No one wants to live in pain and turning to pain medication seems to be their only option, but opioid addiction is very common in today’s society and can be extremely dangerous. During the past 15 to 20 years, the amount of opioid prescription drugs continues to increase.
These drugs such as Vicodin and Oxycontin can be very harmful if not used appropriately. Addiction to prescription opioids can eventually lead to heroin addiction and even death.
In response to a growing opioid addiction, the CDC released opioid prescription guidelines. The guidelines recognize that prescription opioids are appropriate in certain cases, including cancer treatment, palliative care, and also in certain acute care situations.
An alternative to opioid prescription drugs that is recommended is physical therapy. Physical therapists can treat pain through movement and this will help patients to improve or maintain their mobility and quality of life. Exercise can help treat patients with low back pain, hip osteoarthritis, knee osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, shoulder osteoarthritis, neck pain, and many more conditions causing pain. A physical therapist can create an appropriate exercise program to help many conditions causing pain.
The longer the patient deals with pain the greater the likeliness of addiction to prescription opioids. Physical therapist treat many patients post operation such as a total knee, total hip, total shoulder, back and neck surgery and it is recommend that the patient limit the amount of prescription opioid use. Physical therapist can also use therapeutic modalities to treat pain. Cold packs, hot packs, and the use of electrical stimulation can help with pain reduction. Exercise can help reduce pain through the replacement of endorphins.
Given the evidence of potential for serious harm from opioid addiction, patzient education and discussion before starting opioid therapy are critical. Physical therapists can play a valuable role in the patient education process, including setting a recovery treatment plan with or without opioids.
Rocky Bahoura PT, DPT is with Premier Therapy Centers in West Bloomfield and Commerce.