You have so many things you want or need to do today — but they’ll have to wait until you take your pills. Prescription opioids are powerful medications that can deaden pain for hours at a time. Unfortunately, they can also cause profound new problems in your life, from the risk of an overdose to the stifling grip of addiction. If you’ve been depending on opioids just to make everyday life tolerable, you need to find a safer, healthier, less terrifying alternative. Thankfully, physical therapy can help you govern your pain without drugs, giving you a chance to break away from your reliance on opioids.
A Sobering Look at the Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic is a very real (and very deadly) problem. It’s believed that some 2 million Americans suffer from an opioid use disorder such as addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 130 people die from opioid overdoses every day here in the U.S. Since 1999, the number of opioid-related deaths has multiplied sixfold.
Why are opioids so dangerous? These drugs prevent pain by attaching themselves to opioid receptors in the brain. In high enough doses, they can also cause both drowsiness and an intensely pleasurable high. The high itself is enough to establish a psychological dependence on an opioid — but the trouble doesn’t stop there. The brain and body become accustomed to a given opioid dosage, creating a tolerance to the drug. As a result, you end up needing larger and larger doses not just to achieve the same degree of pain relief, but just to prevent agonizing withdrawal symptoms. Eventually, the dosage you require could be a fatal one.
Even if you’re not addicted to opioids, your chronic pain may be forcing you to keep taking them on a regular basis. Sadly, opioid drugs block pain messages temporarily, but they do absolutely nothing to fix the underlying health challenge that’s making you hurt. They might even be permitting you to do more and more damage to your body while you’re not feeling the pain, which ultimately makes your pain problem that much worse.
How a Physical Therapist Can Provide Drug-Free Pain Management
Physical therapy can help you get a handle on your pain so that you don’t need opioids anymore. Of course, you should only discontinue high doses of opioids under professional medical supervision (to prevent a potentially dangerous withdrawal). In the meantime, however, our physical therapist can work with you on treating the biomechanical problems that caused your pain in the first place. Here are just a few of the physical therapy modalities that can help you conquer your pain:
Exercises can increase your pain-free range of motion, strengthen the muscles that support your body, and increase blood flow to reduce inflammation.
Massage therapy can control painful muscle spasms, help the tissues expel inflammatory substances, and direct more blood and oxygen to an injury.
Laser therapy can ease pain caused by injuries, arthritis, muscular strain, tendinitis or neuropathy.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses electrical energy to block pain signals to nerves.
Are You Ready to Steer Clear of Opioid Drugs?
Physical therapy is a clear, attractive alternative to the dangers of regular opioid use and abuse. If you’re ready to kick a daily opioid habit, we can help create a safe, effective pain management plan.