This October, the American Physical Therapy Association will carry on raising awareness of physical therapy as a safe and effective alternative to opioids for treatment of chronic pain conditions through their #ChoosePT campaign.
Why Physical Therapy for Pain Management?
- Americans continue to be prescribed and to misuse opioids at alarming rates.
- Doctor-prescribed opioids are appropriate in some cases, but they just mask the pain and come with significant risks including depression, overdose, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms. That is why the CDC recommends safer alternatives like physical therapy to manage pain.
- No one wants to live in pain. But no one should put their health at risk in an effort to be pain free.
- Physical therapy is effective for numerous conditions, and the CDC supports exercise as part of physical therapist treatment for common conditions like low back pain, hip and knee osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. On the other hand, opioid effectiveness for long-term pain management is inconclusive in many cases.
- The benefits of physical therapy include improved mobility, increased independence, decreased pain, and prevention of other health problems through movement and exercise.
- Physical therapists treat pain through movement, hands-on care, and patient education¹—and by increasing physical activity you can also reduce your risk of other chronic diseases.
Other Reasons to Choose PT:
- Alternative to surgery: Physical therapy has been found to be as effective as surgery for conditions including meniscal tears and knee osteoarthritis², and rotator cuff tears³.
- Individualized treatment: Physical therapist treatment plans are tailored to each person’s needs and goals, taking preexisting conditions into account.
- Identification of potential risks: Physical therapists can identify additional health issues, beyond what the patient initially came to physical therapy for.
1. Rundell SD, Davenport TE. Patient education based on principles of cognitive behavioral therapy for a patient with persistent low back pain: a case report. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2010:40:494–501.
2. Katz JN, Brophy RH, Chaisson CE, et al. Surgery versus physical therapy for a meniscal tear and osteoarthritis [erratum in: N Engl J Med. 2013;369:683]. N Engl J Med. 2013;368:1675-1684.
3. Longo UG, Franceschi F, Berton A, et al. Conservative treatment and rotator cuff tear progression. Med Sport Sci. 2012;57:90–99.
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