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Fighting Back: Reducing Opioid Addiction through Physical Therapy

It could never happen to me. This mindset is a belief many of us have felt when news of the opioid crisis began in our country. News of this escalating epidemic has been appearing on our social media feeds and in the mainstream media in recent years. 2.1 million individuals across America, including mothers and fathers, children, and friends, have surrendered to addiction linked to prescription opioid pain relievers, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

This October, physical therapists across the country are using National Physical Therapy Month to spread awareness that there is a better way to manage pain. While medication often acts as a band-aid, physical therapy can target the root of your pain and repair it, rather than mask it. South County Physical Therapy, Inc. (SCPT) urges all patients and the community to #ChoosePT to manage chronic pain. You have the choice to control pain safely and effectively.

Talk to your health care provider: Physicians and health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ­­– enough for every adult in America to have a bottle of habit-forming pills. This is unprecedented. We suggest that you initiate a conversation with your health care provider about alternative pain relief approaches, like physical therapy. As movement specialists, physical therapists can work with you to manage pain by targeting specific muscle groups and strengthening them to support injured or weakened areas of the body. Choosing to take an active role in your recovery will set you up for success, with your physical therapy team cheering you on every step of the way.

Start physical therapy before surgery: An article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Merits of exercise therapy before and after major surgery,” reports that engaging in therapeutic exercise before thoracic, abdominal, cardiovascular, and joint replacement surgeries reduces the risk of complications and extended hospital stays. Being in better health at the onset of surgery can help ease your recuperation. It’s recommended to start physical therapy before surgery to help you understand what to expect from appointments, familiarize yourself with the environment, and build a rapport with your physical therapist. SCPT requires minimal intake paperwork, so you’ll be on the road to recovery before you even need post-operative care.

Seek help for substance abuse: If you’re having a difficult time managing opioid use, and it’s negatively impacting your personal relationships and quality of life, you should seek assistance for substance abuse. Prolonged opioid use generates dependency, and over time, the effectiveness of the medication may diminish, increasing your pain. Many substance abuse programs are in place to help you overcome addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse provides a resource guide to help get you started.

Throughout the months of October and November, South County Physical Therapy, Inc. (SCPT) will be offering free fifteen-minute injury assessments. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Together, we can determine the origin of your pain and develop a comprehensive treatment program that will address discomfort head-on. When you #ChoosePT, you’re choosing the safest and most effective way to manage your pain and get the results that you need.