Reducing Prescription Medication Use With Physical Therapy

(Also published in the Senior Review – March 2017)

Prescription medication use has continued to rise over the past decade in the United States.

As a result, American culture has become more & more drugged. Mayo reports nearly 7 in 10 Americans take a prescription drug, and over half take two.  Unbelievably, 20% reportedly are on five or more medications (Mayo news releases June 2014).

According to the Associated Press, traces of prescription medication have now even been discovered in our water supplies (

Medication Overdependence

Drugs certainly have a place in health care, but overuse has led to significant problems.

First, consider highly addictive opioid medications continue to destroy many individuals living with chronic pain.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, emergency department visits involving abuse of pharmaceuticals (either alone or in combination with another drug) increased 98.4 percent between 2004 & 2009.

In resulting efforts to manage pain, more & more people have found themselves in a prison of dependency (

Deaths due to prescription opioid addiction in Wisconsin have almost doubled in the past decade (Wisconsin Department of Health Services: http// and drug overdosing is now the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States (Brooks, M, Medscape June 2015).

It’s undeniable that long-term opioid usage is a very slippery slope for many Americans.

Thinking Outside The Box

Second, we need to change how we think about pain management and promote new outside-the-box problem solving.

Leadership must focus time, effort, & research on non-pharmaceutical alternative innovations which legitimately reduce or eliminate the need for drugs. These creative new tools must then be used to help address unhealthy lifestyles.

Quality Physical Therapy often can reduced or eliminate the need for opioids (

Unfortunately, despite the well documented benefits of exercise, our culture continues to be largely sedentary. Sadly, research has shown the average American sits 13 hours a day (Ergotron, July 17, 2013). Also, physical therapy too often is utilized as a last alternative instead of as a first.

Fundamental Change

Next, consider that a barrier to fundamental lifestyle change is the desire by so many to use medication as a “quick fix” while ignoring the need for a good balanced lifestyle.

Drug company multi-media (direct-to-consumer) advertising of prescription medications has greatly capitalized on this path of least resistance undermining the medical system in the process.

Yet another barrier to change is often the fear of movement that develops when movement causes the individual to experience pain, leading the patient to both further atrophy due to non-movement, while also seeking to escape their pain through ever more expensive and potentially addictive pain-relieving drugs.

A licensed doctor of physical therapy is a relatively low cost option for pain management. These healthcare professionals are highly trained to evaluate (as well as diagnose and treat) many musculoskeletal & neurological disorders while effectively helping patients to reduce fear of movement and get more active.

Physical Therapy Can Provide Cost Savings

Good physical therapy empowers individuals to be more functional, frequently breaking chronic pain cycles.

Besides improving quality of life, proper therapy treatment can result in significant cost savings, often allowing one to avoid expensive downstream medical diagnostic testing and invasive procedures. Savings is often even more substantial with direct access to physical therapy providers in cash-based clinical settings.

Next, consider the illuminating words of Thomas Edison: “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet & in the cause & prevention of disease.”

Physical therapy movement interventions & innovations often are the best medicine, and should be emphasized in our heath care culture.

As an inventor, I believe Mr. Edison would have appreciated the impact & potential of the patented Backsmith Selective Stabilization Support . For many, this unique American-made tool helps significantly reduce pain, while improving strength & functional stability.

Finally, good lifestyle is all about adapting, making good informed choices, & effective time management. All of us have a responsibility to be proactive with our health. Consider how skilled physical therapy can add quality of life & functioning to you or someone you love.

Dr. L. Voigt Smith, PT DPT CredMDT

About Dr. L. Voigt Smith, PT DPT CredMDT

Dr. Smith is a state licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the Backsmith Advanced Physical Therapy clinic in Weston, Wisconsin, and inventor of the Backsmith Selective Stabilization Support. Dr. Smith prides himself on advanced and high value physical therapy care. He has been exceptionally effective with many outlier chronic pain patients. Dr. Smith is often able to save patients significant time and money, while restoring mobility and reducing chronic pain. Dr. Smith can be reached at the Backsmith Advanced Physical Therapy Clinic in Weston, WI (by appointment) or at (715) 298-5888.

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