May 8, 2009
In "Experts Warn Against Long-term Use of Common Pain Pills," (May 6, 2009, blog by Roni Caryn Rabin) a panel from the American Geriatrics Society recommended older adults rarely consider using non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for chronic pain; instead finding pain relief in alternatives such as acetaminophen, or even opioids. But, as the blog mentions, there are risks associated with these alternatives.
Physical therapists can help avoid those risks through treatment that manages pain without prescription medications and their side effects, in many cases.
As the blog post states, chronic pain can lead to falls. Physical therapists help older individuals reduce their risk of falls through exercises that focus on strength and balance. A recent review article also concluded that pain from symptomatic lumbar degenerative disc disease (a common cause of low back pain) may be reduced with physical therapy.1
Physical therapists will work with patients to identify tailored treatment strategies based on individual needs and long-term health goals.
John Barr, PT, PhD
Section on Geriatrics, American Physical Therapy Association
1Madigan L Management of symptomatic degenerative disc disease. Journal of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2009; 17(2):102-111.