The Tipping Point

Private-practice physical therapists urge consumers to #ChoosePT over opioids for long-term pain management.

By: Cathy Pierce

Prescription opioid headlines are staggering:
40 Americans die each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids; they cost the Unites States economy $7.8 billion a year; and 227 million opioid prescriptions were handed out in the United States in 2015.

In response to the millions of Americans living with chronic pain and seeking relief, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) rolled out is #ChoosePT campaign with a clear message: Opioids only mask pain; physical therapists treat pain through movement and exercise. In concert with the APTA, members of the organization’s private practice section are stepping up efforts to educate the public about physical therapy as a safe, nondrug alternative to opioids for pain management.

The United States has reached a tipping point in the opioid epidemic, with studies showing more than half of pain sufferers turning to pills and other unproven methods for relief. Opioids are often prescribed to treat back pain, neck pain and degenerative joint disease, but are not the only option for patients.

Use of prescription opioids to mask pain is a risky, short-term solution that leads to powerful addiction and will never provide sufferers with long-term relief. Recommended as a safe alternative to opioids for pain management by both the CDC and the Surgeon General, physical therapy can help patients work through their condition and get better.

Opioids mask pain sensations. Physical therapy focuses on eliminating the need for opioids by developing a care plan that is individualized for each patient. At Therapy First, we offer many advanced treatments for pain relief. These include Graston instrument-assisted soft-tissue manipulation, integrative dry needling and contemporary cupping methods. Often, we start with aquatic therapy and advance our patients to other activities as they improve.

Private practitioners have unique access to the right resources to help patients choose physical therapy to manage pain without the risks and side effects of opioids. These physical therapists rely on outcomes based evidence to treat pain and help patients increase strength and flexibility, and improve mobility. Their main focus is to fix the dysfunction permanently and give patients the tools to independently address dysfunction throughout their lifetime.

At Therapy First, we start with a thorough examination and then develop a comprehensive treatment plan to minimize pain and maximize function. We educate our patients about correct posture and body mechanics and provide individualized care for each patient.

Therapy First is a locally owned physical therapy and occupational therapy business located at the Corpus Christi Athletic Club. For more information, look us up at or call 361-993-4778.