In today’s age when so much of our time is spent sedentary – for example, sitting in front of a computer or phone screen for hours upon hours each day – more and more individuals are experiencing musculoskeletal health concerns. Issues such as poor posture, back pain, neck pain and muscle stiffness are all consequences of our growingly stationary behaviour.
However, although certainly more common now, musculoskeletal issues have been around for a long time, and have been treated using different types of medication for extended periods as well. In fact, since the 1770s, the primary treatment of musculoskeletal health problems has been opioid drugs. As part of the application of western medicine, opioids are a pain-relieving drug which help dull patients’ pain sensories in their body to restore comfort in their body.
However, despite its wide usage amongst individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pains, opioid drugs have caused worldwide concern due to their risks as a well as inability to resolve the core issues behind musculoskeletal problems. Instead, nowadays, a new form of treatment has emerged in the field of musculoskeletal health, known as natural therapy.
The Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis first began in the 1990s, when the medical world saw a surge in opioid prescriptions – alongside a large increase in the number of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids. Known as the first wave of the opioid crisis, the global problem grew larger with its second and third waves (in 2010 and 2013 respectively) as other opioid drugs such as heroin and synthetic opioids also increased the number of overdose deaths.
The crisis was believed to have been caused by the overprescription of opioids for patients suffering from musculoskeletal health concerns, as doctors of the 1990s and early 2000s were unaware of the addictive chemicals used in opioid drugs. It was not until later in the 2000s that data emerged on the consequences of opioid drugs (such as increased risk of overdosage and addiction) that opioid drugs were prescribed more moderately.
Unfortunately, the opioid crisis still continues to this day, with the number of drug overdose deaths increasing (by 5% between 2018 to 2019) every year. According to the CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Infection), the figure has quadrupled since 1999. In an attempt to resolve the crisis, the CDC has recommended western medicine practitioners globally to increase public awareness for the issue, advance research on opioids and monitor trends surrounding the problem. Alongside such methods to resolve the crisis, new forms of treatment have emerged, as an alternative to western medicine when it comes to musculoskeletal health.
The Rise of Natural Therapy
Since the opioid crisis in the late 1990s and early 2000s, natural therapy has emerged as a popular alternative to opioid drugs when recovering from musculoskeletal health concerns. Rather than masking the symptoms of such problems, natural therapy applies a more holistic approach to health, considering factors such as habitual behaviour, diet, exercise patterns and posture when resolving musculoskeletal issues. Through methods such as chiropractic care, acupuncture and physiotherapy, natural therapy targets the root source of problems over just its symptoms.
In making lifestyle adjustments according to those recommended in natural therapy, modern patients are now avoiding the risks of drugs completely, and slowing down the negative effects of the opioid crisis. Musculoskeletal concerns are now treated in various ways, and especially in today’s times when musculoskeletal health concerns such as back pain are the new normal, acknowledging the transition from opioid drugs to natural therapy is incredibly important.