PT patients that have been prescribed painkillers aren’t recovering as quickly as those who aren’t using painkillers. Chronic pain and painkillers seem to go hand in hand, but should they? Using opioid medications often helps pain go away for short periods, but doesn’t do anything to effect the root of the problem. Physical Therapy combined with a prescription for painkillers is an often prescribed by your PCP or medical provider.
According to a study at the University of Alberta, it was found that patients that were not taking powerful drugs while participating in physical therapy, were actually regaining function faster. Because pain is not the only determining factor in function, painkillers will only seemingly solve the problem. One important factor in physical therapy is that you are increasing range of motion and function which sometimes will be painful.
According to the UPI.com, “In the study, published in the journal Pain Medicine, researchers followed 789 patients in Canada being treated for neuropathic pain from nerve injuries being treated with either less than 200 milligrams of an opioid, more than 200 milligrams, or none.”
Here at Oahu Spine & Rehab we know that painkillers can be crucial in fighting pain day to day. Because the painkillers only stop the pain temporarily, they can become a crutch for our physical therapy patients. If you have used painkillers before your appointments with OSR there is a chance that you are actually hindering your treatment here. If we don’t know the source of the pain or correct level of pain during manual therapy or physical therapy exercises, it can back up progress. It’s important to build up pain tolerance and adjust exercises based on pain, which is harder when you are using opioids to stay comfortable.
Every patient has a difference pain tolerance, and every treatment plan is put into place by our medical team based on the type of injury and the severity. Geoff Bostick, an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Alberta, said in a press release, “Opioids can help people with severe pain be more comfortable, but if they are not also facilitating improved function, the impact of these medications on quality of life should be questioned.”
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, give us a call today to schedule your complimentary consultation!
Bostick, G. P., Toth, C., Carr, E. C.J., Stitt, L. W., Morley-Forster, P., Clark, A. J., Lynch, M., Gordon, A., Nathan, H., Smyth, C., Ware, M. A. and Moulin, D. E. (2015), Physical Functioning and Opioid use in Patients with Neuropathic Pain. Pain Medicine, 16: 1361–1368. doi: 10.1111/pme.12702