Is PT An “Alternative Treatment?” to Pain Meds?

Yesterday NPR aired a piece titled “To Curb Pain Without Opioids, Oregon Looks To Alternative Treatments.” In it they spoke with a woman who, when at 59 she began to experience pain in various parts of her body she was prescribed “Vicodin and muscle relaxants” by a physician.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Because the pain continued, she tried to manage it with the pain meds and became addicted. The doctor subsequently stopped prescribing them and luckily she found her way to one of the “alternative treatments” the piece refers to.

Here’s the great news:

  • This woman eventually started acupuncture sessions and began feeling opiate-free relief.
  • A mainstream media outlet is highlighting the dangerous situation she was in (so hopefully, others can learn there are other options from the get-go.)

Here’s the horrific news:

  • Her experience with pain medications is far from unique in the U.S. healthcare system–overmedicating is a huge (and costly) problem.
  • The piece refers to physical therapy as an “alternative treatment.” Wait, what?!

We, in our profession, know full well that physical therapy should be THE FIRST stop, the FIRST “treatment” in most cases. But the public doesn’t know that. The media doesn’t know that. And oftentimes, physicians aren’t relaying PT an effective and affordable treatment.

The fact that physical therapy is only mentioned once in this particular discussion tells us that we have a lot of work to do, doesn’t it? Movements like #GetPT1st and #PTTransforms and other APTA endeavors are trying to change that. But what else do you think we can be doing to move the needle further, faster?

One thought on “Is PT An “Alternative Treatment?” to Pain Meds?

  1. Thank you for the mention.
    As for us, we are going to continue with GetPT1st events on social media platforms to meet the consumers where they’re at.
    We are also continuing to add content to our website (free to share) that is readable and understandable to those without a medical background.
    We are ALWAYS looking for great writers to help translate all this great research in favor of PT into words that the public can understand.
    If we all pitch in, we can make a difference.


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