Neck, back pain? Seek physical therapy to avoid opioid abuse

Monday, 17 December 2018, 04:15 Hrs
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Are you suffering from neck, back and shoulder pain? If so, visiting a physical therapist early can reduce the consumption of opioids that can lead to their abuse as well as other health complications, suggests a study.

According to researchers from the Stanford University in the US, physical therapy can be a useful, non-pharmacologic approach for managing severe musculoskeletal pain. 

The study found that patients who had undergone early physical therapy used 10.3 per cent less opioid medication for knee pain; 9.7 per cent less for shoulder pain; and 5.1 per cent less for back pain in the period three months to a year after their diagnosis. 

"This is not a world where there are magic bullets. But many guidelines suggest that physical therapy is an important component of pain management, and there is little downside to trying it," said Eric Sun, Assistant Professor at the varsity. 

"What our study found was that if you can get these patients on physical therapy reasonably quickly, that reduces the probability that they will be using opioids in the longer term," said Sun.

For the study, researchers included 88,985 patients.

Findings, published in the JAMA Network Open, showed that if a patient sought out physical therapy within the first 90 days of their diagnosis, he or she, on average, was less likely to fill an opioid prescription three months to a year after being diagnosed. 

The results could be helpful to clinicians in search of pain-management options that carry fewer health risks than opioids, reduces pain and improves function for some musculoskeletal conditions, Sun noted.



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