“There is a distinct need for balance in the twin public health crises of prescription drug abuse and inadequately-treated chronic pain.” PAINS Project, “Never Only Opioids” – Policy Brief Fall 2014
Pain can be managed in a variety of ways. Some forms of pain management include pain-relieving medications (both prescription and over-the-counter), physical and occupational therapies, massage, chiropractic services, acupuncture, stress management techniques, and cognitive-behavioral therapies.
It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all in the area of pain management. People’s varying circumstances can contribute to the success of certain pain management solutions. This is one reason why offering multiple solutions to manage pain is important to consider in order to meet the needs of those in your workforce.
Pain Management without Prescriptions
There are a wide variety of approaches to pain management that do not involve medication. These include Complementary and Alternative Medicine modalities such as:
- Physical modalities such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, trigger point therapy, and occupational therapy.
- Relaxation and mind/body therapies such as meditation, guided imagery, reiki, and psychological therapies.
- Movement-based therapies such as yoga, dance, Tai Chi, qi gong, and aquatic therapy.
- Creative Arts therapies such as art, drama, music, writing, and poetry therapy.
- Nutritional counseling such as dietary changes, weight loss, preparing healthy meals, and identifying food sensitivities that cause inflammation.
- Strategies for self-care such as learning healthy coping strategies, mindfulness, self-massage, exercise, and support groups.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine may be offered by employers as part of a wellness program or be a covered option in health insurance plans to manage pain. For more information on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, please see http://www.painsproject.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/pain-policy-issue-5.pdf
Another non-medication approach to pain management is providing ergonomic design solutions and resources to employees. “(E)rgonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.”9
Ergonomic design solutions have been shown to prevent and help manage pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), the most common, single type of chronic pain1. Fitting a job to a person can help lessen muscle fatigue, increase productivity and reduce the number and severity of work-related MSDs such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, muscle strains and low back injuries
What About Pain Relievers?
Prescription pain-relieving medication- specifically opioids- can be effective for short-term, acute pain1.
While effective in some circumstances, prescription opioids have not been shown to be an effective treatment for long-term, chronic pain7. Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet are opioids that are commonly prescribed as pain-relieving medication. Long-terms use of opioid medications can lead to serious side effects including addiction, injury and even death8.
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