weight, strengthens the body, and boosts energy. It is advisable for patients with rheumatoid arthritis to do aerobic exercise regularly such as jogging, bicycling, swimming, and walking instead of driving. Other important exercise includes strength training such as gardening and lifting weights. All these activities strengthen the abdomen and back muscles, keep the circulatory system healthy, and improve endurance.

· Dieting Healthily

Eating healthy food prevents body tissues from responding to injury or infection characterized by swelling, redness, and pain in joints and muscles. The best food to eat includes soybeans, whole foods, lean meat, and fish. Other examples are vegetables and fruits such as, broccoli, lettuce, sweet potatoes, summer squash and carrots. It is best to refrain from foods with added sugars; canned food packed in syrup, and processed foods such as soft sodas, French fries, pastries, refined white flour, and candy.

· Acupuncture

It is a traditional Chinese medicine involving the insertion of thin needles at strategic points through the skin. This action balances the flow of energy (qi or chi) that flow through pathways (meridians) in the body. These needles do not hurt at all. This technique has become very popular in pain management such as fibromyalgia, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and chronic breakdown of cartilage in the joints.

· Hot and Cold Therapy

Heat therapy dilates the blood vessels, which facilitates the flow of blood and supplies nutrients and oxygen to various parts of the body. This action relaxes sore muscles, tendons and ligaments, and reduces muscle spasms and pain in joints. The best way to apply this pain management method is by relaxing in a hot bath or by using heat wrap.

Cold therapy works by contracting blood vessels and slowing down blood flow to an injury thus reducing inflammation, swelling, and numbing deep pain. One should apply a cold wrap, ice, or gel pack for about a day or two after an injury.

· Massage Therapy

It is a pain management method that involves techniques such as deep circular movement, kneading, pressure, and tapping. Research shows that massage increase endorphins levels in the brain, thus making the person manage chronic pain effectively. In addition, massage relaxes muscles, improves blood circulation and facilitating muscle soreness recovery from physical activity. This practice is crucial in cancer patients and those who have had heart bypass surgery.

· Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a technique designed to minimize one’s usual distractions, increase concentration, and heighten responsiveness to suggestions to alter a person’s feelings, physiological state, thoughts, and behavior. It is very effective in treating various psychological and medical conditions including pain management. In a research done of 18 published studies, three-quarter of the participants experienced both acute and chronic pain relief from this technique. Hypnosis alleviates pain ranging from backache, fibromyalgia, headache to cancer pain.

· Meditation (Mindfulness)

Meditation uses relaxation techniques to keep mind focused on the present, aiming at easing stress, anxiety, insomnia, and pain. Scientists argue that the degree at which one can perceive pain is what matters in pain management. Researches show that individuals who do not regularly meditate find pain to be more pleasant since they spend more time anticipating pain and its effects. Meditation involves practices such as deep breathing to boost relaxation, cognitive-behavioral therapy that aims at focusing on positive thoughts, concentration on positive visual images, and contemplative walking.

· Laughter Therapy

Laughing is another common technique used to raise endorphins levels in the body to relieve stress and pain. It also facilitates steady movement of blood to various parts of the body, improves the digestive system, relaxes the body muscles, and boosts the immune system.

The best way for pain management is by choosing some of the above methods that one feels comfortable doing.

Differences between Opiates and Opioids

Opiates and Opioids, both are used as analgesics as they cause the CNS(Central Nervous System) depression. Their molecules attach themselves to the Opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, gastrointestinal tract and other organs of the body and it leads to low perception of pain, confusion, constipation, slow breathing, nausea. The effects and their degree vary according to the amount of drug taken.

Opiate PoppyOpiates are the alkaloids extracted from the Poppy plant. All the active ingredients of the opiates occur naturally and are not synthesized chemically. There are certain inactive ingredients present in the extracts from the Poppy plant as well, such as, Papaverine, Noscapine, but they do not have any effect over the CNS. The chemically altered Opiates are called as semi-synthetic Opioids. Opioids that are fully synthesized chemically are called as synthetic Opioids. The main difference between the Opiates and the Opiods is that the Opiates occur naturally in the Opium poppy, whereas the Opioids are prepared chemically, at least partly. Examples of the Opiates include Morphine, Thebaine, Codiene. Examples of Opioids are Heroin, Nicomorphine, Oxymorphone, Methadone, Demerol.

