With America is in the midst of a distressing opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified physical therapy as an alternative to these highly-addictive painkillers for managing pain. Unfortunately, when we are in pain, we want relief. Opioid pain relievers like hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, and others, when dosed correctly and used for a limited amount of time, can be an appropriate part of a person’s treatment. However, there are a number of risks associated with using these drugs such as depression, overdose and addiction.
Since October is National Physical Therapy Month, we want to share some things you should know about opioids and physical therapy so you can make the right choices for your situation.
Opioids – Did You Know:
- In 2014 more than 2 million Americans were addicted to prescription pain relievers
- More than 28,000 people die from an opioid overdose each year (including prescription pain relievers and heroin)
- People are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin if they are first addicted to prescription opioids.
- The opioid death rate in 2008 is four times higher than it was in 1999
- Opioids don’t fix the root cause of the pain; they mask the pain.
Physical Therapy – Did You Know:
- Physical therapy may help reduce or eliminate pain. Therapeutic exercises and other techniques may not only reduce pain, but may also prevent it from returning.
- Physical therapy may help you avoid surgery. If physical therapy reduces or eliminates pain from an injury, surgery may not even be necessary. Not only will you not need drugs to mask the pain from the injury, you also will not need them for pain caused by the surgery itself.
- Physical therapy may improve mobility and balance, and prevent falls. If you are off-balance when you walk or just have trouble moving around, physical therapy can provide you with the stretching and strengthening exercises you need to improve coordination and flexibility.
- Physical therapy may reduce negative effects of chronic diseases. Whether heart or lung disease, arthritis or diabetes, physical therapy can help improve quality of life through appropriate strengthening and conditioning exercises so the impact of those diseases are less noticeable.
If you are told that your only option is prescription opioid medication, ask about physical therapy or seek out a second opinion. Masking pain through medication is like putting a bandage on a broken leg; it’s not fixing the problem. Physical therapy is a viable solution to a variety of injuries and other health issues.
At Assisting Hands® Home Care, many of our skilled caregivers are physical therapists and can help the seniors in our care with appropriate physical therapy exercises if prescribed. Whether you need someone to be with your loved one during the day, in the evening or overnight, our at-home care can accommodate your needs. You will have peace of mind knowing that they aren’t home alone when they need help with medication, fall prevention, personal care, eating or other needs.