SAN FRANSICO. (KFSN) --Pain experts say in the last decade, there's an alarming trend of doctors overprescribing opioids for patients with chronic pain. This year, the CDC handed down guidelines urging doctors to limit those prescriptions. So what's a patient to do? Pain management clinics are an effective alternative to drugs.
Jim Weil suffered from debilitating, chronic migraines for more than 15 years.
Weil told Ivanhoe, "It wasn't a question of how frequent or the duration, it was a question of the intensity."
The list of drugs Weil tried to dull his migraines is pages long. Nothing worked. When his doctor urged him to take hydrocodone, Weil decided it was time to try something new and went to Beth Darnall, PhD, a clinical associate professor at Stanford University's Pain Management Clinic.
Darnell detailed, "You can actually control how much you suffer from your medical condition."
Darnall helps patients like Weil to focus on the mind-body connection to conquer pain. She teaches techniques like meditation, relaxation, and mindfulness and emphasizes the importance of sleep and exercise.
Darnell explained, "It helps give all of us a critical level of control over our pain, because we're learning how to dampen pain processing in our own nervous systems."
Weil said techniques he's learned have considerably lowered the intensity of his migraines.
"It allows me to cope with it in a non-medicated way and get on with my life and make it as normal as possible," said Weil.
Weil said it took two or three months to start working. Now it's a part of his life every day.
Pain phycology was one part of an integrated treatment Weil received at the Stanford Pain Management Center which included physical therapy, biofeedback, peer support, group cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication support. Darnall said the best chronic pain treatment involves a comprehensive approach.