The American opioid (morphine, heroin, and drugs like Oxycontin, hydrocodone, Tramadol, etc) epidemic has been the subject of great media attention over the past year or two, and for good reason.
Dependence on opioids affects nearly 5 million people in the United States, leading to approximately 17,000 deaths per year.  Between 2013 and 2014, there was a 14% increase in opioid overdose deaths and half of the deaths related to drug overdoses in the United States come from prescriptions.   Much of the debate on this opioid crisis has focused on blame; pointing fingers at prescribing physicians, lack of pharmacy regulations, pharmaceutical marketing and even the patients who can quickly become addicted to these powerful medications. The fact is that Americans have had an unhealthy relationship with pain for a very long time, even embracing the invention of heroin in the late 1800’s as a non-prescription medicine for the treatment of coughs, with Bayer marketing the drug as a safe, non-addictive alternative to morphine! More modern opioid medications were developed for very short-term use, no longer than a couple weeks, in cases such as surgical pain or for end-of-life care in people with painful, terminal diseases.
Rather than pointing the finger at who is responsible for the current problem, the common use of powerful and addictive opioids for common musculoskeletal pain and work-related injuries the problem of treating ongoing pain for years on end with opiates, RockTape has focused our attention on the conservative methods we can offer as a viable alternative for people with pain.
Without deep diving into neurology and pain science, there is excellent evidence supporting the use of movement, bodywork and joint manipulation, acupuncture, exercise, yoga and behavior modification for pain, especially the chronic pain that is so popularly treated with opioids in the United States today. Virtually every practice guideline for providers from the Official Disability Guidelines to the American College of Environmental and Occupational Medicine recommend a trial of conservative care before even considering the use of opioids in the treatment of pain, yet many providers have been exceedingly slow to adopt these guidelines because it is easier to write a prescription than it is to address the underlying cause of the pain itself. This “drive-thru” convenience attitude toward pain has not made the problem any better, however, and statistics show it is only getting worse.
Most of the healthcare providers who have embraced RockTape’s products are these same conservative care specialists: chiropractors, physical and occupational therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, manual and movement therapists of all types and even veterinarians. These providers understand the value of being able to modulate pain with skin stimulation (in pain science, this is called the “gate theory” of pain), direct treatment of underlying musculoskeletal pain generators, movement and exercise, natural desensitization and behavior modification. They use a variety of methods including RockTape kinesiology tape, Blades and Mohawk instruments, non-addictive, safe topicals like RockSauce and Chill that relieve pain through targeting specific chemical receptors and the variety of exercise and self-myofascial manipulation tools RockTape has created like rollers, balls and bands.
No doubt, it takes more work and effort for providers and patients alike to treat pain with these methods. It is not as easy as picking up a prescription from a pharmacy, however, these methods also offer safe, addition-free and effective forms of pain relief that are not possible with opioids. Opiates are truly a miracle for patients in extremely severe pain that is untreatable by any other method, but outside of these rare cases they simply mask symptoms and do not address the underlying causes of pain like conservative treatment can.
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-44, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4713. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012.
 CDC. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000–2014. CDC. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm64e1218a1.htm. December 18, 2015; Accessed: December 24, 2015.
 Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report. The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report. June 2015. Available at http://www.healthyamericans.org/reports/injuryprevention15/.
Article by Steve Agocs
Source: RockTape USA