Physical Therapy is a better alternative for managing chronic pain


COVID-19 is not the only epidemic the United States has been facing in the last few years. The opioid crisis preceded COVID-19 and has become an even larger issue as a result of the global pandemic.  A large number of people addicted to opiates were initially prescribed them for a legitimate use however, there are much safer, non-drug options available.

In a March 2016 guideline, the CDC said the use of opioids can be avoided completely—in most cases—by using non-drug therapies, including Physical Therapy (PT).

In March 2016 the CDC issued a guideline stating that while there are certain conditions—including cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care—where prescribed opioids for chronic pain may be appropriate, in many cases opioid use could be greatly reduced or avoided altogether.

“The contextual evidence review found that many nonpharmacologic therapies, including physical therapy… can ameliorate (lessen) chronic pain,” the guideline states. “There is high-quality evidence that exercise therapy (a major part of physical therapy) for hip or knee osteoarthritis reduces pain and improves function right after treatment and that the improvements last for at least 2-6 months… Exercise therapy also can help reduce pain and improve function in low back pain and can improve global well-being and physical function in fibromyalgia.”

Physical therapists partner with patients, their families, and other health care providers to manage pain, and reduce or eliminate the need for opioids. Research has shown that an education session with a physical therapist can lead to improved function, range of motion, and decreased pain.

Before you agree to prescribed opioids, ask your doctor physical therapy might be right for you.

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Information pulled directly from the CDC website: cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm