In an ideal world, whenever we experienced a painful condition we could simply take a pill and all the pain would go away. In the real world, unfortunately, most of the pain medications that have relatively few side effects don’t do much to remove pain stemming from persistent health issues or let your body heal naturally. There are other drugs available such as very strong drugs like opioids, or corticosteroids such as Prednisone, that can do much to relieve persistent pain. However, the adverse health risks and/or potential for addiction with long-term use of these drugs, actually make them risky choices for those dealing with stubborn pain conditions.
In the short term, pain medication does wonders in masking pain signals radiating from the body. However, that is all they do. There is no pain medication that actually heals the underlying condition that is causing the pain. If a patient stops their pain meds, their recovery is no further along and in some instances may have regressed, because the medication suppressed their body’s signals that further injury occurred.
Opioids in particular, also carry with them the ability for a patient to become physically addicted to them. They cannot simply stop taking opioid medication without severe side effects. In addition, according to the Mayo Clinic, long-term use of opioid drugs leads to the need for ever-increasing doses. This is because, over time, the use of opioid drugs causes the body to reduce the production of endorphins — the “feel good” neurotransmitters. In order to sustain the constant level of good feelings required to suppress a person’s pain, the individual must take higher and higher doses of opioid drugs.
Why Not Surgery?
Especially for back pain sufferers, the group most likely to seek medical care for their pain, it is tempting to see if there is some type of surgery to magically make the pain go away. While it is true that for rare cases such as severe spinal stenosis, and some other spinal conditions that surgery may be necessary, in many cases spinal surgery only provides temporary pain relief or none at all. Spinal surgery can also introduce a host of other issues such as nerve damage, the introduction of scar tissue that builds up over time eventually pressing on nerves, and for some the introduction of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. The latter being the term that categorizes patients who not only had no back pain relief from surgery but ended up with more pain and/or more health issues resulting from their surgery.
Although each pain sufferer is unique, for many individuals a good, caring physician will recommend more conservative treatments such as physical therapy before considering riskier methods such as surgery or addictive drugs to combat chronic pain conditions. A qualified physical therapist can do much to help alleviate a person’s pain, both inside and outside of the clinic. Physical therapists typically use methods such as ultrasound, heat, and manual manipulation to relax aggravated muscles. They can also teach patients how to stretch and eventually strengthen key muscles required to properly support vulnerable areas. Similar to the manipulations a chiropractor may employ, a physical therapist may use manual manipulation techniques to gently move spinal components and other structures back into alignment. Physical therapists can also recommend the proper footwear to correct imbalances found in a person’s anatomy, strategies for coping with poor posture and helping those who must work in a sedentary position to find ways to sit properly.
In many cases, patients can find real pain relief by stretching and strengthening key muscles, learning more about sitting, walking, and standing properly, and in general, becoming more physically fit. In other words, physical therapists help patients learn how to use their body’s own inherent strengths to gain an edge over weak areas that cause pain and how to heal naturally. If you would like to know more about trying physical therapy to gain the upper hand over chronic pain instead of drugs or surgery, please contact Cawley Rehab at 570-208-2787 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.