I have a medical condition that causes chronic pain. I don’t want to ask my doctor for medication, but I’m not sure how to feel better. Any advice?
Chronic pain is one of the most challenging conditions to live with, and even harder to live with well. There can be a frustrating cycle of pain, helplessness and depression that ensues. One of the exasperating factors is how physically, emotionally, and circumstantially subjective pain is to an individual. It is a difficult symptom for a person outside of your own body to truly empathize with. It can also throw an otherwise calm and well-oriented person into agitation, fear, and disorientation. But the good news is that there are several options backed with a lot of research, and several more under current study, that reduce chronic pain.
If you are avoiding asking your doctor for medication, because you are being mindful of the detriments of opioid use, that is certainly commendable. Proper opioid use is designed to treat acute pain or pain related to end stages of terminal illness; not as treatment for chronic pain, in most situations. However, your doctor needs to know not only that you are in pain, but how mild or severe, how it impacts your daily living, and which treatment options you might be open to. Current treatment options run the gamete from non-opioid medications to acupuncture to meditation to Cognitive Behavioral therapy techniques to yoga to medical marijuana to virtual reality to art therapy…the options are increasingly varied. Consider talking to your doctor about a referral to a pain management specialist as well as to a psychotherapist. You may be able to find interventions that dial the pain down significantly, even if it’s not totally eradicated.