There are numerous ways to help control chronic pain, but they all fall into two categories: medicinal therapy and natural therapy. Medicinal therapy includes both prescription and over the counter pain relievers, while natural therapy encompasses a much broader spectrum of techniques for pain management including herbs and supplements, physical and mental therapy and lifestyle changes amongst others. What’s most effective for each individual in terms of chronic pain management doesn’t always depend solely on one method or another’s ability to relieve pain, and factors such as side effects, risk and even cost often play a role in these decisions as well.
In terms of prescription chronic pain management, which is often employed in cases where treatment is indefinite or long term, some medications are becoming more and more popular even though they are arguably controversial. Both methadone and suboxone, drugs that are typically used to treat withdrawal symptoms in addicts, are used in lower doses for sufferers of chronic pain. There are many other prescriptions that are used for pain relief, particularly narcotics, however the use of both methadone and suboxone is becoming more prevalent in Canada and in other parts of the world. On the surface, these two drugs may seem very similar both in use and effectiveness, but there are some stark contrasts between the two.
The biggest problem with the medication is how long it remains in the body. While the pain relieving effects of the drug last a mere four to eight hours, the chemicals that provide the effect stick around for much longer, as long as fifty-nine hours after ingestion. What this means is that over time as methadone is used to control pain, more and more of it builds up in the system, which can lead to toxic and disastrous outcomes. It’s for this very reason that long term use of methadone for chronic pain management can be dangerous, and even deadly.
Interestingly enough, there is another perhaps less publicized method for chronic pain management that is quickly becoming more and more popular in Canada, and it’s the literal polar opposite of opioid based medications in just about every way except effectiveness. Whole Body Cryotherapy, the external application of supercool liquid nitrogen, has long been used as a rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis treatment, but is rapidly becoming a popular therapy for all sorts of chronic pain management.
The procedure is quick, simple and typically free of discomfort and side effects. Patients are stripped down to bare essentials and hop into a device called a cryosauna, which encompasses their entire body, less the head. A brief burst of liquid nitrogen fills the chamber, quickly cooling the skin’s surface prompting a glorious release of internal healing processes as well as numbing nerve endings that sense pain. While useful in chronic pain management, cryotherapy is also regularly employed for acute conditions like osteoarthritis of the knee, as well as injuries. In fact, most publicity that cryotherapy has enjoyed has been largely a result of the treatment’s use in athletes, many of whom find that their recovery time following events is dramatically reduced and that occupational injuries are quicker to heal following the cold therapy.
Cryotherapy has been shown to be very effective for pain relief in numerous applications with reduced to non-existent side effects which has prompted the furthered study of its use in many different and well known common conditions such as repetitive strain injury and skin conditions like eczema. Results have found that while not every individual responds positively to cold therapy, many experienced reduced discomfort immediately and dramatic results with longer term use indicating its potential for success in chronic pain management.
The biggest benefit of course to cryotherapy when compared to medications like methadone and suboxone is clearly the effects on the body alongside successful chronic pain management. Cryotherapy works to heal the individual and provide long lasting benefits without negatively impacting the mind or body of the affected person.
Methadone and suboxone only work to mask the pain and provide no further benefit to the body and in fact come with many risks, some of them serious and dangerous. Conversely (and unfortunately) there is one difference that may be responsible for keeping cryotherapy out of the mainstream and that is cost. While methadone and suboxone are cheap to produce and covered in some cases by insurance, cryotherapy cost is higher than pills and is often not covered by insurance.
The differences between these different pain management techniques is very telling and indicative of how long term versus short term solutions can vary. There are many choices in treatment for chronic pain management, but when the risk of health hazards and potential for addiction are stacked up against newer, natural technology like cryotherapy, it’s difficult to make a case for outdated and dangerous treatment methods.