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PTs suggests conservative treatment for opioid overuse

The American Physical Therapy Association has launched a national campaign called #ChoosePT to raise awareness about the risks of opioids and the choice of physical therapy as a safe alternative for long- term pain management.

By Jeffrey Buis, PTA & Kyle Salsbury, PT, DPT
Personal Commentary

Making the Choice: Physical Therapy Over Opioids "Physical therapy and other conservative treatments should always be considered first before medication or surgery." And "Don't put anything into your body that's not good for you and don't have surgery unless it is the last resort with all others treatments having been exhausted."

These sound like something our grandparents would have told us, being just good common sense.

It is not a secret that all medications have side effects. This begs the question: Why choose opioid pain killers when physical therapy may be a viable option?


The American Physical Therapy Association has launched a national campaign called #ChoosePT to raise awareness about the risks of opioids and the choice of physical therapy as a safe alternative for long- term pain management.

According to the website, MoveForwardPT.com:
  • 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.
  • As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long-term for noncancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.
  • Sales of prescription opioids have nearly quadrupled since 1999. More than 4 in 10 of long-term users say they started taking them for chronic pain (44%) while 25% say they started due to pain after surgery, and another 25% say they started for pain after an accident or injury. *Deaths related to prescription opioids have quadrupled.
  • Heroin-related overdose deaths more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2014, and people addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin.
  • Opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Nearly half of those deaths involved prescription opioids.
  • Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
  • The opioid epidemic accounts for 45% of all Kentuckians who enter treatment centers for abuse (Sauter, 2016).
Physical therapy takes into consideration the whole body and multiple potential treatment considerations. The typical patient requires additional education to better understand all non-opioid options. That is why a physical therapist (PT) should be involved.

The patient and the PT can discuss treatment options to use in conjunction with medications or possibly in lieu of medications. The situation is critical. With quick action in reaching a physical therapist, those in need of pain relief can have access to much needed options. The physical therapist/physical therapist assistant team in turn must work harder to meet the needs of our clients. - Kyle Salsbury PT,DPT, Orthodyne Physical Therapy; and DPT Jeffrey Buis, PTA Orthodyne Physical Therapy Orthodyne Campbellsville, KY


This story was posted on 2017-03-20 09:39:41
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