PT vs. Opioids. The Why. #ChoosePT

Recapping blog episode number one this month: opioids are a growing and significant problem and physical therapy is the proper solution.

Today’s agenda: Why? Prove it!

As most people can probably guess, a recent study reported that individuals’ (people currently seeking treatment for opioid addiction) primary goal for initially taking opioids was pain relief (Weiss et al., 2014). However, the majority of these same individuals then reported their main rationale for continuing opioid treatment was avoidance of withdrawal symptoms (Weiss et al., 2014); pain was no longer the culprit. To me, this situation has addiction written all over it.

As physical therapists, reducing pain/discomfort is the root of virtually all our interventions. If we can reduce patient pain ASAP (Science, 2017), therefore reducing the need for patient opioid dependency early, we can be the barrier that prevents the continuation of this addiction cycle. As the research article stated, people’s main reason they continue to take prescription pain medication is to prevent withdrawal symptoms; PT = less pain = less opioids = less withdrawal(s) = less people continuing opioids = less addiction. I wasn’t a math major, but that equation makes sense to me!


1. Weiss, R. D., Potter, J. S., Griffin, M. L., McHugh, R. K., Haller, D., Jacobs, P., … Rosen, K. D. (2014). Reasons for opioid use among patients with dependence on prescription opioids: The role of chronic pain. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment47(2), 140–145.