Tag Archive for: pills

Avoid Pills. Use Movement as Medicine Instead

Avoid Pills. Use Movement as Medicine Instead

In the 1990’s, it started becoming widely accepted to prescribe opioids for people recovering from surgery or injury. As well as those suffering with moderate-to-severe musculoskeletal pain (such as back pain and osteoarthritis). Although effective for managing pain, we would soon find out how highly addictive these drugs are. Statistics show that one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction. And once addicted, it’s very hard to stop. Keep reading to lear why movement as medicine is a better option.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in their 2018 Annual Survey Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes that in 2016, more than 11.5 million Americans reported misusing prescription opioids. And despite efforts to curb these statistics, this number started to creep up again during the pandemic.

In response, the medical community established more strict control around the prescription of opioids. Many are avoiding prescribing them all together. For patients with severe back pain and arthritis, for example, injections and minor procedures have become far more common and recommended.

While this approach prevents you from becoming addicted to opioids, there are still inherent risks any time you have an injection or undergo a procedure.

So what’s the alternative?

Prescriptive movement strategies are the alternative. Specialized, custom-fit “exercises” that are designed to have a very specific (and noticeable) effect on your pain.

But what’s the difference between generalized exercises that make you feel good vs prescriptive movements that also make you feel good?

Well, the distinguishing factor is both in:

1) how your pain responds to the movement while you’re doing it, and more importantly

2) how it behaves afterward. Lots of exercises feel good while doing them, but not all exercises give you the long-lasting effect you’re truly looking for.

For example, let’s say you’ve got back pain. Perhaps stretching your back a certain way makes you feel good and temporarily eases your pain. But an hour or two later, or the moment you perform an activity that typically aggravates your back, your pain comes right back. The stretch makes you feel better, but it doesn’t do a good enough job to make you stay better.

Over time, you might find that your back pain comes and goes often. Although this stretch always helps, nothing really takes away your problem completely. Instead, you get stuck in that vicious cycle of stopping all activities every time you hurt your back. Or worse – start avoiding certain activities altogether for fear of hurting your back. This is no way to live and it’s not an example of a good prescriptive movement strategy.

So what would a prescriptive movement as medicine strategy look like?

Let’s take the same example above. But this time – you find that a particular stretch not only makes your back pain go away in the moment, but it stays gone the more you do it. Whenever your back pain returns, you can reliably use this stretch to take your back pain away every time. This is an example of a prescriptive movement strategy. You know exactly what to do, how often to do it, when to do it. And it works without fail every time. Plus, once you know what your prescriptive movement is, you can use it to prevent pain as well.

The good news is that 70-80% of all musculoskeletal pain responds to a prescriptive movement strategy. It works in all joints and muscles. You just have to work with someone who knows how to help you find it and then use it over the course of time. I can’t tell you how often I meet people who have the right movement, they just weren’t applying it correctly to get the long-term relief they were looking for.

Too good to be true?

It’s not – I promise. The problem is there’s a lot of mis-information out there and not every health care or fitness professional is trained in discovering the prescriptive movement that you need – or teaching you how to use it properly. The second problem – to be frank – is that hospitals make a lot of money from procedures and surgeries. There’s no real incentive for them to support conservative, natural treatments that you can do on your own at home.

With procedures and surgery, the results are faster, which makes for happier patients (in the short term). But studies show that 2-3 years out from surgery your results are no better or worse than if you were properly prescribed movement as your treatment. And after 10 years, those who’ve managed to avoid surgery for the same problem, actually have much better outcomes than those who went under the knife.

The greatest benefit of taking the time to go slow at first, and find a prescriptive movement strategy that works, is that you’ll have this movement “medicine” at your disposal at all times. It’s always in your “medicine cabinet” and you never need a prescription or pharmacy to refill it.

Hopefully I’ve got you thinking. And encouraged you, at the very least, to explore whether or not movement really can be your medicine. If you’re already tried and failed at this, it’s quite possible you just didn’t have the right approach.

Consider talking to someone from my team if you’re serious about getting help.

