Media release: Physiotherapy can reduce New Zealand’s opioid use


September 7, 2019

Physiotherapy can reduce New Zealand’s opioid use

New Zealand’s reliance on opioids could be significantly reduced if more focus is placed on physiotherapy as a means of reducing and managing chronic pain, Physiotherapy New Zealand says.

Tomorrow (Sunday, September 8) is World Physiotherapy Day and New Zealand’s professional physiotherapy body is calling on the government and medical practitioners to promote this proven alternative to prescription drugs.

“The devastating consequences of opioid use are already well publicised internationally – and New Zealand is no different,” says PNZ’s Chief Executive Sandra Kirby.

She says physiotherapy is a more effective treatment of non-malignant pain and doesn’t carry the addiction risk of painkillers.

“Apart from the health benefits, such a refocus could allow Pharmac to invest in other areas where taxpayer money could be much better spent.

“As part of a multi-disciplinary approach, physiotherapy has been proven to help manage chronic pain conditions. New Zealand’s health system should be funding physio treatments for chronic pain. And we should also be educating patients so they can make more informed decisions about their health choices and how they can better manage chronic pain.”

One in six New Zealanders suffer from a chronic pain condition, such as back or neck pain. This is persistent pain that occurs every day for at least six months.

“All too often people are prescribed painkillers when other solutions such as physio treatment, combined with tailored physical activity advice, is readily available.

“Solutions focusing on opioids for managing pain simply mask people’s physical problems without actually addressing them. That needs to change.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Nick Thompson, Communications and Marketing Manager, Physiotherapy New Zealand | 04 894 1686 | 021 877 501