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Physical Therapy VS Opioids

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Many Americans suffer through back and body pain. Often times people jump to the conclusion of intense back surgery or masking the pain with opioids. Both of these could have highly dangerous outcomes and could prolong or worsen your problem. Before you jump to conclusions, physical therapy may be able to ease or solve your pain without drugs or surgery.

A study conducted by The University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and George Washington University in Washington, D.C., showed that patients who saw a physical therapist before trying other treatments such as surgery or an opioid prescription had an 89 percent lower probability of needing such treatments. This study also concluded that patients of physical therapy have a 28 percent lower probability of having any advanced imaging done as well as a 15 percent lower probability of making one or more ER visit.

Physical therapists have specialized knowledge in pain management and how to correct your body to relieve yourself of pain, such as lower back pain. Therapists can guide patients through regimens and exercises to strengthen and improve muscles which can ease pain.

If you are deciding if physical therapy is right for you vs other options consider these points.

The risk of opioids outweigh the rewards- potential side effects of include depression, overdose, and addiction, in addition to withdrawal symptoms when stopping opioid use. Because of these risks experts believe that opioids should not be the first option or routine therapy for chronic pain.

Pain lasts 90 days or more- Pain is considered chronic at this point. The CDC guidelines state that nonopioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain and opioids only should be considered if the benefits for both pain and function outweigh the risk to the patient. Try to consider physical therapy as a first option for chronic pain relief.

Pain is related to low back pain, hip, knee or fibromyalgia- Physical therapy has shown high evidence stating that exercise as part of treatment for these conditions can help reduce and heal pain.

If opioids are prescribed for pain- It is recommended to receive the lowest effective dose and still be combined with nonopioid therapies, such as physical therapy.

Before starting any opioid treatments consult with your doctor and physical therapist to find the best treatment for you and your pain.