Managing Pain With Out Prescription Drugs

pain management

For sufferers, chronic pain can be debilitating. Whether that chronic discomfort comes in the form of back pain, neck pain, a head ache or something else, it can have a serious negative impact on your quality of life. It can also interfere with work. In the worst cases, chronic pain can result in job loss. And, while family and friends are often sympathetic, they may not fully understand.

You can treat chronic pain conditions with a variety of medical therapies such as opioids and muscle relaxers, but medical therapies generally carry side effects. Even those that are relatively safe may carry side effects when taken for an extended period of time.

Sometimes the best treatments are alternatives to standard medical treatment. They do not involve drugs that carry the possibility of side effects. This can reduce the risks for using these treatments long term and make them a better option. Here are some chronic pain conditions and some of the medical and alternative treatment options available for dealing with chronic pain.

Chronic Pain Conditions

Chronic pain affects approximately 100 million Americans. That is more Americans than suffer from diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer combined. 20% of Americans report a difficulty sleeping as the result of pain. The costs to the American people in terms of treatment, lost wages and lost productivity were estimated to be between $560 billion to $635 billion in 2010. Here are some of the three most common types of chronic pain reported.

Headaches– Everyone has headaches now and again. Chronic headaches, however, are characterized by a frequency of at least two a week or 15 a month for a period of three months or more. Approximately 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches, with twice as many women suffering than men. While the causes for chronic headaches are not well understood some possible causes can include stress, inflammation, injury or even a brain tumor. If the headache is a migraine, other symptoms may include nausea and light sensitivity.

Back Pain– 80% of adults suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. It is one of the leading reasons for job-related disability claims and is a major contributor to missed work days. Most back pain is short-term. It is considered chronic when it has persisted for 12 weeks or more– even after the perceived underlying causes have been treated. Roughly 20% of people who suffer from back pain will develop chronic back pain.

Neck Pain– Chronic neck pain is neck pain that persists for longer than three months. It is generally believed to be initially precipitated by an injury. 15% of people who report suffering from chronic pain, suffer from chronic neck pain. Like all chronic pain, chronic neck pain prevents the sufferer from being able to function fully.

Current Medical Treatment Methods for Chronic Pain

The medical profession has developed a number of ways for treating chronic pain from injections to pills. Here are some of the most commonly used types of treatment.

NSAIDs and Acetaminophen– NSAID stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and include medications such as ibuprofen which can generally be purchased over the counter. Acetaminophen is also a medication that can be purchased over the counter. These are popular for an acute or short-term pain. Be careful not to take more than 4000mg of acetaminophen in 24 hours as serious side effects may occur.

Tricyclic Antidepressants– Tricyclic antidepressants have been found useful in treating pain when taken at lower doses than are used to treat depression. To be effective these medications must be taken every day whether pain is present or not.
Anti-Seizure- Anti-seizure medications can be helpful with burning or shooting nerve pain. Like tricyclic antidepressants, in order to be effective, they must be taken every day whether pain is present or not.

Opioids– When used properly these can be good for treating certain types of pain such as post-surgical pain and pain associated with cancer treatment. It has been shown to be less effective on nerve pain.

Muscle Relaxers– Muscle relaxers are generally only prescribed for short-term use due to the likelihood of forming a dependence. They can be effective in treating lower back pain, muscle tension and mobility.

Injections of Nerve Block– There are several different types of nerve block that can be employed. Most involve injecting a numbing or blocking agent or a steroid to reduce inflammation at or near the area of the pain.

belden village chiropractic

Possible Side Effects of Common Treatments for Chronic Pain

While many medications offer varying levels of effectiveness for treating pain, for every medication there are possible side effects. Those side effects can occur because of misuse, overdose or a personal biological intolerance. Here are some of the possible side effects of the most common treatments for chronic pain.

NSAIDs and Acetaminophen– While these drugs are fine for short-term use, taken over an extended period of time they can result in disastrous consequences. Negative effects may include harm to the kidneys, blood clotting and digestive problems. Also, because some opioid medications contain acetaminophen, over-the-counter medications should not be taken with prescription drugs to avoid overdose.

Tricyclic Antidepressants– Side effects may include blurred vision, nausea, dry mouth, changes in weight, low blood pressure, rash, increased heart rate and sexual dysfunction. This medication may increase the risk of seizure for people who experience seizures.

