Chronic pain can become a huge burden, interfering with just about every aspect of your life until it can seem impossible to feel like things will ever be “normal” again. Whether as a result of wear and tear over time, or following a traumatic experience like an injury or a car accident, chronic pain can become increasingly difficult to cope with as time goes on. Learning to cope with the discomfort isn’t always realistic, and so rather than live in discomfort many people turn to ways to mask the pain—often through the use of pain medications. However, this isn’t always the healthiest option, and finding more appropriate ways to manage your pain that can actually help to reduce the severity of your chronic pain can have a huge impact on your quality of life and happiness.
Instead of turning to opioids to manage pain long-term, talk to your physical therapist about natural strategies that may help you to experience actual relief from your pain.
The Problem with Opioids
Pain medications don’t actually do anything to help heal chronic pain. While often marketed as an ideal solution to experiencing ongoing pain, all that pain medications can do is help you to feel relief from the pain for a short period of time. Once the medication dosage wears off the pain will return, and over time it may even require larger and larger dosages of pain medication to help you experience that same level of relief.
What’s more, many pain medications come with a long list of complications of their own. Many pain medications are opioid based, which means that they are highly addictive and can cause damage to the body if used for a prolonged period of time. For many people, the withdraw that occurs when they attempt to stop taking opioids is actually more severe than the initial pain itself, and in some situations the use of pain medications for an extended period of time can lead to an array of additional health issues, including damage to the intestines, liver, and even the heart.
To actually overcome chronic pain and return to a more normal way of life, pain medications cannot be looked at as a sole means of treatment. While opioids may be recommended for short term use to help you overcome the initial pain of an injury, there are other treatment options available that are much safer and more effective at helping to ease the pain and improve your quality of life.
Natural Strategies for Pain Relief
Working with a physical therapist to experience relief from chronic pain is one of the most effective strategies that you can try. Regardless of whether the pain stems from an injury or from wear and tear over time, physical therapy can identify the problem areas, target the source of the pain, and then provide you with strategies to help improve your range of motion and reduce the experience of pain.
The biggest difference between physical therapy and pain medication for addressing chronic pain is that pain medication will never actually fix the source of the pain, it will only cover it up. Physical therapy may not help you to feel that immediate relief in the same way opioids would, but it will help you to feel gradual improvements in your experience of the pain so that you can eventually start to live your life free of discomfort.
Here are a few of the ways that your physical therapist can help you find relief from chronic pain:
- Targeted massage: Your physical therapist can identify the area that may be causing the pain and utilize massage techniques to reduce tension in that particular area, thereby helping to alleviate pressure in your joints and reduce pain.
- Hot and cold therapy: The combination of hot and cold therapy can help to reduce swelling and alleviate pain, and when used in combination with other natural strategies can be a great source of relief from chronic pain.
- Deep stretching: Your physical therapist can guide you through specialized stretching techniques that will target the source of your pain, thereby helping to improve your range of motion and support the development of muscle mass in the area of your pain.
- Weight lifting: As you begin to experience tension relief and decreased swelling in the targeted area, your physical therapist can then guide you through the process of building muscle mass to support a full and healthy recovery.
Physical therapy can often be used to help people overcome chronic pain, including pain the joints, like hip and knee pain, back pain, neck pain, and even chronic headaches. In some situations, such as when there is an injury like a torn tendon or damaged muscle, surgical repair may be necessary to help repair the damage prior to the use of physical therapy to restore range of motion. Working with your physical therapist to utilize these natural strategies that can help you to avoid the long-term use of medication can help you to feel greater relief from pain and experience improved quality of life in the process.
To start experiencing relief from chronic pain, contact your physical therapist for a consultation.