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Different Solutions- Opioids in America.

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2.4 Million Americans have an opioid use disorder.

Massage Therapy Aids in the Opioid Crisis.

In the past 2 years, the epidemic known as the “Opioid Crisis” in America has grown in recognition in both the public and political eye.  It is estimated that 2.4 million people have an opioid use disorder in America. This crisis costs America billions of dollars annually ($696 billion in 2018 alone).  The deaths associated with opioid overdose, however, have more devastating statistics. Approximately 42,000 deaths per year are a result of opioid misuse.  As a result, there has been a significant demand for political intervention, as well as nonpharmacological approaches to pain management.   

When a person goes through opioid or opiate withdrawal, the symptoms range from moderate to excruciating.  Symptoms that appear within 24 hours of going into withdrawal include muscle aches, anxiety, restlessness, inability to sleep and runny eyes/nose.  More severe symptoms that appear within approximately 72 hours of being in withdrawal include nausea/ vomiting, abdominal cramping, excessive sweating, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure and blurry vision not to mention the physical pain associated. 

As a result, doctors are now creating more comprehensive treatment plans for patients.  Many of these plans are removing medications as a means of pain management entirely. This is due to the fact that many of these prescribed pain medications are highly addictive.  This past January, The Joint Commission published updated standards for nonpharmacological strategies for pain management. Massage Therapy was listed as one of the strategies.  One month later (February 2019), the US Department of Health and Human Services published a report on the best practices for pain management, which included practices relative to massage therapy. 

As medications are being removed, approaches such as massage therapy are going beyond consideration and into implementation.  Evidence has shown that of the symptoms of withdrawal listed above, massage therapy can help lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, reduce muscle tension, relieve stress and temper nausea and vomiting.  In addition, models have been produced that show that implementing massage therapy instead of prescription opioids for specific types of pain can save the U.S. approximately $23-$25 billion per year. Not to mention decreasing overall prescriptions for opioid containing pain medications.  Although there is not one single treatment that works best for everyone, it is apparent that implementing Massage Therapy as well as other nonpharmacological approaches will assist in mitigating or relieving many types of pain, especially those associated with opioid use disorders. 

Sources: 
https://www.amtamassage.org/uploads/cms/documents/mt_in_integrative_care_and_pain_management.pdf

https://www.jointcommission.org/new_joint_commission_advisory_on_non-pharmacologic_and_non-opioid_solutions_for_pain_management/

https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/1/News/detail/3124/25-reasons-to-get-a-massage

https://www.healthline.com/health/opiate-withdrawal#symptomshttps://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2018/03/01/peds.2017-4129

https://www.hhs.gov/ash/advisory-committees/pain/reports/2018-12-draft-report-on-updates-gaps-inconsistencies-recommendations/index.html

https://www.amtamassage.org/opioids#government

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