By Tracy Urvater, PT, DPT |  REGIONAL DIRECTOR – ACCESS PHYSICAL THERAPY & WELLNESS NEW CITY & POMONA, NY

As doctors of physical therapy, we have the clinical training and expertise to accurately diagnose musculoskeletal conditions, identify red flags that may require referral to a physician or other healthcare professional, and provide treatment for these conditions without the need for expensive imaging, medications, injections, and/or surgery.

The most recent endeavor within the medical community is the reduction of opioid (narcotic) medication usage. The many side effects of these medications including addiction are of prime concern.

For many years, physicians and other healthcare providers who are eligible to prescribe these medications have freely dispensed them in an effort to help patients reduce pain post-operatively as well as with chronic pain conditions. It is now widely known that these medications not only have vast side effects but may be used in ways they are not intended to be.

Do you have left over narcotic medication stored away? Commonly, individuals either mistakenly take these left over medications in place of another or the narcotics get into the hands of others when they were not prescribed for them, and this may lead to harmful effects including overdose.

There are alternate ways of reducing pain without the use of opioids. Research articles have clearly indicated that physical therapy is a safe conservative method for reducing pain by using interventions that address the underlying cause of pain. In most cases, combining pain-relieving modalities, manual (hands-on) therapy, and appropriately prescribed supervised exercise are equally, if not more, effective in reducing pain and improving function and overall quality of life.

Choosing a physical therapist can (and should) be researched. As one should know, not every practitioner is the same. Quality of care varies among all healthcare providers, and the choice is yours. Their experience and credentials as well as their method of intervention should be looked into.

People most often take the time to research a physician or surgeon when medical procedures are warranted and many times will not succumb to the constraints put on them by their insurance company’s care, and nothing else matters. Yet “physical therapy is physical therapy anywhere” – this is certainly not true.

Choosing a doctor of physical therapy that will provide that same quality intervention as the physician or surgeon you chose is crucial to your outcome. Allowing an insurance company to make these decisions for you is a disservice. Perhaps, if required, paying a slight bit more for that perfect PT practitioner who will get you back on track is worth the financial commitment.

Don’t let your insurance company be the one to determine your fate as most of the time they are looking to cut costs at the expense of your wellbeing.

Additionally, the choice of PT also becomes yours despite the recommendation or referral provided by your physician, friend, or family member. Although recommendations may be helpful in your decision-making process, take the time to research that recommendation thoroughly, call the office and speak with the receptionist (or physical therapist directly, if available), and visit the office to determine if the environment fits your needs. In most cases, you no longer need a prescription from a physician for physical therapy services (with certain restrictions).

Let your doctor of PT be your first line of entrance into the medical profession for your painful condition, and GET RID OF YOUR NARCOTIC MEDICATION!

Nothing is more important than your health and wellbeing… #ChoosePTwisely.

Call your nearest Access Physical Therapy & Wellness location for a consultation.