How Can the Opioid Epidemic be combatted by Physical Therapy?
by Allison Garmager, PT, DPT

Physical therapists play a crucial role in helping to combat the opioid epidemic. In 2018 the CDC reported the number of deaths from prescription drug overdose was 4x higher than it was in 1999. Opioid medications are frequently used for pain control. With numerous harmful side effects, opioids should only be used for a short time, ideally for only a few days after surgery or injury.

opioid epidemic deaths

How can physical therapy help?

Healthcare providers must collaborate in order to effectively reduce opioid use. How can physical therapists positively contribute to this effort? Physical therapists are educated in pain neuroscience. They evaluate each client’s condition, discuss a plan of care, and prescribe exercises to manage pain while facilitating healing. When we perform exercise in the right dosage, our bodies produce and release natural endorphins that offer pain relief. In addition, exercise has a host of benefits for our physical and mental health.  

Physical therapists also provide manual therapy techniques which when paired with exercise can reduce pain and promote the body’s natural healing processes. By improving mobility and decreasing tension in muscles, our clients are able to increase their function. Physical therapists will prescribe a unique movement and manual therapy program for each client’s condition, needs, and goals.  

Through physical therapy, our clients learn techniques that help manage their pain successfully and independently. Thus, eliminating the use of opioid medications. Physical therapists can work together with physicians, pharmacists, and other providers to reduce opioid use and combat the opioid epidemic to build communities of healthy, happy, hope-filled people.  

At Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy, our mission is to transform lives and restore hope through movement. Please contact us online or by calling 866-588-0230 if you or someone you know would benefit from physical therapy or occupational therapy to manage pain, move better and feel better!