This article discusses why you should choose physical therapy over opioids for pain management. Opioids have several disadvantages and can do more harm than good for your body.
More than 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain every year, according to studies. To mask the pain, more than 9.5 million Americans misuse pain management drugs.
This is the reason why CDC recommends Americans choose a safer alternative treatment, such as physical therapy, to manage their pain.
In fact, outside of palliative care, end-of-life care, and active cancer therapy, the CDC recommends that a clinician should always prefer non-opioid therapy over opioids.
In light of this, let us discuss why it is imperative to consider non-pharmacological approaches like physical therapy and occupational therapy in pain treatment.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are a specific type of narcotics that attach to the opioid receptors of the brain, creating a feeling of euphoria and dulling the pain in the body.
In the ’90s, pharma companies set out to assure the medical community that drugs that used opioid substances were harmless and would not be habit-forming. Physicians started prescribing these medicines in large numbers to patients who were suffering from chronic pain.
However, it turned out that these claims were completely false, and in fact, opioid-based medicines are highly addictive. Once the euphoric effect wears down, your brain demands to take the drug in higher dosage to feel good.
If this continues for a long time, the body starts showing withdrawal symptoms if not maintained well. Powerful prescriptions like tramadol, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, as well as illicit drugs like heroin, are all opioids.
No wonder opioid addiction, abuse, and overdose have become a public health concern in America and have led to an opioid epidemic.
Opioid Abuse Statistics
Below are some of the essential opioid abuse statistics in the US.
- Currently, about 9mn people are misusing opioids.
- Nearly 20% of all physician prescriptions for pain management in the US are for opioids.
- Of these, nearly 8 to 10 percent develop an opioid misuse problem.
- As per a study, 21 to 29 percent of users of opioid treatment (for pain) misuse the same.
- Seven percent of people who abuse opioids also abuse heroin.
- Opioids cause around 3 to 4 percent of the prescribed drug overdose.
- Opioid-related death statistics show that around 130 US citizens die every day from an overdose of opioids.
Why Choose Physical Therapy Over Opioids?
Physical therapy is a conservative yet less invasive process of healing your body. Unlike opioids, it doesn’t come with side effects and does not have any emotional or psychological impact on one’s body.
Even though there is no way to measure chronic pain, one can be assured that physical therapy will show more permanent results and not just mask your pain for a while but heal it from the inside. Our bodies are made from movement. Thus, physical therapy removes stiffness and soreness with its exercises and replaces them with flexibility, endurance, and stability.
As they say, it’s better to be late than never reach your destination, and this is what therapy does to your pain. Sooner or later, it disappears if you are consistent with the treatment, and the best part is that it happens naturally without having to put in any extra effort.
Why Is Physical Therapy Better Than Opioids?
If you have suffered pain from an injury, just had surgery, or are suffering from a chronic disease, you may be undergoing tremendous pain.
This is where the role of physical therapy and opioid treatment comes into question. While you can take help from both, it is necessary to avoid resorting to opioids and take the path of physical treatment. Why? Well, read on!
Opioids can create addiction
There is no surprise that opioids are addictive. When taken for a considerably long period, opioids become more like cravings and less like medicine. The dosage also becomes less effective with time, so people went on increasing the same to achieve pain relief.
Physical therapy can be addictive, too, but at least it isn’t harmful. You do get a dopamine rush during the treatment, but that is natural since your body starts feeling so good,
Physical therapy is less expensive
As a first-line pain treatment, studies suggest that physical therapy can save you money and reduce the chances that you will get severe pain and might eventually have to take opioids.
Opioid treatment is a strong pain relief medication and, thus, is bound to be costly. Also, since its effects start lessening over time, the dosage has to be increased. This is why this treatment goes on for months on end.
Physical therapy is expensive, but it is comparatively less than opioids and can be covered under health insurance.
Therapy makes you your best self
Physical therapy helps you become more robust, and a better version of yourself since it includes exercises that help you manage pain.
Such is not the case in opioids, which don’t improve your overall body and lifestyle. Plus, it comes with many side effects, such as anxiety, depression, sleepiness, and more.
When Should You Choose Physical Therapy Over Opioids?
Medically speaking, opioid prescriptions are given for severe medical conditions such as cancer, end-of-life care, etc. However, we are genuinely convinced that physical therapy is the way to go when it comes to pain management for any condition!
Physical therapy doesn’t come with side effects, and it makes you feel great in and about your body, of course, helps relieve pain.
You must choose physical therapy when –
- You want to heal with the help of your body and not just mask the pain.
- The risks of using opioids are more than the relief from pain.
- When the pain is somewhere in the lower back, hip, knee
- When the pain lasts for more than 90 days, it becomes chronic and needs to be a non-opioid treatment for the patient’s overall health.
Keep Your Journey to Pain Relief Natural and Risk-Free
No one else apart from us can understand the pain our bodies go through after a severe injury or surgery. Thus, it is essential to maintain a balance of both opioids and physical therapy, if needed.
However, to bring your best self back to the table, it is important to take the help of natural and risk-free ways of healing. And that includes physical therapy.
For as long as possible, try to avoid using opioids because they are extremely harmful and addictive. Say goodbye to the old pain and embrace your healthy body with physical therapy.
We hope the article was able to answer some of your questions regarding opioid use vs. physical therapy. If you have further queries, please do not hesitate to write to us, and we will revert as quickly as possible.
And please do share this content with others so that more people can benefit from the knowledge and save themselves from this opioid epidemic that has swept across our country.