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Healing Your Pain: Choosing PT Over Opioids

POSTED BY: Florida Hospital

Everyone has experienced physical pain in their lives from illness to injury, but did you know there are three different types? The three types of pain are known as acute pain, subacute pain, and chronic pain.

Acute pain is sudden or severe pain and can last anywhere from a few seconds to six weeks. You’ve likely experienced acute pain far more often than you have chronic pain as it’s what you feel when you stub your toe, have a headache, or are recovering from surgery. Acute pains are your everyday pains that come with living, they come and go.

Subacute pain is essentially the same as acute pain but gets classified as such after six weeks and up to three months.

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is pain that continues 12 weeks after it starts. Chronic pain is a medical condition in and of itself and can be caused by any number of things like dysfunction of your nervous system, certain illnesses, and for seemingly, no reason at all.

Whenever possible, we want to help you heal and feel better without the use of prescription opioids. Depending on the cause of your pain, physical therapy can be an excellent resource for recovery.  

Pain Management and Treatments

For most acute pain management, non-opioid medications are generally used, but the pain treatment regimen may also contain a physical therapy element depending on the nature of the injury causing the pain.

The reason for using non-opioid drugs for treating acute pain is that opioids are addictive, have the potential for overdose, and can have serious, life-altering side-effects. They’re being prescribed less and less as our communities are struggling with an epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction.

For many years, chronic pain was treated and managed almost entirely through prescribed opioid medications. Today, considering what we now know and major advances in pain science and physical therapy, we have new options available to us for the actual treatment of chronic pain. Physical therapy has even been shown to help patients manage their symptoms and help them return to their previous level of activity.

Pain Medication vs. Physical Therapy

Pain medications can be extremely useful for certain patients’ recoveries, but have been over-prescribed, often by well-meaning physicians, and abused unintentionally by those seeking pain relief.

Opioid medications don’t actually relieve pain so much as they hide or mask it. They will never make the pain go away or treat the cause of the pain. They can, however, make you addicted, cause depression, have the potential for overdose, and the additional pain of withdrawal when you stop taking them. For these reasons, they should never be the first line of defense against chronic pain and should only be used as a last resort in combination with physical therapy.

With the collaboration of your physical therapist, physical therapy can help you understand your pain, manage your symptoms and direct you back to the activities you enjoy doing. A physical therapist can work with you to identify the pain, the cause, and the proper treatment regimen to manage your symptoms and to potentially remove it from your life forever.

Which Pain Treatment is Right for You?

In order to find out what pain management plan is right for you, please make an appointment to see one of our specialists at Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation or call 407-303-8080.