Fighting the Opioid Epidemic with Physical Therapy

The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality reports that the use of opioids for chronic pain has become an area of increasing concern because of uncertain long-term effectiveness and the increase in accidental overdoses. Patients with low back pain are frequently prescribed opioids and account for a high proportion of these patients. Last month the CDC released its first ever guidelines for dispensing opioids. Doctors are now being urged to avoid prescribing these addictive drugs for chronic pain.

How can physical therapy help fight this epidemic? The answer is pretty simple. A study done in 2012 showed that early physical therapy intervention for low back pain versus delayed intervention caused a decrease in:

  1. The use of opioid medications
  2. Un-necessary x-rays or MRIs
  3. Injections
  4. Surgery
  5. Cost by $2700.00 per case.

(Fritz et al, 2012)

This is because physical therapy is dealing with the root cause of the issue instead of masking the paid like the drugs do.

Related: Physical Therapy For Back Pain

Things Physical Therapists do that would curb the use of opioids:

  • Education
  • Self-pain management techniques to give you control
  • Manual treatment of joints and soft tissues to decrease pain , improve movement
  • Pain relieving techniques to decrease pain, swelling and inflammation
  • Movement and strengthening programs along with prevention

The bottom line: Seek help for your pain sooner rather than later.


Top 4 Ways to Relieve Back Pain

How Healthy Is Your Spine?