Opiates and Opioids produce similar effects on the body. Effects vary according to the doses, for e.g., low doses prove to be very effective pain-killers and higher doses produce effects like Euphoria, deep relaxation. Both of them are extremely addictive and withdrawal can cause diarrhea, cold sweats, insomnia, depression and more such effects. Although, the opiates and opioids are different from each other, the term ‘Opioids’ is often used to describe the drug that attaches itself to the opioid receptors present in the brain, peripheral sensory neurons and other organs. The term ‘Opiates’ is also sometimes used as a synonym for the Opiods, but it is limited to only the active ingredients of the natural occurring alkaloids.
At times, the medical professionals use the term ‘Opioids’ as a broad term to describe any drug that attaches to the opioid receptors. Opioids can be classified into four broad categories,
– Endogenous Opioid – They are called endorphins and they occur naturally in the body. – Opium Alkaloids – They are called Opiates and they occur naturally in the opium poppy. – Semi-synthetic Opioids – They are chemically altered opiates, for e.g., Oxycodone. – Fully-synthetic Opioids – They are synthesized chemically, for e.g., Methadone.

Narcotics And Pain Management

Whenever you have a mild muscle ache or headache, an over the counter pain reliever is usually the best remedy. However, if your pain is more severe, the doctor might recommend something that is a bit stronger, usually a prescription opioid.

What are Narcotics?

NarcoticsOpioids are a special type of narcotic pain medication. If not used correctly, they can lead to some very serious side effects. As a result, you should always ensure that you take the necessary precautions whenever you use them.

How they work

Opioids narcotics work by conjoining to the opioid receptors found in the spinal cord, brain and other parts of the body. They reduce the sending of pain messages, which in turn reduces the feelings of pain. Opioids can be used to treat moderate to severe pains that do not respond well to other kinds of pain medications.

Types of Narcotics

The following are some of the most common opioid narcotics available:

-Codeine: This particular drug is only available in generic form.

-Fentanyl: This includes Duragesic, Actiq and Fentora.

-Hydrocodone: This includes Norco, Lorcet, Lortab and Vicodin.

-Meperidine: This is mostly Demerol

-Hydromorphone: This includes Exalgo and Dilaudid.

-Methadone: This includes Methadose and Dolophine

-Oxycodone and naloxone

-Oxycodone: This includes Oxyfast, OxyContin, Roxicodone and Percocet.

-Morphine: This includes kadian, Avinza, Ora-Morph SR and Ms Contin.

The doctor may prescribe most of these narcotics to be taken by mouth. However, Fentanyl is also available in a patch that allows the medication to be absorbed through the skin. In addition, some other opioids such as oxycodone are usually combined with Tylenol to form one pill. Examples of such drugs include:

-Percocet: This includes acetaminophen and oxycodone.

-Norco, Lorcet, Lortab and Vicodin.

Before you start taking any of these drugs, you will need a prescription from your doctors. He or she can adjust the dosage to help control your pain.

In some situations, you may receive around-the-clock doses to help you manage your pain during the day and night. In addition, you doctor may also prescribe some opioids to be taken as needed. This means that you will only take them if you experience any breakthrough pain. This type of pain comes about despite of the round-the-clock doses.

While you are on opioid pain medication, the doctor will check in on you regularly. They will need to ascertain how your pain is responding to the drug, whether or not you are experiencing any side effects and to ensure that you are taking the drugs properly. In addition, they will also want to determine whether you have any medical conditions or potential interactions that could increase the risk of side effects. These conditions usually include sleep apnea, kidney problems or alcohol use.

You should never stop taking or change your opioid medication without first checking with your doctor. In case the pain medication is not working the way it’s supposed to, your doctor may opt for a different kind of dose.