We’re trained to help you find YOUR prescriptive movement as medicine strategy and are up to date on the latest research.

CLICK HERE to request a Free Discovery Call with my team to see if you’re a good fit for what we do.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To request a free copy of her guide to back pain CLICK HERE or to get in touch, email her at [email protected].

Opioid Addiction in Adults over 40: a Public Health Emergency

The COVID-19 pandemic has been top of mind for months. We’ve all experienced some major curveballs this year, and most people have learned a lot about public health and epidemiology along the way. But why now? Why are we finally learning how viruses attack the respiratory system, what it means to be immunocompromised, and the best practices for disinfecting? Maybe it’s because of the unpredictability and common threat associated with this virus. Although some demographics have an increased risk of serious outcomes, anyone can get this novel coronavirus and anyone can become ill. 

Unfortunately, Covid isn’t the only public health crisis facing Americans in 2020.

The opioid epidemic has been in the news for years, but many of us don’t bother to take precautions or educate ourselves because we don’t think opioid addiction can happen to us.   

That couldn’t be further from the truth!

Anyone can become addicted to opioids. Many of the Americans battling addiction right now don’t have a history of drug abuse. Instead, what they have in common is something relatively routine. They deal with chronic pain or they had a surgery, and a physician prescribed them opioids.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 deaths in 2016” and “an estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.” Between 2010 and 2016, opiate prescriptions from surgeons rose by over 18 percent (UCI Health). And according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids by physicians end up misusing them. Eight to 12 percent become addicted (NIDA). And the reality of opioid addiction is sobering. In 2017 alone, over 47,000 people in the United States overdosed on opioids and died. 

In 2017, the opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency.

A public health emergency is just that — public! The emergent status of this crisis is not limited to one demographic or “type” of person. Although media attention through TV and movies tends to focus on heroin and young people getting high, data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration tells us that 63.4% of the adults who misused prescription opioids in 2015 did so to relieve legitimate physical pain. Chances are, we’ve all felt pain at one time or another that ibuprofen or tylenol alone couldn’t get rid of. Everyone is at risk for opioid addiction because anyone could get in a car accident, or require surgery, or develop arthritis. 

Pain-relieving drugs like Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet, and others can be extremely helpful in some circumstances. But unfortunately, they are often overprescribed thanks to aggressive incentivising and pressure from drug manufacturers. The fact that opioids are so often prescribed after surgery and for patients with chronic pain means that middle aged and older adults are at a higher risk for drug addiction than ever before. In 2016, 14.4 million adults on Medicare (age  65+) had at least one opioid prescription (Consumer Voice). Older adults are also more sensitive to the physical effects of opioids. Side effects such as respiratory depression and cognitive impairment increase in severity as the patient’s age increases, often leading to hospitalizations and even deaths

So many clients in our practice fall into this at-risk demographic.

We have countless clients coming to us with severe chronic pain. Some have already had surgeries or been told that surgery is their only route to a pain-free life. Many have considered opioids to treat their back pain. And we are so grateful that we’ve been able to help hundreds of individuals recover from their injuries AND chronic pain without resorting to drugs, surgery, or both!

We promote both physical therapy and Pilates as alternatives to surgery and for preventing painful musculoskeletal problems because they truly work.

We recognize that most knee, back, and other injuries occur because the surrounding muscles are too weak to support those joints and systems properly — and we have the expertise to retrain your body in correct movement. You may think that your regular exercise and stretching is enough, but oftentimes working specific muscle groups leaves others underdeveloped and your body unbalanced as a whole. Our team of specialists is trained to create individualized solutions for your particular needs, because we believe that movement is medicine — when it’s prescribed properly! The idea of a quick fix is tempting — but a quick fix can easily turn into long term opioid addiction, illness, and even death. Taking the time to teach your body how to heal itself is so much more rewarding in the long run.

Want to learn more about how we can work with you to determine the safest, strongest, most effective route to recovery? Just click here to sign up for a FREE Discovery Session with one of our specialists.


This article was authored by Katya Engalichev. Katya is a pharmacy technician, EMT, and graduate student who writes for CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates.