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.
How can physical therapy help me find long-term relief from my pain?
Instead of emptying your pockets on frequent drug refills that don’t even address the source of your discomfort, ask your doctor whether physical therapy might help you wean yourself off of opioids or other medications. (You may need medical supervision to reduce heavy opioid use safely.)
An experienced physical therapist can examine the reasons for your pain and then devise a targeted, personalized pain management plan. Here are just a few of the ways physical therapy can replace all those bottles of pills:
Chronic nerve pain can be controlled with a technique called transcutaneous electrical muscle stimulation (TENS), which uses electrical impulses to intercept pain messages. Cold laser therapy can ease neuropathy symptoms and promote nerve healing.
Chronic muscle spasms respond well to cold laser therapy, massage therapy, and heat/cold therapy.
Chronic headache/migraine pain can be reduced through a combination of massage, cervical spinal adjustment, and lifestyle or dietary changes to help you avoid known headache or migraine triggers.
Severe neck or back pain can be managed through a combination of strength training, stretching exercises, and chiropractic adjustment.
If you suffer from crippling arthritis pain, physical therapy exercises and massage therapy can help you control joint pain and stiffness.
Physical therapy and pain relief
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:
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses electrical energy to block pain signals to nerves.
Laser therapy can ease pain caused by injuries, arthritis, muscular strain, tendinitis, or neuropathy.
Massage therapy can control painful muscle spasms, help the tissues expel inflammatory substances, and direct more blood and oxygen to an injury.
Exercises can increase your pain-free range of motion, strengthen the muscles that support your body, and increase blood flow to reduce inflammation.
Why you should stay away from opioids
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. If you are ready to learn more, schedule a consultation with our team to create a better pain management plan.