Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Relationships between physical therapy intervention and opioid use: A scoping review.

Brown-Taylor L, Beckner A, Scaff KE, Fritz JM, Buys MJ, Patel S, Bayless K, Brooke BS. Relationships between physical therapy intervention and opioid use: A scoping review. PM & R : the journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation. 2022 Jul 1; 14(7):837-854.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


OBJECTIVE: To synthesize available evidence that has examined the relationship between physical therapy (PT) and opioid use. TYPE: Scoping Review LITERATURE SURVEY: Data sources including Google Scholar, Embase, PubMed, Cochrane Library, and CINAHL were searched for English articles up to October 24, 2019 using terms ("physical therapy"[Title/Abstract] OR physiotherapy[Title/Abstract] OR rehabilitation[Title/Abstract]) AND (opiate*[Title/Abstract] OR opioid*[Title/Abstract]). METHODOLOGY: Included studies evaluated a PT intervention and reported an opioid-use outcome. Data were extracted to describe the PT intervention, patient sample, opioid-use measurement, and results of any time or group comparisons. Study quality was evaluated with Joanna Briggs checklists based on study design. SYNTHESIS: Thirty studies were included that evaluated PT in at least one of these seven categories: interdisciplinary program (n  =  8), modalities (n  =  3), treatment (n  =  3), utilization (n  =  2), content (n  =  3), timing (n  =  13), and location (n  =  2). Mixed results were reported for reduced opioid-use after interdisciplinary care and after PT modalities. Utilizing PT was associated with lower odds (ranging from 0.2-0.8) of using opioid medication for persons with low back pain (LBP) and injured workers; however, guideline-adherent care did not further reduce opioid use for persons with LBP. Early PT utilization after index visit for spine or joint pain and after orthopedic surgery was also associated with lower odds of using opioid medications (ranging from 0.27-0.93). Emergency department PT care was not associated with fewer opioid prescriptions than standard emergency department care. PT in a rehabilitation center after total knee replacement was not associated with lower opioid use than inpatient PT. CONCLUSIONS: The relationship between timing of PT and opioid use was evaluated in 13 of 30 studies for a variety of patient populations. Eight of these 13 studies reported a relationship between early PT and reduced subsequent opioid use, making the largest sample of studies in this scoping review with supporting evidence. There is limited and inconclusive evidence to establish whether the content and/or location of PT interventions improves outcomes because of heterogeneity between studies.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.