An alternative to opiates for pain relief

Like placing a bandage over a deep wound and hoping it will just go away, opiate painkillers are prescribed to a growing number of Americans each year. Unfortunately, these medications do not address the true cause of the pain and often lead down a dark path.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four patients who are prescribed opioids for long-term noncancer pain in primary care settings struggle with addiction and face an increased risk of turning to heroin usage. Furthermore, the downward spiral of opioid addiction leads to more than 1,000 people being treated in emergency departments each day for misusing prescription opioids.

While this sounds dire, there is an encouraging alternative to achieving healthy pain management. This alternative not only provides pain relief, but also education, support and a road toward a healthier lifestyle. The alternative to putting a bandage over pain is to treat the root cause through physical therapy.

With the backing of the CDC, physical therapy is one of the recommended non-opioid alternatives for pain relief. Physical therapy alleviates pain through helping patients improve strength, flexibility and range of motion. Along the way, physical therapists also educate patients about pain, serving as a dedicated teammate for patients on their wellness journeys.

Instead of addiction, depression and withdrawal symptoms, physical therapy leads to increased independence, identification of health concerns and prevention of additional health problems through movement and exercise.

If you or a loved one are among the many Americans who are being prescribed opioids, know that there are better options for pain management. Professionals within the field of physical therapy are eager to help remove the bandage over chronic pain by treating the true root of the problem and providing support on the journey to healthy pain management and an improved way of life. Choose physical therapy.

(Maria Gruetzmacher Hammon is a first-year student in Western Carolina University’s doctoral program in physical therapy and a resident of Stillwater, Minnesota.)

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