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Physical Therapists Seek to Close the Lid on America's Opioid Epidemic | Families

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Physical Therapists Seek to Close the Lid on America's Opioid Epidemic
Families, Health
Physical Therapists Seek to Close the Lid on America's Opioid Epidemic

(ProActive Sports Rehab offers a weekly column promoting health, fitness and physical therapy. Please be sure to check back each week for a new topic!)

In response to a national public health epidemic of opioid misuse and abuse, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has launched a public education campaign, #ChoosePT, to raise awareness among patients and prescribers about physical therapy as a safe alternative for pain management.

Physical therapy is one of the nonopioid alternatives recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recently released guidelines that urge prescribers to reduce the use of opioids for most long-term pain management. The guidelines indicate that while prescription opioids are appropriate in certain cases (such as cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care), nonopioid approaches are preferred given the damaging potential side effects of opioids, which include depression, overdose and addiction, plus withdrawal symptoms when stopping use.

APTA's #ChoosePT campaign and the CDC guidelines come at a time when increasing numbers of Americans, no matter the economic class, are being touched by the opioid epidemic, which includes misuse of prescription opioids and heroin. According to the CDC, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids has nearly quadrupled since 1999, and in 2012 enough opioid prescriptions were written for "every American adult to have their own bottle of pills." The #ChoosePT campaign is meant to remind patients that nonopioid pain management options exist and that they have a choice when it comes to their care.

"Opioids come with numerous serious side effects and only mask the sensation of pain," explained APTA member and #ChoosePT campaign spokesperson Joseph Brence, PT, DPT. By contrast, physical therapists treat pain through movement. They also play a key role in the crucial patient education process, including setting realistic expectations for recovery. "Research shows that physical therapist treatment can reduce or eliminate the need for opioids by improving physical function, increasing range of motion and decreasing pain," said Brence.

Physical therapists treat patients of all ages and physical abilities, and the CDC guidelines point out that "high-quality evidence" supports exercise as part of a physical therapy treatment plan for the treatment of low back pain, hip or knee osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia — conditions that affect millions of Americans. According to the CDC, 25.3 million adults suffer from daily (chronic) pain.
— American Physical Therapy Association

ProActive Sports Rehab, with offices in Hamburg and West Seneca, offers one-on-one physical therapy and rehabilitation services. For more information, please visit http://proactivesportsrehab.com or call 674-9600 (West Seneca office) or 648-8700 (Hamburg office). You can also follow ProActive Sports Rehab on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProActiveSportsRehab for frequent updates.



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