Physical Therapy: A Healthier Alternative to Opioids

Physical Therapy: A Healthier Alternative to Opioids

November 10, 2021

A countless number of people suffer every day from chronic pain. It can be incredibly hard to live with, whether it’s from an accident or an ongoing medical condition. It might seem like opioids are a fast and simple way to eliminate the pain you feel. However, there are some substantial explanations why, if at all possible, you should avoid opioid medication.

For example, you’ll want to try a physical therapy program first when coping with ongoing or short-term pain, instead of depending on prescription pain medicine.

To find out how a physical therapist can help you beat pain without opioids, contact our office today at Diamond Physical Therapy.

Why are opioids prescribed in the first place?

Opioids are a strong form of medicine that is used to relieve pain ranging from mild to extreme. There are different times of opioids, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine.

Below are a few reasons why this kind of pain medication could be deemed necessary:

  • 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.
  • 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 that makes it difficult to lead a functional, normal life.
  • Cancer – When a person 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.
  • 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.

Why you should consider physical therapy instead of medication

While opioids often work to reduce severe pain, there are several potential drawbacks to using this strong medication. Addiction poses a huge risk, for starters.

There are several important reasons to consider a physical therapy program instead of relying on opioid pain medication.

  • Opioids only provide temporary results – Opioids simply cover the pain like a band-aid. They can 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 pricey – Depending on 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 upfront initially, it can quickly become more cost-effective over time and save you from burning a hole in your wallet with the purchase of medications.
  • Opioids are addictive – Unfortunately, it’s easy for many people to become addicted to opioids. During the last several years, opioid addiction has increased dramatically. You may also suffer from an overdose or severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to taper off opioid medication. “Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them,” according to the NIH. Physical therapy is an excellent alternative to both prescription drugs and often risky surgeries.
  • Opioids can reduce your 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. These things have long-lasting, unpleasant side effects on your body! Taking any type of powerful medication for long periods of time may dramatically affect the quality of your health.

How physical therapy helps

Physical therapy is a safe, holistic, and non-invasive way to treat chronic pain. A physical therapist begins the treatment of your condition by doing an evaluation of your symptoms 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.

  • 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 therapy – Ultrasound treatment provides 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.
  • 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.
  • TENS Units – 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.

Contact Our Clinic Today

If you’re currently paying for costly opioids and you’re convinced that there’s a better alternative, you’re right. 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 our office to find out how you can start living a pain-free life with the help of a physical therapist.

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