17, Aug, 2019

The Role of Physical Therapy In The Fight With The Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic has shown no signs of slowing down. We have a real issue with drug dependency in the United States. In fact, the United States actually uses about 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone.

The amount of people using opioid pain medication has increased quite a bit even though the average levels of pain have not increased. Opioids are a great choice when people need pain relief after surgery or to handle injuries, but they are never meant to be a long term solution.

Facts About Opioid Medication Use

A very popular opioid drug was developed that doctors were told was not addictive or risky in any way. This meant that they went about prescribing it very easily because they thought it was healthy and safe. This drug was called OxyContin, and it is one of the drugs that helped lead to an opioid use disorder.

Instead of not being habit-forming as claimed, OxyContin did increase drug dependency and lead to overdoses.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has some facts concerning this opioid epidemic available. Knowing these facts can actually make it easier to understand why physical therapy might be a great way to help the epidemic.

–    In the last 14 years, opioid use has quadrupled.

–    People with opioid addiction are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.

–    One in four users of opioids struggles with addiction.

–    Two million Americans were addicted to opioid pain medication in 2014.

–    Addiction to opioids can lead to abusing other illicit drugs.

–    Deaths that are related to opioid addiction have also quadrupled in the last 14 years.

Obviously, an opioid pain medication that is used properly can be a great thing. But that is only if it is used as a doctor prescribes it. Pain can be managed effectively with opioid pain medication if the right methods are taken.

How Can Physical Therapy Help

Physical therapy is often the right choice for people who have chronic pain in their bodies and trouble moving. Physical therapy is meant to help lessen pain and making moving more possible.

A good physical therapist can help someone who suffers from opioid addiction by making a strategy or plans to help them. There should be ways to help you improve physically and manage your pain without resorting to pain medication.

Many studies have proven that physical therapy really can help with mobility and pain. Some possible methods or treatments that a physical therapist may try or suggest include:

–    Exercise: Plain old training is known to help treat musculoskeletal conditions, and it can help with pain treatment.

–    Electrical Stimulation: The electrical stimulation can change how you are feeling to help reduce pain with little side effects.

–    Heat or Cold: Hot and cold packs can help with inflammation and circulation which causes pain.

–    Iontophoresis: Another type of electrical stimulation that gives you anti-inflammatory medication through your skin.

–    Kinesiology taping: It can be used to manage pain.

–    Postural Correction Strategies: Learning ways to help your posture can relieve pain.

–    Massage: The massage of your soft tissue can help relax your muscles and relieve muscle spasms. This can assist in pain relief.

Having physical therapy to help with pain relief is an excellent alternative to using opioids extensively. There aren’t any adverse side effects on physical therapy, and it can even be fun and start new good and healthy habits to manage addiction.