Physical Therapy Can Reduce Opioid Addiction

November 14th, 2017

With unintentional drug overdoses on a sharp increase within the U.S., more medical professionals are seeking treatment options that don’t carry the risk of opioid addiction. Certainly, reducing pain through opioids can be a legitimate treatment for cancer patients or end of life care. However mushrooming addiction rates make methods such as physical therapy a better first-line treatment than opioids, with improved outcomes and fewer risks.

When is Physical Therapy Right for You?

It’s never too late to discontinue long term opioid use (under your doctor’s supervision) in favor of physical therapy. And, of course, if you are newly seeking help for pain and function, physical therapy should be seriously evaluated as a first-line treatment.

In general, physical therapy helps when there’s a good chance of both easing pain and treating your underlying condition. Among the situations in which a physical therapist may be better for you than a prescription pad are:

  • If pain has persisted for more than three months. Once your condition reaches a 90-day mark, it’s considered chronic. Opioids only mask, rather than treat, pain from chronic conditions.
  • If decreased strength and loss of movement is part of the problem. When pain or stiffness has arisen from conditions such as tendonitis, sciatica, fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis, patients lose full range of motion. Physical therapy has been found to be better suited at treating these conditions than opioids, which only mask pain.

Types of Physical Therapy

Patients are often surprised to find that physical therapy is comprised of more than just a rote number of exercises. Certainly customized strength training is the most helpful as deconditioned or weak muscles can put added strain on your joints! Elliott physical therapist are equipped to offer a range of other solutions and an individualized plan of care to address your movement goals. 

Physical therapy often includes manual therapy and other hands-on methods to ease painful joints and muscles, while increasing mobility. Moving aching limbs via warm water therapy can both reduce pain and increase strength.

In addition, Elliott physical therapist can demonstrate more efficient and less painful ways to move, sleep, work out and perform other daily challenges.