Physical therapists might be key to treating pain, combat opioid addiction

There's only so much that can be done reacting to the crisis. Physical therapists are a proactive approach to help stop opioid addiction, by making people pain free, without the use of pills. JaCee Aaseth loves riding horses. But even at 21 years old, she has to be careful when she moves.

"You turn wrong, you bend over wrong, you can bend over wrong lifting an envelope off of a desk. You'll get a jar, like just a little thing of pain and it'll send it all the way down to your big toe," said Aaseth. JaCee has a condition known as spinal degeneration. The disks in between her vertebrae bulge, causing pain and numbness to her lower back and legs. She says her pain was a 9 out of 10 on the pain scale before treatment, but she didn't want to take her prescription painkillers.

"I just don't like the way they make me feel and I can't do things I enjoy while I'm on them," said Aaseth. Instead of taking the narcotics, JaCee was recommended a cortisone shot and physical therapy twice a week. JaCee gets traction, where they put her on a table and stretch her spine. She also has at home exercises she does three times a day.

Three weeks later, she says her pain is down to a two. Her physical therapist, Connie Kleinjan with CHI St. Alexius, says JaCee's determination led to her improvement.

"This is not just a quick fix and here's what I need to do and I'm out of the clinic and now I don't have to follow through. It's a 24/7 thing you have to consider all the time is to how to help yourself,” said Kleinjan, which is exactly what JaCee is doing now, so she can continue to move forward.

The CDC recommends physical therapy over prescription opiates in most cases of chronic lower back pain.

Andrew Horn Reporting