Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2015, 33,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioids, killing more than guns or car accidents, and the numbers appear to have risen since.
But deaths aren’t the only risk related to prescription opioids, the CDC says. Other potential dangers include misuse, abuse, and addiction. The CDC figures in these areas are alarming: In 2014, almost two million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids; 25% of those receiving prescription opioids long term for non-cancer pain struggle with addiction; and, every day over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misuse of prescription opioids.
CNN recently reported on an analysis from Blue Cross Blue Shield which found that, from 2010 to 2016, the number of its members diagnosed with an addiction to opioids soared 493%. And, according to the National Institutes of Health, three out of four new heroin users begin their habit by abusing prescription drugs.
In a recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), two physicians warned about the dangers of opioid overuse: “The risks of addiction and overdose are clear . . . Nearly all the [opioid painkiller] products on the market are no less addictive than heroin.”
Does this mean you should never use prescription opioids for pain relief? Of course not. If your situation requires them, and you are under the close observation of a competent physician, such as the outstanding doctors here at The Medical Group of South Florida in Jupiter, Florida, then they are perfectly safe for limited, short-term use.
But if you are suffering from chronic pain, you should know that the expert physical therapists at MGSFL can help guide you toward a healthier, more pain-free life without the need for opioids. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has designated October National Physical Therapy Month, and their focus this year is on encouraging Americans to turn to physical therapy rather than opioids for safe relief of long-term pain.
Chronic pain, which is defined as pain that lasts for several months or longer, affects at least 116 million Americans each year, according to the APTA.
Working in concert with your other physicians here at MGSFL, our physical therapists can help devise a comprehensive pain treatment plan that will ease suffering, increase mobility, and improve your quality of life. Your individualized plan can include such approaches as strengthening and flexibility exercises, manual therapy, gentle stretching, and instructions in body mechanics. Depending on your unique situation, we may also employ such adjunct modalities as water therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation, among other approaches.
In addition, the physical therapists at MGSFL will also work with you to prevent pain, either a recurrence of pain or incurring new pain, through the use of low-impact aerobic training, instructions in correct posture, and learning to pace yourself according to your age and fitness level.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, let the highly trained physical therapists at MGSFL help guide you back toward a path of pain-free living.