Anti-seizure -People taking anti-seizure medications may experience weight gain, drowsiness and dry mouth. Anyone with a history of kidney stones, kidney disease or glaucoma may not be able to take these medications.

Opioids– The most common side effects of opioid use are constipation and drowsiness. Physical dependence can occur when taken regularly over a long period of time. Addiction can occur as the result of physical dependence. More recently, the overprescription of opioids has become a major concern.

Muscle Relaxers– Possible side effects of muscle relaxant use includes dry mouth, drowsiness or dizziness and urinary retention. Most notably, however, is the possibility of forming a dependence if used in appropriately or over an extended period of time.

Injections of Nerve Blocks– Most common side effects include pain or numbness at the injection site. Some may include facial drooping or difficulty swallowing.

Alternative Treatment Methods

Over the past couple of decades there has been a growing interest in alternative mind-body therapies for treating chronic pain. While many medications offer some benefits, when you take into account the possible side effects, it’s no wonder. As sufferers look for ways to avoid harmful potential side effects of accepted medical therapies, there have been more people willing to try traditional medicines and alternative treatments. While medical research into these therapies is limited, there have been enough people reporting relief to keep interest in alternative therapies alive. Here are a few of the most popular therapies people are trying to manage their chronic pain.

Acupuncture– Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy. It has been gaining ground in the treatment of chronic pain such as back pain, neck pain and knee pain. Many people also swear by it for treating migraines. It involves stimulating certain points on the body by inserting thin needles into the skin. When performed by a well-trained specialist with clean needles, this therapy is generally considered safe.

Diet and Exercise– Hypocrites famously said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food.” Nearly everything we eat either contributes to inflammation or reduces it. Processed foods, excess fats, sugars and salt all contribute to inflammation. Whole plant foods tend to decrease it. Choosing a diet such as the Mediterranean diet, can go a long way toward reducing inflammation.

Similarly, exercise has also been shown to be useful in the management of chronic pain. Having an exercise program can help you to stay flexible and manage pain better. You should not begin an exercise regime without professional guidance. Some exercises that are popular for those who suffer from chronic pain include low impact work outs like swimming, yoga and walking.

Chiropractor– 22 million Americans visit chiropractors every year, many of whom are seeking assistance with pain. Chiropractors provide care that allows the body to function properly.  They use gentle spinal adjustments to reduce stress related interference with the nervous system, thus allowing the body to resume normal function and, in effect, heal itself. Chiropractic care has been shown to be a safe and effective in treatment for many types of pain.

Massage– Receiving a minimum massage of one hour a week has been shown to improve functionality in people suffering from chronic pain. It helps to relieve stress and reduce pain. Studies showed massage therapy to be more effective on back pain than on neck or shoulder pain or headache. It is considered a safe therapy.

Meditation/ Relaxation– There are several things that fall into this category. They include meditation, relaxation techniques, autogenic training, hypnosis and self-hypnosis. They all center around retraining your brain to relax and deal better with not only stress but pain– especially as stress has been shown to intensify one’s experience of pain. These therapies are recommended to be used in conjunction with other treatments and not on their own.

Low Level Laser Therapy– This type of therapy has only been used in the United States since 2002 although it has been used in Europe and Asia much longer. In one U.S. trial, people who were given low level laser therapy were 70% more likely to report a reduction in chronic pain than those who received a placebo treatment. Where high powered lasers are used in medicine to cut or destroy tissue, low level lasers (cold lasers) are believed to stimulate cell function and relieve pain.

TENS therapy– TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It involves using a device about the size of a pocket radio with two electrodes and attaching those electrodes to your skin. They are placed at the location of the pain or at a pressure point where they create an electrical circuit that sends current through your nerve fibers. People often experience less pain at this time. Effective settings for this device are best determined by a doctor, physical therapist or acupuncturist. Once a professional has instructed the patient in how to use the device, patients can often manage treatment themselves. TENS treatment should always only be initiated with the assistance of a medical professional. When done properly, this treatment is considered safe.