When you no longer need the medication, your doctor will help you to get off of them slowly. Your body will need time to readjust after a long period of use. If this is not done, you may suffer from some withdrawal symptoms.

The hazards of using narcotics

Even though prescription medications may help to alleviate pain, patients need to be aware of the risks. Narcotics used for short-term pain have far less risks because doses can be halted before the patient becomes habituated or tolerant. However, those taking narcotics for long-term chronic pain are more susceptible to such situations. They can easily abuse the drug or develop an addiction.

Some of the other side effects that may result from taking pain medications include impaired judgment and drowsiness. As a result, you should avoid drinking alcohol, operating heavy machine or driving while under the influence of narcotics. In case of any itching, you can reduce the dosage or talk to your doctor about switching your medications.

Some people may also experience incidences of constipation. This problem can be sorted out by drinking more fluids, getting more exercise, consuming foods with extra fiber or the use of stool softeners.

In addition, withdrawal symptoms tend to be quite common once you stop taking a narcotic. They can include a strong craving for the medicine, insomnia, yawning, diarrhea, mood swings and restlessness. All these may be avoided with a gradual decrease of the medication.


Endorphin MoleculeEndorphins are chemical neurotransmitters that transmit electrical signals in the nervous system. There are more than 20 endorphins present in the human body. They are found in the pituitary gland, other parts of the brain, and throughout the nervous system. Their release is mainly triggered by pain and stress. Their levels are also affected by taking anabolic steroids, heroin, alcohol, and other opiates. The name endorphin is derived from morphine, meaning pain killer, and endogenous, meaning within. They belong to neurohormones class of biochemical that acts by modifying how nerve cells respond to various transmitters.

Functions of Endorphins

Endorphins Control Pain

Pain receptors situated in the skin produce nerve impulses that travel up the spinal cord, thalamus, and eventually reach the motor and sensory cortices. The impulses signal the motors to release excitatory neurons that contain transmitter substance P. The transmitter substance P is part of neuropeptides located in the neurons on sides of the dorsal horns. It functions as a major transmitter of pain. The dorsal horns house endorphin neurons that release encephalin. Encephalin produced from the endorphin neurons inhibit the production of substance P by separating the receiving surface of a transmitting neuron and the terminal end of the host neuron. The receiving neuron, therefore, receives less excitatory stimulation resulting in reduced transmission of pain impulses to the brain.

They Reduce Stress

Several studies have revealed a behavioral linkage between endorphins release and stress. Adrenocorticotropin and Beta endorphin, the classic stress hormones originate from the same pioneer molecule located in various parts of the body. They are found in hypothalamus, other parts of the brain, and several peripheral tissues such as the gastrointestinal tract and placenta. Their release triggers the expression of pro-opiomelanocortin gene in the pituitary and its peptide-products are immediately released into the circulatory system in response to stress.

They Promote the Release of other Hormones

The impacts of narcotic analgesics on the release of hormones by the pituitary are evident with the endorphins. They promote the release of prolactin, a growth hormone, anti-diuretic, and inhibit the production of thyrotropin, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone.

Endorphins Control Behavior and Emotions

The limbic system has prominent structures such as the hippocampus, cingulate cortex, amygadala, and septum pellucidum. All the mentioned structures function together with hypothalamus to integrate emotional reactions. The limbic system also contains the highest amounts of endorphins and opiate receptors. The association of endorphins with social began in 1978 when several experiments were done. One of the experiment involved the administration of morphine to young guinea pigs and puppies. The young animals reduced their tendency to cry when separated from their mothers. Distress from separation was reduced in the injected animals. This implicated the impacts of endorphins in controlling emotions and behaviors.

Endorphins and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a form of mental disorder that involves delusions, frequent hallucinations, agitation, and disorientation. There are several experimental observations that demonstrate possible association between schizophrenia and endorphins. One such experiment is where animals portray a catatonic-like state when injected with endorphin supplements. Other studies also show high endorphin levels in cerebrospinal fluids of people with the condition.

In addition to the above mentioned roles of endorphin, they also modulate appetite, enhance immune system, and regulate “runner’s high” condition.