Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Early Physical Therapy Associated With Reduced Long Term Opioid Use

December 15, 2018


Each day over one hundred Americans die from an opioid overdose. Over prescription and use of prescription pain relievers has largely contributed to these unnecessary deaths and the $78 billion dollar economic burden of the opioid epidemic. Authors estimate over 2 million Americans are currently suffering from a substance abuse disorder related to these prescriptions. Experts are now recommending non pharmaceutical pain relieving alternatives including meditation and Physical Therapy. Research strongly points to the early utilization of Physical Therapy as a safe, clinically and cost effective intervention for patients suffering from musculoskeletal pain. A new research study Physical Therapists may play in the opioid epidemic.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a review article on the impact of early Physical Therapy on the utilization of opioid medication (Sun et al. 2018). Authors reviewed the cases of over 88,000 patients with neck, back, knee, or shoulder pain. Patient cases were then reviewed retrospectively to determine the type and amount of interventions utilized to treat these patient’s symptoms. Authors reported early Physical Therapy was associated with a significant reduction in the amount of opioids prescribed and the duration of these prescriptions. Authors recommended Physical Therapy as a first line intervention for a treatment of these musculoskeletal conditions.

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