Tips To Avoid Addictive Pain Medication For Back Pain


Tips To Avoid Addictive Pain Medication For Back Pain

Tips To Avoid Addictive Pain Medication For Back Pain

You may be looking for some tips to avoid addictive pain medication for back pain. Around 4 in 5 persons will experience back pain some time in their lifetime (Arthritis Australia, n.d.). The prospect of using medication and the associated fear of addiction and its consequences frightens many people experiencing chronic back pain. It is well known now that Australia is experiencing an opioid crisis (The Guardian, 2018). Relying on medications is now acknowledged as problematic, and therefore there is a great need to turn to other forms of treatment and prevention.

Tips To Avoid Addictive Pain Medication For Back Pain

One class of analgesics or painkillers that hold the potential danger of addiction is opioids, or drugs containing opium. The opioids include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin) (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018), hydromorphone, and meperidine (Demerol) (Health Utah, 2003).   Their patented names have become familiar to most of us through movies, TV shows and the media. According to Harvard Medical School, opioids are helpful in that they are very efficient at decreasing the brain’s perception of pain. The problem is that they create a feeling of euphoria, which is why these medications pose a high risk of addition.

In his 2011 study “Doctor’s Dilemma: Opiate Analgesics and Chronic Pain,” H L Fields writes that the most powerful opiate analgesics are also the most likely to cause abuse and addiction. Unfortunately, he says, science has not come up with a way of uncoupling the powerful analgesic benefits of these drugs from the potential for addiction. Fields says that although there is no controversy over using opioids for acute or short-term treatment, there is growing reluctance among physicians to prescribe them for chronic non-malignant pain, such as back pain (, 2011).

One school of thought holds that the risk of opioid addiction is quite small, and that people are denying themselves of an effective treatment. The opposing school of thought holds that addiction is a significant risk and is common among patients who are treated with opiates. Harvard suggests that only 3% of those persons taking opioids are in danger of becoming addicted. It is claimed that no history of drug addiction or drug abuse means you are not likely to develop an addiction to opioid medication. Yet, opioid addiction is at epidemic levels in Australia. Anyway, this article is not going to debate this topic, but offer some tips to avoid addictive pain medication for back pain.

There are alternatives to medication that can be part of an overall integrated treatment that may include, but is not limited to drugs alone. Here are some tips to avoid addictive pain medication for back pain:

  • According to WebMD, acupuncture is considered one of the best alternative therapies for lower back pain (WebMD, n.d.). Acupuncture, which has been practiced in the east for centuries, involves inserting very fine needles into your skin at specific points on your body to help relieve pain. It is believed to be particularly useful for soothing muscle spasms in your back. The relief can last for up to a few weeks after a round of treatments. Acupuncture can also be a part of a larger treatment for Type 2 diabetes (Natural Medicine Journal, 2018).

  • One of the more popular tips to avoid addictive pain medication for back pain is massage. Massage is very beneficial in soothing back pain to help you function better. It won’t cure the back pain, but you might be able to reduce amount of medication you are taking. Getting regular therapeutic massages may relieve your back pain for up to six months.

  • The Mayo Clinic emphasizes that physical therapy is the cornerstone of acute back pain treatment (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Regular exercise helps to relieve the pressure on your discs. Start a walking program or get in touch with a biokineticist or physical therapist about exercises that will strengthen your back muscles. Tai chi is also very good option to help relieve your back pain. If you are experiencing acute pain that has you flat on your back in bed, your doctor might suggest a short course of opiate pain medication to enable you to get out of bed and start exercising.


  • Both Pilates (which is now quite popular) and yoga, which combine stretching and strength exercises, have been shown to help relieve back pain. It is recommended that you do it three to four times a week, working up to hour-long sessions. WebMD suggests you break down the exercises into 10-minute intervals throughout the day.

(Recommended health centre in north Brisbane with Pilates available: Go2Health at Everton Park

  • Chiropractic therapy, which involves manipulating your spine, can also help reduce back pain. However, it’s not recommended for people experiencing neuropathic or nerve pain. Doctors may advise 12 sessions by a recognised professional, after which you might feel relief for several months. Chiropractic therapy may or may not be your preference of tips to avoid addictive pain medication for back pain, but is is an option that many turn to.


  • Consider the efficacy of mind-based therapies such as meditation and progressive muscle relaxation. This may be considered one of the more useful tips to avoid addictive pain medication for back pain. Mind-based therapies may be inconclusive, according to WebMD, however, it cites a 2016 study that found that just merely thinking about stressful events could significantly increase tension in your back muscles (WebMD, 2017). It stands to reason, therefore, that relaxation techniques could offer you some pain relief. Relaxation techniques that calm the mind and relax your muscles elevate your sense of well-being. Using them regularly means you can negotiate the harmful effect of stress.


  • Results from a clinical trial, as cited by WebMD, indicate that meditation may be more effective at soothing chronic lower back pain than painkillers. Researchers of this trial found that the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) technique, involving meditation and some simple yoga poses, beat standard medical care for lower back pain. The researchers said the programmer would not suit everyone, but there was value in offering people an approach that focused on the mind.

Arthritis Australia also advocate multidisciplinary pain programs, and state that understanding pain in itself is a method of managing pain. Of course, it is better to prevent pain in the first place, but if we already have back pain, we obviously need to do something. And opioids may not be the best option. Multidisciplinary pain programs, which combine exercise, pain education and emotional wellbeing with an aim to reduce medications, have proven to be effective. Pain coaching and CBT are also recommended (Arthritis Australia, n.d.).

While doctors are divided, or have different ideas on the dangers of opioid drugs, there is some hope that non-pharmacological remedies for back pain are available, and they do work.


Thank you for visiting Beyond My Label, and for reading ‘Tips To Avoid Addictive Pain Medication For Back Pain.

Paul Inglis.

Tips To Avoid Addictive Pain Medication For Back Pain


Arthritis Australia, (n.d.). Back pain. Retrieved January 15, 2019, from, (2011). The doctor’s dilemma: Opiate analgesics and chronic pain. Retrieved January, 15, 2019, from

Health Utah, (2003). Absolute contraindications to opioid prescribing. Retrieved January 15, 2019, from

Mayo Clinic, (2018). Mayo clinic Q and A: Lower back pain — treatment and prevention. Retrieved January 15, 2019, from

National Institute on Drug Abuse, (2018). Prescription opioids. Retrieved January 15, 2019, from

Natural Medicine Journal, (2018). Acupuncture for type 2 diabetes. Retrieved January 15, 2019, from

The Guardian, (2018). The opioid crisis and why Australia is cracking down on codeine. Retrieved January, 15, 2019, from

WebMD, (2017). Stress relaxation and natural pain relief. Retrieved January 15, 2019, from

WebMD, (n.d.). Alternative therapies for low back pain. Retrieved January 15, 2019, from

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