Pain is something that almost everyone deals with from time to time. None of us are exempt; an estimated 1 out of every 5 Americans suffers from some degree of chronic pain, and 8 percent of those sufferers find the pain so intense that they can’t pursue their normal activities.
Anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter painkillers have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry, so it’s no surprise that so many people depend on them for relief. Unfortunately, these drugs come with their own set of problems, ranging from addiction to dangerous effects on internal organs.
As more information comes to the surface about the dangers of painkillers, many people are beginning to seek effective pain relief that doesn’t come from a pill bottle. If you’re one of those people, you need to know about the amazing pain-relieving potential of physical therapy.
Why you shouldn’t depend on painkillers for true relief
Consider the last time you chose to take a pain reliever pill. Whether you’ve had surgery and are recovering, or you have a chronic pain condition, you’ve probably relied on medication as a crutch on more than one occasion.
A number of over-the-counter and prescription medications claim to temporarily relieve pain and inflammation. For people suffering from painful auto-immune disorders, steroids do this by suppressing the immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis). However, the same immune-suppressing ability makes the body more susceptible to infection.
Cataracts, glaucoma, hypertension, water retention, acne, high blood sugar, and osteoporosis have all been linked to long-term steroid use.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) prevent the body from producing inflammatory chemicals. When people have headaches, body aches, or joint pain, they typically reach for these in their medicine cabinet. NSAIDs, on the other hand, aren’t always safe: in some people, they can cause stomach bleeding and kidney damage. They’ve also been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Perhaps the most ominous danger comes from opioid drugs. Opioids can bring an end to more than just pain: they can cause accidental overdoses. These powerful drugs caused over 70,000 fatal overdoses in 2017 alone. Some of these deaths may have been related to recreational drug use, but over 60 percent of the deceased were chronic pain sufferers.
A few facts about opioid use that you might not be aware of:
- Opioids are a highly dangerous class of substances. Heroin is among the opioid category, as well as prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and more.
- More than 2 million people in the United States become addicted to pain medication every year, many of the medications being opioids.
- About a quarter of heroin addicts began their addiction through prescription opioid dependency.
These facts are scary, but the good news is that painkillers aren’t your only option if you’re living with a chronic pain condition, have sustained an injury, or are recovering from surgery. Physical therapy offers numerous advantages as a safe, effective, all-natural pain management tool.
Why is physical therapy a better alternative for pain management
When developing a physical therapy plan for pain management, a physical therapist takes into account each individual’s symptoms (and the underlying causes of those symptoms). Modalities may include the following:
- A soothing combination of heat therapy and cryotherapy
- Aerobic exercises to get the blood flowing and encourage joint lubrication
- Resistance training exercises to strengthen muscles, making physical actions less of a strain
- Electrical nerve stimulation to interrupt pain signals
- Chiropractic adjustment to help joints move more freely and correct painful musculoskeletal imbalances
- Cold laser therapy and/or massage therapy to boost circulation, relax tissues and reduce inflammation
Physical therapy also aids patients in gaining a new perspective on their pain. Many physical therapists have used “brain-rewiring” techniques like graded motor visualization to help their patients master and reduce their reactions to it. This type of physical therapy aims to give patients more control over their pain so that they can tolerate more exercise, which in turn reduces pain.
Try a safe, effective method of pain management today
Why settle for a phony sense of relief when you can get the real thing, while also improving your health and functionality?
Physical therapy can do more than just relieve your symptoms and make you feel better. This type of in-depth treatment can help you avoid the side effects of prescription and non-prescription drugs by providing you with non-pharmaceutical pain control measures.
When you make the choice to see a physical therapist, know that you will be going beyond the temporary numbing of your symptoms. You’ll be treating the underlying causes of those symptoms.
Our physical therapist will be happy to create a pain management program just for you. Contact us today for a consultation!