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Using the 'Alternative': Physical Therapy for Chronic Pain Management

Chronic Pain. Do you have it? I bet if you don’t, the next person reading this blog does.

Pain in America is astounding.

According to the National Institute of Health over 25 million people experience chronic

pain. 25 million! That means each and every one of these people have suffered daily over the last 3 months or more, and may even continue to suffer. (Just a FYI: “typical healing” is less than 3 months). Continuing along this unfortunate vein, more than half of us, 55.7%, have experienced pain in the last 3 months.

Even more astounding is the zealous use of opioids for pain management, especially long term.

Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely appropriate clinical situations in which to utilize prescription opioids and the CDC has outlined these. However, in almost the last 2 decades the amount of opioid related deaths has quadrupled and “91 Americans die daily from an opioid overdose.” (I know you are thinking “well that’s the bad drugs,” but unfortunately, this includes those prescribed prescription opioids, which were initially seen as helpful.) Despite this rise, and very disappointingly, Americans continue to have pain, and the level has not decreased. Sigh…

News Flash: Living with chronic pain….or pain in general is not alright with me, and you should not consider it normal. Physical Therapy can help your pain.

What do you do for your chronic pain? What has a medical professional offered to you?

1. Medication?

2. Injection?

3. Rest?

4. Physical Therapy?

Of the list above, make sure to discuss the first, erring on the side of caution, and choose the last! Physical therapy for the treatment of chronic pain is a safe and effective route. The CDC is one our side, recently recommending non-opioid approaches to the management of chronic pain, including physical therapy.

It is my role as a physical therapist and health care provider to educate, advocate for my patients and provide quality care. My point is not to denounce medication prescription, but rather inform patients of risks and offer an effective alternative or adjunct therapy.

I want to see my patients move better. I want my patients to feel thoroughly listened to and I want my patients to feel successfully treated. I want them to notice results physically, and emotionally feel better. Physical therapy has the ability to decrease the negative effects of chronic pain. Chronic pain can lead to decreased quality of life, depression, job loss and reduced functional level and activity tolerance. If you suffer from chronic pain, I ask you to give physical therapy a chance!

But you may say…. “I can’t go to physical therapy. It will just hurt me more.”

FALSE!!!!! (If it was acceptable to have the word ‘false’ take up your entire computer screen, I would.)

As a physical therapist, I evaluate you specifically. I will not prescribe a treatment plan that is too challenging, painful, or detrimental to your overall forward progress. I will work within your pain threshold and progressively move forward. I communicate with you and we openly discuss questions, concerns and expectations.

If it is not that PT will hurt you, you may say…. “I can just do physical therapy myself.”

ALSO FALSE!!!!! (please seen note in parentheses above)

You will require the expertise of a physical therapist. I, or any other therapist you choose, will guide and progress you appropriately without being too aggressive. (If I had a dollar for every time a person said “I didn’t know such a simple exercise would be so beneficial, I probably would no longer have college student loan debt….maybe?!) I have schooling as my base, but also have taken many continuing education courses on varying topics, including myofascial release, functional exercise and manual therapy….next up, more on pain science!

If you would like to set up a consultation to discuss your pain click here.

You are not alone. We listen. We support. We educate. We build a relationship. We know that chronic pain is real.

Knowledge is power. Educate yourself with the additional links below:

References from article above (Listed in order of occurrence)


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