Physical Therapy – an effective alternative to opioids


Physical therapy is being pointed to more and more as a safe and effective alternative to prescription medication for pain management. In a 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that physical therapy can help reduce pain and improve function for those suffering from hip or knee osteoarthritis, low back pain and fibromyalgia.

There are a number of benefits to trying physical therapy before opting for opioids or other pain medication, including:


• No danger of addiction
• No harmful side effects like depression, nausea or overdose
• Lower average cost compared to opioids or other prescription medications
• Treat the root causes of pain instead of just masking the pain
• Learn techniques to avoid pain in the future and live a healthier lifestyle


Physical therapy treatment for pain typically includes manual therapy (hands-on treatment with a clinician), a regimen of tailored exercises and education about the causes of pain and how to relieve it. It can also be helpful to have a partner in treatment, like a physical therapist, who offers support and helps set goals and expectations.

While physical therapy is not right for all causes of pain, it can be a great option for those dealing with osteoarthritis, lower back pain or fibromyalgia, individuals looking for alternatives to surgery, or those recovering from an operation or rehabbing an injury. If you’re curious about how we might be able to help you, remember most people (depending on insurance) can schedule an appointment with a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral. We can assess your symptoms and decide if PT is right for you.