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August 10, 2022

Over 11% of American adults experience pain daily (CDC, 2022) – you may even know someone with acute or chronic pain that has trouble managing it. Pain can lead to limitations of daily activities, depression and anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Often opioids are prescribed to handle this pain, but unnecessary opioid prescribing can lead to potential risks to the patient’s health, including addiction to the prescribed drug. Research has found that acute pain is not effectively treated with opioids, yet the United States continues to face an opioid overdose epidemic.

128 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and over 70% of the drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid (CDC, 2022). Studies show that three days of opioid treatment increases the likelihood of opioid addiction and abuse. Patients with problems such as acute low back pain and acute migraines are often prescribed a seven-day supply to help manage their pain (CDC, 2022). This is more than enough to start developing an addiction. Work together with your provider to minimize the risks associated with opioids and develop and safe and effective pain management plan.

Let’s look at some other treatment options than opioids:

Non-Prescription Drug Therapy

Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Aspirin and Ibuprofen), can relieve milder forms of pain. Tylenol is a pain reliever while Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug which works to reduce swelling and inflammation. Other over-the-counter medications for pain management include topical pain relievers. These come in creams, sprays, and lotions and apply directly to the skin to reduce inflammation and pain. Talk to a NEW Health provider to determine the best pain management medication for you.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy has been utilized to reduce pain since the 18th century (Shaik & Shemjaz, 2014). This pain relief method focuses on improving mobility and function from your source of pain or injury. A physical therapist might recommend stretches, strengthening exercises, and other pain-relieving techniques.


While rest is vital to recovery, too much rest can negatively affect your pain management. It is important to exercise regularly to lower your pain over the long term. Exercise is known to make you release endorphins, sometimes called the body’s natural painkiller (WebMD, 2022). If you are struggling with chronic pain, try light exercise such as swimming, walking, or yoga.

Psychological Treatment

A negative psychological state can make your pain worse (WebMD, 2022). Psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy work to better your mental health and in turn, minimize the pain you may be experiencing. Talking with a certified therapist or psychologist can help patients better their skills in managing difficult problems such as acute or chronic pain.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese treatment that involves inserting very thin needles into the skin at specific spots on the body. The needles are used to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue, which in turn boosts your body’s natural painkillers. It is often used for lower back pain (covered by Medicare), migraines, and fibromyalgia. Be sure to see a certified acupuncture practitioner to receive this treatment.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy (TENS)

TENS utilizes electronic stimulation to target your source of pain. Using low-voltage electrical currents placed on the skin, this treatment sends signals to the brain to diminish pain signals (WebMD, 2022). TENS is not recommended for chronic low back pain but can be utilized for many other conditions to manage your pain.


CDC. (2022, July 5). About CDC’s Opioid Prescribing Guideline. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/providers/prescribing/guideline.html

CDC. (2022, January 19). Clinical guidance for selected common acute pain conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/acute-pain/index.html

Mayo Clinic (2022, April 30). Acupuncture. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/about/pac-20392763

Shaik AR, Shemjaz AM. (2014, November 14). The Rise of Physical Therapy: A History In Footsteps. Arch Med Health Sci 2014;2:257-60

WebMD. (2022, April 21). 18 Treatment Types to Help You Manage Chronic Pain. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/pain-management-treatment-overview