Table of Contents
One thing people will agree on is how much we all despise being in pain. No one likes feeling the effects of acute or chronic pain. Most of us would do just about anything to avoid feeling pain of any kind.
Chronic pain is in a class of it’s own. Chronic pain refers to the type of pain that persists for months and months. This is the kind of pain that wears on a person. Chronic pain, when not able to be relieved, can lead to depression. This happens because the person’s quality of life is so eroded by the constant pain they feel.
When we attempt to manage chronic pain using pain meds it puts us at risk for a substance use disorder. Opioids are highly addictive. For this reason it is good to be aware of natural pain treatment options.
About Chronic Pain
Chronic pain impacts 50 million U.S. adults, according to the CDC. Chronic pain refers to the sort of pain response that is transferred from the point of injury to the brain. Chronic means it lasts for more than three months. The pain can be from any part of the body, either from an injury or a health condition. The pain message transmits through the nervous system to the brain.
Being in constant pain can truly impact your daily life, causing poor sleep quality, lack of focus, and fatigue. Chronic pain also causes an increase in stress levels. The common way to treat chronic pain is a combo of drugs and physical therapy.
How Chronic Pain Causes Depression
An article titled, “The Link Between Depression and Chronic Pain: Neural Mechanisms in the Brain,” shows how chronic pain can lead to depression. The authors conclude that both depression and chronic pain share common brain regions that are involved in mood regulation.
When someone is riddled with constant pain and can’t sleep it is easy to see how depression could set in. The symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of sadness and despair.
- Loss of interest in former hobbies.
- Sleep problems.
- Change in weight.
- Slowed movements.
- Feeling guilt or shame.
- Trouble focusing or making decisions.
- Thinking about suicide.
When depression symptoms are present it is time to see a mental health expert who can begin treating the mental health issue. This involves both SSRIs and talk therapy. The meds take a few weeks to start working. Sometimes a few of these drugs will need to be trialed before the right fit is found. The talk therapy sessions can begin right away and allow the person an outlet for sharing their struggles. A common therapy used for depression is called CBT. CBT helps the person notice the ways their thought process can keep them stuck in a negative cycle.
How to Treat Chronic Pain Safely Without Drugs
Prescription pain pills work very quickly to block pain messaging. This has become the preferred method of treating people who suffer from chronic pain. For some people, though, pain pills can swiftly lead to addiction. For this reason, people in recovery must avoid these meds if possible.
So what are some methods to manage chronic pain without the use of drugs? Here are some drug-free options:
These are anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Aleve and Advil that help manage pain.
A recent study published in JAMA showed that ibuprofen and acetaminophen were used to treat severe pain. Within an emergency department setting, these were compared to three opioids. The study found that the OTC drugs worked just as well as the opioids to reduce the pain levels.
When our spine is out of alignment it can cause many types of pain. Getting routine adjustments can help reduce pressure on certain pain points.
Using massage can help reduce stress, muscle tension, and toxins. The soft tissue massage will help someone who suffers from chronic pain by releasing the tension in the body.
By using tiny needles that are placed at certain places on the body, the flow of energy is opened up. Changing the blood flow can relieve pain.
Certain movements are designed by a physical therapist to help stretch and tone muscle groups. This can relieve pain in the problem areas.
There are a slew of herbal remedies to help manage chronic pain. These include:
- Glucosamine and chondroitin
Gentle swimming or pool exercises can help with joint paint. In fact, sometimes with chronic joint pain, swimming is the only type of exercise that can be done.
Sitting in a quiet place alone and meditating can bring about a calm state of mind. You will train your mind to refocus, shifting the focus from the pain to something that is soothing. This can be a mental image, music, artwork.
TMS for Chronic Pain and Depression
A novel treatment for helping both the pain and the depression is TMS therapy. TMS is a brain stimulation technique. It is offered in an office setting and does not require any sedation. This allows the patient to return back to work right after the session.
There is much data showing how TMS relieves the symptoms of depression. More recent studies have shown how the therapy can also help reduce chronic pain symptoms, too. TMS therapy involves 4-6 weeks of daily sessions for the full benefit of the treatment. TMS is a safe and effective option for treating depression and chronic pain. Most insurance plans now cover TMS therapy.
The Treatment Specialist Online Reference Source for Mental Health
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If someone you care about is struggling with chronic pain and depression, reach out to us for free guidance at (866) 644-7911.