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Say No to Pain Killers, Say Yes to Physical Therapy

Say No to Pain Killers, Say Yes to Physical Therapy

by Leython Williams, PT, DPT, CMTPT1 Comment

We are all too familiar with pain; it is truly one of the unfavorable guarantees that we have in life. Whether it be emotional or physical pain, we learn at a young age that pain is a reality that we all must face. In fact, there is a direct link between our physical pain and emotional wellness. Often times, emotional stressors are manifested in our physical ailments. Just as often, we find ourselves with physical impairments that can trigger certain emotional responses affecting our moods and perspectives.

How PT can manage pain

If we understand that pain is inevitable in our lives, we must also understand that healthy pain management is critical. As physical therapists, we are musculoskeletal experts, treating the muscles, tendons, bones, joints, ligaments and nerves of the body. This not only makes us experts in treating pain holistically, but it also means that we are capable of treating the pain from its source. With a thorough evaluation and examination, physical therapists are able to pinpoint the functional impairments that might be resulting in your pain and, in doing so, we are able to develop a plan of attack to address the body’s physical limitations. This mitigates the need for opioids (“pain killers”) and unhealthy pain management strategies that may do us more harm than help.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled in the United States even though Americans continue to report pain without meaningful change in their frequency, duration, and intensity.1 Opioids, as a pain management approach, are most appropriate in cases including cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and certain acute care cases (if properly dosed). The CDC recommends physical therapy as an effective non-opioid approach for pain management in all other cases. Physical therapy will unmask your pain by identifying the root cause and working with patients to develop treatment plans to address their functional limitations.

The Danger of Opioids

Opioids have potential side effects of depression, overdose, addiction and withdrawal symptoms after use. Their limited long-term reward is outweighed significantly by the risk involved– risk is much lower with non-opioid treatments. Before you agree to a prescription of opioids for your pain, consult with a physical therapist to discuss options for non-opioid treatment. Even in situations when opioids are indicated, the CDC recommends that patients receive the lowest effective dosage while combining their opioid use with non-opioid treatment strategies like physical therapy.

Say “Yes” to Physical Therapy and your therapist will help you set realistic expectations for your recovery with or without pain killers.

Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico. Schedule a free assessment in-clinic or virtually through a secure online video chat where our team can assess your pain and provide recommended treatment options.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.


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Leython Williams was a physical therapist at Athletico Physical Therapy at the time of this blog.

1 Comment

  1. Gwendolyn Williams

    A Great article. Very important, and is crucial for others to understand the importance of Physical Therapy, instead of opioid use.

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