Patients who have not been prescribed opioid painkillers benefit more from physical therapy, according to researchers in Canada.
A study at the University of Alberta found patients not taking the powerful drugs for pain while rebuilding physical ability regain function faster.
The researchers suggest adjusting therapy programs for individual patients’ pain tolerance, using a graded approach to recovery by slowly building back to full function.
“Even though opioid medications can be a powerful pain killer, it does not necessarily mean improved function will follow — pain is not the only factor in determining function,” Geoff Bostick, an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Alberta, said in a press release. “It can be difficult helping people move when they have pain, but as a physiotherapist I know the importance of physical function and we have to help find a way to promote movement, even if it is painful.”