Managing Pain Without Opioids

The articles I wanted to highlight this week all have one theme in common — there are ways to manage pain without using opioids. Some recommended alternatives include simple activities such as stretching and spending time outdoors. Below you’ll find these articles and my thoughts on their implications.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed below are those of Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.

Rethinking Pain Alternatives

The Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation recently published a whitepaper about rethinking pain alternatives. The nationwide opioid epidemic is one of the driving forces behind the search for alternative solutions to manage pain. This whitepaper provides an overview of pain management concepts and offers a look into common practices used to manage pain and improve the injured workers experience.

Mark’s Thoughts:
If you’re interested in where #WorkersComp is headed in regards to pain management (and healthcare in general), check out “Rethinking Pain Alternatives – White Paper” that was recently published by the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation. This paper was created based on a full-day “Re-Thinking Pain Alternatives” session at the WCRI conference on 3/21/18 and then reprised at Comp Laude on 10/11/18. It’s an easy but comprehensive read. This document is well worth your investment of time, if you haven’t already downloaded it. I had the privilege of being a moderator at the WCRI session and this is one of my quotes included in this paper:

“Many people with chronic pain recognize pain is a human condition while suffering is a choice. In rethinking pain management, we should focus on creating an environment in which injured workers can become stewards of their own care in ways that are self-contained and self-reliant.” 

Stretching — 35 Stretches to Improve Flexibility and Reduce Pain

Stretching is one of the best things that you can do for your body in keeping it healthy. The best part is that it’s easy to do. This report shows you simple moves you can start implementing into your daily routine to help manage pain, improve balance, and prevent injuries in the future.

Mark’s Thoughts:
Stretching to get ready for the day and help manage pain has been around for centuries…and it’s free! All it requires is discipline (which may be the hardest skill to master). I just paid $18 and downloaded this resource from Harvard Medical School for weekend deep-dive reading to help educate me even more, not just on specific stretching exercises but the medical rationale behind them. You don’t have to do that…just google “stretching exercises for pain”. If you’re in #ChronicPain this might be a good way to start your day. I remember when Japanese auto makers first opened factories in the United States and how their approach of group calisthenics before work startled their American workers. Here’s a story from 1982 about it. But it made sense. Common sense. Get the body ready for that day’s activities (which can be physically challenging when making cars). Why should we, as individuals, not do the same? Just 5-10 minutes every day will help. And did I mention it’s free?

Natural Medicine: More Doctors Prescribing Time Outdoors

On October 5, the UK’s National Health Service in Shetland has now authorized doctors to prescribe time outdoors to people suffering from stress, heart disease, diabetes, mental health problems, and other chronic conditions. Shetland is just one of many healthcare providers now including time outdoors in their treatment plans. Research has actually provided insight that this is a valid treatment for many people. Just two hours in the woods can reduce blood pressure and stress hormones and boost your concentration and memory.

Mark’s Thoughts:

I love being outside. Hiking is rejuvenating. Eating al-fresco is relaxing. Being at the beach. So I found “park prescription” a very interesting concept. Like this example —

“Drug: Exercise in Glen Canyon Park (See attached Google map.) Dose: 45 minutes of walking or running Directions: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:00 AM Refill: Unlimited.”

Brilliant! I hope this is a trend. But just so you know, a doctor doesn’t have to prescribe this. You can prescribe it for yourself. Schedule some time this weekend to get outdoors — leave your small screens in the car — and enjoy fresh air and sunlight (which gives you Vitamin D that helps the human body in so many ways). Don’t wait for somebody to tell you to do it. Just do it.

To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn at

Until next week,