CDC Recommends Physical Therapy as an Alternative to Opiates for Pain

The CDC reports that 60% of drug overdoses in the United States are opioid-related and deaths linked to prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999.

As opiate abuse continues to become a public health crisis across the United States, the search for better pain management alternatives is increasing with greater urgency. In a landmark move, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) recently launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the heroin and prescription opiate abuse epidemic sweeping the nation.

The primary goal of the APTA campaign, dubbed #ChoosePT, is to inform the public that physical therapy is often a better solution for pain management than opiates.

Shortly after kicking off the #ChoosePT initiative, the APTA officially backed similar efforts by the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make opiate abuse prevention a bigger national priority.

According to the APTA, the #ChoosePT campaign will reach the national audience throughout 2016 by using online advertising, social media outlets, and public service announcements.

The APTA was inspired to develop #ChoosePT in response the CDC’s release of its report “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain—United States, 2016” back in March. The guideline delivers 12 recommendations for prescribing opioids to patients suffering from chronic pain with the exception of those under palliative care, cancer treatment or end-of-life care.

The first CDC recommendation directly names nonpharmacologic therapies and nonopioid pharmacologic therapies as a preferred method of treatment for chronic pain. It further states that evidence supports the fact that physical therapy, among other non-pharmaceutical based interventions – weight loss for knee osteoarthritis, psychological therapies such as CBT – can eliminate chronic pain.

If #ChoosePT proves successful, it would a major step forward in the fight against the opiate abuse epidemic.


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