In the state of Tennessee in 2012, it was enough opioid prescription medications were prescribed by physicians in order for everyone over the age of 12 to have 51 prescription opioid pills per person, which is a staggering statistic considering the size of the state of Tennessee. For that many pills to be available to the public is part of why this opioid epidemic has come to light, especially in the media, in the healthcare world, and in the physical therapy world specifically.
Physicians, I think, prescribe opioids because they want their patients to be out of pain. Nobody wants to live in pain, by any means. That's why a lot of healthcare providers do what they do, but no one should put their health at risk or even compromise their health just to be out of pain. There needs to be safer and more available options to do that because to hand out something so addictive and so deadly is concerning to do on the first bout of trying to treat something that's hurting somebody.
I think that that's where physical therapists come in, is we're an extension of a physician's practice. Give your patients that are hurting to us, we'll take care of them and then we'll send them back to you. Hopefully all rehabilitated, all better, pain-free or at least managing their pain.
Physical therapy is something that is conservative, doesn't have any side effects, you learn to treat your own problem once you are done with it, and it doesn't include overdose related deaths or addiction or drowsiness.
If you're somebody that is dealing with pain, whether that's pain that just happened a week ago when you sprained your ankle or it's chronic low back pain that you thought you were going to have to live with for the rest of your life. Give physical therapy a shot. If you go to your physician and they start to consider giving you a pain medication, I challenge you to ask them if that's a safe and effective option and if that maybe is a necessary step that you need to take. Once you go down that path, it's a hard one to turn back from.