Physical Therapy; An Alternative to Painkillers

In 2016, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) published a report that named physical therapy as a safe alternative to using opioids for pain management. This is important because pain medications taken long-term can have serious side effects including addiction. Here are some statistics to consider:

1. Of the top 3 categories of abused prescription drugs (painkillers, depressants, stimulants,) painkillers are at the top of the list with more than 5 million reported cases.

2. A survey from the Foundation for a Drug-Free World states that almost 50% of teens believe that prescription drugs are much safer than non-prescribed, “street drugs.” This is NOT true as there have been more deaths due to prescription medication than heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine combined.*

3. The misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers was responsible for more than 475,000 emergency department visits in 2009, a number that nearly doubled in just five years.**

These statistics are not meant to scare you or tell you that painkillers are unnecessary they are meant to inform you to proceed with caution. When used in the correct manner with the appropriate dosage, these medications can be very helpful in managing pain. However, it is important to know that there is a safer alternative option.

Physical therapy can be used to help treat the cause of pain instead of just masking the symptoms. Exercises that are prescribed by Physical Therapists lead to increased strengthstability, and flexibility. PT’s have a wide variety of manual skills which means they are physically moving your body around to regain proper movement patterns and to reduce pain.

Physical therapists also give your treatment a human touch; with prescriptions, you only see or contact your doctor when you need a refill. Your PT can adjust your treatment week to week based on the progress of your in-person sessions.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is a great resource with more information available if you would like to research the benefits of physical therapy as pain management. To learn more, visit their website here:

If you are looking for a physical therapist to be your safe alternative to pain than use our betterPT app and get an appointment today. No need for a prescription, all you need is to take action and start your path to a pain-free lifestyle.

Please contact us at with further questions or if you would like to join the betterPT network.



** Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Drug Abuse Warning Network: selected tables of national estimates of drug-related emergency department visits. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, SAMHSA; 2010.

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