Non opiods pain management, like physical therapy, is a good choice. Just like you, I hear all the news headlines about the devastating effect opioid dependence is having on individuals and families. The stories are truly heartbreaking. And with prescriptions for opioids continuing to rise, I feel it’s my duty as a healthcare provider to educate you about the risks associated with this medication, as well as offer a safe and effective chronic pain management option.
First, here’s the scary stuff. Opioids don’t fix the problem. They only mask pain by reducing sensations to the brain. They also come with risks that range from nausea and withdrawal to overdose and addiction. In fact, since 1999, more than 165,000 people in the U.S. have died from opioid pain medication related overdoses. And every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids. And if that’s not scary enough, people that become addicted to opioids are 40 times more likely to move on to heroin.
Physical therapy works
Now, the good news. In response to this growing epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released guidelines urging non-opioid approaches like physical therapy as the first line or routine treatment for chronic pain. Other institutions also agree with this approach. The Cleveland Clinic http://time.com/4446503/opioid-reliance-responsibility/ has initiated a large-scale pilot program to see if an “old-school” approach using physical therapy as an integral treatment for chronic pain can help reduce the need for opioids and restore function. This makes perfect sense to me as research has shown that a simple education session with a physical therapist can lead to improved function, range of motion and decreased pain.
My parting advice for those suffering from chronic pain is simple. You have a choice about the kind of treatment you receive. Before you agree to a prescription for opioids, ask your doctor if a safer alternative like physical therapy might be right for you.