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Published on November 14, 2017

physical therapist with patient

Say No to Drugs and Opt For Physical Therapy

By Stephanie Lenards, PT, Avera Therapy - Watertown

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2015, that 33,091 people died in the United States due to the use of opioids, a type of narcotic prescription pain medication. That is comparable to the deaths from car crashes in America the same year. Due to the potential adverse reactions from opioids that have become more common, medical providers have changed their delivery model and are more hesitant to prescribe prescription painkillers. Patients have their own risk factors and pain relief is being addressed using a case by case model. An important viable option for medication free-pain relief is physical therapy.

Physical therapists are trained in using manual therapy and exercise, in addition to other techniques, to alter soft tissue, muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves in the body. There is a neurological and physiological response to touch and improvement with range of motion that changes the brain’s understanding of pain. Physical therapists are also skilled at directing the treatment plan according to individuals’ treatment goals working 1:1 with the person to achieve the physical therapy objective(s). The psychological involvement of a patient’s pain is also addressed in treatment sessions due to physical therapists providing hands on healing and emotional support.

The deaths of John Belushi, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, Prince, Janis Joplin, and Chris Farley were all tied to the use of painkillers. The benefits of physical therapy seem to outweigh the risk of taking a potentially addictive and harmful medication for long duration and in the therapy process, you are likely to achieve physical, emotional and psychological benefits. As a physical therapist, I wish I would have had the opportunity to offer my skills to one of those “stars” and perhaps we would still be enjoying their talents.

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