Chronic pain can be debilitating. It can hamper one’s ability to work, get a decent night’s sleep and just to function in general. The most widely accepted medical treatments involve administering powerful drugs to patients, all of which– even the most safe– carry some risk of side effects. Risk of negative effects increases with long-term use of medications. Patients who wish to manage pain with out the constant threat of side effects, risking dependance, addiction or overdose have been increasingly seeking out alternative treatments and traditional remedies that they hope or have reason to believe will have less risk of side effects.

belden village chiropractic
The American College of Physicians Recommends Chiropractic Treatment for Low Back Pain

treatment of low back painMore than 80% of Americans experience low back pain at some point in their lives. These people may be interested to learn that the American College of Physicians has recently released new recommendations regarding the best way to treat low back pain. According to the new guidelines, a patient’s first resort should be noninvasive, drug-free treatments like spinal manipulation by a Doctor of Chiropractic or superficial heat. These types of treatments have high rates of success in alleviating back pain, and do not come with the major risks associated with treatment by drugs or surgery.

How the recommendations were selected

The American College of Physicians (ACP), a national physician’s group that uses scientific knowledge to recommend treatments for patients, released their new recommendations in February of this year. They reviewed several systematic reviews of scientific research on the treatment of low back pain and compiled their findings in the new guidelines document. The systematic reviews were summaries of the most rigorous scientific experimental research from the past several decades, so patients can be assured that these recommendations are based on the best scientific evidence.

The reasons behind the new recommendations
Diagnoses of low back pain ranges from acute cases (lasting less than 4 weeks) to chronic (lasting more than 12 weeks), and can be debilitating for many people who experience it. Treatment options include natural, noninvasive methods like chiropractic adjustments, heat application, and particular exercise regimens, as well as more invasive and risky methods like medication and even surgery. The new guidelines note that medication has a low rate of success in treating back pain and can cause serious side effects, while noninvasive methods have few risks or side effects.

When assessing the success of treatment options, the ACP considered several positive outcomes. These outcomes included decrease or disappearance of pain, improvement in back-specific and overall functioning, increased quality of life, return to work from disability, and patient satisfaction. The ACP also considered the adverse effects of treatments, which was a major reason for the recommendation that prescription of medication should be a last resort. They noted that even taking medicines as gentle as over-the-counter acetaminophen may lead to liver damage over time. Patients who struggle with low back pain for several weeks or more are at an even greater risk for suffering from side effects. This means that natural, noninvasive treatment is especially important for chronic cases.

belden village chiropractic

Types of noninvasive treatment
The recommendations from the ACP include many different types of noninvasive and non-drug treatments. They stress the importance of first attempting to ease pain using non-drug treatments, and moving on to prescription medicines only if you have tried several different types of therapies and have not seen improvement. The recommended “first response” therapies fall into three main categories, which are physical treatments, lifestyle changes, and stress reduction treatments.

The physical treatments are the most likely treatments to help people with a recent onset of low back pain, since acute back pain is most often related to physical problems as opposed to chronic stress or something similar. These physical treatments include spinal alignment by a chiropractor, low level laser therapy, massage, and superficial heat application. All of these treatments can correct different root problems, so your healthcare provider should be able to help you select which method to try first.

The second category of noninvasive treatments is lifestyle changes. Depending on the source of your low back pain, particular exercise regimens may help alleviate your pain long term by strengthening certain muscles or making them more limber. Your doctor or a physical therapist can help you select exercises to appropriately treat low back pain or lose weight.

The third category includes stress reduction treatments, which can help alleviate back pain caused by chronic stress. These types of therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy with a licensed psychologist, which will train you to handle stress more effectively and healthfully. Your doctor may also recommend practicing breathing exercises in stressful situations or making a regular practice of mindfulness meditation. Yoga is also commonly used for stress reduction.

Out of these three categories, the physical treatments have the possibility of treating the broadest range of root problems because they can help with low back pain related to stress and weak muscles, but also can treat other sources of pain. Spinal alignment by a licensed chiropractor is a particularly beneficial treatment.

What is chiropractic treatment?
Many Americans haven’t sought treatment from a chiropractor because they do not understand what their treatment methods are or inaccurately believe that they may not understand their condition. However, the truth is that chiropractors have a great deal of specialized training before they are allowed to practice. In fact, they earn a doctorate degree (a DC, or Doctor of Chiropractic) just like your primary care physician has earned a doctorate degree (likely an MD, or Medical Doctorate, or a DO, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). Chiropractors attend a college or university  and an additional four-year Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Many chiropractors also train under more experienced chiropractors before they earn their degree. So if you know someone who warns you that chiropractors are less qualified, you can tell them their fears are unfounded and ill informed.

