Physical Therapy as an Alternative to Pain Medication

Posted on October 9, 2019


By: Alena Walrath, PTA

According to the National Institutes of Health, pain is the #1 reason people seek medical care and is a leading cause of disability in America.

 Pain medicine is one common way to manage pain, and it is often the first treatment people turn to. However, there continues to be growing concern about the misuse of pain medications, especially opioids.

 Pain medications are used to treat symptoms. While a temporary fix may work short-term, in the long run it is more helpful to identify the source of the problem that is causing the pain. Physical therapists utilize many effective pain management techniques that can reduce pain and eliminate or reduce dependence on medication.

Exercise is a key component of physical therapy. That is because physical therapists know that people who exercise regularly experience less pain overall. Furthermore, people who don’t exercise are setting themselves up for the loss of function and more pain.

Depending on the type of pain you are having, some other tools physical therapists may use to manage your pain include manual therapy, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, laser, massage, dry needling, and hot packs or cold packs.

Your physical therapist may also identify some lifestyle changes or improvements in your body mechanics that could reduce your pain. Physical therapy is not only a great way to manage pain by fixing the problem, but it can help prevent pain in the future.

 For more information about how physical therapy can help you, go to