Physical Therapy as an Alternative to Opioid Use

Physical Therapy as an Alternative to Opioid Use

The latest health epidemic to sweep the country has been opioid use. The CDC estimates that 91 Americans die every day from overdosing on this drug. Far from being individuals looking to experiment with risk or just escape life, many of opioid’s victims are people who never would have abused drugs had they not first needed to take them for chronic pain. Because of these staggering statistics we need to promote physical Therapy as an alternative to opioid use.

All too often, the pains that first cause people to seek their doctor for help is back pain. Since two-thirds of Americans suffer from some form of back pain every year, it’s easy to see how opioid use has become the epidemic that it is.

At PT Northwest, we’re here to tell you that drug use is not your only option when it comes to treating chronic pain. We’re taking up the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) mantle of #ChoosePT when it comes to treatment. In many cases, physical therapy can replace painkillers altogether. President of the APTA, Sharon Dunn, PT, DPT, OCS had this to say when addressing the House of Delegates on June 6th of last year:

“A crucial window of opportunity for our profession—a chance to step forward and assume the massive responsibility of treating the millions of Americans in pain, without the real dangers of prescription opioids, and a chance to let the public know that when it comes to treatment for pain, they do have a choice and that choice can be physical therapy.”

At PT Northwest, we have seen “legacy” patients who have used opioids for many years find success in overcoming their pain through physical therapy. This is why we are working with other healthcare groups in our communities to educate patients about how physical therapy as an alternative to opioid use can be beneficial to patients with chronic pain.

We would like to take this time to thank local healthcare payers and governing bodies for their proactive approach when it comes to choosing PT, and putting their patients at the center of the discussion. Willamette Valley Community Health assembled a task force to look at the treatment of back pain and the use of opioids. Our own Tyler Gilmore, MAT, ATC, PES joined that task force to both represent PT Northwest and physical therapy as a discipline.

If you’re ready to discuss using physical therapy as a replacement for prescription painkillers, give us a call. To learn more about physical therapy and opioids, visit