Can physical therapy help reduce the Midwest’s devastating opioid crisis?

By July 24, 2018

Throughout the United States, the opioid crisis has spread like an epidemic, damaging communities and families in almost every state. Unfortunately, many Midwest states, such as Illinois and Ohio, have been hit hard. In Illinois, emergency rooms witnessed a 66% increase in opioid overdose visits last year, according to a recent report that heroin and prescription painkiller abuse is becoming increasingly prevalent among certain states.

Fortunately, there are a number of methods which are showing signs of reducing the crisis. As previously mentioned in Techli, bioelectronics could be used to help tackle the current crisis, along with medical marijuana which has shown signs of slowing opioid use in some states. In addition to these two alternatives, physical therapy could be a preventative measure utilized to decrease addiction in the US, especially with regards to painkillers.

To get a better idea of how physical therapy might be able to help, we spoke with Noam Sadovnik, the CEO & Founder at CLINICUBE INC, a leading NYC medical clinic which recently opened a new medical co-working facility and practice accelerator.

Noam Sadovnik

Noam Sadovnik, the CEO & Founder at CLINICUBE INC

How can physical therapy help the crisis?

Chiropractic and physical therapy offer non-surgical and drug-free care for common NMS (neuromuscular) pain conditions and should be the first line of defense.  When these therapies don’t yield a favorable response the case can be escalated to include drug and other medical intervention through referral to appropriate providers.

Many healthcare practitioners need to be educated on the available alternatives.

A myriad of conditions have proven to be successfully treated without ever needing any prescription painkillers.

Pain is complex and often disproportionate to the condition. There is still much we don’t understand about pain.

Unfortunately, this issue is far more complex than just that. There is a big psychological component as well.

Patients often feel as if “they didn’t do anything” if they go to see a doctor and don’t leave with a prescription. We’ve been conditioned as a society to expect that when you visit the doctor you get a prescription.

We’ve also been led to believe that if it is given by a doctor that it is ok or completely safe somehow.

For some, this can be a dangerous gateway and we don’t just see overprescribing with opioids. This is a well-known issue when it comes to antibiotics as well, though, it doesn’t manifest differently.

What is being done at the moment to show signs that it can help?

It is well documented that early intervention with things like exercise, chiropractic care and physical therapy has positive benefits for NMS conditions and pain.

Refocusing on these proven options as the first intervention would be prudent.

And what needs to be done moving forward to bring on change?

More Education is needed for both doctors and patients.  More stringent guidelines and follow up procedures for those who do in fact need opioid prescriptions. A multidisciplinary approach that offers all options of the medical and complementary & alternative medical options.