Can Physical Therapy Replace Pain Medication?

There are a great many reasons you may want to stop -- or never start -- taking pain medication. Chronic pain can have an ever-increasing negative impact on your life, and while pain medication may bring relief in one sense, it opens the door for a host of other problems. 

If you’re wondering if physical therapy could be a viable alternative to pain medicine in dealing with your problem, you’ll be happy to know that it often can be. Whether you’re currently taking pain medications and would like to stop, or you’re considering alternatives to starting to take them, here are a few reasons you may want to see if physical therapy can help. 

Don’t just mask the pain

Pain killers do exactly that: kill the pain. They don’t address the cause of your pain. If your knee hurts and you take pain medication, your pain may ease, but whatever is making your knee hurt remains unchanged. That means when you stop taking the pain medication, the pain is still there. 

Physical therapy uses a radically different approach. We begin by assessing the root cause of your pain and then create a plan to address it. Your pain may not stop immediately, but the goal is to correct the problem causing the pain. 

Side effects can be deadly

The national opioid crisis demonstrates the real dangers of the potential side effects of pain medication all too clearly. Addiction and overdose affect people from just about every community in the country. In 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 130 people in the United States died each day due to opioid overdose. 

In some cases, pain medication is entirely appropriate, but if physical therapy is a viable alternative to addressing your pain, you have a less dangerous avenue to follow. 

Multidisciplinary approach is the most successful

Research has shown that the most successful programs for pain management are those that include specialists from multiple disciplines. Physical therapists are comfortable working with primary care providers, surgeons, and others that you may be receiving treatment from. We may also suggest you add flexibility training such as yoga, or stress relief techniques like meditation to your routine, and we can make suggestions on where you can turn for help with those modalities. 

Common, but tricky, problems resolved

Physical therapy is one of the most successful treatments for conditions such as low back pain, fibromyalgia, and other pain syndromes that are often difficult to treat effectively. In 2016, the CDC released guidelines for opioid prescribing and cited high-quality evidence that physical therapy should be part of treatment plans for people with those difficult-to-treat conditions that cause pain. 

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of physical therapy or find out if you’re a candidate for it, book an appointment at Revive Medical. You can schedule online anytime of the day or night, or feel free to give us a call during regular business hours at one of our offices in Oklahoma City or San Diego.