Are You Relying on Opioids for Pain Relief? Physical Therapy is a Much Better Option.


Nobody likes to live their life in constant pain. Many of us are quick to grab the fastest form of pain relief available to us, even if it presents a possibility of harmful side effects in the future. Thankfully, there’s a better option to pain management: physical therapy.

Physical therapy can help you control your pain without drugs, giving you a chance to break away from your opioid dependence. Long-term opioid consumption is not a good solution for managing chronic pain.Opioids and medications are simply bandaids slapped over a much larger problem, and they can cause a person to become addicted.

If you want true improvement from your chronic pain, know that physical therapy has been proven to be a much better option than opioids or other pharmaceutical painkillers.

Considering opioids for pain relief but would like to explore other options first? Call our office located in NY to talk with a physical therapist about your treatment options, and let us get you on the road to recovery.

Why are opioids so dangerous?

Some people mix opioids and over-the-counter drugs up with one another, but these two things are very different. When people turn to over-the-counter medications to help ease pain, there aren’t many significant health risks.

Medications such as Advil, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen are safe to use in moderation if you are trying to find immediate relief when recovering from a minor injury or have a random headache every now and then.

However, when it comes to severe pain, such as pain caused from a more serious injury you may have sustained during an auto accident, prescription-strength medications may be issued. Unfortunately, with severe pain comes severe medication, and opioids are no small matter.

Opioids are the most commonly used medication for pain management across the United States. Even though they are commonplace, there are many shocking facts about them that many people in the general public are unaware of.

  • Heroin is among the opioid category, as well as prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and more.
  • About a quarter of heroin addicts began their addiction through prescription opioid dependency.
  • More than 2 million people in the United States become addicted to pain medication every year, many of the medications being opioids.

These facts may scare you but they are undeniable, and truly pain an unfortunate picture regarding prescription pain medication use across the United States. Experts even say that we’re in the middle of an “opioid crisis” or “opioid epidemic.”

Some people falsely believe they are safe from the harmful threats opioids pose, simply because they don’t have a history of addiction. The truth is that no one is safe. You don’t need to have a history of addiction to become dependent on opioids – in fact, many people who become addicted have never had any issues with drug dependency in the past.

Fortunately, physical therapy can help provide the same pain relief in a much safer, healthier, and natural way. You can decrease, and in some cases, even eliminate the need for opioids altogether.

What’s so great about physical therapy?

Physical therapists are experts at determining the true source of a person’s pain. They can find the underlying cause and treat it, rather than simply dulling the pain symptoms.

Therapists are also movement specialists. If a patient suffers from arthritis or any other type of chronic pain, a physical therapist can teach that patient the proper ways to move and utilize key muscle groups so that the pain source does not worsen.

Research at Stanford University has shown that turning to physical therapy early on, as soon as a person is diagnosed with musculoskeletal pain, reduced the need for opioid pain prescriptions by 7 to 16 percent. Among patients who did require opioids for pain relief, the duration of using painkillers was reduced by as much as 10 percent.

Another goal of physical therapy is to strengthen muscle groups that support aching or painful parts of the body, so that true healing can take place. Because the work will be geared toward curing the source of the pain, you can often eliminate the need for prescription painkillers or opioids.

Don’t think that physical therapy will a quick solution to pain relief, because that’s not how it works! Your success in physical therapy depends on your dedication and compliance with your therapy treatment plan. After reviewing your pain symptoms, injuries, and functionality, your physical therapist will construct a customized plan that will produce measurable results for your pain relief.

Why opioids aren’t the answer to your pain

It’s important that anyone suffering from pain should understand that opioids will not solve the underlying physical problem that is causing the pain. In fact, opioids can make the original problem even worse.

The opioid epidemic in America has gotten so deadly that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that patients explore alternative options for pain relief.

The CDC recommends that opioids now be considered as a “last option” for only the worst pain cases. Although alternative and holistic pain relief methods, including physical therapy, are not as quick as opioids, these methods are favorable because they do not carry the extreme risks of addiction and overdose.

For example, suppose a person is suffering chronic pain several months after having shoulder surgery. The wound from surgery has long since healed, but the pain persists.

If that patient relies on opioids to dull the pain, they run the risk of re-injuring their shoulder. Pain is the way the body tells us that something is wrong.

As opioids remove the pain, that patient might be using their shoulder muscles incorrectly and ultimately making the underlying problem worse.

If that same patient were to work with a physical therapist on pain relief, however, they would have a much better chance of eliminating the pain entirely. Their shoulder could be healed through physical therapy, manual therapy, proper exercise, body mechanics and posture work — all without turning to addictive opioid painkillers.

The answer to your pain is here

There are other pain relief options available to those suffering from chronic pain as the result of an accident, injury, or illness. If you suffer from chronic pain and want to avoid the dangers of addictive medications and learn more about how physical therapy can help, call Base Physical Therapy today to schedule your first appointment with a licensed physical therapist.

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