After an injury or in the wake of surgery, one of the goals of treatment is to reduce pain and help healing run its course. Both physical therapy and prescription medications can help to reduce pain and discomfort as we progress through a rehabilitation program, but that doesn’t mean they both offer the same benefits and drawbacks. In our opinion, physical therapy is much preferred to opioids for pain control after an injury or surgery. We explain why you should choose physical therapy over opioids in today’s blog.
Why PT Is Better Than Opioids For Pain Control
While both physical therapy and pain medications help to limit discomfort while you’re recovering from injury or surgery, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to choose just one of them. Oftentimes painkillers and physical therapy are used in conjunction with one another for best results, but if you’re going to lean harder into one of the treatments, it needs to be physical therapy. Here’s why:
- Opioids Can Be Addictive – We hope that the dopamine rush you get from physical therapy has you wanting to come back for another session in the near future, but it’s clear that the addictive properties of physical therapy aren’t nearly as dangerous as those associated with opioids. Over time, our bodies can start to crave opioids, and eventually as our bodies start to get used to the medication, the dosage becomes less effective. This can lead people to take more than recommended to achieve pain relief, which can lead to addiction or even an overdose. Opioids have addictive properties, physical therapy does not.
- Opioids Are Expensive – Strong pain relief medications can be expensive, and that’s especially true if your prescription continues on for months or longer. Since opioids are considered a passive option, you may find that pain lingers and you’re treating it for much longer than if you had pursued more active methods, like physical therapy. Over time, these prescription prices add up and can get expensive. Physical therapy isn’t free, but most insurance companies cover a large portion of the cost because it is viewed as a very effective active solution.
- Treatment Is Slower – On that above point, opioids are a passive option that treat the symptoms of discomfort, not the underlying problem. They aren’t going to help increase flexibility in a joint or physically strengthen ligaments like physical therapy can, which is why a treatment plan that leans heavily on opioids can go on for much longer than had the patient committed to physical therapy. PT helps to treat the underlying cause of pain or the actual injured structure. Opioids can certainly help to limit discomfort and make it easier to complete a physical therapy routine, but they won’t target the root problem in and of themselves.
- Won’t Help You Return To Your Best Self – Opioids can help to manage pain, but they don’t do anything to help a person become physically stronger when recovering from an injury. Opioids won’t help to strengthen a torn Achilles tendon that is recovering from surgery or prevent a herniated disc from coming back, but physical therapy will. Physical therapy can help us become more physically independent, improve our overall quality of life and even come back stronger than we were before the injury. Don’t just survive after an injury or surgery, thrive. The easiest way to do that is by committing to a physical therapy routine.
If you’re looking for a physical therapist to help you overcome an injury, let the team at OrthoRehab Specialists guide you on your recovery journey. For more information or to set up your first appointment, give us a call today at (612) 339-2041.
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