Your visit to a chiropractor will begin in a similar manner to your visits with a primary care physician. The chiropractor will ask questions about your general medical history and your current low back pain, such as when it began and how frequently you experience this pain. Your chiropractor will likely do some diagnostic tests, like checking the range of motion of your spine, and this will help your chiropractor to more accurately pinpoint the source of your pain. Your chiropractor may also use techniques like X-rays to get a better look at your spine. Low back pain can often be treated with spinal alignment, so your chiropractor will probably recommend this treatment.

In addition to spinal adjustments, many chiropractors offer other types of treatments that are recommended for low back pain, such as massage therapy, physical therapy, and laser therapy. These are all included on the ACP’s recommendations for treating low back pain. Your chiropractor will help you choose the most appropriate and beneficial treatment for your needs.

 

Spinal Manipulation
Spinal manipulation (or spinal adjustment) is a standard procedure that chiropractors use often. It typically involves repositioning the vertebrae or joint. Although this can sometimes cause temporary, minor discomfort, this discomfort won’t last long. Most often, patients report a feeling of relief.

In certain cases (for example, if you have osteoporosis or particular health issues), your chiropractor may use a gentler approach known as spinal mobilization. Spinal mobilization can take many forms. Sometimes your chiropractor may help your lower spine to stretch using a series of slow, repetitive rocking motions. In other cases your chiropractor may use equipment like an Activator tool or a drop table. You chiropractor will choose the method that has the highest likelihood of alleviating your particular problem with minimal negative effects.

Good chiropractors will also explain why they have chosen particular treatments and how it will help you before beginning. Patients shouldn’t be shy about asking questions and providing as much information as possible.

Low Level Laser Therapy

Low level laser therapy, often called ‘cold laser therapy‘ is also a treatment that can be used to resolve low back pain.  By directing specific wavelengths of light into the painful area, the cold laser can increase the cellular activity in the region, can reduce inflammation, and can allow for improved healing.  Combining the recommended therapies can have added improvements.

Benefits of the new low back pain recommendations

In addition to having higher rates of success, the new recommendations for treating low back pain come with a host of benefits for patients. Many of the recommended treatments are less expensive than buying medicine regularly. They also don’t come with side effects associated with pharmacologic treatment, which can cause liver damage, stomach ulcers, allergic reactions, and more.

Additionally, patients now have the option of getting treatment much closer to home since most people can find excellent chiropractors in their area. For example, people suffering with low back pain who live in the area of Canton, Ohio can easily find a chiropractor near them. Seeking treatment at a nearby location is an excellent way to ensure that you have easy access to good care and can visit as often as necessary. Because follow-up visits for maintenance are often recommended for low back pain, choosing a treatment option that’s conveniently located can help you to feel your best more often. Belden Village Chiropractic & Wellness Center is especially convenient because they offer multiple methods of noninvasive, non-drug treatment for low back pain. Having easy access to superior treatment can change patients’ life for the better.

belden village chiropractic

Our Canton Chiropractor Treats Many Conditions

Are you suffering from acute (new) or chronic pain that just won’t go away? Fortunately, Dr. Brent Ungar, a Canton Chiropractor, has helped thousands of residents of Canton Ohio and the surrounding communities.

There are a variety of painful muscular, skeletal, and nerve conditions that we have treated at our office.  Patients have sought treatment for conditions that have occurred from slips and falls, car accidents, incorrect lifting and pain that started years ago.

Let’s discuss some of the most common painful conditions that we take care of at Belden Village Chiropractic & Wellness Center.  Certainly this isn’t the full list of conditions, but these are the types of conditions that we see virtually every day in our office.

Low Back Pain

low back pain treatment in canton ohioOne of the most common conditions that we treat at our office is low back pain.  Obviously there are many reasons that low back pain can occur, but one common cause is injury and inflammation to the joints in the low back area (lumbar spine and pelvis).

Since the low back is so commonly used in lifting and twisting, and also necessary in a great deal of weight bearing, it can commonly become painful due to injury or from wear and tear.

Neck Pain and Headaches

Like the low back, the cervical spine (the neck area) can also become the site of painful conditions.  The smaller joints of the neck, the many muscles in the region, and the vast amount of nerve in the area can be susceptible to pain and inflammation.

Common causes of neck pain and radiating pain into the head can be whiplash type injuries (car accidents), muscular imbalances (postural issues) and trauma to the region.

