Last month painkillers containing codeine came off the pharmacy shelves to become a prescription drug. For people suffering from chronic pain there is deep and very real concern about how they will manage their pain. Codeine, an opioid, is best used for acute pain. However it has increasingly been used to help manage chronic pain including headaches, back pain, period pain, joint pain and chronic abdominal pain, despite little or no evidence they are effective. What has been shown to be effective? Using your mind & body; hypnosis, mindfulness, breathwork and psychotherapy.
Meredith Craigie, specialist pain medicine physician at Flinders University wrote in the Australian Journal of Pharmacy on 2nd February 2018 that:
Research has shown chronic use of opioids can make sufferers more sensitive to pain over time, an effect known as hyperalgesia. Recurrent short-term use for headaches in particular can lead to medication-overuse headaches that are worse and last longer.
She endorses skilful pain management approaches as being both safer and more effective for most people because the gradual and growingdependence on codeine surprises people, with higher and higher doses being needed to get relief from the same symptoms. On top of that withdrawal symptoms which you may experience when you stop taking codeine can actually mimic the pain that the drug was originally being used to treat. This can lead you to think you need the codeine to control your pain. We see this particularly with headaches.
For these reasons non-drug strategies such as physiotherapy or exercise physiology, mind-body relaxation techniques such as breathing techniques and mindfulness meditation, hypnosis and other behaviour therapies, as well as lifestyle changes such as stretching, walking and pacing activity, diet and nutrition changes, improving sleep hygiene and addressing relationship problems are recommended. You can see that this is a whole of life approach. It’s not just your symptom or the pain you feel … a holistic approach includes changing your mind’s habitual neural pathways, working with your emotions to make them work for you not against you, its also the support you have from family & friends, and its the skills you have to manage your mind.
Non-drug strategies should be first line treatments.
Jenny Nash posting in the the Arthritis Foundation blog states that “If you’re looking for a gentle way to reduce the pain that comes with chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA), hypnosis may just do the trick.
“Studies show that more than 75% of people with arthritis and related diseases experience significant pain relief using hypnosis. Forget what you’ve seen in movies about hypnosis. Today’s practitioners are using it to give patients an additional tool to help manage their pain.”
Hypnotherapy utilises the neuroplasticity of our brains to retrain neural pathways and to down regulate the pathways that interpret sensations as pain. Hypnotherapy can help you reclaim control and ‘put pain in the back seat not the driver’s seat of your life’.
Contact me if you would like to include hypnotherapy as part of your plan to manage pain and symptoms without codeine. I work in conjunction with your other health care professionals.
You can also book in for a free 20 minute consult so we can discuss your needs – click on the Book Now button at the top of the page.