Physical therapy and opioid use for musculoskeletal pain management: competitors or companions?
Musculoskeletal (MSK) pain conditions are highly prevalent and a leading cause of disability globally. When people with MSK pain seek health care, they often receive treatment not aligned with best practices, including initial management options such as opioids. In recent practice guidelines, nonpharmacological treatments have been emphasized for initial pain management, and physical therapists are providers who routinely deliver nonpharmacological treatments. The purpose of this review is to describe the current and future state for how physical therapy may be used to increase exposure to nonpharmacological treatments for MSK pain conditions. For the current state, we review existing observational evidence investigating early exposure to physical therapy and its influence on subsequent opioid use. For the future state, we propose clinical research questions that could define the role of physical therapy on interdisciplinary teams working towards improving effectiveness of nonpharmacological treatments through more rigorous study designs. These clinical questions are intended to guide health services research and clinical trials when building an evidence base of nonpharmacological care options for MSK pain conditions.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)