Chronic pain is a very common condition, and affects more than 100 million Americans every year, causing an estimated minimum of $560 billion annually for medical treatment, lost work time, and lost wages. Causes of chronic pain vary, and are often independent of any injury or damage to actual body issue from illness. While some diseases, like cancer, cause ongoing pain, chronic pain is different in that it is created in the nervous system after tissues have already healed. In general, chronic pain lasts more than 3 months, or any time beyond the expected healing time.
Any condition can lead to chronic pain, but the most common are:
- Bodily trauma or injury
- Type 2 diabetes
- Autoimmune diseases
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Limb amputation
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Drug Treatment for Chronic Pain
Although one of the first-line treatments is the use of narcotic painkillers called opioids, this has created an epidemic that creates substance abusers. As the patient develops a tolerance for painkillers, they need more to achieve the same relief. Likewise, they may become physically and psychologically addicted to the pleasurable high they experience by taking opioid pills.
Nondrug Approaches to Treating Chronic Pain
Nonopioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in an address in 2016 in their guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain patients. In these guidelines, they state: “Clinicians should consider opioid therapy only if expected benefits for both pain and function are anticipated to outweigh risks to the patient. If opioids are used, they should be combined with nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy, as appropriate.” The guidelines further state that the benefits of pain relief, function, and quality of life by using opioids for a long period of time are uncertain, while the risks are clear and significant. Patients are more likely to become addicted, overdose, suffer a heart attack, or be in a car accident if they drive under the influence.
Physical therapy treatments may include:
- Education: Your physical therapist can help teach you how to manage your chronic pain without opioid use, and help you work toward performing daily activities with minimal discomfort.
- Strengthening and flexibility exercises: Your physical therapist will gradually increase your program of graded exercises according to your physical capabilities.
- Manual therapy: This can help increase your range of motion and reduce pain. It consists of specific, gentle, hands-on techniques to mobilizer tight joints.
- Posture awareness: By using your body most efficiently, you can reduce pain by improving your posture.
Start your journey today toward nonopioid pain relief with chronic pain treatment with physical therapy by contacting us ProFysio at (732) 812-5200.