Each day 44 Americans die of an overdose from prescription drugs. Opioids are a large part of the prescription drug epidemic that is a huge public health issue. To do their part in raising awareness about the opioid epidemic, the APTA launched a #ChoosePT campaign. This campaign is a positive step in informing the public about their alternative options to dealing with chronic pain and injury.
Opioids come with side-effects that with long term use can lead to other more significant issues and problems.
The Side-Effects Associated with Opioid Use
Some of the most common side-effects of opioid use include:
- Dry mouth
- Low sex drive
- Sleep apnea
Long term use can lead to more complicated issues such as:
- Lung and heart problems
- Accidental overdose or death
With the #ChoosePT campaign, practitioners and physical therapy students are united in sharing the pain-relieving options that can help decrease pain and increase function without the possible dangerous side-effects of opioids. One of the most effective ways practitioners help ease pain and increase daily functioning is through the use of modalities.
Physical Therapy Modalities for Chronic Pain
- Cold Compression Therapy: Not only effective in treating acute pain after an injury, cold compression therapy is useful in treating long-term pain by providing the analgesic effects from cold and improving circulation with pneumatic compression. By lowering inflammation and pain, patients are able to participate more comfortably in other aspects of their rehabilitation regimen which increases their function more efficiently.
- Ultrasound: Whether used alone or as part of a combination unit (Ultrasound/E-stim or Ultrasound/TENS), ultrasound therapy is a popular modality in the treatment of pain because it’s non-invasive and can treat deep in the tissues for issues like myofascial pain.
- Therapeutic Exercise: Practitioners utilize equipment like underwater treadmills or Hi-Lo active/passive exercise trainers in order to build strength and stamina without the stress on patient’s joints that can lead to pain.
- Hydrotherapy: Whether using whirlpool therapy to decrease pain or an underwater treadmill cycle to increase strength and stamina, hydrotherapy can be used to address diverse patient goals.
- Patient Education: From teaching patients’ modifications to daily activities to educating them about lifestyle choices to avoid reoccurrence of pain; patient education is an important part of physical therapy for the treatment of pain. The power of knowledge can’t be underestimated in not only avoiding the triggering of a pain cycle, but in increasing a patient with chronic pain’s ability to successfully navigate their daily activities.
#ChoosePT is a powerful program for education and conversion. Over-reliance on opioid’s is a dangerous epidemic in this country. The APTA understands that more needs to be done in order to educate chronic pain patients on their alternative choices in dealing with and treating their pain. The #ChoosePT has the potential to be the foundation for a powerful platform for patient education and empowerment towards ending the opioid crisis. Ultimately, the #ChoosePT program is the start of an important conversation that needs to continue between rehabilitation practitioners and their patients.