Physical Therapy: The Natural Alternative to Opioids
Does the prospect of taking painkilling drugs for the rest of your life fill you with concern? If it doesn’t, then it should — especially if the drugs in question are opioids. Many chronic pain sufferers who can’t get the relief they need from NSAIDs or steroids feel that they have no choice but to turn to the more powerful opioid drugs. Unfortunately, opioids can present some major problems, from mind-addling intoxication to addiction and the possibility of a fatal overdose. That’s why you should consider the natural pain-relieving power of physical therapy as a safer, more beneficial alternative. Here are three ways that our physical therapist can use this form of care to keep your pain at bay.
1. Physical Therapy Moderates Inflammation
Many kinds of chronic pain are inflammatory in nature or origin. Inflammation occurs as part of your immune system’s natural response to disease or injury. Certain white blood cells and proteins trigger inflammatory processes even as they’re fighting to help protect tissues. But your body also has a process for suppressing production of these substances. It’s called sympatho adrenergic activation — and physical therapy exercises can trigger it. Research shows that a moderate exercise routine can prompt the sympathetic nervous system to reign in those inflammatory processes that cause pain and swelling.
Physical therapy can also help your body get rid of accumulated inflammatory substances by boosting your circulation. Massage, heat, cold, and laser therapy all increase blood flow to inflamed tissues. This allows the tissues to expel toxins that cause or worsen your inflammation.
2. Physical Therapy Reduces Stress on Your Muscles and Nerves
When your body cannot maintain its natural balance, support and symmetry, chronic pain conditions are sure to follow. That’s because your spinal column requires adequate support from major muscle groups to maintain healthy posture and musculoskeletal alignment. Weakened, tight, or damaged muscles aren’t up to the job, so they tire easily and develop chronic strain. The resulting postural imbalances can then lead to other painful issues, from herniated discs to pinched nerves.
Physical therapy can quite literally straighten these problems out. Our physical therapist may prescribe exercises to strengthen your back and neck muscles, lending your spine that much-needed support and easing the strain on those tissues. Improvements in your posture can help take the pressure off of nerves, relieving neurological pain. We may even recommend treatments such as chiropractic adjustment to correct spinal imbalances, thus removing painful stress on your body.
3. Physical Therapy Eases Joint Motion
If you have crippling osteoarthritis in your knees or hips, you might be shocked to hear a physical therapist recommend that you take up walking. But walking can indeed help reduce chronic joint pain and help arthritic joints move more freely. If you’re not ready for walking, you may benefit from swimming or other aquatic exercises in which the water supports your body. Heat therapy, laser therapy, and massage therapy are also known to help inflamed joints feel and move better. Strengthening exercises can help take the burden off of your joint’s bones and cartilage by allowing the surrounding muscles and connective tissues to do more of the work.
Our Physical Therapist Can Help You Conquer Your Pain Problem
Opioids and other painkilling drugs have their place in medicine, but you don’t have to rely on them as your only weapons against chronic pain. Ask our physical therapist about how a physical therapy program could hold the natural solutions you need!