Choosing Physical Therapy As An Alternative to Opioids


If you’re taking opioids to manage your pain, know that it may not be in your best interest. In 2016 alone, 116 people died each day from opioid-related drug overdoses. Some 11.5 million Americans misused prescription painkillers in some way, costing an estimated $504 million in economic costs. It seems like every time you turn on the news, someone else is on the news talking about the opioid epidemic currently gripping the country. Although it may seem redundant at times, unfortunately, there is a good reason for the panic.

As mind-blowing as these numbers are, to a person who uses prescription pain medication for pain relief, opioids may seem like the only option they have. Some researchers even feel that many people who would otherwise be able to work are sidelined because they would fail a drug test. However, there is a much safer, healthier alternative: physical therapy. To learn more about how physical therapy can help you ditch those pain medications once and for all, contact our clinic today.

What is pain?

When we hear that someone is in pain, we may be able to relate but we may not know the true meaning of pain and why it occurs. Merriam-Webster defines pain as “a localized or generalized unpleasant bodily sensation or complex of sensations that cause mild to severe physical discomfort and emotional distress and typically results from bodily disorder or injury.”

To put it simply though, pain is a nerve signal from the brain that something hurts. When you experience pain, your body naturally creates opioids to manage it. But, if the pain is severe or chronic, the brain can’t produce enough opioids to keep up with levels of pain you’re feeling. That’s where medication comes in. Prescription medication mimics the body’s natural chemicals to relieve pain but unfortunately do not assist the body in healing.

How can physical therapy help relieve pain?

Physical therapy not only helps alleviate pain symptoms, it determines and addresses the root cause of your pain. Medication does not do this.

A physical therapist can perform a comprehensive evaluation, specific tests, and review your medical history. Through advanced diagnostic procedures, these skilled professionals can find the source of your pain and implement a treatment plan that is geared for your optimum levels of mobility and long-term health. Even better, physical therapy is a drug-free alternative to pain meds. It does more for you than putting a band-aid on the problem you have. In some cases, it can eliminate it.

A physical therapist utilizes both active and passive treatments to address pain. Active treatments include specific exercises and stretching. You’ll engage in specific exercises during sessions and at home. Stretching helps improve a person’s flexibility, movement, and range of motion. With active treatments, you’ll be building muscle tissue to better support your body. Passive treatments may include manual therapy, hot and cold therapy, ultrasound, electric stimulation, aquatic therapy,  and soft tissue mobilization. All of these passive treatments increase blood flow, reduce pain and enhance the body’s healing process.

Common causes of pain

There are hundreds of reasons a person can experience pain. The list is truly neverending. Pain can be due to injury, trauma, or disease. It may be the result of doing something simple;  you may sustain a back injury b due to lifting a heavy object or participating in a sport.  It could be due to something sudden and unexpected, such as a car accident. It could even happen as a result of a degenerative disease such as osteoarthritis.

The symptoms of pain can range from mild and moderate to severe. Pain can occur when you’re doing nothing or are physically active. You may find yourself resting a lot and not participating in your regular activities because you’re scared of the pain you’ll inevitably have to feel. You may even have to call in sick at work. Without a doubt, pain has many negative consequences.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to contact a physical therapist as soon as possible instead of leaning on prescription medications to manage your pain.

  • Knee pain
  • Back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Feeling sore and achy when you wake up or lie down
  • Hand pain
  • Balance or gait issues
  • Pain in your feet
  • Any other kind of pain that hinders your ability to perform normal tasks

Call our clinic today; experience natural relief

Life isn’t meant to be spent in pain. You should be out doing the things you love with your friends and family, and working your day job without constant nagging aches. If you’re suffering from pain and feel that you’ve been using opioids as a band-aid to mask your symptoms, be sure to contact us today to make an appointment. This is your first step to leading a pain-free life without pain meds. We’ve helped many other people with pain and can help you, too.