Finding a New Normal After an Injury and Why Opiates do Not Help You Recover

After an injury, rehabilitation can take time and patience, but during or even after recovery, discovering how your life will change can be challenging, and acceptance of those comparative differences can be understandably difficult. 

Recognizing that trauma can change you both physically and mentally is important in working to find you “new normal.” Consider how you will move through the five stages of grief after an injury can impact your rehabilitation and recovery. 

The five stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — usually experienced in that order. While everyone experiences trials differently due to life circumstances, we can all understand how a major life disruption makes waves and the ripples can affect almost every part  of your life. A serious injury can impact how you view yourself; and accepting that you are now different can be difficult. 

Try Not to Isolate Yourself (too Much)

If you have been injured, reaching out to friends, family, doctors, therapists or others in your life can help you overcome some of the emotional challenges you might face. It is important to communicate how you feel with those you love and trust. 

We understand that recovering from an injury sustained from a trauma can be incredibly lonely because you might feel like no one can really understand how you feel and what you are facing. However, it is important to engage in self-care, knowing when to ask for more space from your support team and when to actively seek their encouragement. 

While those closest to you may not understand every detail of what you are going through, your recovery team can embrace you with love and support and help you rebuild hope in the future. 

There will be Good Days and Bad Days

Physical recover can happen fairly linearly, you can work hard, hit recovery benchmarks and feel stronger every day. However, when paired with emotional recovery there can be good days and bad days. Sometimes depression can cripple your thoughts and it might be difficult for you to continue to move forward on that day, but what is important to keep in mind is that tomorrow can be different. It is absolutely normal to feel overwhelmed or sad during stages of your recovery. Take a moment when you need it, then focus again on how to work towards emotional stability and rehabilitation.  

Medication as Support, Not Crutch 

During recovery, pain can be managed with medication, but the overuse of opioids can have lasting effects. In fact, recent studies show that despite making up only 5% of the world’s population, the United States now consumes about 80% of the world’s opioid pain medication. Opioid drugs can be effective when used sparingly. Doctors are now working to better advise patients to the dangers of overuse and provide alternatives to opioids after their peak usefulness has passed. 

Some types of alternative natural pain remedies might be effective in relieving your symptoms. For example, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care used individually or in conjunction could be effective in alleviating your pain. 

The Injury Care Center has many specialists who practice chiropractic medicine and spinal manipulation; these options are safe and natural mechanisms for coping with pain. Not only are these methods used to ease pain, they also have been known to release dopamine-stimulating endorphins to combat depression and improve overall body function.

If you are experiencing chronic pain from your injury, doctors might be more inclined to provide you with opioid prescriptions, but finding the right combination of medication and exercise could reduce your dependency on strong pain medications. 

Studies show that mild, low-impact exercise can greatly improve functionality and mobility in a person, and exercises that also focus on mindfulness, like yoga, have been proven to relieve chronic back pain, joint pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other related conditions. Indeed, a recent study of adults with chronic back pain revealed that, over the course of 26 weeks, mindfulness treatments actually resulted in great improvements in back pain and functionality. 

Reducing Harm From Opioid Use as Pain Management Treatment 

Injuries can sometimes lead to chronic pain and managing that pain often includes some regimen of pain medication. The term “chronic pain” represents a wide variety of conditions that range from, but are not limited to low back pain, chronic headache, and fibromyalgia. Chronic pains are burdensome for the individual and their family members. The presence of chronic pain in patients also increases the risk for depression and anxiety and it has been estimated that the prevalence of suicide attempts is between two and three times greater in the this population of patients.

In 2001, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations introduced a requirement that pain be assessed for all patients together with standard vital signs. Advocacy for this practice was engendered during the 1990s by pain management national leadership, which resulted in a comprehensive educational effort to encourage healthcare professionals to assess pain levels in all patients and provide treatment as needed.

Following the recognition that chronic pain is a quality-of-life issue that requires proper management, doctors began to prescribe more opioid therapies for patients who presented with various forms of pain. More recently, however, as the rates of opioid addiction have escalated, public support for their use has diminished, and opioid prescribing practices have come under scrutiny as a primary cause of the current epidemic.

Contact the Injury Care Center 

The Injury Care Center can work with patients facing injury or chronic pain stemming from an injury by providing alternatives to addictive medications, like opioids. We take a holistic, patient-centered approach to wellness and encourage patients to find the right treatment balance for them. Providing for emotional wellness alongside physical recovery can help a person feel more like they have a complete plan for returning to a life most similar to their life before their injury.