Research

Physical Therapy For Low Back Pain Can Prevent Opioid-Addiction

The opioid crisis has reached a staggering high to cure pain. There have been overdose deaths associated with prescription drug use and heightened emergency room visits. Overdoses have more than quadrupled since 1999 “and have outnumbered those involving heroin and cocaine” [1]  A study published early this year by the Health Services Research analyzed hundreds of thousands of health insurance claims between 2009 and 2013 through a span of 6 states, focusing on patients with low back pain. There was a comparison made between patients who receive physical therapy treatment before seeing a doctor or specialist and those who received physical therapy afterwards, or not at all.

“When LBP patients saw a PT first, there was lower utilization of high‐cost medical services as well as lower opioid use, and cost shifts reflecting the change in utilization.” [2]

Patients who saw a physical therapy first before resorting to see a doctor or specialist had an 89% lower probability of needing a prescription for any opioids. They also found that these patients had a 28% lower probability of needing advanced and expensive imaging services and a 15% lower probability of making visits to the emergency room. Additionally, the patients involved in this research found a significantly cheaper [on average, $500] out of pocket costs from visiting a physical therapist.

People need to keep in mind that Physical Therapists are trained and educated in delivering pain management without the use of prescription drugs or injections. They train and condition your body and muscles to heal themselves overtime not only to halt the current pain, but to ensure that you remain without the pain. They give patients the opportunity to strengthen their muscular skeletal system.

By guiding patients through exercises and strengthening regimens, they help them develop control over their movements in an effective, and pain-free ways which include correcting posture that eventually leads to pains and discomforts.

The health care system often makes it difficult for patients to seek out physical therapy treatment and forces them to depend on cheaper and more accessible alternatives like prescription pain killers. There is a growing and intensifying need to provide patients with ways to manage their current or chronic pain so they do not become an opioid statistic. Physical Therapy can give patients a chance to manage their pain on their own for longer lasting and independent results.