Physical Therapy Over Pills

Physical Therapy Over Pills

One thing we can say about the opioid abuse epidemic: it does not discriminate. Opioids often are prescribed to treat pain, it has been felt from rural to urban, across social and economic classes, and from farm to factory workers. With overuse of opioids for the treatment of pain becoming a national public health epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines in March 2016 that recommend nondrug approaches such as physical therapy over addictive prescription painkillers.[1]

Doctor-prescribed opioids are appropriate in some cases, but they just mask the pain. Opioid risks include depression, overdose, and addiction, plus symptoms of withdrawal when stopping use. That’s why the CDC recommends non-opioid approaches like physical therapy to manage pain.

Physical therapists treat pain through movement, hands-on-care, and patient education. Physical therapists treat all ages and physical abilities. The CDC guidelines support exercise as part of PT for the treatment of lower back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.

When seeking help for chronic pain, consult with a physical therapist to discuss non-opioid options. Physical therapists fully examine the musculoskeletal condition and determine the actual cause of pain. From there, they develop a customized treatment plan to reduce or eliminate the pain often, reducing or eliminating the need for pain medication.

[1] Dowell D. Haegerich TM, Chor R. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain – United States, 2016. MMWR Recomm Rep 2016:65(No. RR-1):1-49, DOI:

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