Millions of people struggle with chronic pain. Whether it’s from an accident or an ongoing medical condition, living with debilitating pain can be extremely difficult. Opioids may seem like a quick and easy way to eliminate the pain you’re experiencing. There are several important reasons, however, why you should avoid opioid medication if at all possible. When dealing with ongoing or short-term pain, you’ll want to consider a physical therapy program instead of relying on opioid pain medication. Contact Pinnacle Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine today to find out how a physical therapist can help you beat pain without opioids.
What are the Reasons Opioids are Often Prescribed?
Opioids are a powerful type of medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. Everything from oxycodone and hydrocodone to morphine and codeine are considered types of opioid medication. The following are a few reasons why people may need this type of pain medication.
- Cancer – When an individual is fighting cancer, both certain types of cancer and particular treatment options may cause pain. Sometimes tumors press against bones and nerves, causing increasing amounts of pain.
- Post Surgery – Many people are in severe pain immediately following a surgical procedure. Opioids are often prescribed immediately after the surgery. Even after the initial few days, recovering from surgery can be a long and painful process for some individuals.
- Chronic Health Conditions – There are several types of chronic conditions, such as severe back pain, neck pain, nerve damage, and fibromyalgia that can cause ongoing pain.
- Car Accidents – An individual may be struggling with pain due to injuries received in an automobile accident. Some people may be suffering from more than one broken bone or laceration following an accident which can increase the amount of pain they’re experiencing.
- Work-Related Injuries – Everything from serious back issues to falls can occur on the job. Many people may feel the need to return to work as quickly as possible because of financial needs. In order to handle the pain while still working, they turn to opioids.
What are the Reasons You Should Consider Physical Therapy?
While opioids often work to reduce severe pain, there are several potential drawbacks to using this strong medication. There are several important reasons to consider a physical therapy program instead of relying on opioid pain medication.
- Opioids are Potentially Dangerous – Unfortunately, it’s easy for many people to become addicted to opioids. During the last several years, opioid addiction has increased dramatically. An individual may also suffer from an overdose or severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to taper off opioid medication. Physical therapy is an excellent alternative to both prescription drugs and often risky surgeries.
- Opioids Produce Temporary Results – Opioids simply cover the pain, but never treat the root issue. Through movement, massage, and other techniques, a physical therapist can address the issues that are directly causing the pain. A physical therapy program not only can eliminate pain and increase mobility, but it provides a permanent solution.
- Opioids can be Expensive – Depending how high of a dose you’re taking and what type of opioid, relying on these types of pills can become costly. While the cost of physical therapy may be more initially, it can quickly become more cost-effective if you end up taking pain medication for several years.
- Opioids can Reduce Quality of Life – Even if you never overdose and can afford monthly prescription costs, staying on opioids for long periods can actually reduce your overall quality of life. There are often unpleasant side-effects associated with long-term prescription drug use. Taking any type of powerful medication for long periods of time may dramatically affect the quality of your health.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
A physical therapist would start by doing an evaluation of your current condition and reviewing your medical history. An individualized treatment plan could be put together that addresses your specific needs whether they involve recovering from surgery, rehabilitation after an automobile accident, or a chronic health condition. When working with a physical therapist, the following are several specific treatment options that are available.
- Manual Therapy – A physical therapist may use many different methods that fall under the category of manual therapy. This is a hands-on approach that might include massage, mobilization, and techniques to strengthen the muscles, joints, and ligaments.
- Exercise Therapy – An individualized physical therapy program can be put together that includes specific stretches and exercises for a person. These are designed after a physical evaluation is completed and geared toward reducing the particular type of pain a person is experiencing.
- Heat and Ice Therapy – A physical therapist can use both heat and ice to soothe muscles and joints, and ultimately eliminate pain. Depending on the type of medical condition or injury a person has, a physical therapist will determine whether heat or cold will help reduce the pain.
- Ultrasound – Ultrasound treatment provide joints with deep heat. This type of treatment can improve blood circulation and accelerate healing. This can improve connective tissues, increase flexibility, and reduce pain.
- TENS – Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or what is called TENS, is a method of treatment a physical therapist can use to reduce pain. A TENS unit is considered safe and effective for pain relief.
These are a few of the many methods that trained physical therapists have at their disposal to combat pain and help an individual return to a healthy, productive life. Physical therapy can provide a healthy alternative to opioid use. A physical therapist can put together a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific health conditions. Contact Pinnacle Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine to find out how you can start living a pain-free life with the help of a physical therapist.