Physical Therapy vs: Opioids For Pain Management

Written By Anthony Chiropractic and Massage on October 19, 2017

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), between 1999 and 2015 the number of prescriptions for opioids such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and Fentanyl quadrupledIn 2015, opioids were responsible for more than 33,000 deaths in the United States alone, and it is believed that over 50% of those people were prescribed the medication by a doctor. Opioid addiction in the United States has become an epidemic with deadly consequences, but finding an alternative to pain management can be challenging for patients who are suffering from it.

As a response to concerns about the growing use and abuse of opioids, the CDC has started to recommend alternative therapies, including the use of physical therapy for pain management.

The Role of Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy as a treatment is used to mitigate and relieve symptoms of pain. It includes isolated exercises that strengthen areas of weakness after an injury, or work to correct structural imbalances in the body.  When seeking relief, it’s important that patients not rely on opioids as corrective measures. While there is an increased risk of addiction to medication, one of the principal arguments against using opioids is that they do not treat the actual problem. Physical therapy on the other hand, plays a valuable role in helping patients with acute or chronic pain treat the source of injury. 

Movements and exercises performed under the direction of a physical therapist also help patients learn how to prevent and manage conditions. PT can help restore function to joints or muscles that have been damaged through misuse, repetitive use, or injury. This therapy can alleviate pain and diminish the uncomfortable sensations going forward.

Strategies For Pain Management

Chronic pain is debilitating. According to the National Institute for Health (NIH), over 100 million Americans report pain that last for weeks or years.  The use of physical therapy for pain management can be a positive step in reducing the severity of symptoms. Moreover, correctly performed, physical therapy serves as a rehabilitative process to correct, strengthen, and stabilize injured areas in the body.

The use of prescription medication to manage pain is appropriate in certain circumstances, and can be used in conjunction with physical therapy under the supervision of a medical doctor. However, in cases where the pain has persisted for more than 90 days, physical therapy for pain management is a better option.


Posted In: Pain Management Physical Therapy