Pain Relief with All the Benefits and None of the Pills: Movement is Medicine

| Live Your Life

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2015-2018 10.7% of U.S. adults aged 20 and older used one or more prescription pain medications in the past 30 days.1 5.7% of U.S. adults used one or more prescription opioids.1 Pain medication including prescription opioids can be effective medications for pain relief especially for short-term moderate and severe pain. However, there is short- and long-term drawbacks of taking pain medication especially opioids. Short-term side effects include drowsiness, confusion, nausea, constipation, and slowed breathing because of how they affect the brain and body.2

Misuse of prescription pain medication means taking a medication in manner or dose other than prescribed.3 In general older adults tend to take more prescription medicines and have more chronic diseases.2 This leads to older adults being at a higher risk of accidental opioid misuse or abuse due to the increase possibility of potential drug-drug and drug-disease interactions.2

The longer you take prescription pain medications including opioids the more likely you will build up a tolerance to the drug effectiveness.2 This means you will either have to take a higher dose and/or more frequent doses in order to feel the same desired effects.2 Drug dependence occurs with repeated use of a medication causing your body to adapt and only function normally if the drug is in your system.2 Chronic pain is classified as an individual who is experiencing pain longer than 90 days. Some individuals with chronic pain become dependent on opioids due to how frequently they must take the medication to manage pain.2

Due to the mentioned risks and side effects of prescription pain medication including opioids, the CDC guidelines note that non-opioid therapies such as physical therapy are preferred for individuals experiencing chronic pain.4 Moreover, even if your physician prescribes opioids, CDC recommends non-opioid therapies should be combined with opioid therapies to keep the patient on the lowest effective dosage.4   

According to a study by researchers at Stanford and Duke, physical therapy within 3 months of musculoskeletal pain diagnosis (including shoulder, neck, low back, and knee pain) reduced the patients’ risk of long-term opioid use by 10 percent.5 If you currently are experiencing pain or experience pain in the future, consider physical therapy as a non-opioid option for pain relief. Click here to learn about our physical therapy services at Live Your Life and contact us today for a free consultation!  


1Products – Data Briefs – Number 369 – June 2020. Published June 30, 2020.

2National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription Opioids DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published June 2021.

3National Institute on Drug Abuse. Summary of Misuse of Prescription Drugs. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published June 2020. ‌‌

4Health Tips | Physical Therapy vs Opioids: When to Choose Physical Therapy for Pain Management. Choose PT. Published March 16, 2016.

5Hansen AJ. Early physical therapy can reduce risk, amount of long-term opioid use. Standard Medicine News Center. Published December 14, 2018. Accessed January 14, 2024.

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