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Last week the state of Ohio followed five other states by filing a lawsuit against five major drug manufacturers in attempt to hold them accountable for the opioid crisis. This headline is the latest news of the country’s fight against epidemic addiction to prescription painkillers, which has skyrocketed in recent years with deadly results.

Every day, 91 Americans die from opioid overdose and more than 1,000 are treated in emergency departments nationwide for misuse of prescription opioids.1 We are drowning in painkillers. During 2012 alone, healthcare providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and other opioids– enough for every adult in the U.S. to have our own bottle of pills.2

Physical Therapy vs. Opioids for Pain Relief

Nobody wants to live in pain. But with safer – and more effective – alternatives available, no-one needs to put their health and life at risk. While prescription opioids are appropriate for certain cases, such as during cancer treatment and palliative end-of-life care, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends non-drug approaches, including physical therapy, for most of us.

Choose Physical Therapy Over Opioids When…

  1. The risks of opioid use outweigh the benefits. The side effects of opioids include nausea, constipation, drowsiness, depression, addiction, and overdose. Withdrawal symptoms when stopping use are also common. The CDC guidelines state that opioids should not be considered first-line or routine therapy because of these risks.3
  2. You want to do more than just mask the pain. Opioids reduce your perception of pain by interrupting pain signals to your brain but do not fix the underlying cause (watch a video). Physical therapists treat pain through movement, manual techniques, and other non-drug methods to improve your mobility and quality of life. Successful therapy begins with identifying physical issues, such as muscle imbalances, that are causing your pain.
  3. Your discomfort or functional problems are from low back pain, hip or knee osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia. Research shows that exercise integrated with a physical therapy treatment plan more effectively relieves the pain associated with these conditions.
  4. Your pain lasts 90+ days. More than 115 million Americans report suffering chronic pain each year. Chronic pain might or might not be primarily driven by an injury. After muscle, bone, tendon, or other body tissue has healed, pain sometimes persists. The CDC guidelines indicate that non-opioid treatment options are preferred for chronic pain management. Long term use of opioids increases your risk of addiction: 1 in 4 people who are prescribed opioids for chronic, non-cancerous pain struggles with addiction.

We can help relieve your pain– drug free

Before you agree to a prescription for opioids, call us at 714-633-7227 to schedule a FREE consultation to find out how you can benefit from physical therapy. You can start by completing your personal pain profile (Please bring it to your consultation.) You don’t have to suffer pain!



  1. CDC “Understanding the Epidemic”
  2. CDC “Opioid Painkiller Prescribing”
  3. CDC Prescribing Guidelines
  4. Prevention of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis