The United States has a big problem. We have become a place where opioid medication is handed out almost like candy to deal with pain of all types. We consume 99% of the world’s supply of hydrocodone. So, we should all be feeling great, right? Sadly, no. While the number of people using pain medication has increased, reported pain has not changed. Also, there are serious side effects that may occur with using these types of medications. One of the most serious side effects is that these medications are habit forming. In 2014, two million Americans were addicted to opioid pain medications. This can often lead to abuse of other illegal drugs.
In 2016, The United States Surgeon General sent a letter to doctors addressing the issue. As part of the plan to fight this epidemic, several suggestions were put forth. One of those things was the use of exercise and physical therapy as a type of treatment that should be considered before prescribing addictive pain medication.
So how can physical therapy help? Physical Therapists are uniquely trained to assess and manage musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. Physical therapists can help guide patients through exercise programs tailored specifically for their problem as well as provide hands on manual therapy techniques designed to improve mobility and reduce pain. Physical therapists can also provide education on ways to lessen your pain and strategies to get back to normal life. In a study published in the journal Health Services Research, findings indicate that patients who saw a physical therapist before trying other treatments had an 89% lower probability of needing an opioid prescription.
Physical therapy is a frequently under-utilized option that should be considered as a first line treatment for pain. It offers an opioid free, long term solution for treating the primary cause of pain. If you, or someone you know, is suffering with pain due to a musculoskeletal issue, consider asking your doctor about physical therapy or call us directly at 717-790-9994 to set up an appointment to be evaluated.
Stephany Primrose, P.T.