March 19, 2019

Non-opioid Treatments for Chronic Pain


There is insufficient evidence that prescription opioids control chronic pain effectively over the long term, and there is evidence that other treatments may be more effective with less harm.

Before you use opioids to treat chronic pain, try safer and better methods first. These include drugs and non-drug treatments. Ask your doctor which options are right for you. Here are treatments for some common causes of chronic pain.

Lower-Back Pain

Non-drug options: Stay active: walk, swim, bike or do yoga. Try chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture or massage. Some people find cognitive behavioral therapy helpful. In most cases, lower-back pain goes away in about a
month – even without treatment. If not, see your doctor.

Non Opioid Drugs

Try acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen.


Non-drug options: To prevent a migraine, avoid things that trigger your headache. These may include alcohol and certain foods. Control stress: stay active, meditate and breathe slowly and deeply. And make sure you get enough sleep.

Non Opioid Drugs

If you get mild to moderate migraines, first try acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen. Or try a mixture of aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine as found in Excedrin Migraine and generic versions. If you get severe headaches, or get many in a month’s time ask your doctor about prescription drugs.

Joint Pain

Non-drug options: Losing weight and staying active can reduce joint pain. They may even keep your arthritis from getting worse. Try a heating pad for stiffness and ice for swelling. A cane, walker or over-the-counter knee brace can ease pain.

Non Opioid Drugs

Ibuprofen and naproxen work best. Acetaminophen may also help. Ask your doctor about prescription pain relievers that come in a skin cream form.

Nerve Pain

Non-drug options: Try physical and occupational therapy. If you have nerve pain from diabetes, be sure to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.

Non Opioid Drugs

You could try medication that is also used to treat seizure and depression. These can help with nerve pain, too. Also ask about a skin patch with lidocaine.


Non-drug options: Stay active, meditate or do cognitive behavioral therapy. You can also try tai chi, which combines slow, gentle movements with deep breathing.

Non Opioid Drugs

If those don’t work, consider medication, which is sometimes used for seizures and depression.


Family Counseling Services
165 Main St.
Cortland, NY 13045
(607) 753-0234

Services: Mental Health and Chemical Dependency outpatient counseling available to youth, adults, and families. Cortland Prevention Resources

Beacon Center
20 Crawford St.
Cortland, NY 13045
(607) 428-5601

Services: Outpatient counseling

Syracuse Recovery Services
17 Main St., Suite 411
Cortland, NY 13045
(607) 756-4167

Services: Drug and alcohol treatment and medication management

To learn more about how to prevent
Rx drug abuse and addiction, visit

To learn more about how to prevent Rx drug abuse and addiction, visit

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