Opioids are a prescription medication referred to as “pain killers”. Drug such as oxycontin, morphine, fentanyl, and percocet are other given names for these drugs. In the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies stated that “opioids would help eliminate pain and were not addictive substance”. As a result, physicians did not shy away from prescribing these pills frequently to their patients. However, we now know opioids are in fact highly addictive drugs, leading to misuse and overdose. They also can cause a long list of side effects that can become extremely dangerous.
Based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics, in 2018 over two million individuals had misused prescription opioids and roughly 130 people died daily due to an opioid linked overdose. It was apparent that the United States was in the middle of a full-blown opioid epidemic and had been for several years. While the National Institute of Drug Abuse has seen many states recently with a decline in deaths, it continues to take many lives each year.
Physical Therapy Can Help!
Although opioids are prescribed less frequently, many individuals are still getting their hands-on these treacherous pain killers. Both through prescriptions and other means. These drugs not only cause fatal results but leave much of society to struggle with side effects which include, withdrawal symptoms, confusion, depression, nausea, vomiting, sweating, constipation, and increased sensitivity to pain. Physical therapists do not prescribe medications, they are and can be an integral part of helping to end the opioid epidemic. Opioids only provide a temporary pain relief until the dosage wares off, instead of eliminating the pain the medication masks the problem. Physical therapy can treat the individual’s dysfunction and injury which will help eliminate the pain from further occurrence.
Physical therapists use evidence-based research to identify and treat painful musculoskeletal conditions with the best practice for a faster recovery. Long-term use of pain medication can cause increased harm with no resolution to the actual problem. With a customized physical therapy program tailored to each patient’s needs, they have the ability to recover and heal. In the long run, physical therapy can reduce the pain dramatically. This course of action is a healthier approach to treating a painful injury. It also allows the patient to live each day fully!
If you or anyone you know is suffering from any type of pain or opioid use, please consider physical therapy. This is a great option to improving your pain. In acute musculoskeletal pain conditions, physical therapy can be performed simultaneously to decrease the amount of medication needed. Besides that, it also helps in reducing the timeline to heal. It is important that our country comes together to help decrease opioid use to save lives. We must invest in healthier alternatives, instead of relying on a harmful medication to “get by”. We as physical therapists want to apply our training and in-depth knowledge to help our patients enjoy life free of pain.
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