Early in 2016 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines for the use of Opioid drugs for the treatment of acute and chronic pain. Over the past two decades the practice of treating pain with opioids has nearly quadrupled.
In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills. “As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction,” the CDC cites. This problem is further evidenced by the fact that every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
Not only is this a problem due to the potential loss of self, inflicted by addiction but it can also have fatal consequences. Since 1999, more than 165,000 people in the United States have died from opioid pain-medication-related overdoses.
Examples of some of the more common opioid-based pain relievers include Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and methodone, and combination drugs like Percocet. Common risks from opioid use include depression, overdose, and addiction. Once building up a tolerance these drugs can also be very difficult to discontinue use resulting in withdrawal symptoms.
So what is to be done if I am having significant pain you may ask? As part of the CDC’s recommendations, Physical Therapy and other rehabilitative professions are a highly effective alternative. Following are some of the ways that physical therapy treatments assist in combating pain:
1. Exercise. Robust studies consistently find that those who exercise on a regular basis, experience less pain. One study shows that among those who exercised more than 3 times per week, chronic widespread pain was 28% less common. Physical therapists are uniquely qualified to assess human movement and prescribe exercise specific to your goals and needs.
2. Manual Therapy. A hands-on approach to treating pain has been shown to be highly effective, especially with short term relief of symptoms. Manual therapy has been validated in essentially all musculoskeletal impairments from a recent ankle sprain to total joint replacement to long standing low back pain. This type of care can effectively reduce your pain and improve your movement allowing you to start getting back to the activities you have been missing since the onset of pain. Manual therapy comes in many shapes and forms including manipulation, joint and soft tissue mobilizations, guiding correct movement patterns, as well as others. An important part to long-term success with manual therapy is increased movement and exercise.
3. Education. An often overlooked yet vitally important component of physical therapy is education. A large study conducted with military personnel demonstrated that those with back pain who received a 45 minute educational session about pain, were less likely to seek treatment than their peers who didn't receive education about pain. Often, part of this education is understanding your pain history. From this history a set of realistic expectations and goals for your treatment are established. Furthermore, education on understanding pain science, activity modification, and strategies for managing your pain in the future occurs.
4. Teamwork. Recent studies have shown that developing a positive relationship with your physical therapist and being an active participant in your own recovery can impact your success. This is likely because physical therapists are able to directly work with you and assess how your pain responds to treatment.
To conclude, there is definitely a time and place for the use of opioid-based medication, however, in many instances there is a safer alternative. For further information please visit www.MoveForwardPT.com/ChoosePT or better yet get in touch with us here at High Country Physical Therapy. Personalized care and education; our chat will not be just a wrote script of general information, but it will be about YOU and your pain history.
Specialist Physical Therapy Clinic serving Logan and the Cache Valley Area