Non-Opioid (Non-Narcotic) Pain Medications for Managing Pain

Millions of Americans suffer from pain on a daily basis, be it chronic back pain and headaches or pain caused by car accidents, sports injuries, or surgery. As a result, physicians write millions of prescriptions for pain medications, most of which are dangerous opioids associated with a high potential for addiction. 

However, in addition to prescription opioids, there are several treatment options for pain that have proven to be much safer. These range from over-the-counter NSAIDs to alternative medicine remedies like acupuncture.

If you are suffering from any level of pain, it is important for you to understand all of your treatment options before exposing yourself to the risks associated with opioid pain relievers.

Chronic Pain Management

In the United States, 1 in 4 adults experiences chronic pain. It’s pain that can last for months or even years, interfering with a person’s daily life and potentially leading to anxiety and depression. This type of pain can come and go or be present at all times, despite the use of non-opioid (non-narcotic) pain meds.

Chronic pain can present itself in several different forms, occurring at any body site. Tese include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Joint pain/arthritis 
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Cancer pain 
  • Scar tissue pain 
  • Pain caused by damage to the nervous system

The cause of your chronic pain might be obvious or unknown. Certain illnesses, injuries, and diseases can cause changes in your body that alter the way you perceive pain, making you more sensitive to it. These can last indefinitely, even after you have healed or recovered from your disease or injury. 

In addition to searching for the cause of the pain, your physician might recommend you take over-the-counter NSAIDs or use topical products containing pain relievers to treat your pain.

If these treatments aren’t effective, there are various other options to explore, including opioid (narcotic) pain medication. But, in most cases, opioids are a last resort option because of their potential for abuse, addiction, and overdose.

non narcotic pain meds

Non-Opioid (Non-Narcotic) Pain Medication

Every year, physicians write millions of prescriptions for prescription-strength pain medications instead of non-opioid pain meds. Most of the prescribed medications are powerful opioids that have a high potential to be misused leading to dependency. However, there are so many non-opioid pain treatment options that are proven to be effective in treating chronic pain. 

These non-opioid options for treating chronic pain include various types of therapies and several types of medications. Some of these medications can be found over-the-counter, while others might still require a prescription even if they’re not opioids

#1. Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is a medication that can be purchased over the counter and used to treat mild to moderate pain or reduce fever. With it, you can treat conditions like backaches, toothaches, cold/flu, sore throat, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, and headaches. 

This type of medication comes in several different forms, including tablets, capsules, liquid solutions, orally dissolving tablets, and extended-release tablets. Additionally, people might be more familiar with acetaminophen by one of its common brand names, Tylenol®, although it is also found in several other brands of pain relievers and cold/flu medications. 

#2. NSAIDs 

NSAID is an acronym for ‘nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,’ which are commonly prescribed for conditions like arthritis. An NSAID does much more than reduce pain; it also decreases inflammation and lowers fevers. 

Additionally, they can even act as a blood thinner and prevent clotting, which in some cases is a favorable side effect, yet in others, this outcome is not so beneficial. 

NSAIDs are available in various strengths and formulations. Some of the more common NSAIDs that you are probably familiar with include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen and can be easily purchased without a prescription. If you’re not sure which one is best for you and your condition, you should speak with your physician; they can help you find the dose and form that will work best for you.

#3. NSAIDs Gels & Creams 

NSAID topical creams and gels can decrease swelling and pain that often lead to muscle or joint pain. These types of topical NSAIDs tend to have benefits similar to those of NSAIDs that are taken orally, but with fewer side effects. 

Some common topical anti-inflammatories that you may have heard of include menthol cream, capsaicin cream, and Voltaren® (diclofenac) gel. Many people use these creams and gels to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with tendon pain, strains/sprains, muscle aches/pains, and joint pain related to conditions like osteoarthritis. 

#4. Celebrex ®

Celebrex® is typically used to treat patients suffering from pain and inflammation that has resulted from ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (in patients that are 2 years old and older). Sometimes, it is also used to manage menstrual cramps.

This medication comes in the form of a capsule that you ingest orally. Additionally, you have the option to open the capsule and sprinkle its contents onto a teaspoon of something like applesauce to swallow if you cannot tolerate taking pills.

It is available in 4 different strengths, ranging from 50 to 400 milligrams. Your physician will determine which one is best for you, as this medication requires a prescription because it is one of the strongest non-opioid pain meds.

#5. Anti-Epileptic Drugs (Anticonvulsants)

Anti-epileptic medications work by controlling irregular brain signals. Sometimes, this type of medication is prescribed to treat certain types of pain, such as neuropathic pain, for example. This pain can occur when the nervous system has been damaged or just isn’t working correctly. 

The most common anti-epileptic drug prescribed for this type of pain is gabapentin because it has the best-documented efficacy in treating neuropathic pain. Some of the other anti-epileptic drugs commonly prescribed for neuropathic pain include carbamazepine, phenytoin, valproate, and pregabalin. 

