Find your options

"What are 

my options?"

There are safer, better ways to heal. It starts with knowing your options.

Man facing camera holding tool belt

Different pain, different treatment.

Everyone deserves a plan to help them heal safely. Take charge of your healing by learning your options and talking with your doctor about what will work best for you.

Studies show that non-opioid options (like prescription-strength acetaminophen and ibuprofen, topical creams, physical therapy and acupuncture) are highly effective and safe for treating pain—even after serious injuries and surgeries.

In many ways, health care has changed during COVID-19. You may have questions about what’s available or how health care providers are keeping patients safe when they visit the office. Safe options for healing are still available. But you might access these options in new ways, with treatment now offered online or by phone. And providers are taking extra steps to protect patients who need or want an in-person appointment. Reach out to your provider to learn how to get the care you need.

Risks and downsides of opioid painkillers

  • Physical dependence in just a few days
  • Slower healing
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Nausea, constipation and other side effects
  • Risk of re-injury

Seven options for safe healing

1 of 7: Over-the-counter medicines

Prescription-strength ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Advil (R) and Tylenol (R)) can actually reduce your pain just as well as prescription opioids—without the side effects. And because ibuprofen reduces swelling, it can even help you heal faster. Your doctor can prescribe the right prescription-strength doses and a custom schedule for you.

Friedman, B.W., Dym, A.A., Davitt, M, et al. (2015). Naproxen with cyclobenzaprine, oxycodone/acetaminophen, or placebo for treating acute low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA, 314(15): 1572-80.

Illustrated medicine on a calendar with an overlapping clock

2 of 7: Ice and heat

Ice and heat reduce swelling and inflammation, easing pain. They are powerful options when combined with other safe treatments.

Qaseem, A., Wilt, T.J., McLean, R.M., Forciea, M.A. (2017). Noninvasive treatments for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 166:514–530.

Injured illustrated person wearing hot water bag and icepack

3 of 7: Help with sleep

For rest and sleep, your doctor can recommend adjustments to your sleep schedule, positioning, timing of medications and other helpful ways to help you get the rest your body needs to heal—without the risks and side effects that come with opioid painkillers.

Whibley, D., AlKandari, N., Kristensen, K., Barnish, M., Rzewuska, M., Druce, K., & Tang, N. (2019). Sleep and pain. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 35(6), 544-558.

Illustrated person sleeping peacefully

4 of 7: Acupuncture

Acupuncture uses very thin needles to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue, reducing pain and helping you heal. If you have concerns about acupuncture during COVID-19, talk with your provider about what they are doing to prevent the spread of the virus.

Cho, Y. , Kim, C. , Heo, K. , Lee, M. S., Ha, I. , Son, D. W., Choi, B. K., Song, G. and Shin, B. (2015). Acupuncture for acute postoperative pain after back surgery: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pain Practice, 15: 279-291.

Illustrated knee being treated with acupuncture needles

5 of 7: Physical therapy

Physical therapy involves a combination of exercises, massage and other treatments to ease pain and help you move better. During COVID-19, providers are offering some types of physical therapy online or by phone. Reach out to your provider to learn about your options.

Liu, X., Hanney, W., Masaracchio, M., Kolber, M., Zhao, M., Spaulding, A., & Gabriel, M. (2018). Immediate physical therapy initiation in patients with acute low back pain is associated with a reduction in downstream health care utilization and costs. Physical Therapy, 98(5), 336-347.

Illustrated person stretching

6 of 7: Nerve blocks

A nerve block is injected during your surgery and temporarily numbs the nerves that cause pain, providing relief during the first 24 hours of recovery.

Altıparmak, B., Toker, M.K., Uysal, A.I., Turan, M.,  Demirbilek, S.G. (2019). Comparison of the effects of modified pectoral nerve block and erector spinae plane block on postoperative opioid consumption and pain scores of patients after radical mastectomy surgery: A prospective, randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Anesthesia, 54: 61-65.

Injured illustrated person with overlapping clipboard

7 of 7: Topical medicines

Your doctor can recommend topical medicines — such as salves and creams that you rub on your skin — that have been shown to be effective in treating pain and inflammation.

Derry, S., Wiffen, P.J., Kalso, E.A., Bell, R.F., Aldington, D., Phillips, T., Gaskell, H., Moore,  R.A. (2017). Topical analgesics for acute and chronic pain in adults ‐ an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5.

Hand holding a jar with leaf on it

Insurance and safe healing

Many options for safe healing—including appointments online and by phone—are covered by insurance companies and the Oregon Health Plan. Contact your health plan to learn what's available to you.

If you don’t have insurance or have recently lost work, you may be eligible for free coverage through the Oregon Health Plan. Learn more online or by calling 1-800-699-9075.


“When my patients come to me in pain, I’m glad when they ask about different ways to treat pain because there are a lot of different ways to treat pain, not just with pills.”

Dr. Madrigal listens to his patients and helps them make informed decisions that are right for them.