Mid Back and Upper Back Pain

Those who sit at a desk all day long understand that mid and upper back pain can be a terrible side effect of their sitting position.  The muscles of the mid back and shoulders can become tense and irritated by the constant stress placed upon them.  The joints can be pulled out of alignment and cause dull aching or sharp pain.

Since it is now quite common for many to sit at a desk or work on a computer for a large portion of the day, mid back (thoracic spine) pain is on the rise.

Hand and Wrist Pain or Numbness

With the added use of computers, pains in the hands and wrists have become a commonly seen condition in our office.  In addition to the muscles and joints being impacted, small nerves in the area can be irritated causing numbness or tingling in the hands, fingers, or forearms.

One commonly known condition, called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is often acquired by those who use their wrists and hands a great deal in their daily tasks or work.

Our Canton OH Chiropractor May Have the Answer to Your Pain

Fortunately, our Canton OH Chiropractor (Dr. Brent Ungar) has treated these conditions, and many other painful conditions.

If you or one of your loved ones is suffering from a painful condition, feel free to contact us at 330-493-0009 to schedule a consultation.

I purchased my first ball chair four years ago because I started to have low back pain after sitting at my desk doing paperwork and dictating reports. Within 30-45 minutes my back was stiff and I had deep low back Pain. Does this sound familiar? I knew it was form incorrect posture while sitting on my regular desk chair. I was reaching out for my key board and for my paperwork. I found myself bending forward with my shoulders, slouching and sitting without the small of my back being supported by the chair.

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The back support is detachable (which I’ve done see picture above). This allows you to center yourself over the ball more. I found that leaning on the back support for too long may hurt your lower back. You will experience some shoulder and neck pain if you’re use to having a chair with an armrest. Keeping our chest open and head up may help our abs stay engaged. Of course getting our regular chiropractic adjustments is a must.


It definitely takes a little while to get used sitting and balancing on a ball chair. The first few days, my back was sore and I almost went back to my old chair. It was sore, but it didn’t hurt. I contribute this to using more of my core stabilizing muscles to stabilize my back. After about a week, I stopped noticing my back being sore. At one time or another we have all have heard how important core stabilizing muscle are in every aspect of our lives. In fact some of us may have even worked out using Yoga ball or exercise ball in the past.

The ball chair doesn’t allow you to lean back as a normal office type chair, therefore forcing you to use your back muscles. I was using it daily at my office for about 1 month before I notice less and less low back, shoulder and neck discomfort while I was sitting and I notice that my chiropractic adjustments seem to help much more.  I also found at the end of the day my back felt much better.  The ball chair doesn’t force you to have perfect posture, but it reminds you throughout the day to sit upright and to keep our center of gravity over the middle of the ball. After the first month, you will do it naturally due to the fact our core stability muscles are much stronger.


Be warned, you’ll get a lot of funny looks when people first see it. I have new patient come in my office to have their initial consultation and they all comment about my chair in my office. I explain why I use the chair and almost all the patient state they think they need one to use themselves.

It may take 1-2 weeks to get used to sitting on the ball chair and build up the back muscles. I think afterward you’ll thank yourself.

 

The instructions that I use in my clinic for the ball chair use are quite simple. The ball must fit the individual patient. I recommend sitting on the ball with feet flat on the floor and the hips and knees at a 90º angle( see below) I have been recommending to our patients that the hips should be slightly higher than the knees (approx. 2 inches). I also use the following wing ball vs. height as a general rule:  

A.  55cm ball fits body height 5’ 1” – 5’ 6”

B.  65cm ball fits body height 5’7’’ – 6’6’’

C.  75cm ball fits body height 6’2’’-6’8’’

man on ball

I instruct each patient to proceed with caution when beginning to use the ball chair and to only sit on it as long as it is comfortable. Comfort will determine the amount of time each day that a patient sits on the ball at work. Some patients sit on the ball all day and some for part of the day. A word of caution be careful of the rolling wheels because they sometimes causes the ball chair to shoot out from under you or trip over when you go to stand up. So, I suggest spreading your feet and using your leg muscles to stand upright. I also suggest locking 2 of the 4 wheels on the chair.

If you have any question about the Ball Chair please feel free to contact me. I hope you enjoyed this posting….. here to your Health.  

Dr. Brent Ungar DC, CCSP