It’s October, and you know what that means… National Physical Therapy Month!

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)’s National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM) is an annual opportunity to recognize the physical therapy profession’s efforts to “transform society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.”

This October, the APTA’s #ChoosePT campaign is the NPTM focus. The #ChoosePT campaign raises awareness about the dangers of prescription opioids and encourages consumers and prescribers to follow guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to choose safer alternatives with more long-term results, like physical therapy.

Despite extensive efforts to raise awareness of and address the human toll of the opioid epidemic, Americans continue to be prescribed and to abuse opioids at alarming rates. Below are a few short and sweet key messages about opioid use, according to the APTA:

  • The increase in prescription opioid use is unmistakable. According to the CDC, in 2012 health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills
  • The risk of misusing prescription opioids is real. According to the CDC, every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
  • The risk of addiction is real. According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggle with addiction.
  • The risk of heroin use is real. According to the CDC, among new heroin users, about 3 out of 4 reports abusing prescription opioids before using heroin.
  • Physical therapy is a safe and effective alternative to opioids for long-term pain management. In March 2016, the CDC released guidelines urging nonopioid approaches for the management of chronic pain.
  • There are some situations in which opioid therapy is appropriate. The CDC guidelines indicate that opioids may be appropriate for situations including cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and certain acute care situations. Still, the CDC guidelines also suggest pairing opioid therapy with nonopioid therapy, and their prescriber checklist recommends trying nonopioid therapy first.
  • Patients have a choice about the kind of treatment they receive. Before accepting a prescription for opioids, patients should talk to their health care providers about related risks and safer alternatives.

Interested in learning more about the opioid epidemic and the #ChoosePT campaign? Here are a few of our favorite resources:

If you suffer from chronic pain but aren’t sure whether PT is the right treatment option for you, schedule a free screen at your local clinic. Physical Therapy Central’s expert physical therapists will help you determine the best course of action – one that heals your pain and doesn’t just mask it.

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