Avoid Opioid Use With These Pain Management Strategies

Medically Reviewed

Chronic pain is linked to various mental and physical conditions that contribute to lost productivity and high health care costs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the prevalence of chronic pain ranges from 11 percent to 40 percent.

The same study shows that in 2016, nearly 20.4 percent of adults in the United States had chronic pain, and 8 percent of them experienced high-impact chronic pain. The numbers reflected that the condition is more prevalent in those in poverty.

While opioids can change the life of a person who’s struggling with chronic pain, there are other options available. A National Institute on Drug Abuse study shows that roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed medication for chronic pain misuse them, while another 8 to 12 percent develop opioid use disorder (OUD).

Even more, 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids will transition to heroin at some point. Eighty percent of heroin users abused prescription opioids at one point. In some cases, opiates are useful, but you should exhaust every option before turning to narcotic medication.

So, what are some pain management strategies you can apply to avoid opioids? Let’s take a look below.

Avoiding Opioids with Chronic Pain Management Treatment

Using opioids for chronic pain should be your last resort, but other options are available to you. These include non-drug and drug treatments. To discover what works best for you, consult with a doctor to see what they suggest. In the meantime, here are the most common causes of chronic pain and alternative options you can run by your doctor.

Lower Back Pain

If you can, try to stay active by swimming, walking, riding a bike, or doing yoga. Chiropractors are good options as well. Consider acupuncture, physical therapy, or getting a massage. Others have mentioned that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful. In a majority of cases, lower back pain will go away within a month, even without proper treatment. If not, it may be time to see a doctor.


You may have experienced a migraine or two throughout your life, but some people deal with them quite frequently. In some cases, they are so debilitating that a person cannot participate in their daily routine and will be confined to a dark room. Try avoiding alcohol or certain foods that trigger headaches. Stay active, and try to control your stress levels, meditate, and breathe slowly. Make sure that you get enough sleep.

Joint Pain

Losing weight and increasing activity levels can reduce your joint pain and may keep you from getting arthritis. Try a heating pad for stiffness and ice for swelling.

Nerve Pain

Physical and occupational therapy may help those who have nerve pain. If you have pain from diabetes, make sure to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.


Meditation, staying active, and cognitive behavioral therapy may help with symptoms stemming from fibromyalgia. You may also try tai chi, which combines gentle and slow movements with deep breathing.

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