How to Relieve Pain Without Prescription Medication   

How to Relieve Pain Without Prescription Medication

wrist pain
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Sagar Parikh, M.D.
Negin Griffith, M.D.

If you are dealing with chronic pain or pain after surgery, there are ways to get excellent pain relief that avoid the risk of pain medication addiction.

Chronic pain or lingering pain after surgery can be frustrating. It can even affect your mental health and prevent you from living a healthy life through sleep, healthy eating and exercising.

People often turn to prescription pain medication for relief. But anyone who takes prescription opioids or narcotics runs the risk of becoming addicted to them, says Sagar Parikh, M.D., interventional pain physician and director of the Center for Sports & Spine Medicine at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute.

But there are ways to get excellent pain relief from chronic or acute pain that avoid that risk.

What Is Chronic Pain

Dr. Parikh defines chronic pain as pain that has continued for more than three months after the initial injury. By then, tissue healing should have occurred.

Multiple factors can cause chronic pain after an injury:

  • Inadequate attention and treatment after the injury
  • Continuing use of the damaged area because of work or other activity
  • Weight issues
  • Emotional issues dealing with the trauma of the pain

Other conditions, like cancer, can cause chronic pain that needs to be addressed to help the patient have the best possible quality of life.

How to Treat Chronic Pain

Depending on individual needs, Dr. Parikh may suggest one or more pain relief methods to reduce or eliminate the need for prescription opioids. For example:

  • Interventional pain medication for some mechanical injuries like herniated discs (using imaging techniques to inject pain relief and repair medications directly into the injured area for long-term relief)
  • Physical or occupational therapy, including aqua-therapy
  • Complementary techniques such as yoga, bio-feedback and acupuncture
  • Psychological therapy because emotional trauma can impact a person’s perception of pain

How to Treat Pain After Surgery

Traditionally, opioid medications have been prescribed following surgery to relieve the acute pain, especially in the first few days. Negin Griffith, M.D., a breast reconstruction surgeon, says patients undergoing many types of surgery, including orthopedic, head, neck and abdominal, can often benefit from nerve block medications that are administered by the surgeon or anesthesiologist. These medications provide better pain control and decrease the need for narcotics and their side effects.

Not relying on narcotic pain medication provides multiple benefits:

  • Patients are able to be more physically active sooner after surgery
  • Patients have less constipation
  • Quality of sleep after surgery can be improved
  • Patients can return to activities like driving sooner

Depending on the medical situation, the surgeon can choose a nerve block that will work anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Once the block wears off, Dr. Griffith says most patients can get pain relief with non-narcotic pain relievers and muscle relaxers, allowing them to return to their normal activities like driving sooner while avoiding the potential of narcotic addiction. Speak with your surgeon about options for pain management to determine what’s best for you.

Stop Suffering

If you are dealing with pain, there is help if you will reach out for it. If fear of risking addiction has held you back from dealing with chronic pain or from having needed surgery, talk with your doctor about newer techniques for pain control that are safe and avoid narcotics.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


Subscribe to get the latest health tips from our expert clinicians delivered weekly to your inbox.

Knowing When (and How) to Check Your Heart Rate

Like a car's check-engine light, your vital signs can alert you when it's time to call an expert.

How to Beat Brain Fog

Brain fog can be caused by lack of sleep, increased stress, certain foods in your diet or, in some cases, a medication or medical condition. Regardless of the source of brain fog, here's how you can help combat it.

8 Possible Causes (and Treatments) for Your Dizziness

Research shows that dizziness, vertigo and balance problems affect about 15 percent of U.S. adults each year.

We use cookies to improve your experience. Please read our Privacy Policy or click Accept.