Physical therapy performed immediately following surgery may help reduce opioid use and downstream health costs during the patient’s rehab regimen, suggests a study in a special issue of Physical Therapy (PTJ) devoted to nonopioid approaches to pain relief.

“This special issue adds new evidence to a growing body of evidence on the important role of nonpharmacological interventions for the management of chronic pain,” says editor in chief Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD, in a media release from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). “The need for this information has never been so urgent.”

Five original research papers in the special issue of the official scientific journal of the APTA suggest the following:

• Patients who received physical therapist treatment immediately following arthroscopic hip surgery were associated with lower downstream costs and lower opioid use; and people treated by a physical therapist within three days of the onset of low back pain were associated with lower total health care costs and lower opioid use.

• In addition, telehealth physical activity programs for older adults with low back pain improved physical function; and analysis of patient screening suggested it may be possible to predict which patients are at risk for long-standing musculoskeletal pain.

• The fifth article concludes that patient education about pain’s link to the brain improved the participation of patients with chronic spinal pain in beneficial physical activity programs.

[Source: American Physical Therapy Association]