Six Ways to Manage Pain in Addiction Recovery

pain management

There are several different types of pain, and each person feels them differently. The one aspect of pain that is undeniable is that it is a pain to deal with. Whether your pain is acute from an injury or surgery, chronic stemming from a disease, or one of the other pain types, there are non-drug-related ways of managing pain in addiction treatment. 

Maybe you have tried one or two already and found that they work (or not). Perhaps you have tried other ways to manage pain as you take on each day in recovery. We believe you can manage pain in addiction recovery without worrying about becoming addicted.

Below, we will delve into the different types of pain, how it affects us, and how we generally deal with it. We will also discuss six ways of managing pain in recovery.

What Are the Different Types of Pain?

manage pain

There are several different types of pain.

Acute pain, which is most often resulting from an injury or from surgery that can be eased with prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.

  • Chronic pain can stem from migraine headaches, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or spine or muscular conditions. It lasts longer in duration than acute pain and can be intermittent or constant.
  • Neuropathic pain is pain caused by nerve damage or other parts of the nervous system, and it can be diagnosed as chronic pain.
  • Nociceptive pain is pain caused by body tissue damage that can be both acute and chronic. Think about how it feels to stub your toe hard on something.
  • Radicular pain is pain that occurs when the spinal nerve is compressed or inflamed. Sciatica is one type of radicular pain.

Many people suffer from chronic pain from migraine headaches and the other types of pain described. Arthritis can affect both young and old people and hurts the joints and bones. The shooting pain from sciatica is also fairly common and is quite annoying to live with on a daily basis.

How Does Pain Affect Us?

Pain and the fear of pain can create a troubling situation for an individual in addiction recovery. When we fear pain, we try to avoid any situation that could possibly cause pain. This can be as simple as not wanting to take a walk because the sciatica pain you once had might return. The pain you feel after a joint replacement or joint surgery can cause you to avoid any physical activity that might be painful. This might lead to being less physically active, less healthy, having less physical strength, and hurting social relationships.

Pain can also affect your heart rate and blood pressure. It raises your blood pressure and heart rate. Both of those effects can lead to sleeping issues, fatigue, and appetite changes.

Pain affects our emotions also. Depression is common for those with chronic pain, and the pain experienced can make depression worse. Pain can also cause us to feel angry and irritated, which could alienate those we love.

Every person experiences pain differently, no matter which type it is. It is how we deal with it that makes a difference in our overall physical and emotional health.

Ask different people how they deal with pain, and you will probably hear different replies. What works for one person may not work for you. However, don’t let that deter you from finding an effective pain relief resource.

Managing Pain in Addiction Treatment

Pain management is a term used to describe a branch of medicine that is utilized in diagnosing and treating pain and considers all approaches to your pain from every direction. They will talk with you about your pain and how it affects every aspect of your overall physical and mental health.

When you are in addiction recovery, pain management may seem a bit tricky to handle. However, there are effective ways of managing pain during this new phase of your life.

Here are six ways to consider:

1. Over-the-Counter Medicines

Take acetaminophen or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as Tylenol or Advil, to reduce pain. Neither of these is addictive. Acetaminophen works well on minor acute pain, and NSAIDs work well for migraines, arthritis (reduces some swelling that causes pain), and fibromyalgia. Topical analgesics also work decently on pain. There are several different brands sold in drug stores, grocery stores, and online. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published this guide on non-opioid treatments for chronic pain. It’s worth the click.

2. Prescription Antidepressants, Anticonvulsants

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that these two types of prescription medicines are useful in treating pain from migraines, low back pain, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain. They are also non-addictive.

3. Chiropractic Visits

What’s more annoying than lower back pain, sciatica pain, and joint pain? Not much. Good thing there is chiropractic care to work out these troublesome pain issues. Chiropractic care works to smooth out and manage your central nervous system’s communication paths. When your joints and spinal column are aligned correctly, it might relieve pain by switching off the pain signals on the way to your brain. This non-invasive treatment type is usually covered by health insurance with a small co-pay. Ask for a referral from friends, family, and addiction support members.

4. Physical Movement, Exercise, Physical Therapy

It’s true that physical movement can help alleviate pain. Regular exercise can lower your weight, thus reducing the stress on your joints. Physical therapy can provide everyday exercises that can help loosen and stretch muscles and joints, relax the back, reduce stress on the sciatic nerve, and improve your mood. Start by going online and looking up exercises to reduce pain or specific pain. There are many respectable websites that have exercises to reduce pain from a myriad of causes.

5. Holistic and Behavioral Therapies

Holistic therapies, like acupuncture and massage, might be a good option in reducing pain without opioid pain medication. Yoga is widely practiced and is a great exercise to relieve joint or muscle pain. It does not add pressure to your joints and doesn’t take a lot of physical fitness to begin. Yoga teaches you how to control your breathing, and its different positions help stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It is also a great stress reliever. There are yoga classes almost everywhere. Most are not expensive.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) works well in retraining your brain in identifying negative, non-useful thoughts and replacing them with positive, useful thoughts. Our thoughts compel us to behave in certain ways, and negative thoughts about pain can propel us to take drugs that we have stopped using and relapse. Also, CBT improves coping strategies to relieve your discomfort from pain. It also helps reduce stress, which can increase pain. It envelopes solution-focused activities, therefore, providing you a sense of helping yourself manage pain.

6. Reach Out to Your Support Network

Your support network is there for you to use when you need them, including the aftercare program. If you are connected with one or several individuals, reach out to them and ask for advice about managing pain in addiction recovery. No doubt, they should have some experiences to share, which might be very helpful to you. Your friends and family are also good resources to inquire about handling pain. Surely, someone in your inner circle has had to deal with pain at some time in their life. Reach out.

Pain Is a Pain to Deal With, But You Can Manage It

Addiction affects millions of people in the U.S., and they’re certainly are some who are dealing with pain. When you are in recovery, whether it is early recovery or late recovery, there may be times when you do have to take a narcotic to relieve your pain. For those times, it is best to develop a pain management plan with your medical provider, family members, and addiction support team.

Many states have very specific guidelines for prescribing opioids that limit the number of pills dispensed and how many refills you can obtain. Be honest with your medical provider about your addiction recovery and if you are worried about taking an opioid. If you are prescribed an opioid, let your significant other keep the prescription bottle and dole out the medication every four to six hours. Most people, even those who are long into recovery, don’t feel high when taking prescription painkillers.

Intense pain is hard to take, and chronic pain is no better. The type of pain you experience can be annoying, frustrating, unbearable, and a nuisance, especially now in recovery. Try something new to relieve it and note if it worked and how. If it works well for you, keep doing it. Always keep the lines of communication open with your medical provider and addiction support team. We’re all on your side.

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