Healthy Living: Pain management techniques

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Pandemic pain: Added stress and even unusual workspaces can create problems for our bodies. Doctors are urging people to find alternatives to treating pain instead of prescription medication.

What often starts as a prescription for pain management can turn into a life-ending addiction.

According to the CDC, nearly 12 million Americans ages 12 and older reported misusing prescription opioids. That’s what happened to 20-year-old Bobby Gregoire of Bellevue.

His mother Colleen says he was prescribed Percocet after getting his wisdom teeth removed, but soon after he relied on the opioid to curb anxiety.

"(He) got a pill off the street, and it was the wrong one," she said. "He took it that night and didn't wake up the next morning."

Last October, police said Bobby was sold a lethal dose of fentanyl, disguised as Percocet and it killed him.

In fact, over 70 percent of overdose deaths in 2019 involved an opioid. That's why doctors in Washington are working to decrease the misuse of opioids.

"We’ve managed to decrease opioid prescribing for our members by 51 percent over the past few years," said Dr. Hossam Mahmoud, Behavioral Health Medical Director for Regence.

Between uncomfortable home office spaces, to more sitting on the couch at home, the pandemic is certainly to blame for increased pain in adults.

Before resorting to medication, Dr. Mahmoud says to consult with your doctor first to see if you’re at risk for addiction.

"There are different approaches to managing pain in addition to opioids or in place of opioids," he said. "These can include trying different types of psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy which is a form of talk therapy that can help you manage the way you interpret pain."

There are simple things you can do at home too.

Identify those stressors, and work to mitigate them, by getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night and exercising for at least 30 minutes a day.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are other great ways to help reduce stress which in turn relieves some pain.

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