Physical therapy provides alternative to opioids – News – Savannah Morning News

For Savannah bodily therapist Stuart Fife and well being care guide Brian Stewart, treating sufferers with out medicine at all times has been the secret.

They attempt to handle accidents or different illnesses by working one on one with sufferers. Fife, who works from the Fife Therapy studio on the Jewish Education Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St., goals to get individuals again to regular as rapidly as potential by offering strengthening workouts to stop the harm from recurring. Stewart consults with bodily therapists and sufferers to decide what well being care gadgets may assist sufferers recuperate. 

He sells nonpharmaceutical gadgets like traction decompression belts and again and knee braces, which when utilized in mixture with the precise workouts bodily therapists present might help individuals really feel higher with out present process surgical procedure.

“As the public, we keep hearing about the opioid (epidemic) and what are we going to do about it,” Stewart stated. “There are side effects to every drug you take. And there are no side effects to the non-pharmaceutical treatments.”

Back ache, sports activities accidents, dental procedures and customary surgical procedures are among the many illnesses which have led to opioid painkiller prescriptions, however more and more well being care suppliers are being inspired via persevering with training to scale back their reliance on the narcotics. “We have reduced the amount of opioids and are advising patients to take a course of anti-inflammatories and acetaminophen,” stated Savannah dentist Steven Berwitz. To handle ache following a dental process, the Georgia Dental Association has endorsed a mix of 400 mg of ibuprofen plus 1,000 mg of acetaminophen, Berwitz stated.

“The medical community understands this is a very big crisis. We’re working hard to get the word out there,” Berwitz stated.


Preventing accidents is a technique to keep away from opioids, and Berwitz stated utilizing a mouth guard throughout sports activities can defend athletes from severe mouth accidents. “An ounce of prevention is worth gold,” he stated. If individuals do lose a tooth in an accident or sports activities harm, they need to name their dentist instantly and protect the tooth in milk or within the cheek of their mouth. Dentists typically can reinsert the tooth, he stated.

For different accidents, reminiscent of a strained again or sore knee, individuals can ask their physician for a referral to bodily therapy as an alternative of ache treatment, Fife stated. Staying in form bodily might help individuals stop some accidents attributable to weaknesses, Fife stated.

“The reason people get hurt is they didn’t have a baseline of strength” within the space of the physique the place the harm occurred, Fife stated.

While docs have been skilled to take into account drug remedies as a means to handle ache, bodily therapists aren’t allowed to advocate medicines, Fife stated. Instead, a bodily therapist will consider the affected person and decide “how do I make you more normal again because you’ve become weak somewhere or your posture’s not good,” he stated.

Restoring to regular

“The basic thing is we’re trying to restore a normal human function. If you’re broken down and you’re having pain, there’s something out of balance or you’re weak,” Fife stated.

Fife has invested in expertise, together with a excessive-tech treadmill he stated price $35,000, to help him in evaluating sufferers’ weak areas and the progress they’re making via bodily therapy. “You have to understand what the issue is. The evaluation of the patient is the most important thing we do. This is what’s going to improve you,” he stated.

Acupuncture, chiropractic remedy and water therapy additionally may be efficient remedies for ache that may stop overreliance on opioids, Stewart stated.

Avoiding ache meds

“One thing patients don’t like about pain pills,” Stewart stated, is the physician tells them what number of tablets they’ll take and when. It can lead sufferers to really feel a lack of management, he stated. “Loss of control is what people get depressed about,” he stated.

To assist individuals relieve ache with out prescription drugs, Stewart stated, he works with sufferers and bodily therapists to present gadgets designed to handle their ache factors.

Most insurance coverage firms cowl gadgets prescribed by docs or bodily therapists which can be permitted by the Food and Drug Administration. A battery-operated electrical stimulator known as a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit can present aid from again or neck ache, permitting individuals to keep away from taking narcotic painkillers, Stewart stated.

Other gadgets, reminiscent of a traction decompression belt, match round a affected person’s waist and may be pumped with air to present again help. “It just takes the load off your back,” he stated. “It keeps your posture better.”

Covered gadgets

Back braces, knee braces, TENS models and traction gadgets are among the many merchandise most bodily therapists ask Stewart to order for sufferers. He works with insurance coverage firms, Medicare and Tricare, authorities-managed medical insurance for army personnel, so sufferers perceive the prices concerned.  Many are totally lined, he stated.

Stewart earns a fee from the merchandise he sells, however says sufferers can attempt them totally free earlier than they determine whether or not to buy them. The merchandise Stewart provides are permitted by the FDA for the therapeutic use.

Water workouts additionally may be an efficient, low-influence means to strengthen muscle tissues. “When you’re in water, you’re weightless, so if you’re a heavy person, you’re not putting all that weight on your joints,” Stewart stated.

Recovery with bodily therapy and different alternative therapies ought to occur in a number of weeks if the therapy is targeted on the issue space, Fife stated. “If it’s not focused, people are not going to respond,” Fife stated.


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