Is Early Physical Therapy Associated With Less Opioid Use in Patients With Musculoskeletal Pain?

Bottom Line: The use of early physical therapy in a study of nearly 89,000 U.S. adults with musculoskeletal pain of the shoulder, neck, knee and low back was associated with a lower likelihood of subsequent opioid use in an analysis of health insurance claims from 2007 to 2015. For patients who did use opioids, early physical therapy was associated with reduced opioid use for shoulder, knee and low back pain but not neck pain. The findings suggest early physical therapy may play a role in reducing the risk of subsequent long-term opioid use by patients with musculoskeletal pain. This was an observational study so other potential mitigating factors could help to explain the results.

Authors:  Eric Sun, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, and coauthors


To Learn More: The full study is available on the For The Media website.