New study confirms physical therapy, not opioids, for pain management

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If opioids weren't so effective at masking pain, far fewer people would get addicted to them and potentially end their lives. Finding helpful alternatives can be the key. A new Journal of the American Medical Association study indicates that the answer may be physical therapy.

It was shown to lower the chances of opioid dependency from data collected from nearly 90,000 Americans over an nine-year window.

Not too long ago, this was the first line of defense against pain.

"There was a lot of pressure to prescribe and get people's pain under control,” said Catherine Staloch, a physical therapist with Sanford.

Addiction and overdoses rose exponentially. A new study shows the best cure is one that's always been available.

“We're looking at other ways we cannot overuse these medications and physical therapy is a great option,” said Staloch.

The journal of the American Medical Association study shows early physical therapy reduces the need for opioids, in turn lowering the risk for addiction and overdose.

"The research came out and is proving that also helps with insurance companies paying for those services and patients get better without having to use opioids to improve,” said Connie Kleinjan, a physical therapist with CHI St. Alexius in Bismarck.

Musculoskeletal pain affects nearly 50 percent of adults and costs $874 billion a year.