Opioid Epidemic: It’s Not A Myth
Earlier this month, Rich Baudry had the privilege of speaking to a group of local medical professionals about the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States. The panel discussion, which was held at University Medical Center, featured lively group discussion from doctors, nurses, nursing students, and educators about opioid use, addiction and alternative forms of treatment for pain.
“It was inspiring to speak with the bright medical professionals of our future and raise awareness of alternate forms of pain treatment such as physical therapy,” said Baudry. “I think it is important to know that even though pain is personal, treating pain takes teamwork.”
Physical therapists treat pain through movement, hands-on care, and patient education.
“We play a valuable role in setting realistic expectations for recovery with or without opioids. We don’t just treat pain symptoms, we find out what is causing the pain and help alleviate it at the source. PT helps patients deal with pain both physically and mentally; whereas opioids just mask the pain.” said Baudry.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled in the United States, even though “there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.”
The CDC recently recommended nonopioid approaches like PT when*:
- The risks of opioid use outweigh the rewards. Potential side effects of opioids include depression, overdose, and addiction, plus withdrawal symptoms when stopping opioid use. Because of these risks, opioids should not be first treatment for chronic pain.
- Patients want to do more than mask the pain. 79% of patients would prefer non-pharmalogical treatment options. Opioids can mask the pain, but it does not treat the problem. PTs treat pain through movement while partnering with patients to improve or maintain their mobility and quality of life.
- Pain is located in low back, hip or knee osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia. Evidence shows that exercise as part of a physical therapy treatment plan is most favorable for these conditions.
- Opioids are prescribed for pain. Even when opioids are prescribed, the CDC recommends that patients should receive “the lowest effective dosage,” and opioids “should be combined” with nonopioid therapies, such as physical therapy.
- Pain lasts 90 days. After 90 days, pain is considered “chronic,” and the risks for continued opioid use increase. An estimated 116 million Americans have chronic pain each year. The CDC guidelines note that nonopioid therapies are “preferred” for chronic pain and that “clinicians should consider opioid therapy only if expected benefits for both pain and function are anticipated to outweigh risks to the patient.”
If you or someone you love is suffering with chronic pain, call Baudry Therapy Center and we can help you start living life again.
*Source: MoveForward PT