Choose Physical Therapy First
Written by Dr. Allison Gentry PT, DPT, CAFS
Did you know that chronic pain is the number one cause of disability in the United States and over one million Americans suffer from chronic pain? Pain has become such a common factor for people to deal with in their everyday lives, and low back pain takes the lead for most common source of chronic pain.
If you’re asking, “what exactly is chronic pain?” then to answer that as simply as possible the American Chronic Pain Association defines it as: ongoing or recurrent pain, lasting beyond the usual course of acute illness or injury or more than 3 to 6 months, and which adversely affects the individual’s well-being.
Over half of the one million Americans with chronic first seek treatment from a medical doctor, which is why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication were written in the year of 2012. Unfortunately pain pills do not treat the underlying cause of chronic pain, so all prescription medication can do for you is mask your pain temporarily. What happens when that pain returns? You take more of the prescribed medication, and suffer the side effects and put yourself at increased risk for addiction. As a result, there have been many campaigns and attempts to educate the public on safer options to manage pain.
A main focus of treating chronic pain without prescription medication has been physical therapy. The #ChoosePT campaign was launched by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) to help advocate that physical therapy is a much safer way to manage chronic pain with more benefits than taking prescription pain medication. Physical therapy will do more than just assist in managing your chronic pain, it can also help treat the underlying cause of your pain. By treating the underlying cause of your chronic pain, not only are you fixing the root of your problem, you will also get the additional benefits of improved endurance, strength, and mobility which is going to allow you to live a much healthier lifestyle!
If you’re not sold by the idea of having a “healthier” lifestyle, then know that you will likely also have a happier lifestyle. There is some new research out that says using opioid prescription pain medication for more than thirty days can increase your likelihood of developing depression significantly. Depression can be a serious mental disorder that can affect you, and your relationship with others. So why delay treatment for the underlying cause of your pain, and put your mental health at risk as well by accepting only pain medication?
Most people do not know that you can actually go see your physical therapist without a referral from your doctor, thanks to fun thing called “direct access”. However most doctors will be happy to refer a patient to physical therapy services if patient asks for it! Remember to always be an advocate for yourself and don’t just accept pain pills if you want to take a more active approach to managing your chronic pain!
Image & Source Credits: - www.apta.org - theacpa.org - www.thegoodbody.com/chronic-pain-statistics - www.moveforwardpt.com