Physical Therapy: A Safe Alternative to Opioids for Pain Management

Yes we realize there are some people that are going to need this level of medication. But there are a lot of people that might either not need that medication, or be able to use less of that medication with a goal of coming off of it. My name is Pat Sheehy. I’m a licensed physical therapist of 29 years. I’m an owner with my wife Leanne in Optimal Physical Therapy and Sports Performance. And we’ve been here almost 15 years in the Cranberry Township area I’ve seen people come in with just pages and pages of pain scales and pain numbers, and in our field we don’t really think that’s most beneficial because that means I’m making them concentrate on their pain every day. I’d rather them not concentrate on it and think about what am I able to do you know, that I was not able to do before. And I will tell them when you’re starting to feel better it’s probably going to surprise you because you don’t expect it to. And then all of a sudden the light will go off as a matter-of-fact I’m not having as intensive pain or it’s not as often. Most of that opioid epidemic stuff that is in the news and causing so much thought provoking conversations is for the chronic pain patients, which are usually people that have had symptoms for three months or longer. As physical therapists, we try to offer different services to hopefully make them feel more comfortable, be in less pain, move less apprehensively and get back to an active lifestyle. And a lot of times they realize I really don’t need this much, or I don’t need this at all anymore. I might be able to use a non-prescription type of medication to handle the bad days. We’ve had quite a bit of success with it. And most of the patients that are on it chronically have to be surprised that physical therapy will help them. They’re not surprised it helps… They’re surprised of the results, because if they they didn’t think they were going to get some results they probably wouldn’t come. They were hopeful, but there’s still a lot of skepticism because they’ve just had this pain for so long. And we’ve had quite a number of patients with everything from a little back pain to headaches and neck pain that just you can even hear them when they say “I know I’m always going to have it I’m just hoping for a little bit of help.” As physical therapists, we try to provide that for them.

1 comment

  1. Our country has embraced "better living thru chemistry" for so long and we 're beginning to see some of the horrid consequences. Hopefully, individuals will begin to recognize there can be too much go a good thing, i.e.: drugs. The addictive ones are usually dangers waiting to happen and those prescribing them often do not instruct as the pharm. companies suggest.
    Prior to about 95 % of prescriptions given, a referral to a PT would best serve the patient as these individuals (pt's) are able to assess needs
    likely better than the prescribing MD as a PT is hands on and spends time evaluating/assessing. Much easier to get a person to PT before they begin pain-killers and often only a very few will ultimately need the a drug protocol. Doctors in this nation need to take some responsibility in doing their jobs and stop acting as legalized dope dealers. PT works better than drugs as it addresses the problem; drugs simply mask or bandaid it. (nope, am not a PT but have gotten lots better thru years of help from some).

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