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Opiod Epidemic: The Role of Physiotherapy in Chronic Pain Management

Chronic pain is a prevalent issue in our society. Numerous studies have proven that over one hundred million Americans suffer from chronic pains. These studies have also ascertained that approximately twenty five million people in America experience chronic pain which substantially diminishes the quality of their lives. There are many different types of chronic pains and most of them are quite disabling. This is exactly why doctors prescribe intense medication to improve the quality of the patient’s life.

Although there are many different treatments available for chronic pain, most patients prefer using opioids for long term treatment. It is estimated that over five million Americans use opioids in order to treat their chronic pain and this is exactly what the opiod epidemic really is.

Initially this epidemic began in 1990 and since then the sale of opiod prescription medicine has quadrupled which has caused an outcry in the society. Even though alternative treatments are available, patients and doctors alike are still prioritizing opiod medicine as the primary treatment for chronic pains.

However in order to curtail this epidemic, the center for disease control and prevention released prescription guidelines last year in March 2016. These guidelines have introduced stringent provisions that have to be met in order for a patient to qualify for opiod prescription. The step is taken to reduce the amount of patients that are consuming opiod.

CDC has released multiple reports on how physiotherapy should be the immediate response for patients dealing with chronic pain. Some of the circumstances where patients should choose physiotherapy instead of opium treatment are mentioned below.

1.     When the risk of opiod use prevail over the benefits

The underlying reason why opiod use has become such an issue is due to the array of side effects that these drugs entail. Some of the potential side effects of opiod use include depression, insomnia and also the withdrawal symptoms once the prescription dose ends. Even though physiotherapy is not as effective in comparison, at least the patient’s physical and mental well being is not at stake.

2.     When patients want a more fulfilling treatment

Opiod use provides patients with an immediate relief from their pain by interrupting the pain signals that are channeled to your brain. This drug induces your cognition to believe that the pain does not exist, but the sad truth is that this is an illusion rather than a reality. While physiotherapy will counter the pain by moving muscles in a strategic manner and will help the patient improve the quality of their lives.

3.     When patients are suffering from certain forms of chronic pain

Previously opiod use was prescribed to patients that were suffering from any type of chronic pains, but the CDC has limited the different types of chronic pain that would require opiod use as the expedited mode of treatment. Some of the chronic pains that do not require opiod use include lower back pain, knee osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and similar conditions.

4.     When patients are prescribed the lowest dosage of opioids

Even in circumstances where patients take a low dosage of opioids for their pain, they should consider physiotherapy as a more viable option. Although in such cases maintaining the low dosage and combining the treatment with physiotherapy would be recommended.

5.     When the pain lasts more than 90 days it is chronic pain

Chronic pain is when a patient suffers from discomfort for more than 90 days, in such cases patients should opt for physiotherapy instead of opiod use due to the risk of addiction. It is safe to say that there is a very high chance that every patient who is maintaining a dose of opiod for a long period of time will get addicted to this drug. These patients should consider physiotherapy instead, which might be a more difficult mode of treatment but the patient will not suffer from any type of addiction that could ruin their life.

This is exactly why the role of physiotherapy in treating chronic pain has increased over the years as there is a substantial gap in evidence regarding the uncertain benefits of opiod use in treating pain.  Furthermore the drawbacks of opium prescriptions clearly outweigh their benefits and patients should be educated about potential harm of using this drug for treatment. While there is no doubt that physiotherapy is a healthy and more fulfilling road to recovery which not only helps the patient deal with their pain but also improve the quality of their lives.

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