By now, most people have heard that there is a healthcare crisis in our country related to the use and abuse of opioids. I just read an interesting fact that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that, “although sales of opioids have quadrupled in the United States, there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report”.(1) Although there is certainly a time and place for opioid medication, the chronic overuse of opioid prescription medications can lead to other health issues, the worst of which being death related to abuse or dependence of the medication which is certainly getting the most press these days.
Because of this epidemic, the CDC and other health task forces are working to find alternatives to opioids for the treatment of chronic pain (pain lasting greater than 2-3 months). Of course, physical therapy is included in this list of alternatives, as our main job is helping people improve their quality of life and function while reducing pain. In the CDC’s main review and guidelines on the prescription of opioids, they highlight that physical therapy- specifically exercise therapy- is an effective tool for reducing pain and improving function in patients with low back pain, knee pain, hip pain, and fibromyalgia.(2) Furthermore, therapy that combines exercise with psychologically-informed approaches is even more effective in the treatment of chronic pain than one approach alone.(2) These approaches are integral in physical therapy training, and we are able to refer out to other psychological providers in our community if your specific treatment plan would benefit from this addition to maximize the benefits you can see.
With physical therapists that are specially trained to help you understand why you hurt and what you can do about it- including helping you find ways to minimize stress and make action plans for changing behaviors that may be feeding into your pain- you can see great benefit in your life when you team up with a physical therapist. All of our PTs at Tomsic Physical Therapy have been trained to help individuals in all walks of life to move better, feel better, and live better using the power of knowledge, exercise, and movement. If you have been dealing with pain and aren’t sure what to do about it beyond taking medication, don’t hesitate to contact us to set up an appointment for an initial evaluation to discover what physical therapy can do for your life.
1. American Physical Therapy Association. Physical Therapy vs Opioids: When to Choose Physical Therapy for Pain Management. https://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Detail/physical-therapy-vs-opioids-when-to-choose-physica. Accessed August 10, 2018.
2. Dowell D, Haegerich TM, Chou R. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016. MMWR Recomm Rep 2016;65(No. RR-1):1–49. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.rr6501e1