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Manage pain with physical therapy, not meds

Livingston County News - 10/19/2017

No one wants to live in pain, nor should they put their overall health and well being at risk in an effort to be pain free.

Addiction to opiates is a growing problem in the United States and the overuse of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain is finally being recognized as a major health epidemic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended non-drug approaches such as physical therapy, as a healthy alternative to addictive prescription painkillers..

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 4.7 million people in the United States are dependent on painkillers, the sale of which has increased by more than 300 percent since 1999.

The use of pain medication such as Vicodin, Percocet, Methodone, OxyContin and Opana has quadrupled in recent years. Addiction to these medications are at an all-time high and people addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to turn to illicit drugs such as heroin.

Addiction to prescription painkillers is common. NIDA says that up to 7 percent of people who are prescribed opiate or analgesic pain killers will become addicted. When prescriptions to oxycodone, hydromorphone and fentanyl run out, many people turn to heroin as a less expensive and more readily available means of pain relief.

We know most prescription medicines have a laundry list of possible side effects, we also know that these can be eliminated when safer alternatives are recognized and utilized.

Pain relief therapies, such as physical therapy, can be viable alternatives to the prescription pain medicines that often serve as a gateway to illegal drugs such as heroin.

To help reduce the overprescribing epidemic and keep people from becoming addicted to pain medications, people can look for other ways to alleviate pain.

Safer alternatives and physical therapy can help treat many conditions and actually provide more benefit than just masking the pain. Improved function, flexibility, strength, coordination and self efficacy are all well researched and published for back pain, hip and knee arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Medical exercise prescriptions can treat pain with movement and improve quality of life, overall mobility and reduce or eliminate the need for opioids.

Partnering with patients and their families in education and exercise should be a routine first line therapy for treatment of pain and dysfunction. Everyone can benefit from these types of preferred treatments and the health benefits of exercise can not be emphasized enough.

Are you, or someone you know, struggling with pain management? Encourage them to talk with their Physical Therapist or Physician about safe and effective non-prescription alternatives.

Dr. Andrew Mattle, PT DPT is owner of Physical Therapy Professionals, PC, which has offices in Lakeville, Caledonia and Mount Morris. He founded the business in 1994 and has been a licensed and practicing physical therapist since 1991.


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