#6. Corticosteroids 

Corticosteroids are synthetic drugs made in a lab, and they are created to resemble cortisol, which is a hormone that is produced naturally by your adrenal gland. These steroids are different from the ones that are more commonly known to be abused by athletes.

A couple of the most common corticosteroids include prednisone and cortisone. Drugs like these require a prescription and are commonly used to treat chronic pain related to conditions like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. 

Steroids can be administered locally or systemically. Different types of local steroids include eye drops, skin creams, ear drops, and joint injections. Systemic steroids can also be administered in various ways, including orally, intravenously, or intramuscularly. 

#7. Muscle Relaxants 

If you’re in the market for relief from muscle spasticity or spasms, there are several medications available both over the counter and by prescription from your physician. A muscle spasm is commonly referred to as a “cramp.” It’s an involuntary contraction of a specific muscle or muscle group.

Oftentimes a muscle spasm can be caused by too much strain on the muscle and likely lead to pain. Such issues are most commonly associated with chronic back and neck pain or conditions like fibromyalgia. 

#8. Antidepressants

Typically, an antidepressant is prescribed to balance out the chemicals in your brain and help improve mood and emotion. However, they are also commonly used to treat chronic pain conditions in some cases, even if depression isn’t a component. 

Antidepressants seem to work best when they’re prescribed to treat chronic pain caused by any of the following conditions.

  • Pain related to multiple sclerosis
  • Headache/migraines/facial pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Low back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve pain related to diabetes, shingles, spinal cord injury, stroke, radiculopathy, and peripheral neuropathy)

It isn’t completely understood how antidepressants work to relieve pain, but they are thought to increase the number of neurotransmitters in your spinal cord, which reduces pain signals. 

Pain relief secondary to antidepressants is not achieved immediately. Instead, it may take up to several weeks to achieve maximum relief. Generally, these types of medications can be effective for mild to moderate levels of pain. 

Other Pain-Management Methods 

If you or your physician do not feel that any of the above pain medications are a good fit for you for any reason, you may wish to explore alternative medicine options to relieve your chronic pain. 

Alternative medicine is a type of treatment that is typically used in place of conventional medicine or in addition to it as a complementary therapy. An individual may choose to explore alternative medicine or non-drug methods for pain relief for several reasons. However, one of the most common is that there is little to no risk associated with these types of treatment.

Although it has been around for years, alternative medicine is growing in popularity and may be viewed as a “new non-opioid pain medication.” 

There is an abundance of forms of alternative medicine that can be used to treat chronic pain, including all of the following: 

  • Tai-chi
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal medicine
  • Chiropractic
  • Magnetic waves
  • Massage
  • Biofeedback 
  • Hypnosis

Although it can seem like these would be safe for everyone, it is important that you discuss each treatment option with your physician before you start anything new. Some types of alternative medicine, like herbal medicines, could interact with other medications that you might be taking. 

Unfortunately, even after attempting several variations of alternative medicine, some people may still struggle with debilitating chronic pain. If this is the case for you or someone you love, you may benefit from seeking treatment from a pain clinic. 

non narcotic pain meds

ANR Opioid Dependence Treatment 

Although it seems that there are plenty of non-opioid pain medications available after surgery or injury, many people still resort to opioids to achieve the pain relief they are looking for. One study published by the CDC states that during the year 2020, there were enough opioid prescriptions dispensed for every person to have one in 3.6% of US counties. 

It’s likely that you’re aware of the opioid epidemic that has been taking over the U.S. Unfortunately, odds are that you or someone you love is suffering from a substance use disorder.

Luckily, the ANR Clinic has set out to put an end to this epidemic one patient at a time! Doctor Andre Weismann has spent the last 30+ years studying opioid use disorder right down to its biological root cause.

During this time, he has also developed a treatment known as Accelerated Neuro-Regulation, which uses modern medicine to return the brain to its pre-addiction state. The result is an opioid recovery without painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms or cravings. 

ANR has helped over 24,000 people conquer their dependency and return to a life of normalcy, and you could be one of them. Take back your life by contacting us today

Key Takeaways

The variety of non-opioid pain medications available to society doesn’t seem to be slowing down the tragedy that is the opioid epidemic in the United States. But the ANR has set out on a mission to change that and put a stop to it with their modern technology and many years of education and experience.

Before you go, let’s check out some important points to take away from this article

  • Chronic pain is common, occuring in 25% of Americans, and can present itself in a variety of ways.
  • Despite the abundance of non-opioid pain medications available, millions of prescriptions for opioid pain medications are still written each year. 
  • Some non-opioid pain medications and treatment options may include medications and/or alternative medicine.

It is ANR’s mission to put an end to the opioid epidemic, so if you’re one of the many struggling to overcome opioid dependency, book your free consultation today!

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